By Dave Jenkins
From the beginning of my relationship with my wife Sarah, I determined we would have a date night. We would often go on a date to a restaurant and then to a movie. The rest of the week we would chat and hang out with one another, often watching shows, or talking about what was going on in our lives. Yet, date night was viewed as a special night where phones went away along with every other form of distraction. As I’ve grown as a shepherd-leader, I’ve learned that, while having a date night is important, viewing date night in this way can lead to many problems. That is why I’m writing and encouraging men that date night shouldn’t be just one night a week but every night. I want you to understand how to get a Ph.D. in your wife so that your marriage will prosper and glorify God.
I challenge you to read that last sentence to your wife. She’ll likely nod her head as my wife did when I originally read it to her. Why did my wife nod her head? My wife loves date night; she enjoys going out to eat and going to movies, yet she wants more. Behind going out to eat and going to a movie (or whatever activity your wife loves), is the idea that she is spending significant time with me.
I know I’m in trouble with my wife when she makes it a point to highlight how I’ve been working too much. She will kindly point out that the time to stop working is now (or typically at the end of an eight hour work day), which means I need to put away my laptop or whatever I’m doing and spend time with her. Truly, I view this as an act of kindness on her part. She is telling me that she cares enough about me to make sure I don’t work myself into an early grave. What my wife is saying is that she wants time with me—time to grow in our relationship with one another. She is communicating that she needs me because she loves me and needs emotional, mental, and spiritual care.
I’m going to be brutally honest with you here: I’ve often failed to care for my wife. As I wrote that last sentence, I winced to think at how many times in the past seven years I’ve failed to put away whatever I was working on and focus on my wife when she intimated she needed me. By the once-a-week-date-night standard, I was doing well. I was after all taking my wife regularly on a date night to the movies. My problem, as I now see clearly, was I thought that this form of “date night” was all I needed to nurture and take the lead in my marriage. That is why the approach of taking your wife on a date night is a good start, but it isn’t everything. Men need to study their wives like we are to read and study the Word of God. You may be getting an education in school, but you should be getting an education as a married man—studying the precious gift God has given you in your wife.
Have you ever thought of your marriage in these terms? Chances are you haven’t. We live in a culture that promotes passivity in our relationships. Yet, the Bible repeatedly challenges our apathy and calls us to something radically ordinary. The radicalness of the Christian life is that we are to take up our cross and follow Jesus in all of life. No, this does not mean just part of our life is under God’s lordship. All of it is under His direction and guidance.
This is so important because, until you see your life this way, you will continue living however you please. Paying lip service to glorifying God by the way you live. A life that truly reflects God’s grace is one that takes serious both His grace and applying that grace to all of life. That is why the approach so commonly given as advice to married couples on dating one’s spouse is so dangerous. It isn’t just one day that you need a week to spend with one another. No, you need each other every day. You need to grow in loving your wife everyday as you are growing in God’s grace. As men we are called to this because loving our wives isn’t a suggestion, it is a command! There are real stakes here, that even our prayers (as 1 Peter 3:7 teaches) will be hindered if we do not show kindness and love to our wives. Date your wives, men, not just one day of the week but every day.
Get a Ph.D. in your wife. That takes time I know, I’m still learning, repenting, and growing in this. Continue on men of God—love Jesus, love your wives, and watch as God uses ordinary in powerful ways for His glory.
BIO: Dave Jenkins is the Director of Servants of Grace Ministries. He and his wife Sarah are members at Ustick Baptist Church in Boise, ID where he serves in a variety of ministries. You can follow him on twitter @DaveJJenkins.
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