This promising self-help text shows that addiction and other mental health challenges don’t have to destroy or end relationships.
R. Christian Bohlen and Helen M. Bohlen’s self-help book Healing the Stormy Marriage encourages couples to cultivate emotional awareness.
With a focus on mindfulness practices, the book discusses the emotional states and reactions of Christian spouses in different mental health and addiction scenarios. It uses examples from the authors’ marriage to show how couples can weather tough conditions together. As it names primary emotional reactions, including guilt, rejection, and powerlessness, it suggests that these relate to people’s core beliefs about themselves in their relationships; but, by separating feelings from actions, the text suggests, a spouse’s internal physiology in tense situations can change, leading to improved marital health.
Each chapter focuses on potential questions that arise when one is confronting addiction and mental illness in their relationship, including feelings of self-doubt and inquiries like “can I survive this?” The book is seamless about its integration of religious concepts with emotional psychotherapy, and it credibly encourages couples to see things from their spouse’s point of view. Here, marital health requires that both parties remain open to God’s plan; God is presented as the sole source of judgment about a spouse’s addiction or mental health issues.
The text differentiates between abusive relationships and challenging emotional relationships well, arguing that codependency and physical, emotional, and verbal harm are never in God’s plan. It recommends determining whether a relationship is salvageable via prayer, using the example of Simon Peter discerning that Jesus was the messiah, to assert that spouses of faith will know in their hearts whether they should stay in their relationships or not: God will bestow the answer, it says.
Graphics, tables, and quotes are used to amplify the reactive, emotional, and spiritual concepts discussed throughout. One diagram illustrates the reciprocal relationship between spouses and God; directive lists state what can be done without a mental health professional’s help; and biblical quotes are shared as a source for contemplation. Still, the book’s emphasis on spouses without addiction issues adopting an attitude of self-sacrifice in order to endure the fallout of their spouse’s struggles may prove counterproductive to its condemnations of abuse.
Healing the Stormy Marriage outlines healthy habits for Christian couples hoping to initiate mutual spiritual and emotional growth; its work is accessible and applicable to every kind of relationship.
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.