Looking for a truly memorable gift for your spouse? Charla Muller has one: Offer your spouse sex every day for a year. That's what she gave her husband, Brad, for his 40th birthday.

The gem of 365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy lies less in the gift itself and more in Muller's motivation for giving it. She and Brad had been married ten years, the last several of which were "off kilter." She struggled with depression and wasn't much interested in sex at all. Her offer of The Gift was a way of telling Brad she was committed to restoring their relationship. Through stories and dialogue, Muller makes the case that marriage is worth unusual sacrifice and work—and that spouses will be happier and healthier for the effort.

Muller makes the point well, but writes kinda like this: "Girls, do what it takes to give your man a slap-happy grinnin' face and you won't be sorry." Throughout the book she alternatively refers to her readers as "girls," "gals," and "sisters." I don't talk like this. In fact, Charla and I don't have much in common. But we both care about our marriages—which is, after all, something significant.

Muller scores well (pun intended) with reflections on marriage during the year of daily sex. She debunks the myth that only beautiful couples deserve or can have good, hot sex. She names the scrutiny wives feel from other women, the changing standards of beauty, and the struggle to cope as women who don't measure up to our own ideal, much less someone else's.

Most chapters have a nugget of marital wisdom: women can't do it all—be super moms, wives, and employees. Something will slide, and it will probably be the super wife role. She names the "aha" moments all married persons come to—a crossroad where we realize that life with our spouse is going to be different than we had thought. Muller talks about the good of standing by our commitments and seeing what surprises may come. I affirm that, though I don't like how she connects it to having sex. She so loathed the idea of having sex at the end that she became tense before even changing into her pajamas.

Reluctance for it aside, Muller found that overall, daily sex made her happier; it made her feel younger, and strengthened her relationship with Brad in ways she had hoped and in ways she hadn't imagined.

Muller hints at her faith throughout the book. She holds Christian values of marital fidelity and perseverance. And while having daily sex made her feel more connected and inclined to be nice to her husband, this book only goes so far. Those wanting something more thoughtful about why sex ought to be pursued with abandon in Christian marriages won't find it here. But the broad popularity of books like this is a good sign that we still desire satisfying marriages.

Finding ways to express commitment, to craft places where we can rest in the embrace of another, reflects God's gift of marriage. For a few, that might include having daily sex. But there are also other ways to keep one's sex life, and love story, alive and well.

Lisa Graham McMinn, professor of sociology at George Fox University and author of Sexuality and Holy Longing (Jossey-Bass, 2004)

Related Elsewhere:

365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy is available at amazon.com and other book retailers.

Christianity Today has a special section on sexuality & gender.

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365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy
Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Book Title
365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy
Release Date
June 24, 2008
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