The Dude’s Guide to Marriage
As a pastor and counselor, I have been exposed to many things that make my heart grieve. I’m sure you have experienced the same emotion, if you have tried in any capacity to love, serve and minister to sinful people living in a broken world.
Sometimes this grief is short-lived and easily comforted, but other times, my grief is much deeper and long-lasting. Today I want to write about something that produces that latter type of grief, then recommend a resource from friends of mine which I think can significantly help countless husbands and wives.
I speak many weekends each year at marriage conferences around the country, and almost without fail, this same thing happens each weekend: during one of the session breaks, a wife will approach me and say, “This is such helpful material – I wish my husband would have come with me.”
I’m grieved every single time I hear it.
How can a marriage be healthy when the husband is so detached and inactive that he’s unwilling to give up one weekend of his life to focus on it? Why are there so many Christian men who would rather spend a weekend with their golf clubs, fly rods, shotguns, or tennis racquets than they would at a marriage conference with their wives?
How crushing must it be for these women when their husbands reject the conference invitation? What must she be thinking as she takes in the content of the weekend … all by herself? And how is she processing that as she pulls into the driveway, loaded with new hope and enthusiasm for her marriage, only to remember that her husband doesn’t share the enthusiasm?
I wish it only happened a few times here and there. But it doesn’t.
This recurring behavior reveals a deeper and more destructive trait in Christian marriages: neglect. I’m deeply persuaded that the number-one reason marriages fail is not the result of adultery or abuse, but neglect.
Long before adultery takes place and shatters trust, and long before abuse makes the marriage a dangerous place, neglect has already sucked the life out of the marriage, and in so doing, set it up for difficulty and dysfunction of some kind.
You simply cannot have a sinner living with a sinner without focusing and working on your marriage all the time, any more than you can plant a garden and expect it to produce beautiful and healthy flowers without being committed to watering and weeding it.
Now, what I’m going to write next is painful to write, but I must: it is my experience in almost forty years of pastoral ministry that men tend to be way more neglectful of their marriages than their wives are.
There are hundreds of thousands of men every day who, when they punch out from work, essentially punch out from life. This means when they get home, what they secretly want is to be left alone. They aren’t arriving at home willingly and lovingly engaged in the daily maintenance work that it takes to make marriage all that God designed it to be.
Why this marital neglect? The Bible sums it up with a word: sin. Sin makes men (and women) selfish. It gives men antisocial instincts that are destructive to marriage. Sin makes selfishness natural, entitlement natural, demandingness natural, disinterest in others natural, and irritation and impatience natural.
Because we are sinners, it’s simply not natural for us to willingly and patiently serve and love our wives as Jesus loves us. And men, for that to ever be natural, we need help.
That’s why I was so excited when my friend Darrin Patrick told me about a new book he and his wife were writing: The Dude’s Guide to Marriage: Ten Skills Every Husband Must Develop to Love His Wife Well.Darrin and Amie not only have written a very provocative call to men to give themselves to their wives and their marriages, but they have also beautifully and practically detailed what that looks like.
I also love this book because it preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ to every dude who picks it up and reads it. I mean, come on – what man could honestly consider the lifestyle of self-sacrificing love that this book calls all of us to in our marriages and say, “Sure, I can do that, no problem”?
When I read this book, I immediately thought, “This standard is too high; there’s no way I am going to pull it off.” But Darrin and Amie reminded me of the right-here, right-now message of the grace of Jesus. This grace is the hope of every husband.
The Dude’s Guide to Marriage is insightful and practical for every man because it requires you to make one very humbling confession: our biggest, deepest, most long-term problem in marriage, one that none of us can escape, is us!
Beneath the loads of wonderful, practical advice that Darrin and Amie give, you will find something deeper. It’s a call to man up, admit your sin, and seek the help that’s only ever found in the forgiving, enabling, and transforming grace of Jesus. That grace is yours for the taking, and with it comes a brand-new way of marriage.
If you can’t tell, I highly recommend this book. You can learn more about it, and the authors, at www.TheDudesGuide.org.
Paul David Tripp works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life as a pastor, author, conference speaker, Executive Director of The Center for Pastoral Life and Care and President of Paul Tripp Ministries; this article is reprinted with his permission.
Posted on August 10, 2016