Review: How To Exasperate Your Wife and Other Short Essays for Men

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How To Exasperate Your Wife and Other Short Essays for Men
How To Exasperate Your Wife and Other Short Essays for Men by Douglas Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I heard a story about a group of soldiers who were tasked with cutting down trees to build a bridge to cross a creek. Men with lab coats and clipboards would have quickly concluded they did not have enough men nor all the right and best equipment. They toiled on slowly and made little progress, which was surprising given that a duty-serious corporal watched them closely and told them continually with a loud clear voice what they ought to do.

A man with a serious face rode upon the scene on a horse, which we can only assume had an equally serious face. It would not do for a serious-faced military man to ride atop a horse that looked as if he had a secret sorrow. The man questioned the corporal whether he had enough manpower for the job, to which the dutiful non-commissioned officer responded in the negative. When the corporal was asked why he didn’t lend a hand to the work, he indicated the absurdity of the notion by exclaiming his rank.

The better-apprised horsemen dismounted his charge and threw himself into the work alongside the toiling soldiers. He grunted and sweated with them all until the trees were all cut down and the bridge was built. With the sweat of accomplishment causing his face to shine like the seat of a bus driver’s trousers, he remounted his horse and saluted the corporal. He then assured the corporal that should he find himself short of men to accomplish his work, he should call his commander-in-chief, and he said, “I will come again.”

That rider of horses, feller of trees, and builder of bridges was General George Washington. Imagine the encouragement the men in the trenches received that day. This is the way I see Wilson writing on marriage and the way I’m encouraged by it.

One would think the world pretty well stocked with blogs, articles, magazines, books, seminars, sermons, infomercials, talk shows, televisions, and movies about marriage. We are so up-to-our-ears in it that we expect any offering opining on marriage must be thoroughly preceded by an apology and compelling justification for its production. The major portion of that pile though is just plain wrong and the glut we’re dealing with in that department proves it’s ineffective, like diet books.

When it comes to marriage advice, we have many finely-uniformed corporals shouting orders from a close distance and very few generals who roll up their sleeves, spit on their palms, and grab the wooden handle to work. This book is of the latter sort. It’s full of biblical horse-sense, the kind of wisdom that comes from experience, and real helpful advice.

All of this isn’t to say that I wouldn’t nitpick here and there. I would. It’s kind of like when I look at George Washington I see we would have some differences. I personally would prefer more beard and less powdered wig, but we all have to agree that a fresh-faced and wigged George Washington is better than no George Washington at all.

Get the book and read it. It is written to and for men though I don’t doubt that women could glean from it as well.

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