Let’s Go on a Date!
About the Guest
What is your assignment as a husband? To provide? To protect? To pursue? Justin Buzzard, author of "Date Your Wife", talks honestly about a man's mission to love his wife like Christ loved the church, which includes continuing to love and pursue her long after the ink on the marriage license is dry. Justin encourages husbands to come up with a plan, as he did, for continuing to date their wives throughout the year.
Justin BuzzardJustin Buzzard is founder and lead pastor of Garden City Church, a new church plant in Silicon Valley. Buzzard has been dating his wife for nine years and is the father of three young sons. He speaks widely, writes at JustinBuzzard.net, earned an MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary, and is the author of Consider Jesus.
What is your assignment as a husband? To provide? To protect? To pursue?
Let’s Go on a Date!
Bob: Guys, are you trying to build a stronger, more intimate relationship with your spouse and it just doesn’t seem to be working well? Here is Justin Buzzard with some help.
Justin: I don’t want men just to try harder—most guys are struggling in dating their wives. They think the answer is, “Just try harder.” The answer is, “Jesus”. The answer is that a man needs to come to a fresh awareness of Who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. What Jesus does is Jesus makes men new. Jesus makes husbands new. He makes married men new because marriage, again, exposes the best and the worst about us.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 13th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. So, how does thinking about Who Jesus is and what He’s done have any impact on your marriage relationship? We’re going to explore that subject today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I have had some guys, who have heard people say—and I think we’ve all heard this now—“You need to date your wife, even after you get married. You need to be dating your wife.” I’ve just had some guys who’ve said, “Look, life is really busy. You’re just laying another thing on me. That’s not the magic formula—‘Just date your wife and everything is going to be okay.’” How would you respond to a guy?
Bob: How important is—
Dennis: [Laughter] He’s not read the playbook. He’s not read the playbook. If you go to Ephesians 5, Paul spells it out pretty clearly. The assignment of a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. How did He do that? He gave Himself up. He died for it. He surrendered Himself for it. A man is to take the next step, after he dies to self, and give himself up for his wife to nourish her and cherish her. When you read those commands of Scripture, Bob, how can a man kick it into neutral?
He can’t, but a lot of guys—and I wrote about this a number of years ago. In fact, it was the first book that Barbara and I wrote, Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem. I wrote in the book that a lot of guys feel like when marriage occurs, the prize is won and the competition is over.
Well, you know what? I’ve got news for you. The competition is not over. It’s not over for your wife’s heart. There are other men who could win your wife’s heart. It’s not over for your wife’s growth of following Jesus Christ and how she is to be nurtured and cherished in her spiritual life to be a better Christ follower, be a woman of the Word.
I have to tell you on the weekend—this past weekend—I had to sit and look with a great deal of satisfaction as Barbara sat there on our couch with this big Kay Arthur Study Bible that weighs about 143 pounds. She had all of her multi-colored pens out that she’s done from Precept® Bible Studies for the past ten years. My wife is a woman of the Word. Because of that, she’s become a better woman of God and following Jesus Christ. That is the assignment for a man.
Now, did I cause all that? No, but I didn’t discourage it. Hopefully, I created some hunger and some saltiness in her soul for wanting to know God more by how I lived; but a man’s assignment is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church.
Bob: So, you’re saying that this “date your wife” idea is not just take her out for a nice dinner so you can check off the checkbox and say, “Okay, I did that—now, onto the next thing.”
Dennis: No, not at all. In fact, let’s let the author of a new book called Date Your Wife, Justin Buzzard—let’s let him answer that question. Justin, welcome back to the broadcast.
Justin: Good to be here, guys. Yes, that’s a mistake that I think many men make—that they think that dating their wives means take her on a date night once a week—check it off your box. “It’s done.” That’s not, at all, the message of this book.
I define Date Your Wife out of Genesis 2:15. God gave the first man, the first husband, a job description to work and to keep the Garden—to cause life to happen in that Garden, to cause flourishing to happen as they took care of what was going on in that Garden. God gave that man that job before He gave him a wife. So, when God gave the first man a wife, he knew what to do with that wife—to care for her, to guard her so the flourishing would happen.
A man’s call as a husband is exactly what you said, “To love your wife as Christ loved the Church.” That means, you don’t hold back in any area of life. It’s a comprehensive call to cause flourishing to happen for your wife and for your marriage.
Dennis: You can’t kick it into neutral.
Justin: Yes, you can’t kick it into neutral.
Dennis: A man’s got to keep pursuing his wife—keep loving her, guarding her, cultivating her.
Dennis: I like the way you said it in the book—and you just said it here—“Bring life to her.”
Justin: Bring life to her. You talk about the “competition hasn’t stopped”. Well, a man needs to identify the main enemy behind his marriage, and that’s Satan. Satan hates marriages. Satan wants to destroy marriages.
I was thinking about this the other day—the Scripture’s most important treatment on marriage—Ephesians 5. Well, what comes right after that?—Scripture’s most important treatment on spiritual warfare, Ephesians 6. I don’t think that’s an accident, there, in Paul’s writing. I think we have a real enemy who is actively trying to do all he can to destroy marriages and to destroy men. A man needs to know he really has a real battle there. So, the mission wasn’t—didn’t just finish when he got married. It’s just started.
Dennis: You talk about the theme of war. You talk about two forms of going to war, on behalf of your wife—having an air war and a ground war. Where does a man start?
Justin: Well, a man starts with this: Once a man has been made new by Jesus and has kind of made a new resolve to love his wife—to date his wife—he needs to come up with a plan for that. It’s one thing to have great ideas or to have nice vows you say on your wedding day; but if you don’t have a plan for how you are going to implement those, nothing’s going to happen. So, a man needs to plan.
I think a man needs to come up with both an air war and a ground war for how he’s going to date his wife. The air war—that is the “big picture”. That is looking at the big picture of your marriage. That’s when your B-52 bombers are going to fly overhead and drop kind-of-big artillery, to help advance the cause of your marriage.
I asked guys to look at their marriage in sort of one-year chunks. What my wife and I do—our year sort of operates August through July. That’s kind of the academic calendar—that’s how kind of the church works for us. So, that’s how we think of our years.
Every August, I look at—from 30,000 feet—our marriage. I think, “Hey, how can I put together a plan, an air-war plan, for our marriage?” That involves, for us, one big family vacation we take each year—which involves, lots of times, just my wife and me—that involves my wife getting away for two days, just herself, to have a personal retreat. We plan that out, and nothing competes with that.
The thing is guys don’t do this. Guys are used to coming up with big plans for their business, big plans for their next fishing trip—whatever it is they do—but they’ve never been taught about the importance of doing this for their marriage. So, that is the air war.
Then, the ground war—
Dennis: Well, before you move to the ground war, I just want to put a plug in here for a man taking his wife to the Weekend to Remember®--I mean, if you want to sit and soak in the Scripture, together, as a couple. If this isn’t the very best investment in your marriage, we’ll give you your registration fee back.
It works. Why? We’ve been doing these things for over 36 years. It’s a team of people that are trained. It’s not that they’re perfect, but the blueprints are. It’s a great way, as you talk about the air war, to do something really spectacular for your marriage. For a lot of couples, it’s like a second honeymoon.
Bob: Every man ought to be thinking about something like that—that’s going to happen once a year, whether it’s our event or something else. What’s your marriage investment—your marriage deposit—that you are going to make this year? Be intentional about it. What happens with most guys is they go five or six years—nothing. There’s been no investment, no deposit, no—
Bob: —building into the marriage. They’re—that’s like trying to drive a car and never getting the oil changed.
Justin: Yes. Most of this is common sense; right, guys? It’s just common sense that is forgotten; right?
A guy is still operating with that common sense in his business or in his career; but he’s forgotten that common sense that was there when he first began meeting this girlfriend, dating her, heading towards the altar. He was thinking this way then, but he quit thinking this way once he got married because—exactly what we’re talking about—he thought that he already hit the finish line with dating his wife, but—
Bob: So, if the air war is the 30,000-foot level, where you’re looking big picture and thinking strategically about a long period of time, I guess the ground game is kind of that day-to-day?
Justin: Yes. When I talk air war with guys, I say, “Think about your marriage in a one- year chunk. Look at it, sort of monthly—walk through each month, and look at your marriage.
When I talk ground war, I say look at one week in your marriage. How is your week set up? How is your time ordered? What kind of time are you getting with your wife? What kind of breaks are you giving to your wife? That’s big in our house right now with three boys, ages five and under. For me, to love my wife right now, in this season, one of the best things I can do for her is to give her breaks because she spends all day chasing—like our home is just so full of testosterone. It’s just nuts. There are four boys there. It’s crazy. It smells. So—
Bob: Four boys—your three sons and you?
Justin: I’m one of the boys. I’m the worst of them. So, for me to give her breaks—where she gets out of the house, where she goes for a run, where she goes to a coffee shop, has time alone—that’s one of the best ways I can love her, right now.
I have a guy look at his week and I just have a guy look at his typical day because your days get busy. The bills come, the dishes need to get done, crisis happens. I just have a guy think about, “Hey, what can I do, just today, to take something off my wife’s plate or to express love to her?” Practical things that guys need to do.
Dennis: One of things you talk about in your book was giving your wife an evening out with her girlfriends. I did that kind of by accident one time. It was like, “I can’t believe I’ve never thought of that before!” My wife came back energized. A lot of times we forget how draining children can be.
This past week, our oldest daughter Ashley, who has five boys, 12 and under—so, there’s some serious testosterone there—plus, two other foster-care children, one boy and one girl. There are seven children in their family. She came by our house on Sunday afternoon, just her. It was magnificent.
We were able to talk. She was energized. I got a feeling, when her husband got her back on Sunday night, he got back a wife who was energized about their relationship, about life, and about her family. It’s not that she doesn’t like her boys and her husband, but everybody needs a break from time to time.
Justin: Yes. I think part of that call to date your wife is we’re called, as men, to be students of our wives. You know, the women that we marry—they are different women now. Life’s changed.
Taylor was—when I married her, she was 23. There were no kids. She’s 31 now. There are kids, and her needs are different—what energizes her is different. Men need to stay alive to that—studying their wives and knowing how to best love them.
Dennis: You have something you did that goes beyond the air war and the ground war—and I’m not sure in what category this really belongs; but because of your vocation, you were able to take a sabbatical—
Dennis: —a 30-day sabbatical, where you put 20,000 miles on your car.
Justin: Right. Yes, I don’t—yes—somehow—I went to the church I worked at, as a youth pastor, at the time. I was—what? This was for our one-year anniversary. I was 24, I think. Somehow, I convinced them to give me 30 days off. We didn’t have a sabbatical policy, but I’d been working really hard. I think I was just persuasive, and they gave me 30 days off. Yes, we took a road trip. We drove from San Francisco to the Arctic Ocean and back. It was incredible.
Bob: The Arctic Ocean?!
Justin: The Arctic Ocean—that’s far away.
Dennis: The last—was it 400 miles on a gravel road?
Dennis: Or 500?
Justin: Yes, the last 400 miles were a dirt, gravel road; but we threw our mattress in the back of my Toyota® pickup, and our down comforter, and put some clothes back there, and just headed out.
Bob: Slept in the back of the pickup?
Justin: Slept in the back of the pickup; yes.
Bob: You are one romantic guy. [Laughter]
Dennis: You said Taylor is really not a road—
Justin: She hates being in cars. She’s not a road-trip deal; but something happened here, where she just thought it was exciting. Somehow, I convinced her that this would be incredible. We look back on it as the greatest trip of our lifetime. We made a movie of this whole thing—have a lot of pictures. We did a lot of backpacking on the trip, ran into grizzly bears. It was incredible.
Dennis: So, in this mega air war/ground war extravaganza, if I were to ask you to clip out a snapshot of your favorite moment, which one would you clip out?
Justin: Well, there was a lot of sex, and that was great; but I won’t talk about that. [Laughter] Let’s see. I think it was during—we were backpacking in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, which most people don’t know about because it’s in the middle of nowhere. You’ve said you’ve been there though, Dennis. It takes a long time to get there.
We’re backpacking; and there were grizzly bears, just everywhere. I had a big Rambo knife strapped to my backpack, and we were scared as heck. We’re hiking on a glacier, grizzly bears everywhere; and we just prayed that Jesus would save us from grizzly bears. For whatever reason, that’s one of the moments that stands out to us because we knew our lives were in danger. I loved it. It was great! Grizzly bears—
Bob: Okay, so, you’re saying for a husband to really date his wife well, he needs to take her off for a 30-day—
Bob: —in a pickup truck.
Justin: No, I make the disclaimer in the book that you have to figure out how your wife is wired. My wife really likes adventure and risks, and somehow I convinced her to go with me on this trip.
Bob: What was the motivation? Was it just, “I want to get away and have a vacation,” or was there something in your marriage you were trying accomplish?
Justin: What we did for our first year of marriage is—we took what we call a one-year honeymoon. We took a great, big honeymoon to Hawaii, right when we first got married—went there for, I don’t know, ten days or whatever. Then, for our first year of marriage, we got away for two nights, every month, once a month. We just found cheap ways to do it. We would borrow friends’ houses, we’d go backpacking, we’d go to San Francisco, we’d go to Monterey, we would go to Yosemite. We got away for those two weekends.
We found that that just cemented an incredible foundation in our marriage as we got away from the busyness of life in Silicon Valley, as we got away from our normal stresses, pressures, and relationships and got away together. We laid this incredible foundation. We just saw a lot of fruit come from that. At the end of our one year of doing that, we thought, “Hey, let’s see if there’s a way that we can get away for a month. It doesn’t hurt to ask. So, let’s ask. Let’s see if I can get this time off and do it.”
I encourage couples to do what they can to get some time away from their normal routines—just like what you guys are talking about with the Weekend to Remember conferences, where you are able just to set new ground in your marriage.
Dennis: Yes, no doubt about it. You finally got to what I thought the book was going to be about at the very end. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Dennis: It’s the 100—what’s it called?—100 ideas of how to date your wife?
Dennis: Okay, with your permission, we’ll see if we can do this. I’d like to put all 100 on our website—
Dennis: —but I what I would like you to do is pick out your top five, that you can repeat here on the air, from the 100, just to give them a little sampling. As you’re looking at that, your book really is about much more than just the pragmatics of a fun, romantic evening. It really is calling men to step up, men to deny themselves, men to court their wives. It’s really about the Christian life and the Gospel really being implanted in a man’s soul and passing it on to his wife.
Justin: Yes, absolutely. We wanted the book to be really robust, theologically, yet, very easy to read and very, very practical because, I think, there’s not a lot out there, for men, that’s soaked in the Scriptures but is highly practical and motivates them to take immediate action with what they are learning.
So, yes, in the back of the book, we put 100 ideas for dating your wife. I put those 100 ideas there to help jump-start husbands—their own thinking about their wives. So, these are 100 ideas I put out there; but I hope, that as men read these, they’ll come up with their own ideas.
Dennis: Actually, some of these ideas were contributed by—I assume—buddies or Facebook® friends or something.
Justin: Well, the last ten—I wrote the first 90. The last ten came from people who were using my website, and that’s how it came.
Dennis: Okay, what’s your five you want to share?
Justin: Oh, gosh. Well, I’m just looking at this list—Hey, you highlighted some stuff in here! There’s—did you steal some of these and use these with your wife? [Laughter] Look at this. Your wife thought those were your ideas and not mine.
Dennis: Not yet. By the way, one of his ideas—while he’s still looking is—he calls Taylor, his wife, his girlfriend.
Justin: Yes, sometimes.
Dennis: She loves to be called your girlfriend; right? You introduce her that way.
Justin: Yes. I call her other things, too; but yes, I call her that—she likes that. [Laughter]
Dennis: We won’t ask what the other things are.
Justin: Let’s see. Here’s one. “Take your wife out to dinner and tell her how this book has changed you.” I want men to read this book; and hopefully, it produces real fruit and real change in a man’s life. Take their wife out to dinner and talk to them about it. Tell them the story of the impact it’s had.
Dennis: Before you get to another one, I have to comment on—at the end of each chapter, you really challenge men to share with another man what you’ve learned from that chapter or from what he is reading in the book. Why?
Justin: Yes. Well, the end of each chapter has “Take Action Points”—three to four points for men to take action. Often, I’m telling men to talk to other men about this because I think there’s power in a group of men coming together and talking about what God is doing in their heart and what God’s doing in their marriages. I think that generates more progress in a man’s life, when he’s accountable to other men and has other men in his corner.
Dennis: Maybe men need to do what you did on the Christian campus that you did with another single guy when you guys formed a group.
Dennis: What was it called?
Justin: The Dating Revolution.
Dennis: Yes. Maybe it’s a group of men need to form The Dating Revolution, of all husbands; you know?
Justin: Exactly. Let’s get every man on the planet to do it.
Dennis: Yes, why not?
Justin: Why not?
Bob: Okay, I’m still waiting for your top five.
Justin: Okay, here we go.
Bob: One of them was, “Take them out to dinner”—and I noticed the first one you picked involves buying the book. So, I’m just going to point that out. [Laughter]
Justin: Hey, yes. Date Your Wife—buy the book. It’s great.
Here’s another one. “Cut something from your budget and use that money to date your wife.” For a man, just to practically look at their budget and start using some funds to date their wife.
“Make sure you and your wife are in community and on mission with a healthy, Gospel- preaching church.” One of the best things a man can do, in dating his wife and caring for his wife, is to make sure they are in community together. I’ve seen men’s lives change as a man comes into a church and other men love him, pour into him, care for him, and challenge him. The man begins to change. It’s one of the most loving things you can do.
Dennis: Time out on that one.
Dennis: You’re using a buzz word that can be an inside word with Christians.
Justin: Yes, what word is that?
Justin: Oh, yes.
Dennis: What do you mean by being in community?
Justin: By being in community, I mean being known—being known—people know you. They know the best and the worst about you, and you know other people. You’ve got people in your life, where you’re not just pretending, you’re not just having a Facebook relationship that’s voyeuristic, where they just kind of see the best stuff about you and you’re putting your best foot forward; but they really know how you’re wired—they know the best about you, they know the worst about you. They will call you on your junk—hold you accountable.
Dennis: Yes; and if you get off in the ditch, they’re going to call you back to accountability.
Justin: Yes, they’re going to help you. They are going to be with you. They’re going to do life with you.
Let’s see. Here’s another one—I’m just kind of randomly picking them. “Criticize your wife less, compliment your wife more.” That comes out of one of the ways I’ve learned, recently, that I can best love Taylor is—I didn’t even really realize this, but I’ve realized recently, “Man, I criticize her more than I compliment her.” I didn’t think I was criticizing her. I was just saying things that I didn’t think really carried much weight, but I realized they have. So, criticize you wife less; compliment your wife more.
Bob: What are some of the ones that came in on the website—some of those last ten?
Justin: Okay, yes, let’s go to some of those last ones.
Dennis: I like these because they were from guys who’d been married—you could tell 20, 30, or more years.
Justin: Yes. This comes from Jeff Slavich, 57-year-old husband, in San José. He says, “Watch the kids and send your wife out for a pedicure.”
Bob: That’s a good one.
Justin: Yes, that’s a good one. I should do that one. Here’s another one. This is from a guy in Edinburgh, Scotland, Mez McConnell, 38. He says, “Invite your wife’s best friends over and cook dinner for your wife and her friends.” I think that’s pretty cool.
Bob: That’d be very nice.
Dennis: Can you cook, Justin?
Justin: I can cook toast. [Laughter]
Dennis: Could be a lean meal for the ladies; huh?
Justin: I’m good with toast and cereal. There’s—I can make pasta sometimes.
Dennis: Maybe, you better sharpen some of those skills before you—
Justin: Yes, I need to work on that.
Bob: —before you invite the girlfriends over.
Dennis: Well, I want to thank you for your work here on—really, for helping husbands do a better job of loving, nourishing, cherishing their wives. I hope a lot of men are going to get in this and do a better job of continuing to court their wives.
Justin: That’s right.
Bob: I think all of us can use a little refresher from time to time or a little counsel and instruction, and that’s what you provide in the book. It’s called Date Your Wife, and we’ve got it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, look for Justin Buzzard’s book, Date Your Wife; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. Order a copy of the book, Date Your Wife.
I’m just sitting here thinking I don’t know if a wife ought to buy this as a book to give to her husband or not. Maybe she should leave it to him to decide to buy it. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com—the toll-free number, 1-800-FL-TODAY. This is one of those areas where some of us need to step up; right? So, contact us; get a copy of the book. While we’re talking about stepping up, let me also mention the National Men’s Simulcast that we’re going to be hosting on Saturday, August 4th, called Stepping Up.
Dennis Rainey, James MacDonald, Robert Lewis, and Dr. Crawford Loritts will all be speaking live that day in a rally for men. This is really a kickoff event for men’s ministry for this fall. There are host churches, all around the country. If you’d like your church to be a host church, there is still time to sign up and make that happen; or if you want to partner with a couple of other churches in your community and get all the men together, that’s a great idea.
Find out more about how you can do that by going online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link for the Stepping Up National Men’s Simulcast. Then, let me also mention that we have a Stepping Up video series that is coming out this fall. We’re pretty excited about how this is coming together. We’re getting great feedback on it from guys who have seen it. There is more information about the Stepping Up video series, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com, as well. So, get in touch with us, and let’s see if we can’t work together to help men step up and be the men that God’s called us to be.
I need to also mention that those folks who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month—we are sending them a copy of your book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. That’s for anybody who would come alongside us this month and say, “We want to help.”
FamilyLife Today is listener-supported. Unless we hear from folks, like you, who call in on occasion and say, “You know what? God’s been using the ministry in my life, in my marriage, in my family; and I want to step up and help out.” When you do that—make a donation either online or by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY—you help us cover the costs for producing and syndicating this daily radio program; and we appreciate your support.
Again, if you make your donation, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “I CARE”, we will automatically send you a copy of Dennis’ book, Stepping Up. If you make your donation over the phone—if you call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate, just ask for a copy of the book, Stepping Up. Again, we are happy to send it to you. We do appreciate your partnership with us in this ministry.
Now, tomorrow, we want to encourage you to be back as we hear a compelling message from Pastor Matt Chandler about men stepping up to be husbands, according to God’s blueprint, God’s design. That comes up tomorrow. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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