My parents gave me this book for Christmas. I've really enjoyed it so far. This is the second one of Gary Thomas' (no relation) what I've read. The first was Sacred Marriage. James and I read that book together, and it was really helpful. There were discussion questions that corresponded with each chapter at the end of the book.
Sacred Influence is the second book for Christian wives that I've read, and I prefer it over the first one I picked up. I read The Excellent Wife once while I was in pharmacy school and again after I had a full time job. I know Martha Peace's book has had a very positive impact on a lot of women, and I'm thankful for that. It just didn't speak to me. She hammers down the importance of keeping a home and not working outside of the home so that you can be the ever ready helpmate for your husband. Both times I read the book, I was at a place in life I couldn't be a stay at home wife. I was in professional school the first time, and the second time I was working full time so James could go to grad school. She's definitely biblical; I just didn't have time in my life for her suggestions about making sure the house is tidy before you leave for the day.
Sacred Influence is a different kind of book. You don't have to be living the idealistic stay-at-home-mom life to have it touch your heart. Thomas speaks of the condition of your heart, and reminds you that you are a fallen sinner and so is your husband and that your marriage is tied and bound by the grace of God.
Here's an excerpt:
A good marriage doesn't happen by accident, and a good marriage isn't maintained by accident. I've never written a book by accident, and you can't build a business by accident. These endeavors require deliberate choices and much perseverance. When you start acting instead of merely wishing, when you begin taking initiative instead of simply feeling sorry for yourself, you become an active woman, and active women mirror the active God who made them.
I know many of us find it easy to pray for the "small matters" of life - safe travels, good rest, good weather for our vacations, but sometime we fail to pray for big things of life - our spouse's walk with God, wisdom in sharing our faith, and the endurance to be faithful to carry out the tasks of ministry that God has given us.