Today’s reading: Proverbs 19-21.
Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave. Martin Luther
No marriage is perfect, but the couple in a good marriage receive many blessings. Friendship, companionship, and affection are among the chief benefits. Contrary to the idea that good marriages are rare, recent research shows that the notion that only 50% of marriages last is a myth. The actual divorce rate now is closer to 30%.
Still, that’s a lot of unhappy people. There have been conflicts in marriage since the beginning, because two imperfect people are not going to live in close quarters without disagreements and friction. Solomon saw the bad side of marriage and still found it worth praising.
A foolish son is his father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping. Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD. Proverbs 19:13-14
This isn’t the only reference to a quarrelsome or nagging wife. Elsewhere Solomon says it’s better to live in the desert or on a corner of the roof than to live with an ill-tempered mate. For the record, I think you can safely substitute husband or spouse for wife in these verses. Women don’t have a monopoly on arguing.
God’s word condemns divorce. Therefore, as I read these descriptions of a difficult marriage, I find myself wondering. What does one do when faced with a quarrelsome mate? In the secular world people might divorce one another for this kind of problem. That isn’t God’s plan. Other options include:
- Honest discussion between the two spouses about the problem. Exploration of what activities may be irritating the quarrelsome spouse, and of anger or bitterness issues that may underlie the complaining.
- Prayer for one another.
Preventive measures would be even better. I think Solomon is putting the problem out there as a caution. He could be saying, “avoid this at all cost.” It’s a warning to those who are courting to choose a mate wisely. No one will find a perfect mate, but be very careful if you find your spouse-to-be quick to nag or argue. It’s a warning for spouses to work on their marriages, being kind and meeting each other’s needs so that quarreling rarely happens. It a warning to the spouse who finds himself or herself being a nag. Open your eyes and see how much damage you are doing!
For a woman’s take on this issue, read Vasthi Reyes Acosta’s “Confessions of a Quarrelsome Woman.” She identifies pride, discontent, and pleasure-seeking as three culprits in the life of a quarrelsome person.
For another man’s perspective, read Chris Jordan’s “A Nagging Wife.” He has applications for singles and married couples.
Image by stuant63 on Flickr, CC by-nc 2.0