An Impossible Marriage, Laurie Krieg and Matt Krieg. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2020.
Summary: Matt and Laurie Krieg are in a mixed orientation marriage and narrate both the challenges they have faced and what they have learned about God and love as they remained together.
Matt Krieg is attracted to women. And so is Laurie Krieg. They are married to each other. And it hasn’t been easy. Most would consider it impossible. They should just divorce and marry according to their orientations. At one point, they were very close to doing so.
Why did they marry in the first place? Laurie had been in a relationship with a woman when she met Matt. She broke off with the woman, dated Matt for a year and then broke off the relationship. As a follower of Christ, she was willing to be single, “married to Jesus,” as it were. She was still attracted to women. She was committed to a life of ministry. God told her he wanted her to do so as a married woman. To a man. Then Matt came back into the picture. She was honest about her attractions but also her desire to marry Matt.
It seemed that all would be OK. They even weathered Matt’s revelation of his pornography addiction. Then, the birth of Laurie’s second child triggered memories of child sexual abuse and she couldn’t even stand being in the same room as Matt, let alone being touched by him. Sex was off the table. Most of this book is about how Matt and Laurie worked through this seemingly impossible situation and how God met them. Most of the book goes back and forth between Matt and Laurie, and how each of them were processing the relationship.
It was not all about Laurie. Matt had to face how sex was still an idol in his life, not a gift. He came to terms with the “sex as currency” dysfunction of their marriage (I do the dishes so that you will want to have sex). And he recognized the need for affirmation that sex represented, affirmation he didn’t look to God to receive.
For Laurie, a personal retreat brought her to the brink of leaving, and the realization that to do so for her would be to silence the Holy Spirit’s presence in her life. She did not want that. She chose trusting and following Jesus, and returned home. It was only a beginning. She was still triggered often in his presence. She didn’t want to be together. Then she began to wrestle with the meaning of oneness in marriage as a tangible picture of our oneness with God. She began to take half steps toward Matt. Matt let her set the pace. There were breakthroughs of insight, and a slow steady process of becoming friends, holding hands, and going to war in prayer against the memories of abuse.
It is a powerful story of how God made the impossible possible for this couple. This is not a book meant to be weaponized in the polemics around LGBTQ+ issues. While the authors believe that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman, they recognize others differ. The book is really for all married couples (and singles as well, according to the authors). Underlying Jesus teaching about marriage and divorce (Matthew 19:1-12) is the reality that marriage is hard, because it lays bare the hardness of the human heart. All hearts. It might be said that all marriages are “impossible” marriages, yet under God, the impossible is used to form us in understanding the love of God and the oneness with Him into which he invites us.
The element of trauma also makes this an important book for those who have experienced trauma as well as those who love them. Laurie makes the point that her sexual attraction and the abuse in her life are separate, and many who experience sexual abuse are heterosexually oriented. What Matt learns about loving Laurie, and the steps Laurie takes to love Matt while they are still struggling offer an example that might be helpful for others
The authors suggest that marriage involves cultivating seven “gardens”: emotional, spiritual, physical, intellectual, social, family, and stewardship. Connection in all of these is important and neglecting one area affects the others. The book includes a study guide couples can use, or even couples groups where there is trust. The book underscores the importance of having others with whom we can be vulnerable.
This is a powerful and honest narrative. Despite the unique circumstances of their marriage, I recognized the challenges all of us face in marriage, and the hope offered for those who trust in Christ that what seems impossible for us at times is possible in Christ.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.