HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Fruitful Wife: Cultivating a Love Only God Can Produce
Author: Hayley DiMarco
Publisher: Crossway, 2012
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Older teen girls and adult women
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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DiMarco, Hayley. The Fruitful Wife: Cultivating a Love Only God Can Produce (published in 2012 by Crossway, 1300 Crescent St., Wheaton, IL 60187). How can a wife learn to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled? Wife, mother, best-selling author, and popular conference speaker Hayley DiMarco takes the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23—love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), and self-control; explains what they mean; and suggests how they can be developed and applied in the lives of wives, although many of her principles can be applied by men as well as women. Last year, I reviewed a book for husbands, Date Your Wife: A Husband’s Guide by Justin Buzzard, so I thought that I would do one for wives too. I chose this one because the name of author Hayley DiMarco sounded vaguely familiar to me. In the book she says, “When I consider all that needs to be done in my life—this book, the homeschool work, the housework—I can get overwhelmed.” It finally dawned on me—I believe that I have seen her name listed as a speaker at one or more homeschool conferences.
Of course, this book approaches the subject from a “Christian” perspective. Looking over some reader reviews which raised objections to it, I found that most of the critics came across as feminists, though some may call themselves Christians (from “mainline denominations”), who considered it as having a “miserable patriarchist vision of marriage.” Such people tend to view the Scriptural admonition for wives to submit to their husbands as making “the figure of the husband into an idol who is to be treated like a god, like a literal stand-in for the real God, which is of course blasphemous and wrong.” In fact, one individual wrote, “…the verses of St. Paul about the husband being the head of the wife are troubling and difficult to understand in context….” The biggest problem in understanding comes from those who simply don’t want to follow the divine instructions. Another complaint was Di Marco’s comments that “obsessive compulsive disorder, hypochondria, and other social phobias” are “neurosis that are born in our spirits” that are formed when we have “an immoderate attachment to something other than God.” I did not understand the author to be saying that all mental illnesses are the result of spiritual problems, but the fact is that some such disorders can be the consequences of sinful choices in life.
There may be certain specific observations by DiMarco with which one might disagree, but the fact is that she presents the Biblical view of marriage rather than a modern, worldly, humanistic one. And for those who actually believe in God’s revelation, DiMarco offers some very valuable advice. She points out that true love is not just a nice emotional feeling but selflessness. Real joy is not just happiness resulting from pleasant circumstances but “the realization that we no longer have to live under our own power” as exemplified by sisters Corrie and Betsie ten Boom in their Nazi prison. Genuine peace comes not from the absence of external conflict but from having a right relationship with God. There is also a very practical discussion of faithfulness and why it is necessary in a marriage relationship. In the conclusion we find the following: “It is the will that must change its commitment from self-indulgence and sin to self-control and obedience. And in order for the will to be exercised in this way, it must get its direction from the Holy Spirit himself, who speaks to the heart of man through the Word of God. As you look into God’s Word and are transformed in the process, you will become more and more inclined to relinquish its insistence on self-sufficiency and self-indulgence, and fruit will grow.” And that is how to be a fruitful wife—and a fruitful husband, for that matter.