A Wife Who Is Dearly Loved
1-4. What complaint do women at times make about husbands’ assuring them of their love?
ONE woman complained to another, ‘I know my husband loves me, but he never says it. Oh, occasionally, if I drag it out of him, but it would mean so much more if he would say it without my prompting.’
2 The other woman replied, ‘I know. That’s the way men are. One time I asked my husband if he loved me, and he said, “I married you, didn’t I? I support you, I live with you; I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love you.”’
3 She paused a moment, then continued: ‘However, something very touching happened the other evening. During the day I was cleaning in his study, and in one of his desk drawers I saw a snapshot. It was one I had shown him from an old family album of mine. It was of me in a bathing suit when I was seven years old. He had pulled it out of the album and put it in his desk drawer.’
4 She smiled as she recalled this, then looked at her friend. ‘I confronted him with it that evening when he got home from work. He took the snapshot in his hand and smiled, and said, “I cherish this little girl.” Then he laid it down and took my face in both his hands and said, “I cherish what she became, too.” And he kissed me very tenderly. It brought tears to my eyes.’
5. To be dearly loved by her husband, how should a wife conduct herself?
5 A wife who knows that she is very dear to her husband feels warm and safe inside. God’s Word counsels men to have such love for their wives. “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, . . . the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:28, 29, 31) As we have already discussed, the wife is to have deep respect for her husband, but the husband ought to conduct himself in such a way as to earn that respect. The same holds true in this case where your husband is counseled to love and cherish you: Conduct yourself in ways that impel him to do so from the heart.
DO YOU GIVE SUPPORT?
6, 7. (a) At Genesis 2:18, for what role did Jehovah say that he made woman? (b) In order for a wife to be a real helper to her husband, what is required of her?
6 For a wife to be dearly loved, more is required than mere submission under her husband’s headship. He could have a horse or a dog that is well trained and submissive to him. Adam had animals with him in the garden of Eden, and they were in subjection to him. But he was still alone as to his kind. He needed an intelligent human companion that would be a complement of him and a helper to work with him: “It is not good for the man to continue by himself,” Jehovah God said. “I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.”—Genesis 2:18.
7 What a husband needs is a wife who not only loves and respects him but also is a real helper, supporting him in the decisions that he makes. This is not difficult when decisions are mutually agreed upon after discussion together. But it may not be so easy if you were not consulted or if you do not happen to agree. In such a case could you loyally support your husband—do your best to make his decision work, provided it is not some illegal or unscriptural activity? Or would you be inclined to hold back stubbornly, hoping to see him fail so you could say, ‘I told you so’? If he sees you working hard for the success of the project, in spite of your misgivings, don’t you think such loyal support on your part will cause him to love you all the more?
8. How can a wife encourage her husband to exercise proper headship?
8 Above all, don’t try to usurp his headship! If you succeed, you won’t like him; and he won’t like you or himself. Maybe he does not take the lead as he should. Can you encourage him to do so? Do you express appreciation for any effort he makes at taking the lead? Do you cooperate with and encourage him when he does show some initiative, or do you tell him that he is wrong, that his plan won’t work? Sometimes a wife must share the blame if her husband doesn’t take the lead—for example, if she belittles his ideas or opposes his efforts, or gives the I-told-you-it-wouldn’t-work response when the project falls short of perfection. This can eventually produce an uncertain, indecisive husband. On the other hand, your loyalty and support, your trust and confidence in him, will strengthen him and contribute to his success.
“A CAPABLE WIFE”
9. What does Proverbs 31:10 say about a capable wife?
9 To be a wife who is dearly loved, you also need to care well for your responsibilities in the home. Of such a woman the Bible says: “Her value is far more than that of corals.” (Proverbs 31:10) Are you such a wife? Do you want to be?
10, 11. How might a wife show that she fits the description of Proverbs 31:15?
10 When discussing the activities of a “capable wife,” the book of Proverbs reports: “She also gets up while it is still night, and gives food to her household.” (Proverbs 31:15) Many young women start off married life with a handicap because their mothers did not teach them how to cook; but they can learn. And a wise woman will learn how to do it well! Cooking is an art. When a meal is prepared well, it not only fills the stomach but also brings response from the heart.
11 There is much that can be learned about preparing food. It is beneficial to become informed on the basics of nutrition so that you can safeguard the health of your family. But simply setting nutritious food before your husband is not necessarily going to win his praise. The Bible tells us that Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, knew how to prepare food in a “tasty” manner, in such a way that her husband was fond of it. (Genesis 27:14) Many wives could benefit from her example.
12. What could be included in a woman’s acting in harmony with Proverbs 31:14?
12 In some parts of the world women go to the market every morning to get the things that they need for the day. Elsewhere, they shop perhaps once a week and keep the perishables refrigerated. Whatever the case, a man cannot help but appreciate a wife who uses household funds carefully, and who respects the family budget. If she learns how to identify food and clothing that are of good quality, and knows their value, she will not always buy the first thing she sees. Rather, as Proverbs 31:14 says: “She has proved to be like the ships of a merchant. From far away she brings in her food.”
13. According to Proverbs 31:27, what can be expected from a capable wife in connection with care of the home?
13 That conscientious concern about her work also needs to be reflected in the condition of her home. In commenting further on what identifies a wife as being capable, Proverbs 31:27 says: “She is watching over the goings on of her household, and the bread of laziness she does not eat.” Making it a habit to sleep late, spending excessive amounts of time in idle chatter with the neighbors—these are not for her. Although illness or unforeseen circumstances may at times cause her to fall behind in her housework, her home will generally be neat and clean. Her husband can be confident that, if friends come to visit, he will not be embarrassed by the appearance of their home.
14, 15. What is the Bible’s counsel to women respecting attire and adornment?
14 Most women do not need to be told that it is also important to give attention to their personal appearance, but some do need a reminder. It is not easy to feel affection for someone whose appearance shows that she doesn’t think much of herself. The Bible recommends that women “adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind.” But it also counsels against putting too much emphasis on hairstyling, jewelry and expensive garments that draw undue attention to the wearer.—1 Timothy 2:9.
15 Of far greater value than such attire is the disposition of the one who wears it. The apostle Peter tells Christian wives that a “quiet and mild spirit . . . is of great value in the eyes of God.” (1 Peter 3:3, 4) And Proverbs, when enumerating the traits of a capable wife, adds that “her hands she has thrust out to the poor one” and that “the law of loving-kindness is upon her tongue.” She is neither selfish nor “catty” but is generous and kind. (Proverbs 31:20, 26) “Charm may be false,” the description continues, “and prettiness may be vain; but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.”—Proverbs 31:30.
16. How will an appreciative husband feel about such a wife?
16 Yes, such a woman will be dearly loved by any husband who shares the viewpoint of the Creator. He will feel about his wife as expressed by the writer of Proverbs: “There are many daughters that have shown capableness, but you—you have ascended above them all.” (Proverbs 31:28, 29) And without a lot of prompting, he will be moved to let his wife know that he feels that way.
YOUR VIEW OF SEX MAKES A DIFFERENCE
17, 18. How can the wife’s view of sex affect how her husband feels about her?
17 Unsatisfactory sexual relations are at the root of many marriage problems. In some cases this is due to the husband’s lack of consideration and understanding of his wife’s physical and emotional needs, and in other cases it is the wife’s failure to share physically or emotionally in the experience with her husband. The sex act, willingly and warmly participated in by both husband and wife, should be an intimate expression of the love that they feel for each other.
18 Frigidity in a wife may be due to a lack of consideration by her husband, but a wife’s indifference also hurts the husband, and a show of distaste may kill his potency or even cause him to feel attracted to someone else. If the wife merely submits, with a couldn’t-care-less attitude, the husband may interpret this as evidence that his wife doesn’t care for him. Emotions rule sexual responsiveness, and if the wife is unresponsive she may need to review her own attitude toward sex.
19. (a) How does the Bible show that it would be wrong to deny sex relations to one’s mate for extended periods of time? (b) Why should it not be necessary to ask persons outside the marriage union to rule on the propriety of a couple’s conduct in matters of sex?
19 The Bible counsels both husband and wife not to “be depriving each other of it.” God’s Word makes no allowance for using sex as a means of punishing one’s mate or expressing resentment, as in a wife’s denying it to her husband for weeks or even months. Just as he is to “render to his wife her due,” she is also to “do likewise to her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5) This does not mean that a wife should be expected to submit to some abnormal act that she finds morally repugnant, and a husband who loves and respects his wife would not require her to do so. “Love . . . does not behave indecently.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5) It should not be necessary to ask someone outside the marriage union to rule on the propriety or impropriety of the couple’s conduct. The Bible, at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, clearly enumerates practices forbidden to worshipers of Jehovah God: fornication, adultery, homosexuality. (Compare also Leviticus 18:1-23.) Some modern liberals practicing a “new morality”—actually immorality—clamor for acceptance of some of these forbidden sexual acts, while others who are very conservative would add to these prohibitions. The Bible gives the balanced view. Generally speaking, if all the other relationships in the marriage are good, if there are love, respect, good communication and understanding, then sex will seldom be a problem.
20. If a wife uses sex for bargaining purposes, what is the result?
20 A wife who is dearly loved does not use sex for bargaining purposes. Certainly not all wives bargain with sex, but some do. In ways that may be subtle they use sex to gain concessions from their husbands. What is the result? Well, you don’t feel tender affection for the person who sells you a dress, do you? Neither does a husband feel tender affection for a wife who trades sex for concessions from him. The woman who does it may gain materially, but she loses emotionally and spiritually.
THE WEEPERS, THE NAGGERS
21-23. As illustrated in the case of Samson, how can a woman’s weeping and nagging destroy happiness?
21 Samson was a strong man, but he could not bear up under the pressure of women who used weeping or nagging to get their way. On one occasion he was confronted with a siege of weeping from the woman who was to become his wife. As recorded at Judges 14:16, 17, she “began to weep over him and to say: ‘You only hate me, you do, and you do not love me. There was a riddle that you propounded to the sons of my people, but to me you have not told it.’ At this he said to her: ‘Why, to my own father and my own mother I have not told it, and ought I to tell it to you?’” Samson’s appeal to logic did not work. It seldom does when emotions are running high. “She kept weeping over him the seven days that the banquet continued for them, and it came about on the seventh day that finally he told her, because she had pressured him. Then she told the riddle to the sons of her people.”
22 Do not think your husband does not love you just because he does not always give you your own way. Samson’s wife-to-be accused him of not loving her, but in actuality she was the one who did not love him. She brought pressure to bear on him until he could stand it no longer. When he did tell her his riddle, she immediately betrayed his confidence, racing off to tell his secret to his enemies. In the end, she became the wife of another man.
23 Later, Samson became attracted to another woman, Delilah by name. She may have been physically attractive, but did she prove to be a woman that he could dearly love? In order to wheedle from Samson information that she could use for selfish advantage, Delilah used nagging as her tool. The account says: “It came about that because she pressured him with her words all the time and kept urging him, his soul got to be impatient to the point of dying.” The final results were tragic.—Judges 16:16.
24-27. (a) What does the book of Proverbs say about the effect of a wife’s nagging? (b) Why does it single out women for this counsel? (c) What is most likely to move a husband to want to do nice things for his wife?
24 Weeping and nagging are not wise. They are damaging to a marriage. They alienate a husband. The Bible warns against such practices, as in the following scriptures quoted from The New English Bible: “He who harps on something breaks up friendship.” “A nagging wife is like water dripping endlessly.” “Better to live alone in the desert than with a nagging and ill-tempered wife.” “Endless dripping on a rainy day—that is what a nagging wife is like. As well try to control the wind as to control her! As well try to pick up oil in one’s fingers!”—Proverbs 17:9; 19:13; 21:19; 27:15, 16.
25 Why do the Scriptures single out the wife for this counsel? Probably because women are generally more emotional and more inclined to give vent to their feelings, especially when they are disturbed about something. Also, they may feel it is the only weapon they have. As head of the house a husband may arbitrarily have his way, so the wife may feel that she must resort to putting on emotional pressure. You, the wife, should not indulge in such tactics, and your husband should not make you feel forced to do so.
26 True, there may be times when you don’t feel well, and perhaps you find yourself giving way to tears, even when you wish you wouldn’t. But that is quite different from employing highly charged emotional scenes simply to get your own way.
27 If they truly love their wives, most husbands will favor their wives more than they do themselves, where personal preferences are involved. Please your husband, and he will likely seek opportunities to please you.
“A TIME TO KEEP QUIET AND A TIME TO SPEAK”
28-35. (a) Describe conversation habits that might make it difficult for a husband to converse with his wife. (b) What can be done to improve conversation between husband and wife?
28 Many wives complain, ‘My husband never talks to me.’ The fault may be his. However, many times a husband would like to talk with his wife, but she doesn’t make it easy for him. In what way? Not all women are alike. But ask yourself whether you fit one of these descriptions:
29 The first is a woman who has no trouble at all in talking with other women in the neighborhood. But what is her style? When the other woman stops for a breath, she breaks in. She may throw in a couple of questions, or she may take off on an entirely different subject. Soon the one interrupted cuts in and again carries the conversational ball for a while. Neither one seems to mind this conversational free-for-all.
30 Now her husband comes home, and he has some news to tell. As he enters the door, he starts out, ‘You’ll never guess what happened at work . . .’ He never gets any farther. She interrupts him with, ‘How did you get that spot on your coat? Be careful where you walk. I just cleaned the floor.’ He may hesitate to take up his story again.
31 Or, perhaps they are conversing with friends and he is relating an experience, but he leaves out some of the details or doesn’t get them all exactly right. His wife cuts in, first to correct the flaws, then to round out the story. Before long he takes a deep breath and says, ‘Why don’t you tell it?’
32 Another woman is the kind who encourages her husband to talk. Trying to appear casual, but bursting with curiosity, she asks: ‘Where were you?’ ‘Who was there?’ ‘What happened?’ Not the routine things of life, but those that seem to be more confidential, are the ones that intrigue her. She pieces together the bits of information that she can glean and fills in the gaps with a bit of imagination. Perhaps some of it is information her husband should not have divulged. Other things may have been appropriate for discussion with his wife, but they were told in confidence. If she now talks about this to others, the confidence has been broken. “Do not reveal the confidential talk of another,” Proverbs 25:9 warns. But if she did, it may cause problems. How free will he feel about talking to her in the future?
33 Yet a third kind of woman is not much of a talker herself. She knows how to do the necessary work around the house, but she seldom has more than a few words to say. Anyone who tries to converse with her has to do all the talking. Perhaps she is timid, or it may be that she had little opportunity for education when she was a child. Regardless of the cause, efforts at conversation with her fall flat.
34 But changes can be made. The art of conversation can be learned. If a woman does, not only her housework, but also worthwhile reading and kind deeds for other people, she will have upbuilding things to share with her mate. And successful conversation requires sharing. It also requires respect—enough respect to let him finish what he is saying, to let him say it in his own way, and to know when there is a confidence to be kept. As Ecclesiastes 3:7 says, there is “a time to keep quiet and a time to speak.”
35 Therefore, instead of complaining that your husband seldom talks to you, why not try to make it a pleasure for him to do so? Be interested in the things that he does. Listen intently when he speaks. Let your response reflect the warm love and deep respect that you have for him. Be sure that the things you talk most about are of a positive, upbuilding nature. You may soon find that conversation is a pleasure to both of you.
“WON WITHOUT A WORD”
36-38. What are some ways to reach the heart of a mate who is not a fellow believer?
36 At times, actions speak louder than words, and especially so with husbands who are not fellow believers of God’s Word. Of them the apostle Peter said: “They may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:1, 2) Many a nonbelieving husband has complained that his wife is always “preaching” to him, and he resents it. In contrast, others have become believers by seeing the change that the truth of God’s Word has made in their wives. People are often more impressed by seeing a sermon than by hearing one.
37 When you speak to your unbelieving mate, “let your utterance be always with graciousness,” in good taste, or “seasoned with salt,” as the scripture puts it. There is a time to speak. “As apples of gold in silver carvings is a word spoken at the right time for it,” the Bible says. Is he discouraged about something? Maybe things went wrong at work. A few understanding words might be treasured by him right now. “Pleasant sayings are . . . sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones.” (Colossians 4:6; Proverbs 25:11; 16:24) Or, depending on the situation, just to slip your hand into his may say it all: I understand, I’m on your side, I’ll help if I can.
38 Even though he is not one with you in your faith, God’s Word shows that you are still to be in subjection to him. Your good conduct may in time win him over, so that he shares your faith. What a happy day that would be! And if that time comes, he will realize that he has more reasons to love you than he ever knew. Because your devotion, coupled with firmness for what you knew to be right, will have helped him to lay hold of “the real life.”—1 Corinthians 7:13-16; 1 Timothy 6:19.
39, 40. What qualities, listed at Titus 2:4, 5, make a wife precious, not only to her husband, but also to Jehovah?
39 The Scriptures encourage Christian wives, whether their husbands are believers or nonbelievers, “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sound in mind, chaste, workers at home, good, subjecting themselves to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be spoken of abusively.”—Titus 2:4, 5.
40 If you, the wife, do this to the best of your ability, you will be dearly loved, not only by your husband, but also by Jehovah God.
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“A Capable wife . . . her value is far more than that of corals.”—Proverbs 31:10.
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The women in Samson’s life