I don’t believe a perfect wife or husband exists, but the bible gives an example of what a perfect wife would be like. It also says how the perfect husband and perfect children of this woman would respond. This is how the American Translation words it.
Proverbs 31: 10-31 The Ideal Wife
Who can find a good wife? She is far more precious than jewels. Her husband trusts her, and he doesn’t lack compensation. She helps him and doesn’t harm him as long as he lives. She plants to get wool and flax and works with willing hands. She is like a merchant ship, bringing food from far away. She gets up when it is still dark and gives food to her family and assigns jobs to her maids.
She considers a field and buys it: with what her hands have produced she plants a vineyard. She puts on strength like a garment and goes to work with her arms. She sees she’s making a fine profit; so her lamp burns late at night. She puts her hands on the distaff and with them holds a spindle. She opens her hands to the poor and stretches them out to the needy.
She doesn’t fear for her family when it snows because her whole family has double clothing. She makes quilts for herself; her clothes are linen and purple. Her husband is known at the gates when he sits with the elders of the country. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. She dresses in strength and nobility; and she smiles at the future. She speaks with wisdom, and on her tongue there is kindly instruction. She watches well the conduct of her family and she doesn’t eat the food of idleness.
Her children stand up and call her blessed; her husband too, sings her praises; “Many women have done fine work, but you have done better than all of them.” Charm deceives and beauty vanishes, but a woman who fears the LORD, she is to be praised. Give her credit for what she has done, and let her deeds praise her at the gates.
Wow. What a hard example to live up to and that isn’t all of it. There are other verses in the bible about women submitting to their husbands. You can get the wrong impression that you’re supposed to let your husband say or do whatever he wants. If he treats you poorly, you have to endure.
I don’t like confrontation. I avoid it with a passion, but I don’t like being treated disrespectfully. When I was young, I would stand up for myself when I had to. In my early years of marriage, I started reading the bible often and I misinterpreted a lot of things about marriage. All the verses about obeying and submitting made me think that I couldn’t disagree with my spouse or stick up for myself. Since I’m not perfect I sometimes did it anyways but then I would feel guilty and quickly correct my actions.
This wasn’t a good situation because I was married to a man who was controlling and could be extremely harsh with his words. My new, passive behavior only emboldened him. He had no consequences for mean words or behavior. No boundaries.
Our marriage got worse over the years. It got to the point where I was sinking into a depression. I had to watch every word I said and everything I did because I didn’t know what would trigger his angry outbursts. I would end up apologizing just to appease him and I didn’t even know what I was apologizing for.
I finally told him we should get counseling. His response was, “I’m happy. I don’t know why you’re not happy.” Basically, I was the one with the problem so I could go if I wanted to. He wouldn’t come at first. I went to a Christian counselor named Gregg. On the third visit with him I blurted out something that shocked even me.
“You know,” I said, “I was kind of angry with God.”
I didn’t even know I was angry with God. Is that even allowed? Was I going to be ducking lightning bolts now?
Gregg put his pen down, looked right at me and encouraged me to continue. I started slow, then picked up speed. “God told me in the bible that I was to honor, love, obey and be forgiving and understanding toward my husband and if I did all that, he would honor and praise me. I tried to do all that but he didn’t honor me. He treated me horribly.”
Gregg leaned forward. “Yes, Mary,” he said, “you are supposed to do all those things, but nowhere in the bible does it say that you have to take abuse.”
His words knocked me over. First, I didn’t like the word “abuse.” Being abused makes you sound weak and pathetic. I didn’t like thinking of myself as an abused person – even if it was only verbally and emotionally. Next, I analyzed what he said. I’ve read the bible all the way through and he was right. There isn’t even one example in the whole thing where it says wives (or husbands) have to take abuse.
This knowledge was freeing but by this time we had been married over 25 years and he was too set in his ways. He enjoyed treating me poorly and didn’t like me standing up for myself. It wasn’t a good situation at all and I was still depressed and felt like the life was slowly being sucked out of me. Our marriage lasted 29 years and it ended in a divorce.
I’ve been battling in my mind, if I should do this post because I never talk about my ex on my blog. I don’t get jollies out of bashing him. He does have a lot of good qualities too and if I had set some boundaries, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten so bad. So, I blame both of us for our marriage failure. The reason I decided to post this is because I think a lot of people misinterpret what the bible says, just like I did. The Ideal Wife was to show us how we should respond. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We can’t be perfect and people aren’t going to respond perfectly. But just like Gregg said…
Yes, we are supposed to try to be all those good things, but nowhere, nowhere in the bible does it say that we have to take abuse.
Set boundaries in your relationships and I pray for blessings for you.
Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Note: The picture I posted is of my Mom. No, she wasn’t perfect either, but she’s the closest example to it in my life that I could think of.