“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31: 10
I have a confession to make… I have an addiction. Yes, I have an addiction… to wisdom. I crave philosophy… So much so, that I actually purchased the textbook for my Philosophy 101 class, as well as the additional required reading (Leisure: The Basis of Culture, by Josef Pieper) and for those of you who know my husband and me, you’ll know that actually purchasing a textbook over simply renting or borrowing one is a big deal 🙂
Anyway, that is precisely the reason I love reading from the book of Proverbs so much. The entire basis of the book is wisdom, and that by clinging to wisdom and understanding, you make your paths straight and your life will be satisfying. There are 31 chapters- one for each day of the month- and I read them starting on the first and when I complete them, I cycle my way through them again. Proverbs tends to be my favorite when seeking guidance or wisdom.
So I was reading my daily devotion from youversion.com via my Motorola Droid Bionic (shameless plugs, I know…) and I’m on day 104 of 365 (youversion does cool things like track your progress via percentage complete… I’m at 28.3%/100%) The topical scripture today was Psalm 45:6. With all the engaged persons and newly married couples I know, I found this verse intriguing.
Go ahead and think about your wedding day… Whether it’s past, or future… Who do you see there? Family? Friends? What kind of flowers? What color is the bridal party wearing? Are you in a church? Are you outside? What music is playing?… All of these things are what create the beauty of a traditional wedding ceremony for us in today’s society. The groom standing at the end of the aisle, waiting anxiously to glimpse his bride in her beautiful gown, and take her to be his wife “til death do them part.” The bride at her most beautiful and glamorous in the perfect dress, hair and makeup never having looked more perfect… With that image in mind, your most glamorous of days, your most ideal ceremony, think about how much BETTER it will be when Christ comes to take His bride (the Church) to live with him for eternity…
I was pondering that as I read that Psalm, and then came to the realization that while it was written in old testament times to refer to our version of a wedding, John uses the same verse in Hebrews 1:8 to describe Christ, the husband of the Church. It really is a beautiful image…
Which leads me to today’s reading of Proverbs. Today I read Proverbs 4 (I know, I’m a day ahead) I still had this beautiful imagery of a wedding party and then of Christ coming to claim us as his faithful bride when I read Proverbs 4:8-9:
“Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.”
The “She” and “Her” refers to wisdom, but as I thought about it, this verse also applies to marriage, does it not? Ladies, if your husband were to hold you in high esteem, would you not be more inclined to give him respect? If he came up to you as you were making dinner in the kitchen and embraced you, would you not be apt to show him your honor and reverence to him in a tangible way, let’s say, serving him dinner? My answer is yes. Marriage is a delicate and tricky creature… If you hold it too tightly (the song “Hold on Loosely” is stuck in my head now, btw) you can strangle it; but if you don’t cling to it enough, and show your spouse in tangible ways your love and respect for him or her, they just may turn and run away… There are a number of things that influence a good marriage. I’ve got it broken down to 5 bits of wisdom for now:
1.) Love– If a wife does not feel like her husband loves her, and only her, she is not inclined to respect him as her husband, her spiritual leader, her partner in life, or even as a man. While men seem to thrive on respect more than love, if a husband doesn’t feel loved by his wife, he may seek it- in a physical sense- outside their marriage. A couple should model their love after the definition found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13. It’s harder than you may think, but without a doubt worth the effort.
2.)Respect– Respect and love go hand in hand; they’re like two edges of the same sword, or the two cookie parts of the Oreo… The point being, the wife must respect her husband in order for her to let him be her spiritual leader, and head of the household. If a wife does not respect her husband, she’ll begin to question all of his decisions, motives, intentions, and their trust for each other will suffer. He will not feel that she deserves his love and affection, and she will not feel that he deserves her respect. This is a dangerous game to play. I recommend if you find yourself in this situation to really sit down and evaluate not your spouse’s behavior, but your own. Ladies, what can you do to live your life with a more gentle and quiet spirit, allowing your husband to lead you? Gentlemen, what can you do to show your wife affection, and earn her respect? I’ve discovered in my 2 years of marriage (I know, I know, I’m still practically a newlywed…) that if the husband has his wife’s best interest ahead of his own, then he will want what’s best for her. When the wife wants what her husband wants, she’s really wanting what’s best for her, whether it’s what she thinks she needs, or not. It’s a continuous cycle of caring for each other and respecting the needs and wants of your partner; that means even if it isn’t what you want, it may be what you need.
3.)Communication– this is by far the most difficult part of a relationship, marriage or otherwise. Communication is the cream filling between the love and respect cookies. The difficulty comes from the two very different ways in which men and women think. Rather than paraphrase a story I read yesterday, I’ll insert my own grocery store faux pa… My husband and I went to the commissary for groceries… He had come home frustrated to the max that day and was in no mood for shopping, so he was being somewhat cantankerous. I had a list and was on a shopping mission to get everything on it before the store closed… Well, between me trying to maintain a quiet and gentle spirit, and my husband being ornery, my mission to get everything on the list before closing time (15 minutes) was failed. I kept my tongue in check and we walked across the street to the MCX for some of our non-grocery list items. For those of you who don’t know what a “mission shopper” is, it’s someone who absolutely abhors shopping for the sake of shopping, and employs the “get in, get out” method to buying their necessary items without dawdling or lingering. I am a mission shopper. My husband is not. I went to the laundry hamper aisle… Being a woman, I had a specific style of laundry hamper in mind, tall rectangular shaped, with a flip-up lid to conceal the dirty laundry inside… Mitch made the comment as I walked past the plastic Rubbermaid-style hampers, “Sorry plastic ones, apparently you’re not pretty enough…” …that’s my husband ladies, and gentlemen- he knows my thoughts whether I vocalize them or not. I was annoyed at the limited hamper selection, so I made a circle around that isle and eventually came to grips that any laundry hamper would suffice, but as I struggled to unstuck them, I called for Mitch and he was nowhere in sight. I scraped my hand and broke a nail, but I eventually got them separated. I would say that I then went to look for my husband, but I didn’t have to go looking- I knew he was in the electronics…. I found him, and we finished our shopping. But all my frustration and his obstinacy and impatience with my indecision could have been eliminated had I just communicated to him to stay nearby in case I needed his help. Instead, he sensed my frustration and wandered as far away as possible to avoid confrontation. The point being, couples have to communicate whether it’s about something small like a laundry hamper or something more life-changing, like a new job, or home, or children… Letting the little things fester and stew leads to an eruption somewhat like when you stop paying attention to a pressure-cooker: you end up with a big mess that takes forever to clean up. Knowing that men and women have different versions of logical thinking helps you to chill out and see things from his or her perspective before you go criticizing.
4.)Patience– This isn’t necessarily something you think of immediately concerning marriage… or at least I didn’t, and woah, buddy was that a misstep on my part. Patience is huge. Spouses need to realize that their significant other, however perfect he or she may seem, is a flawed individual in need of the same salvation you are. That was an epiphany of mine a few months ago. I cannot place the expectation of perfection on my husband, because he is not perfect and he will fail. Instead I need to be patient and encouraging to him. The same goes for husbands to their wives- She’s not perfect, guys… One of these days, she’s going to wake up and clear her throat exactly like her mother, and then start nagging you about what you’re doing and why you aren’t helping her with __________ chores… You will be tempted to let your frustration take over and set her straight, but don’t. You mustn’t raise your voice at her. And if you’re half as good with words as my husband has become, you’ll find a way to express your feelings in a way that doesn’t sound like, “Woman, you’re exactly like your mother- stop it!” I’ve been on both ends of the patience thing, and trust me, the golden rule has never been more applicable. You will want patience from your spouse when it’s your turn.
5.) Compromise– again, another huge aspect of marriage that I initially overlooked. For those of you who are unsure, compromise isn’t just trying to sway your spouse to your own opinion so you get what you want. That’s manipulation, and that’s no good. Compromise is taking the best of both sides of a dispute, and putting them into place as the solution. For example, my husband and I frequently dispute how to spend our weekends. I would prefer to either spend it outside, playing with the dogs, working in the yard or going out and spending time with friends. My husband is a total introvert. You wouldn’t think that if you’d spent quality time with him because once he feels comfortable in social situations, he lets his true colors show and just gets “Mitchy”- that’s the term we’ve coined to describe his vibrant, and unique personality. That being said, my husband is shy by nature, and would prefer to spend his weekends vegged out in front of the TV playing video games or watching Avatar: The Last Airbender (don’t knock it ladies, it has a good storyline.) It’s taken us the better part of 5 years to figure out how to compromise these two opposing ideals… What usually happens is that we get alternating weekends of our choice. Last weekend, we were hermits and I don’t think we spoke more than 6 whole sentences to each other, and we both had a relaxing, satisfying weekend. The Saturday before that, we participated in a walk for MS and strolled 5 miles through a beautiful park and then went to a friend’s house for a Scentsy open house and just to hang out. See? It can be done. The challenge is to not complain while you’re compromising. Which brings me back to patience, and respect. Have the respect to give a little in your relationship rather than taking all the time. Be patient with you spouse, and it will be returned. Show your love in tangible ways, like NOT nagging or complaining when you do something that your spouse wants to do.
This is not to mention God, which is an intrinsic property to any successful marriage. Set your focus on God, and he will order your loves appropriately. I’ll expound more on this later… But for now, take it as a given that God must be at the center of your marriage.
I know I’ve used this expression before, but I’m going to use it again: I submit that a happy wife doesn’t necessarily make a happy life, but that spouses who compromise and give to each other over themselves make each other happy. A happy husband makes a happy wife, which in turn makes a happy marriage. And that’s my nugget of wisdom for today.