“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.”
Quarrelsome – argumentative, confrontational, combative, antagonistic, belligerent, cantankerous, scrappy; these are some of the words my computer Thesaurus list as synonyms to quarrelsome.
How many books have been written about the Proverbs 31 woman. The woman of flawless character who earned the bacon, dressed the bacon, fried the bacon in a pan, and handed it over without a bite. That seemingly untouchable, unnamed woman in the bible who has every woman of every generation struggling to cope with their flaws and failures. The woman every Christian woman desires to be, strives to be, and secretly fails to be.
Was that mother telling her son to reach for the ideal of a woman who didn’t exist, maybe in hopes that he caught something that was better than the typical girl who walked their streets at the time? Or was it that the women of that era were just that much better than we are today. Obviously they had their issues with lazy women, defiant women, pervasive woman. I’m sure they had their fat and skinny women, ugly and beautiful women; however, the point of Proverbs 31:10-31 seems to be about a woman who is smart and creative, committed and faithful, she works and earns, she gives and provides, she’s strong and determined, she’s kind and loving, considerate and soft-hearted, she is the cause of respect for her husband, she is wise, she is blessed!
I’m not sure about you, but I can’t live up to that. I’m not one tenth of this described woman. (And, honestly, what would a King want with a girl who works…he is king for pete-sake! yeah…I know…principal of the matter, I got it….I’ve “gotten it” for well over 25 years.) I’m kind of tired of it. What about the women who TRY ridiculously hard to meet the needs of their ever-changing families in a time where you most likely DID NOT marry a king, despite what your husband would like to call himself. Where you live check to check and scramble to pay down debt while giving your family food on the table and a vacation in the summer. So many women today work hard, give hard, and well…they are, at times, quarrelsome. They are over worked, under appreciate, stretched to their limits, exhausted, and at the end of the day the only equality they want is a husband who will help them put the kids to bed and maybe wash the dishes.
Being a wife of noble character is the last thing on their minds! How in the world did this mother come up with the untouchable woman! This Proverbs woman was no slacker, she worked hard! But even the author of this poem admits that this woman can’t be found, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” as quoted from Proverbs 31:10 from the NIV. We are wearing ourselves out trying to be this un-findable woman! She is an ideal not a real deal! BUT, this poem from a mother to a son has it’s place in every wives life. It’s a reaching point! I liken it to having to put the star on top of the Christmas tree (when your 5’2” and your Christmas Tree is eight feet, you need a ladder and a prayer of safety) you’re going to have to take it one step at a time.
That ideal woman of Proverbs 31 might have seemed to be everything to everyone over night, but in reality…it doesn’t happen that way. You grow slowly and over time you see yourself develop into something beautiful, something worth inspiring too. Eventually you are flowing through the words of Titus 2:3-5, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (NIV) The journey will seemingly take forever, but we have to be persistent, one day we will look back and see how far we have really come and our children really will rise up and call us blessed, and we will shed a tear of relief and gratitude for the poem of an untouchable woman we continually failed to be.
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:1-7 (NKJV)
Submissive: Ready to conform to the authority or will of others; meekly obedient or passive. My Thesaurus synonyms are compliant, yielding, dutiful, and docile.
We all have our preconceived idea on submission. Every woman cringes when they hear the word. The Sister Suffragist fought hard to get us from silent minority to roaring majority. We should be grateful. From a perspective of a stay at home wife who lives a work filled but charmed and easy life, I’m not so sure how grateful I am. Sure, I like to vote and feel like my voice makes a difference. I also like that I can work any job I like or desire. These are all admirable and desirable things we are inspiring too, but at what cost? What was the cost to our families and our relationships within our homes.
WWI brought opens doors through the workforce, doors that haven’t shut but continue to open wider. We work to earn the American dream, but the more we work to obtain the American dream, the more it cost to live the American dream. We’ve given up the rights in our home for the rights of our voice and the rights of a pay check equal too. Our children are taught by someone else, and our husbands are often left wanting because we are overworked and too stretched to devote any more attention on anyone but our own wounds from the battle of the day.
So in a world were jobs are open and voices are equal what does submission really look like? I’m sure I don’t know. I’m actually not sure when the last time was I submitted to my own husband. I like to think we are sharing our opinions equally, because well it is a relationship of equality. I deserve to have my voice heard, even if it’s at the cost of my husband self-esteem or my children’s revere for his fatherly authority. Yes, having a voice is important, but knowing when to use it, that is even more important.
We think of submission as something harsh and unfair but submission is a sign of respect and appreciation. Subconsciously you are telling your husband that you not only don’t respect him but you really don’t appreciate him either. (Man Speak: Your idea is stupid, where do you come up with this stuff, stop thinking your going to hurt yourself or someone else. I’m better at A,B,C than you are, why did I marry you in the first place if I was going to do everything myself anyway.) It may not seem apparent to either of you this is occurring, but spend some time, after you command your last say so, watching your husband. What does his actions, his demeanor, he attitude tell you about how he is feeling. How does he respond to you when another situation occurs? It could clue you in on what your refusal to submit is really doing to your husband and your marriage. As the genie in Aladdin would say, “Its not a pretty picture!”
Now, please, don’t get me wrong; you’re not supposed to shut up and listen for the rest of your life. On the contrary, actions speak louder than words. If the actions of a godly woman can win over an ungodly husband (1 Peter 3:1), how much more could the actions of a godly woman sway the opinion or understanding of a godly husband who’s desire it is to honor his wife and love her like Christ loves the church, which means he would lay down his life for; (and that doesn’t only apply to physically) he’ll want to put her needs before his own.
Do you remember the saying “behind every great man there is a great woman”? You don’t just influence your man, you drive him. You have the ability to lift him up or crash him down. Think about the last time you encouraged your husband. What happened? Did he succeed at something important, or gain the ground he had been fighting for at work, did he pass that test for the class he been working so hard on? Men are wired to thrive off of respect and admiration of their wives, a little encouragement goes a long way, a lot of encourage may make you a mom for the third or fourth time. Depends on the moods. 😉
By all this, I mean that your submission to your husband, allowing him to be the head, letting him lead, being their to back him up, to encourage him forward, are all signs of submission; this is an offering of love to your husband that is a missing element in many marriages today. I’m sure all the great romantic relationships have this in common, each gave all and submitted their desires to the other. So, you might say, submission by any other word, would also be respect, admiration, and selflessness. “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33.
“All together NOW!” (Mad Hatter….I couldn’t help myself.) What is your role in the modern-day marriage, as a modern day woman? Similar to that of historical women in historical times with historical marriages. The Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever because our God is The Word and He doesn’t change. We are called to work unto perfection, though we may never obtain it in this life. We are able to grow into something like the Proverbs 31 woman; when we have the inner strength to lay down our desires and submit to our husbands.
“And the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:8.
When we give 100% into our spouse and expect nothing we have the potential to mold together a union that is of like-mindedness, a union of one…spiritual and emotional…and the ability to show them how to do the same. Despite what history would like us to think, a woman was not without rights, they just produced them in a different way….through the sway of the stronger vessel, the man. We have the ability to encourage them into strength and wisdom or into anger and withdrawal. As wives and mothers we have to hold tight to the respectful authority God gave to a man, and help mold them into that calling over their lives. We may never produce the perfect picture of the Proverbs 31 woman, but we can produce the thing that drove her, selflessness. When the lives of the people around us matter more than our own we become the essence of that coveted title, A PROVERBS 31 WOMAN!
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:” Proverbs 31:28 (NIV)