Category Archives: marriage

Marriage Advice … for All

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.
Proverbs 11:12, ESV

Today happens to be my ninth wedding anniversary.

Any good husband will tell you there is a time when you should just keep your mouth shut and listen to your wife.

Honestly, it is advice that can go both ways. Neither partner should be so prideful as to assume you know everything better than the other. Mutual communication benefits both!

Conversely, it is unwise to speak down to the other. Belittling – literally causing someone’s ideas and character to seem small and meaningless – only creates pain and bitterness. It is no longer a partnership but a tyranny, and even more confusing when both are guilty of this. Whoever belittles attempts to control the other, and this means slavery and problems.

It is best to work together and be willing to hear each other out.

And, yes, I may be talking about married couples, but this advice applies to any relationship, even with strangers.

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Pernicious Lust

Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord , and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
Proverbs 5:20‭-‬22, ESV

This passage reminds us of three things:

  1. Sex is supposed to be reserved for marriage (yes, one man and one woman);
  2. God knows and judges even our thoughts;
  3. Sin is pernicious, touching every area of life and holding on fast.

Firstly, think about society today, throughout most of the world, and how fixated are on sex. The more we stray from God, the more we seem to crave and then celebrate sin. Just look at the variety of “gay pride” parades and festivals, websites for “personal pleasure” and even affairs, and the use of sex in advertising and popular entertainment.

Secondly, we tend to live either as atheists or as though God is not omniscient nor hates sin. How? In the way we think, convincing ourselves that “it’s okay to look” and “no one else is getting hurt.” Yet, Jesus reminds us that lust is adultery (Matthew 5:28) and that God even judges our thoughts.

And finally, those songs and thoughts do affect everything else, especially the more one dwells on and/or lives out sins. Ask the adulterer or the couple whose marriage fell apart who started by “only looking at porn.” Look at how many people are defined by who they are attracted to or what they look like on the outside. And remember: the urge to look does not go away just because you “put a ring on it.” Lust becomes a habit.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:13 ESV


Is Shallow and Stagnant THAT Attractive?

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. – Proverbs 5:15

It never fails to amaze me how many men and women leave their spouses after years of being married. Yet, that is exactly what happens when husbands and wives are more attracted to the shallow wells of new relationships and the stagnant streams of painted beauty.

I can attest that after nearly 25 years of marriage, I would not trade the depth of my relationship with my wife for a puddle, one that is likely to dry up in the heat of the next drought.

The refreshing and renewing qualities of our relationship could never be replaced by the single-issue sameness of surface-beauty expectations.

The natural appeal of illicit relationships is just that – natural. Fortunately for my wife and me, our relationship is based on more than natural affections; it is strengthened by spiritual connections that only years of life together can forge.

Yes, there are temptations which we all must deal with, but how much easier it is to rebuff them when you realize what you’ve really got.

Are shallow wells and stagnant water that attractive to you? Why not take the time to lower your bucket a little deeper? The water’s much better there.

My wife and I while visiting our daughter and son-in-law in Charleston, S.C.


Blessed

Proverbs 31:10, 28 

Who can find such a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies….
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

This last chapter of Proverbs has provided the male contributors to Proverbial Thought with several opportunities to reflect on the blessing of a good wife. Perhaps that is something all husbands should do more frequently. Perhaps by taking stock more often husbands would be prompted to praise their marriage partners instead of taking them for granted.

This challenge applies to our children too. How often do children fall into the same trap as their father and fail to appreciate just how blessed they are by their mother? This does saddle fathers with additional responsibility. If children see their father taking their mother for granted then it seems inevitable that they will fail to truly value the blessings they receive from their mother.

Marilyn and Reuben copySo here in my final entry as a contributor to Proverbial Thought I want to take the opportunity to thank my wife Marilyn. It is difficult to adequately express my gratitude. In two months we will celebrate our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. As I look back on those thirty-five years I know that God has blessed me beyond anything I have ever deserved in a wife, and I thank Him for what I consider to be an arranged marriage. When God chose us for each other He knew what He was doing. He always does.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19: 3-6 NIV)


Just Keep Spinning

Proverbs 31:10, 19 

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. … She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.”

Spindle and Distaff

The first question that we could ask is: “What in the world is a spindle and a distaff, and what would a woman be doing with them?” Seriously, how many people on the street could tell you what a spindle and a distaff are? One out of a hundred?

Susa woman spinning yarn

Susa woman spinning yarn

Actually, a spindle and distaff are ancient tools used in the making of yarn, or thread. Women back then, and today, spun material such as wool, flax, and goat’s hair to make the yarn and thread to weave into clothing. Spinning takes a lot of skill and coordination, too, which is rather amazing to watch.

Then and Now

The second question we could ask is: “How can we relate the idea of a good woman with her spinning tools to today?” In other words, if you’re gonna be looking for a Proverbs 31 woman in metropolitan Big City, USA, what is the equivalent of laying her hands to the spindle and distaff?

Find a woman that loves the work that she does, one who does it with grace and dexterity, even beauty. Find a woman that creates something useful and is not afraid of getting her hands dirty. Find a woman who is patient, purposeful, and productive with the talents God has given her.

Find a woman like that, and like the old folks would say, “You’ve got a keeper!”


A Spicy Ship

Proverbs 31:10, 14

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. … She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.”

Being Careful

I must be careful, for any time a man writes about his wife he should first consider: what he is about to say…the weather…her mood…her future mood…whether or not she will ever read what he writes…what people will tell her he wrote…and most importantly, has she taken out any new life insurance policies?

King Lemuel was a very fortunate man, much like King Solomon. Both had the luxury of living in a culture that prized such things as goats, flocks of sheep, and merchant’s ships. They thought these things were beautiful and found no difficulty in comparing their wives to them. However, I must be careful when I compare my wife to a heavily-laden wooden hull that creaks, leaks, and has to be patched with tar. I’m better off comparing her hair to a flock of goats, and her teeth to a flock of sheep (Sgs. 4:1-2)!

However, in order to keep with the program, I must find a way to relate to Proverbs 31:14, to share my “thoughts,” and to make an application. Therefore, I will get to the point of what the passage is telling us before I get into trouble.

Spiced Up

The rare and virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is like the merchant’s ships in that she is always a source of variety. Instead of being content with the same old stuff day after day, this woman is like a merchant’s ship, one that goes out far and wide to find new spices, new colors, and new fragrances to adorn not only herself but to spice up her home.

Most people know how plain and dreary a man’s home can be without a good woman. I was always one who liked white walls, plain dishes, and simple clothes. But when my wife came along, up went color on the walls, color on the table, and color on me (I would have never worn anything but a white or blue shirt under a suit).

Bargains

The woman of this verse is also a bargain shopper. Like the merchant’s ship, she travels far and wide to find the best deals, the ones most advantageous to her family, and always comes back with something to show for her efforts.

Anyone who really knows me could tell you that I hate – I HATE – to negotiate on prices. On the other hand, my wife almost never pays full price for anything. I have literally witnessed her negotiate on an object at a rummage sale when the asking price was only 25 cents! My response was, “Valerie! Pay the man a quarter and let’s go!”

Variety is the spice of life, so they say. If that is true, a good woman brings plenty of flavor to the table.


Beautiful Hands

Proverbs 31:10, 13

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. … She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.”

Mixed Memories

A long time ago my mother and grandmother (on my dad’s side) would go shopping for fabric. I will never forget those days, for they were some of the most miserable of my young life.

I was forced to endure the summer heat as they drove around town looking for sales in a ’71 Ford Maverick with no air and little ventilation. I walked beside my mom for what seemed like an eternity as they searched for patterns and fabric that would become my school clothes and their dresses. Women used to be proud to be called seamstresses, but not anymore. But there are exceptions, and my wife is one of them.

A Hard Worker

I have never met a harder worker than my wife, Valerie; she works rings around everyone, including myself. Until she became ill, she was always the first one awake and the last one asleep. She is still the last one to sit down when visitors come to eat, the last one to finish cleaning after a church social, and the only one who can handle a phone call, fold laundry, do dishes, and complete an income tax return at the same time.

On many days my wife hurts so much that no pain medication will touch it. Sometimes one day’s ordinary activity will leave her bed-ridden half of the next. Yet, she never gives up. She enjoys the duties of running a home and only complains when she can’t complete them to her own satisfaction.

Scarred, but Beautiful

When I first read 31:13 I thought of my wife’s hands…of how she loves to sew…of how she always brags on how her grandmother was an excellent seamstress, and how she always dreamed of being like her. I think of how she sewed her own wedding dress and then taught our girls to sew.  Now, because of her fibromyalgia, there are mornings I must rub her fingers before she can even move them, but it isn’t long before they “worketh willingly.”

20 years ago this June!

20 years ago this June!

The hands of a virtuous woman are not the flawless hands of a supermodel; they are scarred. They are scarred from oven burns, needle pricks, tire swing ropes. They are dry from folding laundry, wrinkled from dishwater, and paper-cut from clipping coupons. They are even bruised and sore: bruised from spanking bottoms and applauding home-runs; sore from pushing a discouraged husband out the door and up the ladder.

When I think of the hands of a Proverb 31 woman I don’t think of perfect hands, but I do think of beautiful hands. I think of Valerie’s.

Yes, I found a virtuous wife, and I wouldn’t trade her for all the rubies in the world.