Today was a beautiful day. I had time to organize my wall of books. You see, as one who loves organization and order, a day that involves any such activity is beautiful…with a capital ‘B’! As I set about dusting and rearranging the shelves my eyes fell upon several great books written for men…books meant to improve and encourage them …to make them better husbands, better fathers, better leaders, etc. The funny thing is, most of the books looked almost brand new, as if the pages had never been turned, the shiny bindings crease-free and pristine.
I suddenly remembered where all of these “man books” had come from. I had purchased them at various points in our marriage for my husband to read, placing them within easy reach of his favorite chair, or tossing them in a conspicuous place that he couldn’t miss; or sometimes, just flat out handing him a book and saying, “Hey, read this, it’s really good.”
I am a reader so I spend lots of time in bookstores, especially Christian bookstores, and can’t resist picking up a new book by a favorite author, flipping through the pages to scan for material that’s relevant to my life. In purchasing the “man books” over the years, I obviously had hoped that my husband would gain some spiritual insight while reading them and would be challenged to step up his game. After all, I myself had made changes many times in my life, in both attitude and action, after reading various spiritually motivating tomes. I was sure he would do the same. There were a couple problems with this method:
- My husband dislikes reading. I am the voracious reader in the family and have always loved reading all types of literature…even self-improvement books. My husband is more of an outdoorsy, kinesthetic, active, type of person. It is very hard to get him to read a book from cover-to-cover.
- Men, including my husband, often need a more direct approach. When there is an issue to address with our husbands, it is best to come right out and say it. Men aren’t that good at reading between the lines. (Nor do they, as in my husband’s case, want to read the actual lines!)
When the indirect approach failed, as it often did, I would pick up the book myself and at my husband’s request, read the best portions to him as we settled into bed at night, scanning and summarizing as we went along. He seemed to enjoy this abbreviated method of reading books by proxy…so it became a regular thing for us. This led to some interesting and productive discussions (if my hubby didn’t drift off to sleep first!) about marriage, parenting, etc. My husband also liked for me to read to him on long car trips as it helped to pass the time as he was driving. I would read a few pages and then we’d discuss and share our thoughts.
As the years went on I gave up shopping for books for my husband, and the nearly new “man books” were relegated to the top of the bookshelf. Funny thing is…as the years rolled by, my husband just got better and better…as a father, a husband, a leader. I guess God can grow and inspire a godly man without my help, (or that of a bevy of extraordinary Christian authors)…even if he never reads a single page!