At her wedding, Joy McClain promised to love her husband “til death do us part” no matter what. She did not realize how difficult that road was going to be. Her husband, Mark, became an alcoholic and their marriage deteriorated until she and their children were no longer able to live in the same home with him. However, despite their time of separation, she never stopped loving Mark, or praying for him.
I liked some of the lessons from this book that could be generalized to other relationships. For example, McClain talks about how she nagged Mark about attending church with her or about his relationship with God. She stated that she was attempting to fill the role of the Holy Spirit. I also liked it when she shared about the lessons she learned about how the sin in her life negatively affected her marriage.
However, most of this book was very difficult to read. Her descriptions of how Mark became progressively more violent and unpredictable were very hard to imagine, especially as there were children in the home. I admire her stubbornness in not giving up on her marriage, but I shudder when imagining what her children experienced.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book. I personally did not care for it, but recognize that others might love it. It is a wonderful story of love, forgiveness, and redemption. In our society where divorce is entirely too common, a book like this that demonstrates reconciliation is inspiring. However, no one should remain in a situation where anger and violence is a regular part of life. McClain did eventually separate from her husband, but only after enduring a very tenuous situation for too long.
I struggle to know who to recommend this book to. I don’t think women in similar situations can read this book and believe they will have a similar outcome. Yes, God does work miracles in relationships and heal people from their addictions. However, sometimes things do not work out in the same way as it did for McClain. I would hate to think of someone who was injured by staying with or reconciling with someone believing they had changed when in fact they had not.
If you are looking for a story of God’s grace, mercy, and his power to restore the broken and lost, this is a story for you. If you are in a relationship with someone who has an addiction and demonstrates anger and violence, get help for yourself and distance yourself from the relationship. After some time has passed, for McClain it was three years, and you are in a place of personal healing, you might enjoy this book, but please don’t read it as a guide to work out your own relationship “no matter what”.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.