Guy woos girl.
Girl accepts wooing. Is swept off her feet.
Guy puts ring on girls finger, says I do.
Guy stops wooing and pursuing.
Guy wonders why wife isn’t who she was when they dated.
That scenario has sadly played out in many marriages. Some of these marriages even, regrettably, end in divorce. God has called men to so much more than just dating in order to snag the girl. God has called men to date even more passionately and intentionally once he wins her over. Justin Buzzard has written Date Your Wife to inspire men to date their wives again and to give tips for getting out of this rut.
Buzzard begins his book by encouraging husbands to consider not only the start of marriage in the Garden of Eden but the start of their own marriages. It’s important to do this, says Buzzards, because what he is asking of men in this book is “to do something we’ve already done, something we’ve already built into the foundation of our marriages—to date our wives.” (22)
The second section of the book is the most hard hitting. Buzzard teaches men that what is wrong with their marriage is fundamentally them. Using the story of Adam he notes that he “failed to cultivate his wife—he didn’t cause her to flourish…he failed to guard his wife—he didn’t protect her from danger”. (42)Men have struggled with doing those two things since. Men are the problem in their marriage but men do not have what it takes to fix it. Only the gospel can do that.
It is this life-changing, marriage-altering gospel that Buzzard focuses on in the third section. The gospel makes everything new—including our wives. Because of the gospel we are able to have new dreams for our marriages. After encouraging men to have gospel-motivated dreams for their marriages, the author then gives a few practical tips about how to put a plan in place to fulfill that dream. The book closes with a chapter on death and an encouragement to date our wives in preparation for this day.
There is much in this book that is commendable. There are points in the book that hit me like a brick in the face. But each brick was also soaked in the gospel before whacking me upside my jaw. I need to be encouraged not to take my wife for granted. I wish that wasn’t the case but we don’t really drift into dating our wives.
The action points at the end of each chapter are very helpful as well. The author gives some great ideas that could be tweaked or implemented as is. He also gives 100 dating ideas in an appendix at the end. The fact that the author is young and has three younger boys helps him to write from “in the trenches” and to be realistic in many of his suggestions for dates. (Although sometimes his suggestions would be more expensive than I could pull off—unless sacrificing the electric bill is protecting my wife).
I also appreciate Buzzard putting a quick message from 90 year old Bob Mounce. Tim Challies, has offered a helpful critique of this book. I will echo some of it in a moment. One of the things that Challies mentions is that Buzzard has only been married for a little over 7 years. As he notes, “seven years is not inconsequential, but neither does it carry a great deal of authority.” I can’t help but wonder if Buzzard foresaw this criticism and is using a 90-year old Mounce to give a little more credibility to his claims. Buzzard’s having only been married 7 years is not a major problem for me. (I kind of agree with Aaron Armstrong on that one).
I did however find two things problematic. Not quite enough to make me not recommend the book, but enough to make me recommend it with some caution. The first caution concerns both Justin and Taylor Buzzard discussing how many times per week they have sex. This includes an email that Taylor sent to another woman. It just seems unnecessary and was very off-putting. On more than one occasion they mention a “sex tank” and that the wife needs to make sure to fill her husband’s tank. While I agree with Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 that spouses ought not to neglect frequent sexual union —I don’t think a number is helpful for anything other than boasting. Perhaps there are issues of idolatry that need to be dealt with that a “quickie” wouldn’t. (At one point in the book Taylor refers to quickies as their “Ace in the hole”).
The other place that I find potentially problematic is Buzzard’s insistence on saying, “If you want to change a marriage, change the man”. While I do believe that men are to be leaders, that mean are held accountable for cultivating and caring for their wives, and that men can have considerable influence on their wives, I do not believe that women are entirely passive in the process. I do not think that Buzzard would say that either but it seems implied. There may be times when a man is loving his wife well—yeah he might be messing up in some areas and not absolutely perfect—but he is certainly not the cause of his wife’s rebellion. In these instances Buzzard’s council could be very damaging and wounding.
At the end of the day, though, I think that for the most part husband’s do need to step up and date their wives. This book did not fall on deaf ears. I needed this book. This book, I believe, will be used by God to help my marriage. So, while I did have a little problem with those two things it’s not enough to make me not recommend the book.
Should You Buy It?
For the ideas alone you should buy it. I’d encourage many men to read this book and go through some of the action points with other guys. The practicality of the book is what really sets this book apart from other marriage books.
Some men will need the hard-hitting examples that Buzzard gives. All men will need the grace and the reminder that only Christ can stir up our hearts to care for our wives the way that we are called to.
You can buy this book for under $10 and you should. It was a much needed book in my life and I believe I will use these action points for years to come.