Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 12/13/2010 by Mark Tubbs.
Recommended. Almost everything you wish you had known about serving your wife as a biblical man before you got married, in less than 125 pages.
In the months leading up to our nuptials (not that we have ever actually used that word), my youth pastor, who doubled as pre-marital counselor and best man, gifted us two books: Marriage Spirituality and The Mystery of Marriage. The intentions were admirable, but at age 20 and 21 respectively, we weren't ready for the profound and intense practices described in these books. I would have been much better off with Jess MacCallum's Put the Seat Down except that it hadn't been written twelve years ago.
The book's format is quite straightforward. It comprises ten brief chapters on eminently practical relationship issues, from romance and sex to décor and in-laws, plus everything in between. Each chapter ends with an installment of "The Smart Guy's Guide to Being Awesome." Sounds empowering, doesn't it? Well, reader beware: in some cases be ready for a sock in the gut. The two most convicting chapters for this reviewer were the chapter on money and the chapter about the importance of showing my wife masculine, biblical consideration. Possibly the most shattering piece of advice was this one:
Pick up her stuff as well as yours. It's easy to say that you pick up after yourself, but that just makes you a well-raised ten-year-old child. A considerate husband picks up after his wife as well.
The final chapter is a brief but punchy call for the husband to lead, protect, and accept help from his wife. Chivalry is far from dead, if Jess MacCallum has anything to say about it. Not merely a door-opening, eyes-always-fixed-on-her, coats-over-mud-puddles type of chivalry (although these are noble things to do) but a chivalry that protects her life and reputation and feelings at the expense of your own.
This is a book written for men, but I can envision women benefitting from it as well. (Note to female readers: Brenda Garrison has written a companion volume for a female audience. The publisher currently offers the set of two for 25% off the regular price) For those men who might feel that MacCallum has at times let the cat out of the bag and betrayed us, such as the page-long "explanation of two halves of a man's brain" – a section that is far from complimentary, let me tell you, but entirely warranted – I would pass along MacCallum's counsel from a different context, but which remains apt and applicable here: "Get over yourself." The better your wife/fiancée understands you, the better she can help you be a better husband/man.
The one niggle I would take up with MacCallum is that Chapter 10's recommended resources on personality profiles and temperaments ought to be fleshed out a bit more. I’m not opposed to Tim LaHaye's temperament books; however, I do recall one person who misread LaHaye and gleefully exclaimed, "I knew I couldn't change! That's just the way I am." They were referring, unfortunately, to their "buttons" – those things that set them off in anger. To avoid misusing personality profiling, read lots of Paul David Tripp and David Powlison on grace and truth and sin – and some Bible wouldn’t hurt either.
This book is an all-around "strong dose of reality" (to borrow another of the author's phrases) for males who aspire to biblical manhood. It comes across a tad less tentative than his equally enjoyable first book. A well-earned sophomore confidence has set in, evidently. MacCallum doesn't mince words, but he doesn't lace them with snide arsenic either.
This book is an inexpensive and worthwhile investment in any married or soon-to-be-married or wants-to-be-married man's spiritual life, especially the one who cannot read 10-point font and polysyllabic words without losing interest or falling asleep.