When I first came across a copy of Reclaiming Stolen Intimacy: When Your Marriage is Invaded By Pornography, I was very thankful. So many wives write heart-breaking comments on Breaking Free looking for something that will help them through the pain they feel knowing their husbands use pornography. Finally, I thought, someone has written a good resource for a wives’ recovery group.
But before I could write a blind endorsement of this book, I decided to send a few copies to some trusted friends, a few women who have been through this struggle in their marriages and some renowned relationship experts. As I received their comments about Reclaiming Stolen Intimacy, I was pleased to see all of them give a glowing endorsement of the book. (I will quote them below in this review.)
When Clay and Renee Crosse wrote their first book, I Surrender All: Rebuilding a Marriage Broken By Pornography, many couples found hope and healing in its pages. By telling their own story of Clay’s fixation on pornography and how it affected their marriage, the Crosses have helped other couples see they are not alone in their struggles. Sometimes nothing is more comforting than knowing someone else has already walked a hard road before you.
What the Book Is
Reclaiming Stolen Intimacy is a book designed for a wives’ support/recovery group. The book leads a group through eight sessions, each about 90 minutes long. Each session follows the same basic outline:
- Getting Started – opening discussion activities, group prayer, and overview of session objectives
- Discovering the Truth – presents timeless principles for the group to discuss
- Embracing the Truth – challenges women to examine their attitudes and behaviors in light of divine truth
- Connecting – encourages wives to discuss their resistance to change and the difficulties they might encounter when applying biblical truth
- Taking It Home – offers practical suggestions on how to implement a new pattern of behavior, as well as ways for each member of the group to prepare for the next session
The book also gives many helps for group leaders, including specific instructions about how to prepare for each session, and a general guide about leading a successful group.
Founder of Redemptive Heart Ministries, Mark Gaither, comments that the book “takes wounded wives by the shoulders to assure them that while the process will be difficult, they have been promised divine help. And because it is specifically designed for a small group study, women can be assured they need not persevere alone.”
What the Book Is Not
Reclaiming Stolen Intimacy assumes each reader’s husband has reached a place of repentance; therefore, the study is best used in this context. This book is not necessarily for women whose husbands continue to sin. While some women in this position will find relief through this study, they may find it more frustrating than helpful.
Starting Where We Are
Renee and Clay wisely begin the healing process by meeting women where they are, titling the first four of eight chapters after the self-talk they undoubtedly hear: “This Can’t Be Happening”; “Is This My Fault?”; “How Can I Ever Trust Him Again?”; and “I’m Done with This.”
Each chapter guides wives along a well-marked path from helplessness to determination. Porn to Purity author, Marsha Fisher, comments, “I like the way the book provides participants with a road map for navigating this unfamiliar territory. When the discovery of pornography is made, a spouse’s world is turned upside down. She is looking for a path to follow and this study provides the path—eight steps rooted in Scripture women can take on the road to restoration.”
Biblical Teaching, Personal Testimony, and Community
Marsha Fisher also comments, “When a wife finds out that her husband is addicted to pornography, she believes (wrongly) that they are the only ones with this problem. Reclaiming Stolen Intimacy shares the stories of several women who have not only walked in the readers shoes, but found the road to healthy recovery as they grow closer to the Lord.” Throughout the study readers will see many personal letters from hurting women and helpful “Word from Renee” sections.
But the backbone of the study is Scripture. Laura Booz tells me, “My favorite aspect of this book is that it uses Scripture as its primary counsel, which allows a woman to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice clearly and accurately.”
Cindy Beall comments, “All in all, this book is an incredible resource. The way Clay and Renee combine Biblical stories and practical information is really well done. I believe it will help so many women.”
Things for Leaders to Keep in Mind
- As a group leader take time to carefully review the leader instructions before you come to the group setting. Prayer and preparation are crucial to leading any group. As a group leader, read through the introduction (p.3-4) and then skip to the group leading guides in the back (p.121-128).
- Good curriculum, no matter how good, is no replacement for authentic relationships and godly mentoring. Use the book as a guide for discussion, but remember, transformation is more than information.
- Make use of the the “Group Covenant” on page 21. This will establish important boundaries that will help each participant to feel safe as she delves into the depths of her heartache and chooses to hope in restoration.
- You may find it more appropriate to modify or skip some of the openers. It depends how keen your group is on icebreakers. Some may find these “Getting Started” activities helpful. Other groups may want to dive right into the meat of the study right away.
- Clay and Renee tread softly and lightly on the the subject of sexuality. Many women might benefit from additional materials that broach this topic, helping them think about to develop physical and emotional intimacy with their husbands.
“Reclaiming Stolen Intimacy remains the best recovery aid for women I have encountered.” (Mark Gaither)
“I believe with all my heart that this will be a valuable resource. Clay and Renee have taken their pain and are using it to contribute to the healing in others’ lives.” (Cindy Beall)
“I strongly recommend this study, especially for groups reaching out to women who have just found out about their husband’s addiction to porn.” (Marsha Fisher)
“Packed full of living Scripture, encouragement, honesty, and helpful advice, Reclaiming Stolen Intimacy will be a very helpful resource to a woman whose husband is using pornography.” (Laura Booz)
“This book strongly hits issues that are relevant to the restoration process of a porn-invaded marriage. I especially appreciate how it directs a person’s anger and disappointment at the appropriate target – i.e., Satan. Its concepts for rebuilding values essential for a strong, healthy marriage are right on.” (Joyce Oglesby)