Sunday, January 8, 2017

Book Review: Rekindled

A Fair Trade Book

(Multiple editions are available; this Amazon graphic link shows the photo on the cover of the paperback I physically own, although it's a photo of the hardcover first edition.)

Title: Rekindled

Author: Pat and Jill Williams and Jerry Jenkins

Pat Williams' web site:

Jerry Jenkins' web site:

Date: 1985

Publisher: Revell

ISBN: 0-8007-1417-2

Length:160 pages, including discussion questions

Quote: “It would be an understandable error to assume that identifying with the love and marriage of a professional sports executive and a beauty queen might be impossible…But they are…people with problems like everyone else.”

(And how! First the review of the book I own and am willing to share, and then I'll discuss the "sequel" of the authors' biographies...)

Sure enough, after ten years Jill decides, “I hate this marriage. It’s boring me to death….I don’t even know if I ever loved you,” and starts reciting “the countless complaints she had registered for so many years, never having felt she had really gotten his attention long enough to get any response.” Her complaints are almost generic. “We never do anything together unless it’s something you want to do…why can’t you remember…the special days?...You never touch me unless you want something more. You never say nice things to me in front of people…You never really listen. You either interrupt or don’t let me talk at all.”

To which Pat cluelessly replies, “I know you’re the girl God picked out for me.” Well, duh. Ten years after an official passage out of  “girlhood,” he might’ve noticed she’s a woman.

They were such typical young people. They hardly knew who they were going to grow up to be. They wanted to be free to act out their hormonal impulses. When they met each other, recognized each other as “catches,” found out that they were practicing Christianity in similar ways, and finally admitted a mutual physical attraction to each other, they expected that to be enough to make them Partners for Life. As is so typical, it wasn’t.

People who invest heavily in the sports industry are more than just fanatical fans. Their business requires them to become obsessed. Jill felt neglected.

Many women would feel honored and “liberated” if their husbands asked them to handle the family finances. Jill felt “very put upon.”

Guys who enjoy playing sports are likely to think that being a professional manager, coach, or sponsor would be the perfect job. Pat felt disappointed

They had conversations like:

“Can’t we do something together? Anything?”
“Okay. I was going to go to the Phillies game tomorrow. Wanna go?”
“Why does it always have to be something you want to do. Let’s go to The Nutcracker Suite.”
“I can’t think of anything I’d less rather do.”
“See? We always do what you want to do…” etc. etc.
“Okay, all right, we’ll go to The Nutcracker.”
“Really? You really want to?”

Pat didn’t mind if Jill did the things she wanted to do by herself. Jill felt that she “had too much freedom.”

And then Jill came down with major depression, in a totally typical way. To her doctor, she presented a textbook case of emotional frustration with her marriage and a physical illness. (Luckily, the physical illness was identified right away.)

The position of this web site is that it’s crucial for depressive people to understand that, no matter how many frustrated emotions they have, or how justified their discontent is, the primary reason why they don’t feel any pleasant emotions any more is physical. Fix facts first: feelings follow means that if you really hate your job, you need to change jobs. It also means that if you not only hate your job but also can’t sleep at night, can’t wake up in the morning, don’t enjoy meals, don’t feel much pleasure with your children or pets or the beauty of nature, don’t feel like taking any exercise, and aren’t doing anything “creative,” your problem may have nothing to do with hating your job; you might need anything from a vitamin supplement to major surgery but, if the fact of your disease can be “fixed,” you may find that you love your job as much as you did when you chose it. Most of the depressive people I know haaate this piece of truth, because what it means for them is that they need to exercise before breakfast and take control of their carb cravings, but it’s still true.

Jill was luckier. She had a “blood disease” that was dramatic enough to get her attention, that responded (for the time being) to specialized, expensive treatment. She respected her disease and her doctor’s advice, and cooperated with her treatment plan much better than many people whose depression would be easier to cure.  But, meanwhile, as she blamed Pat for her emotions, she seemed to him “as though she’d been run over by a truck,” and Pat “was panic-stricken…My reaction was, have I done this?”

Jill had, by her own account, become a chronic verbal abuser. Pat was toughing it out because the emotional pressure at his job was even worse. Chronic verbal abusers probably deserve to be left, but Pat, somewhat miraculously, wanted to keep Jill…even while illness was still aggravating her moods. “Jill had napped most of the afternoon, yet, even so, was on her way to bed early. Pat struggled with…the frustration over her not even lookng at him…regret that at times he had treated her the same way, though without the same reason.”

This produced a good example of what had already, by the 1980s, become a rare genre: the true romance story told from the male perspective. In the 1970s some women carried on about wanting the “right” to blather about their sexual “needs” and desires. By the 1980s women were making so much noise about their sexuality that the commercial media had become obsessed with a new stereotype of the shy, wary, defensive, or downright commitment-phobic man. Pat Williams, however, decided to rebuild his marriage and win his wife back. He read a book by Dr. Ed Wheat and set out on a plan of “blessing, edifying, sharing, and touching.”

And, as of the time of writing, it worked. Jill returned to life.

The one thing it’s possible not to like about a story like the Williams’ is that readers’ mileage may vary. If Jill’s depression had been associated with lactose intolerance, she might have “fallen in love all over again” within a week, rather than months. If it had been associated with one of the rare sudden-death forms of lymphoma, she might have died a few days after admitting she felt depressed. And if guilt over the fact that she’d fallen in lust with a younger man or decided to sell out for a richer one had been involved, seeing how lovable her husband could be might or might not have kept her from committing adultery and/or leaving. All husbands get some good results from taking the time to express sincere love for their wives, listen to what we say we want, and do that…but some husbands get better results than others.  

So, Rekindled is recommended for anyone who is or may someday be married. Mileage may vary, but this book does explain how to put the right fuel in the tank.

Now, about the rest of the story...

The authors stayed together for more than ten years after writing this book. Our e-friend Jerry Jenkins also helped them write a sequel, Keep the Fire Glowing. and a 1995 updated edition. Possibly the 1995 edition was written in a spirit of hubris. Possibly Pat Williams was starting to feel his own medical problems. In 1996 the couple divorced.

One of the issues in the Williams' marriage had been adopting other children (as well as their own four). They had a total of eighteen children when they divorced. Pat Williams remarried and currently lists his second wife as the "mother" of "their" nineteen children (she had one from her own first marriage). He currently describes himself as a "motivational speaker" rather than a Christian speaker. For audiences, "motivational" is probably good enough; he worked with winning athletes for a long time and has enjoyed an awesome remission from multiple myeloma.

Jill Williams seems to be keeping herself out of the public eye.

If a couple write a book about saving their marriage from one potential disaster, and then fail to save their marriage from another disaster, does that discredit their book? Some readers think so:

Or does it simply show that even their results could vary? If someone writes a book about whatever allowed him or her to survive one illness, injury, etc., and then dies from some other medical problem later on, does that discredit the first book? When Pat Williams dies, from whatever it may be, will that invalidate the fact that autologous marrow transplants (transplanting healthy marrow from the patient's own body to replace damaged marrow) have bought many years for many patients with multiple myeloma?

Personally...of the three co-authors of Rekindled, Jenkins is my favorite. Nevertheless, the idea of the husband doing the work of "rekindling" the marriage (while he was still able) pleases me enough that I still recommend that couples at least read this book, and try. Jerry Jenkins no longer needs a dollar, but I'm still willing to offer Rekindled as a Fair Trade Book. Send this web site (addresses at the bottom of the screen) $5 per book plus $5 per package for shipping plus $1 per online payment, and we'll send $1 to Jenkins or a charity of his choice.