The Complete Husband by Lou Priolo

This volume contains a familiar rehash of neuthetic counseling principles and concepts. There is nothing particularity new here for those knowledgeable of this genre, but for those who are not, a great deal of the contents should prove helpful.

While The Complete Husband contains much good information there are also several issues of concern. Some of these issues (listed below) are important enough that I would recommend limited and careful use of this book.

1. Believers are broken into two categories that will be familiar to readers of neuthetic literature: the feeling-oriented and the obedience-oriented (p.24). But what about a third option, one more in tune with New Testament teaching as opposed to Old Testament? I speak of the Spirit-filled or Spirit-controlled-oriented person.

2. I Peter 3:7 does not tell us to understand our wives, but to live with them in an “understanding way” (p.24). There is a world of difference between the two.

3. Philippians 2:13 does not say that God will give us the desire to walk in obedience after we obey, rather it is God who initiates the desire in the first place (p.25).

4. I do not know where the concept of “a woman’s prerogative” can be found in the Scriptures (p. 28).

5. Self-talk is a pop-psychology term. It would seem best in a book dedicated to the biblical approach to life to avoid, when possible, terms that could be misunderstood (p.37).

6. I found the list of questions to ask one’s wife (p.43) to be quite disturbing. First, most of the questions focus on the negative (what is wrong with “me”). Secondly, it seems to me that this type of dialogue is more likely to cause explosions rather than lead to understanding. And finally, the questions, which are supposed to lead to a greater understanding of the wife, focus more on the husband (especially his failures) than on her (cf. p.56; 180-181).

7. I have always found it humorous in such books to read the suggested ways we are to speak to our spouse. On p.63, for example we are given this example of the wife who tends to burn supper, “Sweetheart, you’ve obviously spent a lot of time preparing this meal. Thank you. It’s quite good. Have you been able to figure out how to keep the chicken moist and juicy?” Come on, not even Lawrence Welk talks like this. And if he did surely his wife would see through his thinly disguised complaint and pop him on the head with a pan. Be a man and deal with the issue kindly but clearly, or develop a taste for blackened meat J.

8. We are told that anger is an emotion God designed to destroy something (p.68). This is an interesting definition but would be hard to defend biblically.

9. The definition of love given on p.90, “Love is giving others what they need without having some temporal reward as the primary motive,” seems somewhat incomplete and forced. He has not proven from Scripture that this is the best definition. Even our Lord endured the cross, “for the joy set before Him” (Heb 12:2).

10. The author claims that the root of “all” marriage conflicts is selfishness (p.91). This is an over-simplification.

11. While I am in general agreement with the fact that the Bible never tells us to love ourselves, and that we naturally love ourselves, I believe Priolo is putting his own twist on Scripture by claiming that, “Love your neighbor as yourself . . . does not mean you should necessarily love your neighbor in the same ways you love yourself, but rather with the same intensity with which you naturally love yourself” (p.96). I don’t know by what authority he can make this judgment. I personally would lean the other direction, but perhaps God means both.

12. Priolo is occasionally weak in his use of Scripture. For example he allorgizes Matthew 18:21-35 (p. 111) and uses Hebrews 12:15 out of context (p.112).

13. The author blindsided us with the use of “co-dependent” (p.190), a concept that most neuthetic counselors find repugnant. It is true that in a footnote he explains, “the more biblical term is usually ‘idolatrous’ relationships.” But then, who reads footnotes, and why not use the biblical terminology and not risk confusing the reader?

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