Excellence

            It is the wife’s responsibility to bring honor and glory to her family. If she does her duty well, she will be a crown to her husband. If she fails, she will destroy her husband’s health and reputation (Proverbs 12:4). Even outside of the marriage, the woman is charged with bringing glory to men, just as men are charged with bringing glory to God (I Corinthians 11:7).

            Such an idea goes against the grain of our society. We admire and praise the individualist – the person who stands out alone. But to gain such a position, a person must be prideful in his own accomplishments and selfish in his goals. Such attitudes are contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Mankind is to give glory to God in whatever they do (I Corinthians 10:31). Our own accomplishments do not matter, but the fact that God’s will is being done to the further good of mankind.

            Hence, a wife’s role requires a good deal of humility. She should be recognized for the work that she does. Remember that the husband is required to cherish his wife. But if a wife approaches her duties with a “What’s in it for me” attitude, she will never gain satisfaction with the role of being a wife. She should be such a person that her husband believes he has been especially blessed by God to have been allowed to marry her (Proverbs 18:22).

            To understand the concept of excellence better, let us look at verses which define the opposite attitude. Solomon describes the foolish woman, who lives the life of harlotry, as clamorous, simple-minded, and knowing nothing (Proverbs 9:13). The woman who does not show excellence does not know when to stop talking. She plays the part of a child, gaining sympathy by her act of naivety. An excellent wife is not a dumb wife!

            Nor do looks define an excellent wife. “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion” (Proverbs 11:22). A fine gold ring does nothing for the beauty of a pig. And a woman without excellence of character is not enhanced by her physical beauty.

            The greatest difficulty in the relationship between a husband and wife is over-talking a problem. Too often a wife feels she has no input in her husband’s decisions, especially if he decides to do something with which she disagrees. The solution for which many wives reach is nagging. They will talk about the problem from every possible direction – bringing up frequent reminders – until a decision is reached with which they are satisfied. Notice what the Scriptures say about nagging:

It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” (Proverbs 21:9)

It is better to live in a desert land, than with a contentious and vexing woman.” (Proverbs 21:19)

            Most men look at a problem as something to be solved as quickly as possible. The best solution might be desirable but not at the expense of delaying a solution. Once a solution is reached, men rarely want to review the decision. Questioning a decision is questioning a man’s ability to lead. Most women tend to look for the best solution. Decisions are delayed until all options are considered in every possible light. The conflict arises when the man believes the decision has been made and the woman is still weighing the options. The wife’s continued discussions are perceived as a disagreement with the man’s decision.

            If you want to see an illustration of the difference, look at the way men and women shop. Men will generally pick a store, walk in and pick an item, and leave through the shortest checkout lane. Women will look at selection of many stores, weighing carefully the difference of price and value. It is unsurprising for a woman to find a great deal and leave the store without the item because there might be an even better deal elsewhere. You rarely find a man checking the prices of an item recently bought – that is just self-inflicted pain. Yet a woman often checks and will return the item so she can buy it elsewhere at the lower price.

            When a problem arises between a husband and wife, what is perceived by the wife to be helpful input is seen by the husband as nagging. Rather than using constant reminders as a way to control the husband, a wife must learn to let her husband make decisions. Give your views while the decision is being weighed, but keep silent after it is made. At times you will know that his decision was not very good, but the best thing you can do is give him the freedom to fall flat on his face. Some people learn best by making mistakes. When he does fail, try to restrain the inclination to say “I told you so.” If he has any intelligence, he will remember that you gave good advice and give your advice more weight in his next decision.

            The most complete description of excellence is found in Proverbs 31:10-31. Such a wife cannot be valued by mere monetary sums. She supports her husband and her husband can trust her in everything. In other words, the husband doesn’t need to make decisions about every detail. He knows she does what is best for the family. An excellent wife is a busy wife. She works hard at making the household income stretch as far as possible, as well as creating her own sources of income. This is not a woman who hesitates to make a move without her husband’s approval. She already has her husband’s approval. Her activity not only benefits her family, but she also cares for the needy. Her work also bolsters her husband’s reputation. She is active in teaching her children and seeing to their needs. Her family knows she has their best interest in mind and they are proud of her accomplishments. They openly praise her for the wonderful things she has accomplished.