Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Posts tagged ‘marriage’

Proverbs 31: For Women Only?

Photo by Matija Barrett

The list of characteristics in Proverbs 31 has rightly been used as a criteria for finding a godly wife. And, much to the chagrin of many a godly woman, is the only real listing of its kind found in the Bible, making it impossible for women, when it is used incorrectly, to point to the ‘male’ list and say, ‘See, see, you’re not doing so well yourselves!’ Despite the nastiness that sometimes accompanies these endeavors, the question does remain: Is this a list for females only, or are they universal characteristics one should look for when anyone is considering uniting themselves to another for life?

So let’s look at the qualities listed in these verses, first noting that there are some criteria given in verses 3-9 that speak directly to the men. (Also notice that, if you are like me, you have probably never heard these verses of Proverbs 31 preached on before…)

The verses of instruction spoken directly to the son by his mother tell him:
1. Not to spend his energy chasing women who will only do him harm.
2. Not to drink wine or crave beer as a ruler, since doing so will result in poor decisions being made.
3. To give beer to those who are in anguish, so they may be relieved of their misery.
4. To speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
5. To judge people fairly.
6. To defend the poor and needy.

So what does this man look like? He is not a player or a partier. He makes good decisions, helps those who are in pain and he stands up to bullies. He does not make snap judgments, and is not overly critical but instead treats people fairly, which involves not making excuses for bad behavior as well.

And then there are verses 11-31. And the question is: Should men have these qualities as well? (And I think we can all agree that women should not be partiers, and be a person of good morals like the man described previously as well.) So let’s look at the qualities a wife should have:

1. She is a person her future spouse may have confidence in. One who brings him good, and not harm every day (not just when she feels like it). To choose a husband that does less would be disastrous, and an emotionally immature male, who does not constantly seek the best interests of his wife would best be described as abusive, so yes, these characteristics are universal.

2. She selects wool and flax. She knows how to pick quality products to meet her family’s needs. This too is a good trait in a man.

3. She works with eager hands. Again, a lazy man, who does not wish to work diligently, will not make a good spouse.

4. She does not mind traveling far to get the best quality food for her family. A man too should be willing to expend effort to see that his family has what is best.

5. She gets up early and makes sure everyone under her authority (her servants and her family) is well fed. A man too should not be prone to sleeping in nor negligent in making sure that the basic needs of the people in his care (and this may include employees) are being met.

6. She considers a field and buys it, and the start-up capital comes out of her earnings. She has resources and is able to start her own business and run it. (Remember, during this time in history, most people were self-employed.) A man too should aim to have extra earnings to invest and the knowledge to make wise decisions regarding those investments.

7. She works vigorously and her arms are strong enough to do the work that is necessary. Similarly a man should also be a vigorous worker and in good enough health to do the work he has chosen without tiring.

8. She sees that her trading is profitable. She does not make poor business decisions. A man too should be good with money, and his business dealings should be profitable. This means that he is not investing time or money in projects that will inevitably fail. This may include: degrees that have no real word application, get-rich quick schemes, having a dead-end job or being frequently out of work.

9. Her lamp does not go out at night. She remembers to do the little things that are necessary to a smoothly run life. Today this would be remembering to put the garbage out, changing the oil, not forgetting the things you need, like your wallet or cell-phone etc. These qualities are important for a man as well.

10. She sews. While she is a wealthy woman, she has the skills to do the basic tasks that would be needed if her family fell on hard times. Today this would include: basic maintenance of the home and car, coupon cutting and budgeting, home haircuts etc. These skills are good for a man to know as well, because even the best laid plans sometimes go awry. Further, men do sew in scripture. The Levites make the priestly robes. Men sewed items for the Tabernacle. Jacob made Joseph a coat of many colors etc. So while today fabric is often more expensive than premade clothing making more than basic sewing a luxury, sewing itself is not restricted to the women in the Bible.

11. She is generous to the poor and needy. A man who cannot give to those who are truly helpless, will not likely be generous to his wife and children either.

12. She does not fear the snow, since her household has what it needs. (More than what it needs, since they are clothed in scarlet, an expensive cloth.) Men too should seek to provide those under their care with more than what they need so that they do not have to fear being cold, or any other misery. The scarlet cloth also indicates that they are not hoarding their wealth by being stingy, but using it wisely to bless those in their care.

13. She decorates her house and dresses well. A man too should not be a slob, but should be able to dress and keep his surroundings in a way that garners respect. (But balanced with the verses to not be showy, meaning that what he does is respectful, not ostentatious and designed to make others feel small.)

14. Her husband is respected, meaning that her actions benefit him and do not demean him in the eyes of others. A man too should never do anything that would bring shame to his wife, whether through his own behavior, or by putting her down.

15. She makes garments and sells them. She has profitable skills. A man should also have skills that may bring extra income into the home.

16. She is confident, and does not worry about the future. This is not a false confidence, but because she knows she can handle life. A man too should have enough success in life, before being married, to be confident that he can handle whatever the future brings.

17. She speaks with wisdom and instructs others correctly. A man should also be known for giving advice that actually works.

18. She watches over the affairs of the people in her household and is not lazy. She knows what is going on in the lives of those she cares for. A husband too should know what is going on in his house.

19. Her children call her blessed and her husband praises her. She should be the type of woman who you would not think of making fun of. A man too should be someone whom put-downs would just seem silly if applied to him. People, especially those who are close to them, should respect both the man and the woman, or they are not ready to be wed. (They still have some growing up to do!)

20. She surpasses all women. This can only be true in the eyes of her husband, since it is advice to every man about the woman he is to marry. Her future husband should believe she is the best there is and he is lucky to have her. A future wife should believe the same about her future spouse.

21. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting. A wife should not be chosen based on her looks, or how much she flatters you and makes you feel like ‘the man.’ These things will not last. A woman should also not choose a spouse based on his looks and smooth talk. These too will fade, and often the guys with the smoothest lines can’t wait to try them out on someone else…

22. She should fear the Lord. Yes men, so should you.

23. She is to be praised and receive the rewards that result from what she has done. Her husband should not treat her earnings or accomplishments as if they were somehow his doing. Neither should a wife usurp the praise or rewards due to the husband for what he has done. This means that the man does not take a Bible teaching he heard his wife use and repeat it as his own, that a wife does not utilize all the household money on clothes while he has none to enjoy for his own needs etc.

In teaching Proverbs 31 as a list of criteria for a spouse in general might we motivate the young boys to strive harder, and encourage the young ladies to pick better, more mature men? Shouldn’t the man be at least as mature as his wife? Just a thought.

Photo by Matija Barrett

Paying For Sex

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I just read a social media post that looked like a list of New Year’s resolutions (It is that time of year after all.) and on it was ‘stop paying for sex.’ Now I do not know this young man well, but from what I do know I have reason to doubt he is speaking about prostitution. (Or maybe I am being naive, I can be you know.) Which led me to think, ‘What would make a married man feel like he must ‘pay’ for sex with his wife?’

And I began to think of all of the passive-aggressive relationships I have witnessed. And thought, ‘This really could happen.’

While it is true that women tend not to be all that receptive when there are unresolved issues in a marriage, and it is equally true that women tend to be more receptive when their husbands do little things, like helping with a chore that is typically done by her, that show that he loves her, there are times when it becomes more than this. When a spouse becomes petulant when they do not get their way, and only does what the other one wants if the other one caters to their every whim and desire. There are times when human beings slip into very controlling behaviors without noticing it.

And this should not be. Marriage should be about agape love. A love that is there whether, or not, things go exactly as we wanted them to. A love that allows the little things to slide.

So how do we know if we have jumped over to the ugly other side?

There’s likely no way to know other than an honest talk with your spouse.

But don’t have that talk unless you are willing to hear some truth and change. Every marriage needs tweaking. It is good to discuss things that are not quite right. But only if the aim is to fix them.

If you are not ready to hear an honest assessment of how your spouse views life, then don’t go there until you have worked on your own issues surrounding why you can’t handle hearing that maybe you need to change too.

Marriages work when two people honestly communicate about everything. They are less fulfilling when one must tip-toe around telling the other something for fear they will blow up and life will become worse.

So have the conversation. Be willing to compromise and make changes, and for heavens sake, protect the marriage bed! No one should be made to feel like he needs to ‘pay’ before going to bed with his own wife.

Photo by Matija Barrett

Keeping Your Marriage Hot!


There have been more than a few people on Twitter asking how to keep marriage ‘hot’ after children, so I figured I’d share a few things we’ve learned along the way. If you don’t like TMI, I’d stop here. Otherwise, I hope you find something here you can enjoy!

1. Date Night.
Romance starts with the relationship. In order to keep the romance alive, you need to take time to be together and talk. Set aside one night a week to go out. Go someplace you can talk. No chores. No movies. Go someplace you can connect and be romantic. Without trust and a feeling of connectedness, sex, at least for most women, is not nearly as good. So men, talk to her, hold her and make her feel loved. And don’t do stupid things that put her on edge and make her feel like she cannot trust you. (Like what she considers reckless driving, reckless spending etc.) She needs to feel she can trust you before she can fully enjoy you!

2. Sexy underwear.
Wives, invest in nice underwear. If you buy things that must be put on before bed you will rarely wear them. Instead pick things you can wear under your clothes comfortably so you are ready for the night. Sexy underwear also keeps your mind on the fact that there is something to look forward to later tonight. You’d be surprised how much you can wear all day- just don’t go to the gym in it…

3. Share your fantasies.
Talk about what you might like to do. While some of them may be out of the question, they can be modified. Make an effort to try new things. Make it part of your ‘to do’ list. Get creative. Nothing kills romance faster than routine. Don’t get stuck in a rut.

4. Make sure she has ‘fun’ too.
As a couple we read an article that stated that most sex ends when the husband is done. The woman reaches her end only about half of the time at best. And, it usually takes a woman at least 45 minutes to ‘get there,’ on average. My husband took this to heart, and saw it as unfair, especially since a woman’s body can ‘have fun’ more than once. Making the encounter incredibly ‘fun’ for the woman most of the time increases the woman’s interest in doing it more often.

5. You don’t have to get to the end.
You’re married. Sex does not have to end, you will see this person again, hopefully soon. If you only have a few minutes here and there during the day take advantage of them. It keeps you interested, it is pleasant, and an unexpected side effect is that, if the process is drawn out over, let’s say weeks, the male experience is very much increased. So increased that he may begin to want to wait, and just ‘play.’ This is not withholding sex. This is week-long foreplay. There is a difference. (And when children crawl into your bed, sometimes it’s the best you can do!)

6. Get a hotel room.
Get a babysitter and take time for each other. You don’t have to stay all night.

7. Be honest with each other.
Tell each other what you like and what doesn’t quite do it for you. You don’t have enough time to waste on things that aren’t ‘effective.’ Be honest, and don’t be offended. Your goal is to please the other. Talk honestly and get good at it! And whatever you do, do not play games! Say what you mean, all the time in everything. And don’t expect your spouse to take a hint. If you are in the mood, be direct. It’s okay if they say ‘not now please,’ but sometimes you miss your chance because both of you thought the other person wasn’t ready. It’s actually very freeing once you get used to it. Be honest about everything else as well. Emotional guessing games where someone ‘should have known’ damage a relationship, and make you less eager to be with one another.

8. Take turns.
Occasionally it’s nice to have a time when the focus is entirely on one person. Just make sure it’s done fairly.

9. Use everyday necessities to excite each other.
Shower together occasionally. Let him watch you change, especially if you are putting on the ‘nice’ underwear. Touch each other. Hold hands. Rub shoulders. Do chores together and play. And, if possible, take advantage of ‘nap time’ to take a ‘nap’ yourselves. (Yes, that is a euphemism!)

10. Have fun.
Make sure you are having fun. Play with the children together. Joke, laugh, watch movies. Give up your solo time and learn to enjoy life together.

11. Don’t forget to do the little things.
Buy her flowers. Make his favorite meal. Do what you did while you were dating that told the other person they are ‘special.’ Don’t get so caught up in the children that what they want trumps everything else, so you are no longer doing things for your spouse. The children learn to honor their parents by how you treat each other, so set the example well. (My 16 year old son just took out the glass wear and dishes we almost never use and washed them thoroughly for me, just to bless me. He saw a need, and acted on it. Guess where he learned to do things like that from… Who doesn’t want a guy like him as their daughter’s husband?!)

12. Keep life simple.
Don’t let ‘busyness’ take away your fun. And, don’t let emotional people (typically extended family members) hijack your emotional wellbeing. Set boundaries and make sure you are fully there for each other. Life is too short to be wrapped up in drama, and one missed sport season is not going to destroy your child’s life. Plus more time with the family may help ensure your children actually have a relationship with their parents.

13. Make sure the other person is well rested.
Take time to nap, or let your spouse nap. Tired people are rarely romantic.

14. Sneak away.
If there are children in your room, find another ‘appropriate’ place to play. Guest rooms are great, but not everyone has one. Get creative. Just because the child is asleep in your bed does not mean you are trapped there!

15. Remember you are sexy.
Keep your self-esteem up. You are the only person your spouse has. Women, if you have gained weight, enjoy your curves. Men, most women care about how you treat them (i.e. How much you listen to them, and how much you notice things about them.) more than what you look like. So be sexy by paying attention to her! (Have you noticed that a woman’s most common complaint is that you don’t listen?) Learn what she like, dislikes, how she does things etc. One of the most endearing things my husband said to me recently was, ‘I didn’t know you don’t use conditioner every day.’ It means he’s still paying attention, and that is good.

I hope this helps. Just know that at 43 year old, seven kids, and 19 years of marriage, married life can still be very good. Very, very good in fact… So Enjoy!

*Warning: Getting good at these activities can result in very large families.

Men and the Laundry Hamper


Ever noticed that, when you get a group of wives together there is a topic that repeatedly comes up? It can be any group of wives. Rich, poor, working, stay-at-home, you name it, there seems to be a single theme: Men, on average, cannot get their clothing into the appropriate hampers at night.

Why is this? All of the men I know are wonderful husbands who would lay down their lives for their wife and kids. Work a second job? No problem. Take the child to a doctor’s appointment; sit in Chuck-E-Cheese for three hours? No complaints. But when it comes to putting socks into a hamper no amount of nagging seems to work!

Now, just as a disclaimer, my husband actually puts his stuff into the hamper. It involved adopting 3 older children when I had four children, newborn to 4 1/2 years old in the home, but it did happen. I would not recommend going to this extreme just to get his socks off the floor though.

What does interest me is why men seem to buck doing this simple task for the woman they obviously love. They will take out the garbage, put gas in the car, but not pick up the socks. Hmmm.

The problem is, for women this is a big problem. It frustrates them. They cannot figure it out. One woman I know went on strike. Her washing machine was in an alcove across from their bedroom. Every night her husband aimed his clothing towards the alcove so his clothes ended up on the floor of the hallway outside their room. No amount of talking helped, so she stopped picking them up. If the clothes weren’t in the hamper, they were not getting washed. Eventually he ran out of clean clothes. After stepping over his growing mound of unwashed boxers he asked his wife, ‘Honey, do you know where my clean clothes are?’ Yeah, no clue.

As I said, these men are not dumb, nor are they lazy. There is just something in our society that causes grown men to view the laundry hamper as public enemy number one, to be avoided at all costs. Maybe we women make it too hard on them. After all, the majority of us do tend towards buying the nicer hampers with the lids. Maybe if we bought a cheap plastic one and left the top completely open we’d have more luck. Who knows?

What I do know however is a wife, who gave up her career, (and the chance for any mature conversation that doesn’t involve talking about the kids), who is currently at home eating mac and cheese, watching reruns of the latest mind-numbing show kids like, and picking up the same toys she picked up, and stepped on, an hour ago, who knows her husband is having a fancy lunch meeting today is not going to be pleased to have to pick up her husband’s socks too.

The best way I have to explain it is: If you want your wife’s respect, and, more importantly, if you want your wife to see you as a sexual being and not another two-year-old she has to pick up after, get the stuff in the hamper!

I think I’ve made myself clear. Now go have a nice day.

Photo by Matija Barrett

Things We Did Wrong, And How We Could Have Done Better

Now, before I get started the things we did wrong also made us stronger and brought us closer together. While we could have avoided some of the tough times, it was working through the tough times that brought us close.

1. We did not set good boundaries with our extended family. When family came over our attitude was to live and let live. Everyone got the idea that they had a say in our lives. We became a punching bag (or it at least felt that way due to all of the helpful criticism) and when we tried to put a stop to it people were offended. A new marriage is a new thing. The Bible says that a man is to leave his mother and father and become one with his bride for a reason. Make sure that other people, even parents, aren’t allowed to have authority (or think they have authority) over your house. It is a tough transition to make, but politely telling your parents ‘thanks, but (insert spouse’s name) and I have decided to do it this way’ is a good thing to do.

2. We made a few unilateral decisions that would have been better made together. It is not that we would have necessarily decided to do anything differently in the end, but when the decision affects both people, it is easier to jump on board when you have been a part of the discussion rather than when you are feeling blind-sided by it.

3. We stayed in a church that was unhealthy for us a little too long. When your children are grown you have the energy to help a church through the rough times. When church problems directly affect you, and your children are young, your children need your energy more than the church does. Since church problems have a way of consuming our lives it is best to try, but know that if the problem is more than a bump in the road, it is not the right time of life for you to be tackling the issue. Because you have little extra time in your life, you will get cranky and blow things out of proportion and just make everything worse. There are times to step back and let others take the lead.

4. We got goats. Goats seemed like a good thing, but were actually a handful. Be wary when people are giving you things for free. Pets can be great, but make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. This goes for buying big toys like boats, RVs, pools, hot tubs and starting other hobbies. Some things require more work than you wanted to do for the amount of enjoyment you will get from them. Ask people who have been there, done that for advice.

5. We spent a lot of money on music lessons for children with no musical talents or interest. I love playing my saxophone, but my children don’t. It does not take long to see whether, or not, your child has a gift in this area. Don’t waste their time pursuing something they will never use as an adult. This goes for sports as well. It is okay to be fit and have fun, but competitive leagues are for those who enjoy it. Get to know your child and give them training in the areas God actually made them for.

6. Tim did all of the computer stuff for me. After we were at seven children (which happened quickly since we adopted a family group of older children when ours were pre-kindergarten) Tim took over the electronics. This left me frustrated, and feeling stupid when he was not home. This did not make for the best homecoming for the man who needed to fix this now. The electronic age is here and moms need to deal with it too. Everything that comes into the home must be learned by all adults present, especially if children will become upset when they have been promised something and the thing does not work…

I’m sure there is much, much more… but you get the idea.

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