Published by IVP on October 27, 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Marriage
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"People say our marriage is impossible." Laurie and Matt Krieg are in a mixed-orientation marriage: a marriage in which at least one partner's primary attraction isn't toward the gender of their spouse. In the Kriegs' case, Laurie is primarily attracted to women--and so is Matt. Some find the idea of mixed-orientation marriage bewildering or even offensive. But as the Kriegs have learned, nothing is impossible with God--and that's as true of their marriage as anyone else's. In An Impossible Marriage, the Kriegs tell their story: how they met and got married, the challenges and breakthroughs of their journey, and what they've learned about marriage along the way. Christianity teaches us that marriage is a picture of Jesus' love for the church--and that's just as true in a mixed-orientation marriage as in a straight one. With vulnerability and wisdom, this book lays out an engaging picture of marriage in all its pain and beauty. It's a picture that points us, over and over again, to the love and grace of Jesus--as marriage was always meant to do.
Get ready for a marriage book unlike anything you’ve seen before. An Impossible Marriage is the story of Laurie and Matt Krieg and their experiences dealing with past sexual trauma, pornography addiction, and mixed-orientations within their marriage. The hook of the book is that Laurie is primarily attracted to women—and so is Matt. This lack of natural sexual attraction coupled with other areas of trauma and brokenness led them through some difficult times in their marriage where many people told them just to give up.
But instead of giving up, the Kriegs learned to grow together in other ways, using their strengths to overcome their weaknesses, learning to accept the other and give the other an environment in which they could heal. An Impossible Marriage is a vulnerable, raw story of two people desperately trying to make their relationship work and finding that it could only be held together through Christ.
I do want to be clear: The Kriegs are not saying “If we can make it, you can too.” Instead, they are calling believers to look at their marriage in a new light. To the Kriegs, marriage is performative prophecy: it shows the world what the relationship between Christ and the church is like. Of course, there are caveats. The Kriegs aren’t advocating that you stay in abusive relationships or that you marry someone you dislike just to preach this Christ-and-the-church metaphor.
What they do is decentralize—really de-idolize—the role of sex in a marriage relationship. They agree that it is important, that is an intimate part of the relationship, that it is part of the Christ-and-the-church metaphor, but that sexual compatibility does not make or break the relationship. Instead, the marriage relationship is built around a shared vision, shared communication, shared goals, and a shared commitment toward the other.
None of this is stated overtly, as An Impossible Marriage is told in a conversational tone. Laurie and Matt take turns writing from their own perspectives, offering an intimate glimpse into their lives and relationship. One of the middle chapters, “Oneness, Even When We Marry the Wrong Person,” begins with the idea that we all marry the wrong people. There is no perfect partner. There is no single soulmate. The fact that Laurie married someone of the “wrong” gender for her sexual orientation doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. It presents challenges, of course, but so does any marriage.
When I went into An Impossible Marriage, I thought that the book would be more of a memoir on making a mixed-orientation marriage work. (The back cover copy using the term three times may have contributed to that.) But what I found was that the book is much more. The struggles of the Krieg marriage are talked about in ways that any married couple can relate and the advice that comes through the Krieg’s experience is universally applicable. Above all, the Kriegs see marriage as much more than sexual compatibility but as a metaphor of the Kingdom of God and Christ’s relationship with his people. That’s not a spiritualization of marriage, but a recognition that marriage is deeper than sex—and even deeper than a deeply intimate friendship. It means something, personally and theologically, and is worth the inevitable struggles that come.