11 May 2012

Review: The Good Girl's Guide... by Shelia Wray Gregoire

In 1993, when I got engaged, a friend gave me a copy of the 1976 edition of The Act of Marriage, a Christian classic of its kind. The 1976 edition was hopelessly outdated even then, so I was intrigued when I came across this title, The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex, to see if it was any more relevant.
It is.
The author is very open about the ups and downs of her own relationship, and these stories are enhanced by quotes from some of the hundreds of women (and men) she surveyed as part of her research. Her studies refute the common secular wisdom that practice with as many people as possible makes perfect. Her research showed that those who were least sexually active before marriage had the greatest satisfaction with their love lives.

Despite the title, The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex is not all about positions and moves (after all, the biology hasn’t changed). It is more about sex as a vital component of the marriage relationship. She emphasises the importance of our relationship with our spouse, spending time together and sharing hobbies. She also says “The key to a passionate marriage is not to be as sexually adventurous as possible, but to be as passionate about God as possible”.

What makes this book different, at least for me, is that it is real. The area where this struck me most forcibly was in the discussion around pornography. This wasn’t even mentioned in The Act of Marriage (which seemed to assume that the wedding night was the first time a good Christian boy would ever see a naked woman). But a changing world and the omnipresence of the internet means that this is now a real issue in many marriages.

If The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sexwas lacking in any area, it was in the struggle to maintain a healthy marriage when the children are young (although she has addressed this in her earlier books, such as To Love, Honor, and Vacuum). I was also a little confused by how she could recommend sexual role-play games when she had spoken so strongly against the fantasy element of pornography (the difference between a fantasy and a role-play is too subtle for me). Otherwise, I think this is an excellent resource for engaged or newly-married couples, and for those who have (ahem) been married for a little longer.
Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
In case you are wondering, I dont' really have a downer on The Act of Marriage, just on the first edition. It is now into its fourth edition, with the latest publishined in 2009. These new editions can only be an improvement.

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