Book Snapshots (Marriage Edition): The Fruitful Wife by Hayley DiMarco, & Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After by Craig Groeschel

4 out of 5 Stars
Author: Hayley DiMarco
Publisher: Crossway
Buy The Fruitful Wife: Cultivating a Love Only God Can Produce
Reading Level: Leisure

I really enjoyed The Fruitful Wife by Hayley DiMarco. It’s a book for married women that walks through the nine fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 as they apply within a marriage. However, she makes many points that apply to singles. For example, she says, “It is, after all, only frustrating for difficult people that require patience” (p. 25). I think all of us fall into the “difficult” category at times.

Other parts are particularly convicting for wives:

Thinking that the opposite of love is hate allows us to ignore the lack of love in our lives because it feels nothing like hate. I have found that most of the women I talk to about marriage problems have a list of requirements on love that are seen nowhere in Scripture. They have an unwritten writ, their own law, that they subconsciously believe has to be obeyed in order for love to be found (p. 28).

I found myself challenged especially by the section on joy, a fruit that I struggle with. Hayley addresses the need for joy during our time on earth, even through trials. She also makes some good points about displaying goodness all the time, not just on the days of the month when it is easier (see p. 134).

I have just a few of disagreements. She says,

When our marriage is in disarray… we need look no further than ourselves and our inability to remain in…When the Fruitful Wife senses her husband becoming more of an enemy than a friend, the Spirit within her reminds her that his sin is no excuse for hers. (p. 35)

I agree that the wife bears some responsibility; however, considering the cases of abuse and abandonment even within the church (as well as the fact that some Christian women are married to unbelievers), it’s too broad a statement. For anyone writing about marriage should specify that certain situations require additional counsel since we cannot know who might be reading.

The other part that I struggled with was references to our effort as well as God’s work in producing the fruit. Occasionally the explanations seemed be a little muddy. For example, she says,

 If what you are feeling, thinking, or doing seems to separate you from the very vine that is meant to sustain you, then you must remind yourself of who God is and what he’s done and return to abide in the vine. (p. 83)

And again

This is not because the Spirit is lacking but because we are slow to grow in the Spirit. We all are at different stages of growth, and therefore all manifest differing degrees of fruit. (p. 136)

She does a great job discussing the work of God; I think that referring the reader to the conclusion earlier on would be helpful (see p. 207 for a detailed
explanation).

One final disagreement was the comparison of the marriage relationship with the parent/child relationship. Hayley says,

There may be times when a wife shares her spiritual insight with her husband, but, like disciplining a child, it must not be done when she is angry, resentful, bitter, or hurting (p. 36)

And again

As natural as it is for parents to punish their child for wrongdoing, so it can be for a woman to punish her husband—yet kindness isn’t about punishment but about mercy (p. 120)

 Since the woman should never view herself as her husband’s parent/ disciplinarian, I don’t think these comparisons are the best, even if I understand the point being made.

Overall, I really liked the book. I was challenged in areas like joy and love. Most importantly, Hayley does recognize the absolute necessity of the gospel:

But Jesus came to set us free from sin, not just to spend eternity in heaven but to be free from sin’s power over us here on earth (p. 193)

It’s very freeing to know that we have Christ to set us free from our sin so that we can walk in the Spirit. I would recommend this book to any wife who wants to grow in her relationship with her husband as well as her relationship with God.

Prudence Dagg reviewed The Fruitful Wife for G4S. She lives with her husband, Ron, in Greer, SC. She has a bachelor degree in English and is pursing her master’s degree in teaching English. She love reading, writing, and editing.

A free copy of this book was provided by Crossway. If you plan on purchasing The Fruitful Wife: Cultivating a Love Only God Can Produce, consider supporting Grace for Sinners by purchasing from Amazon.  

Craig Groeschel has written a book which is easy to read and addresses many of the “big” questions married couples and singles are asking. For instance, the first half of Love, Sex, & Happily Ever After (you can read chapter 1 for free) touches on finding the one, friendship, sex, how far is too far, cohabitation, & break ups.

He says early, “But I will present some powerful, time-tested principles based on God’s Word” (p. 7). I expected explicit application with biblical principles related to the topic of marriage, friendship, & sex. I was a little let down honestly.

Any book written from a Christian worldview must be centered around the gospel (Ephesians 5). Otherwise, we may fall pray to moralism in marriage. The word gospel never occurred. He did spend time with Ephesians 5 but it seemed more in passing than the blueprint for any lasting Biblical marriage. In discussing Ephesians 5, Groeschel says, “Men, when you become a husband, it’ll be an honor to give yourself up for your wife” (p. 85). He later talks about leading our wives spiritually by example and asking “‘Is my wife closer to Christ than when we met?’ If she’s closer, ask yourself a follow-up question. ‘Is she closer to Him because of my influence or in spite of it?’” (p. 113). There was also multiple reference to mutual submission and sacrifice but nothing that unpacked the significance of the gospel in relation to marriage. Any marriage that will last must be built upon the foundation of the gospel in this passage. All other issues, especially the ones Groeschel talks about in the book, hang off this one big issue.

He also brought up the topic of marriage to unbelievers but again never really addressed the primary biblical passages. It felt like a hopeless situation (pp. 34-35). And when discussing shame and pain from past sexual sin and abuse, he says,

To break free from the shame of the past, first recognize that as much as you’d like to, you can’t change what happened. What’s done is done. No amount of wishing, praying, or hoping will ever change it (p. 104).

He then moves on to talk about David’s moral and sexual failures and recommends “walk[ing] forward in the light” (p. 105). He then mentions that “Christ can and will change your future” and then mentions Romans 8:28 (“all things work together for good”). As someone who has struggled with sexual sin although now victorious, this section again just left me completely hopeless. Basically, the message was you can’t change it and it will work out for good. A robust application of gospel was needed and wasn’t there.

The book was still helpful and encouraging in some ways. He offered a lot of practical application which was rooted in Scripture. For instance, he says, that God must be our one first before we can find our second, our spouse (see chapter 2 especially pp. 12, 16-18). He strongly argues that God must be the central focus of our lives before we can ever think about covenanting with someone else for life.

A free copy of this book was provided by WaterBrook Moltnomah. If you plan on purchasing Love, Sex, & Happily Ever After: Preparing for a Marriage that Goes the Distance, consider supporting Grace for Sinners by purchasing from Amazon.