When my husband and I got engaged, two particular sentiments dominated the congratulatory discussions - the “Oh, you’re going to love marriage, it’s so wonderful. Such a blessing” comments, and there were also the “Get ready. It’s not as easy as it seems” comments.
As we’re rounding the corner of eighteen months and wrapping up our newlywed status, I’ve found that both are true (at least so far). Marriage has been so, so sweet! It does also take work, but not because my husband is difficult – because I am. Thankfully, the Bible has plenty to say regarding our sinful tendencies as newlywed wives, and how to turn those into opportunities to grow. These pithy nuggets of practical wisdom in Proverbs have been a great help to me and can help us shape us into “excellent wives” who are “crowns” to our husbands rather than “rottenness to [their] bones” (Proverbs 12:4).
1. Proverbs 23:19 “Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.”
An incredibly valuable principle is introduced here – to be wise, we must direct our hearts toward the right way. Relying on emotion to produce a godly, joyful marriage is like eating only junk food before a 5k – it’s super enjoyable, but definitely won't produce the desired results. As Christians, we don't get to just think or do or say whatever we feel. Rather than follow our emotions, we’ve got to direct them to follow and appreciate biblical principles that will shape us into peaceful, joyful, godly wives.
2. Proverbs 14:4 “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”
Perhaps we could practically switch this phrase to, “Where there are no husbands, the laundry is properly sorted, the shoes are organized by the door, and there are no crumbs left in the sink.” (All hypothetical scenarios, of course.) But we can’t forget the last part of the verse – having everything perfect just the way I want requires the absence of the husband I love. One author put it this way, “As long as we still change clothes and eat at least three meals every day, the laundry and dishes will never be completely done.” While living with another person does require some adjusting, it’s worth it. Don’t sweat it.
3. Proverbs 12:20 “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.”
Ever been on your way home, in another room, or just doing something else and thinking, “I hope he’s not doing [insert annoyance here]” or “He better be [insert thing you want here] or else”? I have, and you know what? In those moments, I was literally planning contention with my husband. It sounds ridiculous to say out loud, but I was getting upset with him in my mind for something he was doing or not doing, before I even knew what he was actually doing! My poor husband.
If we plan contention, sadly, we get exactly what we want. But if we plan peace instead, joy is assured! In those moments, we must turn our thoughts to, “You know, if he’s [insert annoyance right here], that’s okay. He should get to take a break to do things he enjoys sometimes too,” or “If he’s not [insert thing you want here], that’s okay. I’ll see if maybe he can help me with it in a few minutes.”
4. Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” & Proverbs 11:12 “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”
Are our words ever like sword thrusts to our husbands, aiming to wound and pleased when we do? Eek. I certainly wouldn’t want to be married to myself in those moments.
When we’re tempted to cut with our words, if nothing else, stay silent! If possible, go a step further and bring healing. Kindly expressing disappointment or reassurance turns a potentially destructive situation into a building block.
5. Proverbs 11:13 “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”
The way we talk about our husbands matters – both when they are around and when they are not. There’ve been times when I’ve told a funny story that really embarrassed my husband. I made people laugh, but you know what? It wasn’t worth it. When a story or joke has the potential to embarrass your husband, just ask him what his preference is. Put him first and respect his answer.
The wife of one of my youth pastors told me they practiced the “Present your Partner Perfect” principle, and that’s always stuck with me. Unless you’re talking with someone who is part of the solution, present your husband as perfect. Focus on his positive qualities with others instead of potential negative ones. When someone else brings up a flaw in your husband, keep his sins covered. A simple, “It’s been a really busy week for him, so I’m sure he’s planning to get to that as soon as he can,” or something similar, protects your husband from slander and protects you from participating. Have his back just like you’d want him to have yours.
6. Proverbs 18:2 “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
Ever get to the end of a conversation and realize you have no idea what the other person said? In our house, we call this “listening-not-listening,” where we hear the other person, but are totally not paying attention because we’re focused on what we’re going to say next. One of the awesome things about being married is that you can always get the other person’s perspective. Appreciate his opinion and ask questions to better understand his thoughts. Not only will you learn more about the topic at hand, but you’ll also show him that you care about what he has to say.
7. Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” and Proverbs 17:10 “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.”
A Christian marriage is the ultimate “iron sharpening iron” relationship – loyal, unconditional love can’t help but push the other person towards godliness. But being confronted with your sin is one of the hardest things to swallow. How we respond to rebuke – whether it’s a good time or a bad time – says a lot about us. When your husband points something out that you could be doing better, choose your response wisely. Pride says that we’re not really all that committed to growing. Humility absorbs the responsibility for our sin, seeks to make it right, and looks to avoid it in the future. Good teammates can trust each other to only point out flaws with the other person’s ultimate good in mind.
Proverbs 31:11-12 points out that part of the reward of being an “excellent wife” is holding your husband’s trust and supporting his success. Isn’t that a precious reward?! I have hardly experienced anything sweeter than hearing my husband say “Good job” or “I’m proud of you,” or “I couldn't have done it without you.” And just think – if it is this sweet of a reward on earth, imagine what it will be like someday to hear our Father say “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Brittany Hicks completed her undergraduate education from Indiana University, where she was heavily involved in Cross Impact Campus Ministries. Having served in camp ministry and now as a pastor’s wife, she has a growing passion for biblical counseling and training in the local church.
The Problem With Christian Trump Supporters
How to Have Personal Standards Without Being a Legalist
The Heart of Modesty
Stop Trying to Reach Millennials
Like our Facebook page to keep up with the latest articles!