There are absolutely no surprises in this book, Rick and Bubba’s Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage by Rick Burgess & Bill Bussey. Look at the cover. Read the description. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself.
In short, if you’re the middle-‘Murica, somewhat Christian-y, suburban white person this is geared towards (who’s likely the exclusive group that reads this kind of Christian bookstore fodder), you’ll probably enjoy it. But not because you will learn anything. Not because you will grow. Not because there’s anything of substance or depth here. Just dad jokes and dad stories about how gosh-darn knuckleheaded these guys are, how hot their wives are, and how (gasp!) marriage is hard and requires communication and love.
Along the way to those profound insights are the kind of conservative cultural Christian Evangelical tropes one expects from silly books like this. “Culture” is evil and bad and waiting to suck the Jesus out of you. Women should submit to their husbands and husbands should lead their families (“but not because we’re misogynists! We’re the first tell you our wives are far more capable than we are! It’s just because the Bible says!”). Keep God at the center of your life. Try to eat and be healthy, but also make fun of how obese you are.
I admit, there are a couple of chapters here where they go into their “let’s get serious for a second mode” that are a touching. One of the authors has lost a child and talks about the pain of burying your child. It’s a moment of tenderness that only receives a few pages of attention in a book of inane ramblings about suburban culture and first world problems. I found myself wishing he’d written a whole book on the experience of that. But alas, no.
Am I overly cynical and critical? Yes. Am I over-sensitive because of my own biases and baggage from having been raised in this culture? Yes. Is my own graduate work in theology and biblical training making me bristle too much at their sanctimony and descriptions of church life? Yes.
But am I expecting too much of them? No. I don’t know who these two authors are. They’ve written a whole bunch of books that recycles this same tone and angle on a whole host of issues and consider their act a “comedy routine” (who’s laughing, I don’t know). But every statistic shows that the marriages within the very audience they’re most likely to reach are the ones in this country that need so much help and support–and they simply won’t find it here.
These guys have a platform before a group of men and women that need truth spoken to them, challenges offered against how they live and structure their lives together, and deconstructions of how they use their own church culture to mask the sin in their lives and souls.
No discussion here of pornography or healthy sex lives. No talk of how to really grow spiritually intimate with your spouse (just talk of “spiritual leadership”, whatever that actually means). No encouragements for the inevitable time when one or both spouses meet others outside their marriage who, in their heart of hearts, they think might make a better spouse than the one they have now. No admonishments for how toxic the usual suburban views of masculinity are. None of the real crises to family and spiritual life in middle America are spoken of here. Just silly har har bathroom-reading material.
DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.