The Dude's Guide to Marriage: Ten Skills Every Husband Must Develop to Love His Wife Well

The Dude's Guide to Marriage: Ten Skills Every Husband Must Develop to Love His Wife Well


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400205493
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 11/03/2015
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 349,606
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Darrin Patrick is the lead pastor of The Journey and the vice president of Acts 29, a global church-planting network. He also serves as the chaplain to the St. Louis Cardinals. Patrick is the author of The Dude’s Guide to Manhood and Church Planter and co-author of Replant and For the City. He and his family live in St. Louis, Missouri.

Amie Patrick is a teacher, writer and pastor¹s wife. Married to her high school sweetheart, Darrin, for 22 years, she is also the proud mom of 4 great kids. Amie holds a degree in music education, and is passionate about leadership, the arts, teaching women to practically apply the gospel to all areas of their lives, and helping pastors' and church planters¹ wives thrive in their calling.

Read an Excerpt

The Dude's Guide to Marriage

Ten Skills Every Husband Must Develop to Love His Wife Well


Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2015 Darrin and Amie Patrick
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4002-0550-9



Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way. — 1 Peter 3:7

WOMEN LIKE IT WHEN YOU LISTEN TO THEM. THEY ARE funny that way. My wife often asks if I hear what she says: "Are you really listening to me?" Many times I'm not. I mean, I am, but I'm not. I hear words coming from her cute, perky lips, but I often fail to listen to the heart behind those words.

The truth is I wish my wife wouldn't talk so much. She could say what she is trying to say with way fewer adjectives and superlatives. She knows how to get to the point. She is aware that I have a short attention span. She has studied my thoughts, actions, and words for twenty years. Yet she keeps talking.

I'd rather be the one talking. I literally talk for a living. I traffic in words. There is nothing quite like standing up in front of fifty or five thousand people and uttering a profound, life-changing statement. To be able to hold the attention of people with my words is one of the greatest gifts I have been given. But there is a dark side to this gift. When I talk, I'm in control. I like being in control. I like giving directives. I like solving problems. Not every man has a job that requires public speaking, but every man uses words. We like to give our opinions, state our case, and instill our wisdom. We use words, and when we do, we feel like we are in control.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." Words are quite spiritual. We learn from the Bible that in the beginning God created the whole universe with a word. God reveals who he is through the created world generally, but through his words (the Bible) specifically. God has given us words to build a relationship with him. That's called prayer. Words aren't just organized noise coming out of our mouths. They are a spiritual force that has power.

Men and women use this controlling force in distinct ways. Men tend to view themselves as individuals in a hierarchical social order in which they are "either one-up or one-down." Women usually view the world as a network of connections in which conversations are negotiations for closeness and consensus. Men talk with a focus on achieving social status and avoiding failure, while women focus on achieving personal connection and avoiding social isolation.

These different ways of conversing are known as report-talk (men) and rapport-talk (women). Report-talk is information oriented, focused on objectivity and practicality. Rapport-talk is relationship oriented, emotionally expressive, and engaging. When you come home from work, and your wife asks, "How was your day?" she is attempting to engage in rapport-talk. When you respond, "Fine," you assume she was looking for a report.


Many husbands think their wives talking less is a good thing. Not so much. When your wife gives in to report-talk and stops trying to gain rapport, it doesn't mean you've won. It means she's no longer pursuing connection. If you think having a wife who talks too much is the worst thing possible, wait until she stops.


The other day I noticed Amie was especially silent. Later in the day that silence morphed into coldness. I could tell she had been hurt by something I had done. I racked my brain, trying to figure out how I had offended her. What had I done that morning? It turned out the offense had occurred earlier in the week. My wife was trying to express her feelings about an upcoming family event. I was preoccupied and said, "Amie, just figure it out. I'll do whatever you want." She interpreted this to mean, "Darrin doesn't care and is unwilling to engage with me about our family." Guilty as charged. She was right.

Because of her experiences with her husband and with counseling other women, Amie has some wisdom here.

A wife stops talking to her husband when she's given up hope that he will be a safe place for her to share her heart. She's probably resorted to having her need to be listened to met by someone else — girlfriends, Mom, coworkers, or even another man. The good news is that it's never too late to change course. A great place to start would be to tell your wife, "I know I'm a terrible listener and I've hurt you. I want to change. Will you help me?" She may not come around immediately, but genuine humility and vulnerability go a long way in healing broken places.


Many wives have set the right environment, have tried to approach their husbands in the right spirit and at the right time, and have been given the Heisman (stiff-arm) multiple times. Husband, when conflict arises, you are far more likely to stonewall (shut down and become unresponsive). Faced with intense, troubling emotions, you will just sit there silently, trying not to react, just idling in neutral. You may not intend harm, but it is hard for your wife not to view it as disapproval and rejection. Her knee-jerk response is to perceive your silence as hostility. A wife gets tired of pushing through her husband's walls.


Women want to be heard, not fixed. They are open to encouragement, challenge, and even rebuke, but usually only after they have been listened to. Research from Dr. John Gottman tells us, "Women are more sensitive to advice-giving than are men." A wife will usually react "very negatively" if you try to problem solve her troubles without trying to empathize.

Amie has found it very helpful when I ask, "Do you want me to help solve the problem, or do you just want me to listen?" Ninety-eight percent of the time she just wants me to listen and understand her perspective. She is more open to proposed solutions if I have spent several minutes patiently listening to her.


Women do not want to engage in a conversation with a husband who is not focused. Your posture communicates attentiveness or inattentiveness. Eye contact communicates engagement. Most of the time when Amie asks me if I am listening to her, I'm not, though I often fudge and say I am. But sometimes I am listening. The problem is not that I'm listening and my wife doesn't recognize it. The problem is that I am not communicating that I am listening.


I have learned to love listening to my wife. Over the years I have grown in how to show Amie that I am interested in understanding her heart through her words. I am learning to express affection for her and validate her emotions with my mouth closed and my ears open. The other day after Amie attended two of our kids' parent-teacher conferences, I asked her what the teachers said and what she felt about the interaction. Now, this was a huge step in that I actually engaged her heart (what she felt) and not just her head (what the teachers said). When she was talking, I made sure I was listening with my body. You can actually listen with your eyes, your face, and your words.


This is the big E on the eye chart. Look at your wife. Focus on her eyes, which are windows into her soul. Her eyes will communicate even more than her words. Don't look through her, but look to her. Don't be afraid of her. Engage her face. My friend Dave Gibbons says, "If we paid as much attention to our wife as we do our phones, we would probably have a great marriage."


As a public speaker, I am hyperaware of nonverbal communication. I try to zone in on a few individuals to see if my message is connecting. Are they engaged, or are they bored? Do I need to pause and be more descriptive? Do I need to omit a point that isn't relevant? How does the crowd give these cues? Nonverbals. When their arms are folded, faces frowned, eyes intent on their phones, they signal that they aren't engaged or don't know how to show that they are engaged. If I show my wife that I am interested in what she is saying with good nonverbals, I actually become more interested in what she is saying. When your wife talks, nod, smile, lean forward, do whatever is appropriate to tell her you are interested in her perspective.


My wife and I went to college together. She was summa cum laude and the star of her class. Me? I squeezed four years into five. We had only a couple of classes together. But one of those was an intensive weekend class for intro psychology. I don't remember much about the class because I was staring at my wife during most lectures, but I do remember this helpful piece of advice from the prof: when someone says something to you, it is a good idea to repeat what the person said before you answer.

Act as if you are at a drive-through. One person speaks, and the other repeats what he or she heard. Here is an example: "Honey, I'm tired of the way you come home from work and immediately sit in front of the TV. It makes me feel that the TV is more important to you than I am." Then the other person repeats, "Okay, so it bothers you when I come home and go right for the TV. It makes you feel unimportant."

See how that works? Now, a couple of other important points. Keep things in the first person (I) as much as you can, instead of the second person (you). Talk about how you feel and try not to be accusing. Talk in feelings and facts only. Don't give your opinions or assume you know how the other person feels. Just give your side.


As a pastor, I hear all kinds of confessions, even though I'm not Catholic. There is something cathartic about telling another person your sins and struggles (James 5:16). When we confess sin, we agree with God that something is wrong. To confess is to acknowledge reality. If we are going to become good listeners, we have to tell ourselves the truth.


I too often make this mistake. Even after twenty-five years of knowing Amie and twenty-plus years of being married to her, I am surprised by her words. Last summer we were sitting on the porch of a lake house we rented for a vacation, talking about how hard the last few months had been and complaining about how complicated our lives were. We were making plans for the fall, and I was saying that I was going to change my schedule and put my foot down and so forth. I thought Amie, the prototypical planner, was going to jump in and offer solutions for a better fall season. Instead, she said, "I think we shouldn't worry about tomorrow. We should just enjoy this day." Wow! She is refreshingly unpredictable. Part of the joy of marriage is that conversation breaks up the monotony and busyness of life.


This one is a little tricky. It is difficult to hear what your wife is actually saying. At times, grasping the intended meaning of her words seems impossible. The drive-through method will help you, but you may still miss her heart.

For instance, one day Amie started talking about our kids' schedules. At the time, we had four kids in four schools! It was chaos to say the least. At our weekly planning meeting, she was describing all the activities our children would be participating in that week. I assumed that she wanted me to speak into the schedule and insert myself to help solve some of the logistical problems. She stopped me midsentence and said, "Darrin, I just want you to hear all that is going on with our kids. I want you to know what is going on with me and how I am managing everything. I don't need you to jump in and save the day. I just need you to listen to my heart." Words from your wife can be an invitation to know her deeply.


Every guy acts like a math student with his wife. She isn't algebra, and thank God for that. She is, as one author noted, "not a problem to be solved but a vast wonder to be enjoyed." When a wife knows that her husband is genuinely interested and engaged in the little details of her life, she will trust him more deeply with big decisions and significant life challenges.

Actively listening to your wife communicates that you want to understand her. You value her for herself, not just for what she does. Listening well affirms her character while shaping yours. Listening communicates a desire for partnership, where both husband and wife are known and are committed to each other's well-being above his or her own. A good husband, verbally and nonverbally, says to his wife, "You are worth hearing."

Five Good Questions

Before jumping into the next chapter, set aside some time to ask your wife the following questions. You'll find questions like these at the end of most chapters. This is your opportunity to initiate conversation with your wife and get another assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.

1. How would you rate my listening skills, 1 being awful, 10 being pure awesome? Why?

2. Who is the best listener you know? What makes him or her a good listener?

3. What practical things can I do to improve my listening skills?

4. Are there any bad listening habits that I need to drop?

5. What are the best times of day for us to have important conversations?



A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. — Proverbs 15:1

FINE. THAT IS MY GO-TO WORD. "HOW WAS WORK today?" my wife asks. "Fine." "How was dinner?" "Fine." "How do I look in this dress?" "Fine." Fine is not such a fine word. My wife wants me to use verbs and adjectives when I talk to her. I bet your wife wants that too. My guess is our wives are worth talking to.

What is wrong with us, men? Why is it so easy to talk shop, sports, and lawn care with random strangers, and yet we can't speak meaningfully with our partners for life? If words are basically clothes for our thoughts, are we not thinking?

One of my roles as a pastor is to listen to people's problems and offer practical advice. A few years ago, Joe asked me to come to his office. He had something he wanted to discuss. I was escorted into his plush office as he was finishing up an overseas call.

As soon as I sat down, Joe launched into business matters. He talked about revenues and the growth of his business into emerging markets. He could see the top of the mountain and was actively planning to summit. I already knew he was a leader who was good at diagnosing problems and giving viable solutions. I learned that his specialty was seeing the subterranean issues in his industry and his staff. He was able to see motives, wounds, and other internal factors that most CEOs miss.

It took awhile before he disclosed the reason for my visit. He and his wife were struggling. She had confessed that she wasn't sure she was in love with him anymore.

I met with Joe several times during the next few months to explore the issues within his marriage, and he always talked about his business too. One day he was going on about the government regulations that would affect his business and the impact on the emotions of his staff. He had interviewed a couple of people who were familiar with governmental affairs. He described the thoughtful questions that he asked in the interview and how he engaged them personally about the potential ramifications on real people.

I took the opportunity to move from listening to talking and interrupted him. "Joe, why don't you talk to your wife like that?" I asked.

"Like what?" he replied.

"Why don't you seek to understand your wife's heart by using words to draw her out?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why don't you seek to understand her motives and try to address her in her woundedness? Why don't you ask her about the impact that her past is having on your marriage?"

Joe looked at me, dumbfounded. He was great at engaging his business partners, but not great at connecting with his wife's heart. Joe is not alone.


Why is talking to our wives one of the hardest things in the world for us to do? I have found there are conscious and unconscious reasons that keep us from communicating. Here are some specific reasons why we don't talk to our wives:


When I look back, I see that much of my lack of communication has to do with poor routines in talking with my wife. What worked once for Amie and me doesn't work any longer. It's hard for us to talk when I get home from work. We tend to default into my answering, "Fine," when she asks about my day, and then we immediately submit to the chaos of getting homework completed, dinner prepared, and bedtime stories read. We used to have great discussions after dinner. Then we began to connect before we went to bed. Now we are too tired. Currently we are trying early morning discussions, but that will probably change soon and we'll have to readjust again.


Excerpted from The Dude's Guide to Marriage by DARRIN PATRICK, Amie Patrick. Copyright © 2015 Darrin and Amie Patrick. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword, vii,
Introduction, xi,
Chapter 1 Listen, 1,
Chapter 2 Talk, 15,
Chapter 3 Fight, 31,
Chapter 4 Grow, 51,
Chapter 5 Provide, 69,
Chapter 6 Rest, 89,
Chapter 7 Serve, 107,
Chapter 8 Submit, 123,
Chapter 9 Pursue, 135,
Chapter 10 Worship, 159,
Acknowledgments, 175,
Appendix A · What If I'm Single?, 177,
Appendix B · What If I'm Scared of Counseling?, 184,
Appendix C · What If My Wife Is More Spiritual Than I Am?, 193,
Appendix D · What Are the Love Languages?, 197,
Notes, 203,
About the Authors, 209,

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