Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard

At the end of this month, I will celebrate my 15th wedding anniversary to Monique. Some of my favorite memories of those pre-marriage days with her were our dates together. I think both of us knew early on in dating that this was going to move towards marriage. And in one year and one week from our first date, we were married. According to Justin Buzzard, at that point, our dating relationship was not over, but should have just been starting.

That is the theme of his book, Date Your Wife. Since the book was released in 2012, I have wanted to read it. I am glad I finally took some time to get to it because this book really challenged my thinking on continually pursuing my wife. When I picked up the book to read it, I quickly became aware of how important this message is for the Christian. In the opening pages of the preface, he makes a statement that really scared me:
"Make a list in your head of the marriages you've seen that you actually like. How many married couples can you think of that have a thriving marriage--a good, happy, alive marriage--the kind of marriage that makes other people want to get married" (15).
When I read that, I was scared because I struggled to come up with a handful of marriages that I could put in that category. To be fair, I am sure there are many couples I know that should be in that category, I just do not know them well enough to speak of their marriage like that. As I thought about it, it made me sad that I didn't have many names to list immediately. And then I thought, "Would anyone put our marriage in that category?" I want to be clear, I do not want to work on my marriage simply so I could be included in a list like that. I want to have a good healthy marriage for us, our children, and the glory of God. But it did make me think about how others view our marriage.

Buzzard does a great job of making this book easy to read. It is filled with helpful stories and action points. I think one of the best uses of this book would be in a small group of men. He ends each chapter with helpful, thoughtful questions for men to ask of themselves. But men meeting together to talk about their marriages might just turn out to not be super enjoyable. He very clearly states the problem in marriages are the men.
"Men are the problem. If you want to change a marriage, change the man. If you want to change your marriage, you must first see that you are the main problem in your marriage . . . You are what is wrong with your marriage. It's your fault. This is the second most important truth to learn from this book: it's your fault. You are the husband. You are the man. And God has given man the ability to be the best thing or the worst thing that ever happened to a marriage. Before you can be the best thing that ever happened to your marriage, you must see that you have always been the worst thing that happened to your marriage" (40-41).
That might sound harsh. And let's be honest, there are probably many marriages where the man is doing everything right. But the reality is that Buzzard is trying to get men to take the responsibility in that relationship; something we do not like to do. He states this is the second most important truth of the book. The first? That God can change men. He roots his arguments deep in the well of the gospel. He  clearly shows that God makes a man able to pursue His wife only when that man realizes how much God has pursued him (79). That's the gospel truth that we need to hear.

He ends the book with very helpful advice on creating a plan for dating your wife. If you do not plan it, it won't happen. He begins with a large picture of a month by month plan for the year (he calls this the air war). How many times a month the next year will you date your wife? What are the large-scale plans? Will you go out of town or stay at home? How much money are you willing to budget for these dates?

This is good, but it must be connected with a weekly schedule of how you are going to pursue your wife (he calls this the ground war). When is your day off? What are your priorities? The key is that he encourages this to happen before anything else gets put on the calendar. He says,
"Once you have created your air war and your ground war, you've completed an annual Date-Your-Wife Plan. Now all you do is follow the plan. Since now you've blocked off your year and your weeks to date your wife, you can fill in your calendar with everything else in your life: work, activities with the kids, outings with friends, etc. This process ensures that you approach each new year of life with 'date-your-wife eyes,' that you keep dating your wife a priority above the other priorities in your life" (116). 
Now we will see whether my wife reads my blog. I have 30 days to come up with this plan. She will see it. I doubt many of you ever will. But as I make these plans, I could use your help.

What Are Some Good Ideas For Dates?

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