Is your wife your super hero? Today author Jess MacCallum, the often-challenged husband of a Proverbs 31 woman, shares an indispensable principle every husband needs know in order to love and lead his very capable wife.
Is your wife your super hero? Today author Jess MacCallum, the often-challenged husband of a Proverbs 31 woman, shares an indispensable principle every husband needs know in order to love and lead his very capable wife.
Bob: He had shark repellant. The time they were about to get eaten by the sharks, do you remember this?
Jess MacCallum: That’s in the actual Batman movie.
Bob: In the movie, that’s right. He and Robin on the helicopter and they had bat shark repellent in the belt.
Bob: Here, give it up right there.
Dennis: Well, that voice is the voice of our guest who has a utility belt for husbands. He is not dressed in full uniform. He is on the back of his book…
Jess MacCallum: So far as you can tell.
Dennis: Jess MacCallum joins us on FamilyLife Today. Jess welcome.
Jess MacCallum: Thank you very much for having me.
Dennis: He is the only, the only guest, since 1992 when we started this broadcast who has written a book that has a picture of both he and his wife in super hero costume on the back of their book.
Bob: What is this costume you’re wearing on the back? It’s a red something?
Jess MacCallum: It’s a photo shop effect.
Jess MacCallum: It’s sort of the old Shazzam costume.
Dennis: But you have a cape. And she has some kind of…
Jess MacCallum: I do.
Bob: She’s got the tiera. She’s got the Wonder Woman thing working, right?
Jess MacCallum: She does.
Bob: Is that photo shop, too?
Jess MacCallum: No, the clothes were actual but the little swash is photo shopped in. The clouds in the background are photo shopped.
Dennis: The reason he can do that is he’s a businessman and COO of a commercial printing company so he has all this stuff at his disposal and he created and printed the book and photo shopped the picture on the back of the book. (laughter)
You’ve written a book called, I Married Wonder Woman. Who is Wonder Woman?
Jess MacCallum: Let me say for standard publishing sake I didn’t print this book,
Jess MacCallum: Because they would be a little upset if they thought I was taking credit for their work.
Jess MacCallum: I tried to print their work and they turned me down but when they buy the rights they can do what they want to.
Bob: You didn’t get the low bid.
Jess MacCallum: I did not nor would I have low bid that job?
Jess MacCallum: I would have made money on it if I could.
Dennis: (laughter) Well, who is wonder woman?
Jess MacCallum: Wonder woman from the Provberbs 31 chapter is woman you think you want, you have an outline on what to find, and you get her and you have no idea what you have caught hold of. A lot of us married wonder woman we just didn’t know it until we got hold of it.
Bob: We out punted our coverage, that kind of expression, right?
Jess MacCallum: Yes, this is the dog that chases the car and if it caught it it wouldn’t know what to do with it. A lot of us did this. We thought we wanted it. We got it and it was the adventure of a lifetime.
Dennis: Let me read a couple of verses from Proverbs 31. Verse 10—an excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. Then verse 29—Many women have done excellently but you surpass them all. This truly is a wonder woman.
Jess MacCallum: That’s true.
Dennis: You woke up one morning and decided you know what this is what I caught.
Jess MacCallum: Yes, this is my experience and it’s summed up best by the blurb in the front of the book. It was a quote from Mr. Incredible to Mrs. Incredible from the movie “The Incredibles” in 2005.
Dennis: By the way guys listen carefully to what Mr. Incredible said you can use this tonight to affirm your wife. This is really a good line.
Jess MacCallum: It’s a classic line. He said, “You are my greatest adventure and I almost missed it.” That is for me in my experience and I can’t speak for all marriages. I have a 20 year study going on on mine and I can tell you I have plenty of opportunities where I have missed it entirely and tried to catch up and get out ahead of her while she was heading off strongly in a good direction. I was having to get out ahead and try to lead that.
Dennis: A super hero has to have a tool belt and as Bob said Batman had one and you have one. What’s the first tool in your tool belt for husbands?
Jess MacCallum: Well, it’s that verse you read. Value your wife above everything else. The Proverbs 31 husband—this occurred to me to write some of these things down as I was studying Proverbs looking for where she was falling short that day. In my meditations the Lord sort of said to me, you know there’s really no reason why this kind of a woman would have married you anyway if she had known what she was in for.
It was very much a log in my own eye experience. I started reading it again and again. For weeks I would read over it and wonder what did that guy have that attracted her or would have kept her happy in that situation? Why was she that kind of a wife? Because the husband has such a huge influence on his wife he must be doing something that I’m not doing.
Bob: As you make that point I think it’s important for us to recognize just what you’re saying. We inspire one another in marriage. Either we inspire one another to be nobler and better than our nature would make us be or we inspire one another to go the other direction.
Bob: Yes, be selfish and self indulgent and just close ourselves off in our own world. You dated Anne for 9 years.
Jess MacCallum: Well, I tried to date her for 9 years. You have to remember we met when we were 15 and I was completely blown away. For the next three years I tried to get a date with her and she just kind of blew me off. I mean I even switched youth groups to be around her.
We kept up through college. We were friendly. I was not exclusive. I was growing in Christ at a certain point where she was not and then later in college she really caught on fire. Toward the end of college we ended up both on the same short term missions in Japan. I thought it was going to ruin my experience because I was trying to forget about her at this point. I figured after a good 6 or 7 years it just was not going to work out.
Dennis: So you hadn’t manipulated the circumstances to appear in Japan with her?
Jess MacCallum: She actually followed me and ruined my trip.
Jess MacCallum: I was going around the world to get away from this person that was just not going to respond. She found out and in some magical way raised the cash in 30 days and was gone to Japan to teach conversational English back in the summer of 1986. It ruined my summer.
Dennis: What turned the corner for you? Was it that summer when you fell in love with her all over again?
Jess MacCallum: Yes, I got over the bitterness part of being ignored all those years and having tried to find other romantic interests that the Lord would lead me to. I was in a college ministry the whole time and I was doing it rightish. The way the formula says. Praying about it. Trying to forget about it. Kind of Elisabeth Elliott generation—just pray that God will take all those feelings away. And he just really doesn’t answer prayer at least along those lines.
It’s probably the best time he’s ignored my prayers.
So we get to Japan and we’re across Tokyo. We still can’t see each other because there’s a no dating policy so we’re writing in Japan. We got back and I told her in Japan in a good stiff sort of way, I’m in love with you and you know it. That’s all I can do. Either pursue it until we get married or this thing is completely out of the picture for me and I will do something else. I will move around the world or whatever. And her response was, well, thank you.
Dennis: That was it?
Bob: Well, thank you?
Jess MacCallum: Yes, that’s what I thought, too. I said, I’ve done this for 6 or 7 years I can stand it again a little longer. So, I pursued her for another year after we got back from that experience and the Lord just softened her heart. I wore her down and that was it.
Dennis: So how did you ask her to marry you? There has to be a good story there. After 9 years of pursuing her.
Jess MacCallum: It was actually a very standard romantic dinner for two out and the ring. But I had prepared it by asking her father’s permission. Since I have a graphic arts background and had access to a printing company I designed a gorgeous, multi font, old fashioned looking engraved piece of work and it was framed. I handed it to him and it asked if I could have permission to ask for her hand.
Bob: I want to know if you recognized her as wonder woman? You obviously recognized when you were dating because you went 9 years in pursuit. Did you recognize it in the first 5 years of your marriage as well?
Jess MacCallum: It was pretty much right out of the shoot. After we started really dating we were engaged and we were in ministry with the Navigators even after college. We shared a number of events and things. Her heart was obvious. There was no question. She wanted to grow. She was doing it on her own even before we got married and that was one of the criteria because you want someone who is already moving in the same direction. Yes, it showed up quickly. But what really took off is she’s an amazing song writer and vocalist. She is invited to do things regularly and the attention to her was percolating and people were asking her to lead ladies conferences and coffee houses and lead worship for church and things.
Some of that was what got my attention. I did find the response that most men have, I had and I’m assuming some men can relate to this. Your wife is being drawn into these ministries or getting more opportunities and attention than you are and you either are intimidated by that and you begin to compete and that’s not the right arena for your natural competitiveness. That’s something else. You use that in business or sports but you don’t do that with your wife. So you’re competing and you try and pull her back a little bit or you’re going to abdicate and just dump the whole thing on her. Whatever she decides you do and you fail to lead at all.
Either one is a reaction. A pendulum swing. I went through both of those phases where I was going to make sure I was out in front of it and filter it all and I was going to be part of it. Or just tell me what you’re schedule is and I’ll work around it.
Bob: So you were a little jealous you think of the attention she was getting?
Jess MacCallum: Oh, yes. And that was early on. We got married at 23 years old. I’m not claiming to be mature today (laughter) and I certainly wasn’t mature then. She is a super, super person. She’s got a great personality. We have three kids and we’re all five extroverts. It’s just a challenge. I thought I’d write down my notes on what I discovered from Proverbs 31 about a husband of a really challenging, dynamic decision maker who could probably do almost as well without him.
Bob: When you talk about your wife as challenging you’re not saying challenging in the sense that there are big issues that you have to try to adjust to as a husband. You’re saying challenging in that she’s a capable, competent woman and at some point you ask, what does she need me for?
Jess MacCallum: It was the compliment of my life that she said yes, I’ll marry you. Her choices would have been virtually unlimited if she had stayed single. She could have done a lot better as it were. I was challenged in the sense that she wanted to grow and my level of interest in growing was up and down and up and down and hers was a lot more constant.
Dennis: Jess, I’m glad you’ve written this book because there are a lot of men who do as Bob said, they out punt their coverage. They marry a woman who is stronger and more gifted in many areas than they are. What they can do is shrink back and become passive and not lead out. As I look at all 12 of these tools on your tool belt they are all proactive. They are all about a man really fulfilling his assignment in life of loving, nourishing, cherishing, carrying for his wife.
Bob: Yes, you have a capable talented gifted wife and that doesn’t mean that you’re now off the hook or you go to the closet but God has still called you to be a husband and a man and a leader and , a lover, a provider and a protector even if she is a capable gifted talented wife, right?
Jess MacCallum: And that is our calling. We’re designed that way. How it works out and how it looks in our culture and with certain variables that are not addressed I would say sort of the normal course of Christian husband teaching.
For example, if your wife made vastly more money than you did. How would you react to that? Is there any way you could still be a leader financially if she’s the bread winner? I believe men are supposed to provide financially. But that means everybody who is a high powered attorney, a doctor, or a star, an actress, someone making millions and you’re just a really good whatever—I mean does it mean you can’t be compatible? Those are some of the issues. I wish I faced that issue specifically. (laughter) She does not make millions.
Dennis: But, more importantly, can that man still be the leader and lover and the one who nourishes and cherishes his wife? Because no matter how much money she makes she still needs to be cared for as a husband cares for his wife. Let’s go back to this first tool in your tool belt—value your wife above everything. How does a man do that practically? What did you learn? I mean, here you are married to super woman, you’re growing as a new husband. What did you find out about that?
Jess MacCallum: That’s the sneaky one of the bunch because everyone is excited when you first get married. If you’re not, you’re probably an idiot to start the whole process anyway. You’re showing off your new wife and you’re happy and you’re just excited about it.
Then the normal stuff of life starts to creep in. Your career makes more demands on you and things happen and the kids come along. Finally you wake up one day and you’re taking her for granted as your helper. Not your help mate. Not the person that you are supposed to be delighted over above all else. Now she’s not doing the laundry. I’ve got this project to meet. It was God’s design that Eve was a helper to Adam. His assignment could have changed a hundred times over if they’d stayed in the garden. Name the animals. Tend the garden. But she was a helper to complete him not just an assistant gardener and an assistant animal keeper or namer. So men tend to forget that and they have be reminded by scripture.
The other thing I found was just plain growing up. A lot of us got married young. I think Bob, I had listened to your testimony one time and you just make a lot of big dumb mistakes in the beginning because you’re not anything but a kid. The Holy Spirit does not guarantee maturity because there are all kinds of 50 and 60 year old people with 15 year old souls running around this place with the Holy Spirit. You’ve grow up but you’ve got like the scripture and the take them both and you have to pause and reassess what you think of your wife.
Bob: I think you make a great point. In fact, I’m just sitting here thinking about the difference between a helpmate and a helper. How often do I fall into the trap of just looking at my wife as that helper? As the one who is kind of taking care of all the details I need to keep my life managed rather than my companion. My wife. My lover. My friend.
Jess MacCallum: The jewels illustration in that verse is fascinating to me because a jewel is most valuable in its finished polished form but you’d never chunk it out as a rock if it weren’t polished. You’d keep it. You’d work on it. You’d try to bring the best out of it. You certainly would never stop working on it and then expect it to appreciate. It takes effort to make sure she’s the most valuable thing in your life. You have to check your own affections.
Dennis: Then after the stone is finished you display it. So its glory and splendor can be reflected for all to see. I’m in a mentoring relationship with a couple of young men and I’m constantly encouraging them to appreciate your wife who is taking care of those children at home all day long while you’re at work. While you’re enjoying lunch out and while you’re doing your things getting your feathers stroked. Go home and appreciate her for what she does. Maybe she’s a working mom and she’s juggling multiple rings in the circus. Appreciate her for what she does.
Jess MacCallum: There are a couple of the utility belt items that have chapters on them that we may be able to talk about. One of them was about praising her to her face and teaching your children to do the same thing but there’s also one that the Proverbs point to directly and that is to praise her in public. It’s the last verse and the last item about her being praised in the city gates. It makes an absolutely vast difference how you speak to your wife in public. Whatever you say in private is one thing, good or bad but if you put it outside in front of two or three people and it’s amplified with a mega phone good and bad.
Bob: I’ll tell you how I had to learn this. Mary Ann and I, I can tease her. We’ve got the kind of relationship where we can tease one another. There’s no problem. But when you tease in public it’s a different deal and I learned that early on. When I’ve wounded my wife’s spirit through what I thought was just playful teasing and in her mind it was damaging her in the public square.
Jess MacCallum: I’m only a student of my wife so when I say wives I’m generalizing out of ignorance. I don’t have but the one. So, I’ll say my wife she takes that as disloyalty. It’s just her nature and I assume that’s part of being a woman. They want the protection of your opinion in front of other people. But there’s another part about bragging in public that I put in the book and it’s this. It’s a two sided bill board. You’re on one side and she’s on the other. If you broadcast your wife as the greatest thing on earth and you’ve never met my wife you can’t wait to meet her. Or if my wife is well known and they obviously have a good opinion of her and they meet me. I must be a super hero because look at what I got.
Jess MacCallum: On the contrary if you talk about your wife in an ugly manner because mother-in-laws and wives that’s fifty percent of all jokes in America. So you talk about her and you think to yourself this guy’s at least an idiot for marrying a woman this atrocious and then telling people about it. You’re putting a bill board of yourself as an idiot up there.
Dennis: You know when I got your book and I took a look at it, I Married Wonder Woman I thought that rascal just got a point with his wife.
You really practiced here what you’re talking about. You’re really bragging about your wife and talking about how great she is. I’ve never met her but what you just described about the bill board in a sense I met her through the book before I met you. I thought he’s going to be an interesting guy because he’s married to quite a woman.
Jess MacCallum: I will emphasize this because my wife does get a little awkward about too much attention on her being a wonder woman. She certainly would never describe herself as this. She would probably shun the idea of being the “Proverbs 31 woman.” She just does not see herself fitting that mold.
Bob: Well, if she doesn’t shun it then she’s not the Proverbs 31 woman.
Jess MacCallum: Exactly. My point I guess is that a lot of us married Proverbs 31 woman we just didn’t know it.
Dennis: Back to a point Bob made earlier. In marriage we can either draw the very best out of our spouses or we can call them down to mediocrity and to ultimately sin. I think ultimately what our assignment is as husbands is to so love, so nourish, so cherish our wives with our words, our actions, our attitudes that we’re calling them up to become something greater than they even ever imagined they might become. That really is a great picture of what a Christian marriage looks like.
Bob: And this is one of those things where a smart guy is going to lean into the counsel of other men who have done it right and other men who have blown it as well. You really want the benefit of the wisdom of guys who are seeking God and trying to do this according to the scriptures and hear from them how they’ve done it right and how they have done it wrong.
That’s what Jess is providing for us in the book that he has written, I Married Wonder Woman, Now What? I think particularly for a guy who would feel like I married who is very competent in a lot of areas and sometimes I feel like what do I have to offer in this situation or how do I lead a woman who is a very capable woman? Jess’s book helps in that regard. We’ve got copies of it in our FamilyLife Resource Center. You can go to our web site FamilyLifeToday.com and the information is available there. Again, it’s FamilyLifeToday.com. The book is called I Married Wonder Woman, Now What? On the same page we’ve got information about other books we have available to help guys get engaged in their assignment as men and as husbands.
Go to the web site familylifetoday.com or call toll free 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY. Someone on our team can let you know how you can get a copy of Jess’s book sent to you.
Speaking of books to help men in their assignment as husbands this month we are making
available the book The Christian Husband. A book I had an opportunity to write a
number of years ago. It gives a job description. A manual for men to understand what is
fundamental assignment as a husband. We’re making the book available to those of you
who are able to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any
amount. FamilyLife Today is listener supported and as some of you know over the last several months our ministry like many other ministries has been affected by the current economic downturn. Now more than ever your donations for the ministry of FamilyLife Today are extremely significant. If you’re able to make a donation this month either online or by calling 1-800-FLTODAY you can request a copy of the hardback book, The Christian Husband.
We are happy to send it out to you as our way of saying thank you for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today. If you’d like to receive the book when you make your donation online simply type the word “husband” in the key code box on the online donation form or call 1-800- FLTODAY and make your donation by phone and ask for the book, The Christian Husband. We’re happy to send it out to you and we do so much appreciate your support of this ministry. It means a lot to us.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more with Jess MacCullum about the challenges a man faces when he marries a woman who’s an extremely capable woman. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us.
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'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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