A "Better" Word for Wives

Originally published Monday, 28 January 2013.

There’s a few “better” words for wives that I wouldn't have readily applied to my own wifing issues. However, as Christians, sometimes we read the Word and because we aren’t “that bad” we dismiss the requirement of applying the truth from it. In preparing the Better series, I found fresh meaning in these verses. So, here, goes!

Proverbs gives us a number of warnings about how we share life with our husbands:

It is better to live in a corner of a roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
Proverbs 21:9 NAS

It is better to live in a desert land
Than with a contentious and vexing woman.
Proverbs 21:19 NAS

Now I wouldn’t have considered myself to be a “contentious” or “vexing” woman. In fact my husband has said I’ve been a very easy person to live with. But that doesn’t give me immunity from the verse. I still need to guard myself against the attitudes that lead to being contentious and vexing. The words used in the two verses also mean: someone who brings grief, someone who argues, rages, is indignant or spiteful. So if I don’t want to be that kind of a wife, I want to get as far opposite those qualities as possible! We are wise to take a heart check and ask ourselves if in the last few weeks we’ve been or brought:

- anger in our home
- arguing
- agitation
- have we spitefully “gotten back” at anyone around us (or thought about it)
- have we had any outbursts of frustrations or rage...including on the freeway

For a variety of reasons life has conditioned me to always keep my eye out for the stuff that is amiss, the things that need fixing...basically to be overly analytical...alright! critical! If we had hours to chat over coffee, you’d understand how my life-vision got shaped this way and I’d learn how yours might have too. I confess, it comes far too naturally to me and it has been reinforced until it has utterly become a second language to me. As a pastor’s wife I constantly have my eye out for who might feel left out, who might need extra TLC, who might not be really safe, who needs what, etc. My eyes get fixed on the holes and potential holes in church-life and that way of thinking lobs into the rest of life too. Lately God has been convicting me of the deep ways this affects my precious man. I never meant for it to...it just sort of happened.

One of the big attitude adjustments I’ve been convicted of is being ungrateful. That tendency to spot issues and snags acts like a drain on my heart’s joy and gratitude. It serves to agitate my heart like wind on a lake. I know my husband would love to see my heart in a place of genuine peace and stillness--God would too (Psalm 46:10)! And I’m starting to see gratitude as a serious missing link to maintaining that spirit of quiet trust. I’ve always been grateful for the simple pleasures in life, but there’s more to gratitude than saying “Thanks” to God or others. It’s a constant heartbeat that doesn’t leave room for frustrations or irritations or eyes that look for the “holes” in life.

Here’s another “better” word from 1 Samuel 1:6-8:

Her (Hannah’s) rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?" NAS

Is there any point of discontentment or disappointment in your marriage that pulls you two apart? If there is, you’re not alone! My husband and I have wrestled under the strain of life disappointments far more than I ever imagined we would. We’ve had a good life and a sweet marriage--but that hasn’t meant we haven't had seasons of intense disappointment, grief and loss. Like Elkanah and Hannah, we’ve also struggled with an empty cradle. Whether it’s a loss or emptiness of children, finances, a dream or whatever, could your husband say to you, “Why do you weep and why do you not eat (or why have you eaten 5 cartons of ice cream!) and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ________?” Has your sadness over that place of emptiness come between you two?

Sharing life together means sharing burdens. It’s part of the preciousness of being married--that you share the joys and the pains together like no one else. But there is a point at which we, especially as women, need to check ourselves and make sure we are not letting the depth of our emotions rob us of emotional intimacy with our husbands. We are wise to guard our hearts and make sure our sadness and loss doesn’t either:

1. take over the throne of our heart and block our view of our Lord or
2. take up so much emotional-heart space that there’s just no more room for our husbands in there!

That deep churning of emotions could be just as damaging as being a contentious or vexing wife.

Whether it’s an anxiety over life issues that agitates your soul to the point of vexing you (or those around you); an issue with anger that could classify you as contentious; or a deep sadness--all our heart issues are legitimate and most often real, genuine concerns with very real need (that God sees, understands and will provide for). A “better” wife, however, is wise to watch how deeply she lets those concerns into her heart and to guard the special heart space God designed for the love of husband, family and Him to reside.

A prayer for us wives:
Lord, make us excellent wives who are the crown of our husband, make us worthy and wise so that the heart of our husband can trust us in all things. Help us to do him good and not evil all the days of our life.  Make strength and dignity our clothing, and give us grace to smile with faith and confidence in You at our future. Teach us so we might open our mouths in wisdom,with the teaching of kindness on our tongue. Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but may this woman reverence and honor You Lord above all else! Proverbs 12:4, Proverbs 31:11-12, Proverbs 31:25-26, Proverbs 31:30

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