The Fruitful Wife: Cultivating a Love Only God can Produce
by Hayley DiMarco
In her book, The Fruitful Wife, Hayley Dimarco does something unique in her study of the fruit of the spirit from Galatians 5; she applies the “fruit” to marriage. What would a fruitful wife and a fruit-filled marriage look like? After an introduction to the concept of fruitfulness, she studies one theme per chapter (love, joy, peace, etc.). I’ve read quite a few books on the fruit of the spirit and quite a few marriage books, but never one that looked at these two ideas together, so I was intrigued by the topic and the way she handled it.
I read the book on a Kindle, so I can’t speak to the problems other readers had with the text color being difficult to read. On the Kindle at least, the book design seemed lovely from the great cover to the teal-colored, well-designed title pages at the start of each chapter.
I loved the concept and the idea of studying the fruit of the spirit in the particular context of marriage. Marriage draws out so much about the core of who we are. You can fake goodness or gentleness or kindness or exhibit those characteristics in your own strength or as your natural personality, but when you’re in the nitty gritty of a close relationship and you see the faults of your husband and he sees all your mess, too, well that’s when it gets real. You can’t pretend anything. Any situation that by definition relies on selflessness (marriage, parenting, caregiving), can bring out the worst in us, but ultimately build into us the beauty of Christ as we let the Holy Spirit be at work.
I think DiMarco did a great job of emphasizing that point also. Nonbelievers can be good or gentle or loving. But it’s not Spirit-fruit. In the context of relationships, we might think we’ll definitely show love in marriage during our engagement because we’re so “in love,” but of course true, Spirit-fruit is so much more than that. The true test of whether we’re displaying the fruit of the spirit comes when there’s conflict or when it’s hard. That’s when we’re relying on the Spirit to do the work rather than ourselves.
I liked her honesty and vulnerability, especially when sharing about the early days of her marriage, and I thought she did a good job of discussing each fruit, giving its biblical definition, examples from Scripture, and personal stories. I liked some of her definitions of the fruit also, like emphasizing how gentleness doesn’t mean being a doormat and goodness is really “imitating Christ.” Her chapter on joy was particularly well done.
With all that said about the positive aspects of the book, I did wonder at some of her personal examples in the book. She talks about marrying late in life and being set in her ways. So she describes honeymoon tantrums, breaking plates as anger therapy, not saying “please and thank you” to her husband and more. The hope, of course, is that if she started out that way in marriage and grew into fruitfulness, than anyone can! Most of the examples, however, seemed to describe what she got wrong and boy was it wrong!! It would have been helpful to see what the spiritual fruit looks like in action, not just hear about a marriage that is lacking in gentleness or patience and the like.
I also (like other reviewers) am not sure she fully intended to suggest that many mental disorders (“obsessive compulsive disorder, hypochondria, or other social phobias”) were simply a lack of patience or trust in God. I do think, like many other issues and disorders, there are spiritual and physical components. But she didn’t clarify that and for some people that could be hurtful or even dangerous.
I believe with most marriage books you should “read and glean.” No book you read may be 100% helpful for your own marriage and you might not agree with every single thing an author writes, but you can still glean. This is a book worth gleaning from. DiMarco offers a unique look at spiritual fruit in marriage and also shares powerful insights about the Galatians 5 fruit of the spirit.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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