Long ago I heard couples talking about a book called "The Five Love Languages" and just about the time I heard the title my brain turned off and started wandering to other topics I keep stored in my brain's hard-drive for when "boring" conversations like this come up. I wasn't interested. Why? Well, to put it simply, the book had "love" in the title. I wish I could be more pragmatic, but that's it. I made up all kinds of assumptions just from the title, and I had come up with a vision of a book that contained all kinds of "mushy stuff" about relationships that basically women wanted men to know, but no man was ever going to read. Why? Well, it seems men don't read such books.
Fast forward to a conversation with a guy I had regarding his personal life with Christ, and I began to think of a few books that influenced me and he said simply, "John, I just don't read books." I hesitated, and then shrugged my shoulders. What else was there to say? When I talked about this phenomenon with another friend, he had a different response. When I told him about the guy who just doesn't read books he responded, "Really? Ya' think? The guy is having all kinds of problems in his Christian and personal life and then you found out he doesn't read books? Is it any surprise?"
It got me to thinking. There are a lot of guys out there who do read books, but there are also a lot of guys out there who proudly assert that "They don't read books" as though it were something to be proud of. I'm not saying a guy needs to get into "the mushy stuff" women enjoy in fiction, but there do happen to be some very good books worth a read. I am reminded by the oft repeated quote of "Charles Tremendous Jones" that says, "Five years from now you'll be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the people you meet." Years later, this quote was paraphrased to say "A man is never changed but by the books he reads and the people he meets."
Men don't want to change though. They resist being changed. I have never met a man yet who said, "I married her because I just knew she was going to change me into a better man." I fact, if that had been part of the marriage bargain up front, most men would probably never follow through with getting married. I say this in jest, but in some part of men there resides an idea that if we are good enough to marry the way we are now, then we should be good enough the way we are for the rest of our lives. However, that simply is never true, for everything changes in life, and men need to be able to change and grow and improve over time or risk becoming either irrelevant, or replaced.
Getting back to my original topic though, I eventually was encouraged strongly by a good friend to pick up and read "The Five Love Languages" with my wife. I was hesitant, but told him I would. I was just sure the book was going to talk about all the "mushy stuff" women love, and that the message would be something along the lines of "You're doing it all wrong. Idiot." I am happy to report that nothing could have been further from the truth.
In the end, there was a lot to be gained from reading this book together with my wife. We learned a lot about each other, I discovered some very interesting and encouraging things about myself (turns out I was doing a lot of things right already!), and also discovered ways to do the right things even better. My wife learned along the way as well, we were both helped through the process, and our marriage took another bump up on the ladder of success.
This would not have been possible if my manly ego had not been laid aside long enough to pick up the book, but it had me thinking about all the men out there who may be thinking, or even proudly saying, "I don't read books." This message is for you: "If you're not reading good books, then you're doing it all wrong. Idiot." Now go set your manly ego and pride aside long enough to realize you need to change as all things change in life, and the best way to make a change is to guide that change by reading good books and opening yourself up to being influenced by good people. Why? Because real men read good books!