Sunshinemary’s recent post at The Woman and the Dragon has spawned the words that follow here. She speaks of a wife’s tendency to be a “sh*t” testing, attention-demanding, needy, noisy, brash, loud, aggressive woman without self-control over her emotions. We have all been there, ladies. I will be the first to admit that I was actually raised to be this way, by a mother who behaved this way. She cracked her emotional whip, and my father obliged, to keep peace in his home in a quiet desperation. Later, he responded with violence – I believe, because he was so powerless and castrated by his own wife.
In any event, since many of us have grown up in secular homes and come to know the ways of God through Christ later in life, this is a serious maturation process. Sunshinemary says “don’t be a quarrelsome shrew”, and lists excuses that even we Christian women use to justify our shrewish behavior.
Yet, this is not the way Christ would have us to behave toward our own husbands, whom we are to respect and obey in all things. But…how? How does one overcome the tendency, day by day? How does a wife live out the repentant heart that desires to be a woman of a quiet and gentle spirit?
The answer isn’t easy, but it is simple. Might I suggest a few pointers and small tips to women and wives who are currently walking through repentance in this area:
- Phillipians 4:8. Begin thinking on that which is true, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praiseworthy things. It’s awfully difficult to be a bratty little girl pouting and screaming over something to our husbands, when we are thinking on the things mentioned here.
- Make a short (three to five item) gratitude list about your husband and family life, prior to opening your mouth to criticize or demand something aggressively from your husband. This usually re-frames my mind.
- Stop and think about something truly irritating that YOU do that your husband does not like, but he tolerates because of his love and commitment to you and your children. Really think on this. Think about how imperfect a person you are, too, and how whatever it is that he is doing that is revving you up is really not that significant; definitely not significant enough to warrant you sinning against God and your husband by being rebellious and aggressive. This is also a good practice in humility – realizing that your husband loves a flawed woman – because so many of us have grown up hearing how “precious” and “perfect” we are as girls and women. We are NOT any such thing. We are sinners apart from abiding in Christ.
- Practice some Fascinating Womanhood. Mrs. Helen Andelin wrote a beautiful book by this title many years ago, and modern versions can be purchased online from my understanding. There are even courses to take online or in certain communities – taught by mature wives and mothers who have been living this way for years and seeing success in their marriages.
One of the greater lessons in FW is to accept one’s husband at face value, fully accepting even his faults. We think we are doing this as Christian wives, but often we are just saying to others that we are doing this. Try watching your own husband sit on the couch for several hours with a beer or two and a bag of chips watching ESPN while you cook, serve him and your multiple children, clean up the children, clean up the kitchen, clean poop out of the bath the toddler just took (which you filled and refilled), clean cat puke off the carpet on the stairs, answer a phone call, look up something for your husband on the internet…you get the picture…how do you feel as a wife? “Neglected”, overworked, abused? That is what society might say; that is definitely what a feminist would say if she saw your husband doing this in your home while you worked in domesticity.
Did she see the seventy-five work hours that your husband put in this week on his entrepreneurial venture? Did she also watch him work a second job for an hourly wage this week on his day off? Did she see how he patiently laid down with his small daughter at night helping her to drift off to sleep after a hard day? Did she see how he rocked the baby back to sleep, unbeknownst to you (his wife) because you were so soundly asleep and he wanted to help you? She has no right to judge and NEITHER DO YOU.
- Look to your man’s better side. Always. It helps to color one side of a piece of paper black and one gold or yellow and hang it on your fridge to remind you until you get into a new habit of doing this every time you desire to “rule over” your husband (especially with your tongue, with words of criticism or demands.)
- Stop trying to change your husband. It is pride and self-righteousness to believe that you can change your husband, or that you should.
- Appreciate him: and TELL him so. If you are tempted to be shrewish, instead, take a deep breath and summon something to say to him about how much you truly appreciate how hard he works for you and the children at his job. Or, tell him how you appreciate his sexy physique. Something positive, ladies.
- Make him number one. We often forget that our husbands come before our children, especially if we have little ones. I know I get caught up in just the energy it takes to care for little ones around the clock, and suddenly, he seems forgotten. It’s easy to be cross and easily irritated when you are neglecting your most important earthly relationship with your husband.
Lastly, make the time that your husband comes home to be one of the most important times of your day and the children’s day. Greet him warmly and help him find peace and comfort at home after being in the world all day. Some tips:
- Get your own work done before he is expected.
- Have dinner ready.
- Prepare yourself physically (take a few moments to refresh makeup, hair, perfume).
- Clear away clutter in home.
- Prepare your children. Minimize noise.
- BE HAPPY TO SEE HIM. Smile! Be romantic towards him!
- Make him comfortable. He is not your “wife” – YOU ARE HIS.
- Listen to him – let him talk to you FIRST.
- Make the evening his: do not complain if he doesn’t pamper you, help you with housework or children. If he is irritable and rude, do not fight back – think of the stress and strain in his “world” of work.
DON’T: greet your husband with problems or complaints. Don’t allow your children to rush at him; let them greet him and then instruct them to give him a few moments to settle in. It helps to play music or let them be wild in exercise just before he gets home, to get some of their energy out. This way, they’re happy to see him without tackling him!
These are ways to ensure your husband actually wants to come home. We have not been taught, ladies, how to truly be home-MAKERS. It is beyond a clean house. A clean house is religious. A clean house is a duty; an obligation. Making a home is an ART that women of past generations knew, because they knew they were the HEARTS of their homes, they knew they set the climate of their homes, and they knew that a man happy and renewed at home is a successful and faithful man.
Here is a little poem, anonymously written, that sums it up well:
“Say It Now”
If with pleasure you are viewing
Anything a man is doing,
If you prize him, if you love him,
Tell him now.
Don’t withhold your approbation
‘Till the Parson makes oration,
And he lies with lilies
On his brow.
For no matter how you shout it
He won’t really know about it,
He won’t count the teardrops
That you shed.
If you think some praise is due him
Now’s the time to pass it to him,
For he cannot read his tombstone
When he’s dead.
More thoughts on how to overcome shrewish tendencies are welcomed by both men and women alike.