At some point you have to wonder—do we really need more marriage books? With all the books that are out there, is there more that can be added to the discussion?
If Justin Buzzard’s new book, Date Your Wife, is any indication, yes. In this short book, Buzzard confronts husbands’ complacency, challenges them to woo their wives to the glory of God while sharing his own experiences as a husband seeking to date his wife.
As Buzzard looks at dating your wife through the lens of the Bible’s big story of creation, fall, redemption and reconciliation, he paints a big vision for the work of marriage. “Your marriage didn’t start on your wedding day,” he writes. “Husband, your marriage started on your first date. During that first date with your bride, you began laying the foundation for the day you would say, ‘I do.’ You began laying the foundation your marriage stands upon today” (Kindle location 218).
This is an important reminder that so many of us need—our dating relationship sets the tone for our marriages, for better or worse. Our pursuit of our wives is a calling entrusted to us by God, a call first entrusted to our first parent, Adam:
Central to Adam’s calling as a husband was the call to cultivate and guard his wife so that she would flourish, so that their sacred union would thrive. God called Adam to date his wife. God didn’t present Adam to Eve. He presented Eve to Adam. God put the woman in the man’s hands, having already told the man to handle with care the gift he would be given. (Kindle location 504)
Read that again. It’s a pretty weighty statement, isn’t it? Think about the responsibility that comes with it. Think about it too long and it’s easy to get to a place where you realize that, perhaps, the worst thing that could have happened to your marriage is you. For many of us, the issues we find in our marriages have far less to do with anything our spouses have done and far more with our own issues.
But the good news is, as Buzzard points out, “The problem with men isn’t the responsibility, the problem is men think they have the power to carry out the responsibility.”
This is where the gospel changes everything in our pursuit of our wives. Too often we get (and sometimes give) the advice to just do more, try harder, live up to the responsibility of being a husband. We see the calling that God has given and we feel the weight, but we realize we can’t do anything about it. We’re crushed.
You crush a man if you only talk to him about responsibility. You empower a man if you talk to him about responsibility—about living life in response to the power and ability of God. (Kindle location 738)
As a husband always striving to improve his marriage, this is the kind of common-sense advice I need to read. It’s simple, but profound because it’s connected to the gospel. It turns the pursuit of a good marriage from an obligation to a response to all that God has done in reconciling us to himself, sending Jesus to die for us, and sending his Spirit to dwell within us, and assuring us that someday, all truly will be made new.
It’s important for readers of this book to note that Buzzard doesn’t really set out to flesh out a theology of marriage. This is not the book to look to for that. While there is a clear theology of marriage at work within it, Date Your Wife is more about the practical, everyday work of building a God-glorifying marriage. And honestly, that’s what was most helpful for me this time around (I’ve been reading a lot of marriage books lately).
What I needed was a guide to the “how” of dating my wife, something that gives me a starting point to build off of. This book is a huge gift in that regard. Most practical for husbands (beyond the application questions at the end of each chapter) are what Buzzard refers to as the “Air War” and “Ground War” plans to date your wife.
The Air War is the big idea—what are the big rocks you can put into the calendar over the course of the next twelve months, the immovable items that you must protect? These are really broad in the degree of definition given; it’s things like “We’re going to have a date night every week—we’ll go out for two and stay in for two.”
The Ground War is really about the details—what do those dates look like? What are the little things you can do to show your wife you love her on a daily basis? Super-practical and super-helpful stuff.
In the end, that’s probably the greatest gift that Justin Buzzard can give any of the readers of Date Your Wife: practical, helpful advice to figure out what it looks like to date our wives day-by-day ‘til death do us part. I was greatly encouraged reading this book and I trust you will be as well.
Title: Date Your Wife
Author: Justin Buzzard
Publisher: Crossway (2012)