The Art of Being a Wife

“What’s that, Mum?” asked my son, pointing to a small plastic something-on-the- ground.

“That’s just a barrette,” I replied, off-handedly.

“What’s a barrette?” he asked — framing in one simple question the deeply entrenched boy-culture and the essence of the testosterone-laced air that I have breathed for the past two decades.  With this as background, I approach Barbara Rainey’s Letters to My Daughters with a degree of awe and irony, for I am in the process of solving the other half of the marital equation by raising sons who will also bring to their marriages a high view of the sovereignty of God and a determination to make things work.

Mystery is a major theme in the Bible’s treatment of marriage, and this mystery is tied in with the image of Christ and His bride, the church.  Barbara helps her readers to see through her written replies to questions from her daughters and daughter-in-law that marriage is NOT  a mystery to be solved, but, rather, a mystery to be lived — through great faith and a steady flow of grace and forgiveness, which “keeps the windows clean and clear.”

Drawing on metaphors from art, music, gardening, and even cooking, the Rainey family dialogues on a wide range of subjects including the pros and cons of egalitarianism vs. complementarianism; intimacy and lack of desire; respecting a husband who is not acting respectable; and the gritty process of living a hard-scrabble life beside another sinner.

  • Having logged forty years of marriage, mothered six children, and lived most of those years in the spotlight as a ministry wife, Barbara has earned the right to speak out against “fairy tale” theology in which God owes us a happy ending.  She has learned the hard way that it is possible to offer helpful input to one’s husband without becoming his mum.  Ending every disagreement in their marriage with a restatement of their promise to stay together has been glue that has held them in love, along with the truth that the wife is NOT her husband’s moral custodian.  Husbands are responsible for their own hearts before God – and we wives have plenty of our own junk to take care of, anyway.
  • Having endured through some wintry years in her married life, Barbara offers the encouragement that spring can come again.  Without syrup or sentimentality, and with sensitivity toward those who truly are in unhealthy (or even dangerous) relationships, Letters to My Daughters comes alongside young wives with encouragement to believe in their husbands, to exercise verbal self-restraint when tempted to criticize or bad-mouth, and to understand that as dark shadows anchor the objects in a painting, so our shadowed experiences of struggle, and sacrifice anchor us to the God who is solid and unchanging.  He does not send difficult circumstances to “see how much you can bear, but so that you can experience His sustaining strength holding you up.”

As I read this heartfelt exchange between a wise mum and her dear girls, I became even more thankful for the daughter-in-love who has become a precious part of our family.  As daughters of Eve, each of us needs a daily recommitment to trust the Choreographer as we move in harmony with our partner, to embrace the glorious differences between men and women as we follow God’s recipe for reflecting His image so that our marriages can become “a statement of wonder to the watching world — statements of the goodness, the power and the beauty of God.”


This book was provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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27 thoughts on “The Art of Being a Wife”

  1. Michele,
    This book sounds wonderful…so many “wanna reads” so little time. Ending every disagreement with a restatement of the promise to stick it out…love this. “Complimentarianism” – exactly and living the mystery vs. solving it. Sounds like all good stuff. Think I’ll have to pick up a copy! Thanks for your reviews and insights, Michele!


  2. This sounds like a great book, Michele. I can see with you around I will keep adding to an already bulging library. This will be one I will more likely suggest to my daughter and daughter-in-law as they approach this season with my oldest grandchildren who are not yet engaged.


  3. Not heard of this one…or maybe I can’t remember seeing this book..Thanks for the review.
    How are you Michele?
    Hope your Easter was great?
    God Bless


  4. Marriage is a mystery to be lived. I love that. Haven’t heard of this book and usually I’m on top of Christian books. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This book is perfect for newly married’s or about-to-be-married’s — but I must say, that even after nearly 26 years of a happy marriage, I learned from Barbara Rainey’s wise counsel.


  5. Hi Michele,
    This sounds like another good book! I love timeless advice. So much changes everyday in our worlds and our culture is so different, but much about being a wife and having a strong marriage is the same.
    Thanks for your wonderful reviews! You are such a gem!
    Blessings and smiles,


  6. Michele, Dennis Rainey did our premarital counseling. Reading your post brought back good memories! Thanks for sharing about this great resource.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds wonderful. I often write letters to my daughters and my husband does the same every Valentine’s Day. They have made a book out of their copies. I love books/stories like this and I am a huge fan of Barbara’s work. Thanks for sharing this today.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This sounds like a wonderful book. I’m a boy mom of a teen and having been praying for my future daughter in law from the moment I found out I was expecting. I pray I can be half as good as my precious Mother in law was. Thank you for this recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I haven’t read this book, but I would like to! Thanks for reviewing it for us. I was struck by your words “for I am in the process of solving the other half of the marital equation by raising sons who will also bring to their marriages a high view of the sovereignty of God and a determination to make things work.” As the mom of an only daughter, I had a sense of feeling like we are all in this together. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I can remember when all my boys were tiny — even then I felt an urgency to pray for godly wives for them. Now with one married and everyone growing up so fast, I’m thankful for God’s working — but still on my knees!


  10. Is there no end to the books I want to read … now another addition to my long list! LOL This really spoke to me, “… to understand that as dark shadows anchor the objects in a painting, so our shadowed experiences of struggle, and sacrifice anchor us to the God who is solid and unchanging. He does not send difficult circumstances to ‘see how much you can bear, but so that you can experience His sustaining strength holding you up.'” That’s a wonderful thought to chew on for a while! Blessings, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a great review and response Michele… now I’m wishing I hadn’t turned down this one for review. Thanks for sharing with #TheCozyReadingSpot


  12. I’ve heard of this book before, but I hadn’t really been interested in reading it until reading your review. Some of the points you brought out made me realize I might actually enjoy it, despite my usual lack of appetite for non-fiction. 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up this post at Booknificent Thursday on this week!

    Liked by 1 person

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