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A Proverbs 31 Wife
A Proverbs 31 wife. A virtuous woman. A wife of noble character. Whew. It can be daunting to aspire to that. Can I get an Amen? You spend hours on laundry, cooking, errands, Bible study, and trying to be a great wife, but your husband doesn’t appreciate it. Or, perhaps, he is not a believer. Are you still commanded to be this ideal wife when your husband doesn’t seem to deserve it?
John 13:35 (NIV)
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Praying for Him to Change?
I get it, I really do. My late first husband was not a believer and certainly did not appreciate my efforts to be a biblical wife and mother. In fact, my faith and my involvement in my local church was often an issue of contention between us. I prayed fervently that God would change his heart and draw my husband to Him. I prayed for Him to change my husband.
I sought godly counsel when I was so frustrated and resented doing so much for him when he didn’t seem to care at all. I just knew that the counselor (Pastor) would tell me that I was right and that I shouldn’t have to aspire to be the biblical ideal woman in my situation. I was more than a little taken back (and, if we are being honest here, more than a little annoyed) when he told me that yes, God still wanted me to aspire to the Proverbs 31 wife even though my husband did not share my faith.
The pastor explained that by loving my husband in this way, I was demonstrating God’s love and loving others as He commanded us to. He further explained that instead of praying for my husband to change that I should pray that God would change my heart and soften it toward my husband.
WHAT? That stung a bit, but I did exactly that. While I’d love to tell you that my husband was later saved or that he started to show appreciation for how hard I worked in the home and with the kids, but he didn’t. What I can tell you is that I continued to pray and to seek new ways to become a better wife and mother, despite my husband’s indifference.
The focus here is not what your husband should be doing (that is between him and God unless you are in a situation involving abuse or adultery, but that is another topic, altogether). The focus is on YOUR actions and heart and if they are pleasing to God.
Bitterness and Resentment?
Are you bitter that your husband doesn’t thank you for keeping up on the laundry? Do you resent him for not doing his share in the home? Are you upset or angry that you feel generally unappreciated?
Ephesians 4:31 (NIV) instructs us to ” Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” and Galatians 5:19-21 tells us “19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Simply put, you cannot please God with bitterness and resentment in your heart. The only way to be happy and fulfilled in this life is to be in God’s will. Only when I am living out His purpose for my life can I fully live in His joy and peace.
Pray that He removes the bitterness and anger from your heart. Pray that He softens your heart toward your husband. Ask that He show you His will for you when it comes to being the wife and woman He created you to be. If you continue to struggle in this area, I encourage you to reach out to your pastor, a Christian counselor or even a friend who can help you stay accountable in this area.
So, What Do You o When You Don’t Feel That Your Husband Deserves a Proverbs 31 Wife?
For some of you, it may be difficult to respect your husband – especially if he is rude – even mean or basically just a jerk.
Perhaps he criticizes everything you do or makes you feel like you can’t do anything right. Perhaps he has anger issues or drinks too much. He might even engage in sin or simply makes you feel like he’s more than a roommate than a spouse.
As mentioned above, maybe you are unequally yoked marriage . He may not be a believer and, like in my situation, your faith has become an issue in your marriage.
(NOTE: I’m not addressing abuse here. That is a different situation altogether and should be addressed with a pastor, counselor or even law enforcement).
I’m talking about a husband that you fell in love with, probably with a lot of great qualities but who doesn’t show you respect and makes it hard for you to respect him.
Here’s the thing, your husband may not realize how he treats you. Sounds crazy, I know, but he may be oblivious to it. Perhaps he’s going through something or dealing with past hurts. (If this is the case for him or for you – past hurts, I highly recommend attending a Quest by Fellowship of the Sword retreat. Both my husband and I attended, and our already strong marriage became stronger plus we were both able to address issues from the past and move on with God’s help)
Part of the scripture regarding marriage and specifically the Proverbs 31 wife tells us that we are to be respectful to our husbands. That can be a tall order if your husband continues to act disrespectful himself. So, what do you do?
Respect doesn’t mean that you just quietly take what he dishes out or that you need to be silent and never give you opinion. It means that you recognize that your husband was created by God and honor him for who he is – even when it is difficult.
It also doesn’t mean that you completely overlook his poor behavior or sin.
Everything in the Bible comes from God and if God tells us that we are to do something or act in a certain way, we, as Christians, are to comply.
In Ephesians 5:33, we are commanded:
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” – Ephesians 5:33
Note that it doesn’t say: only if he behaves or if he doesn’t sin or if you are in the mood to. It clearly says “and the wife must respect her husband”
Of course, the same scripture says “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself,” but you cannot control your husband’s behavior – you can only control your words and behavior and scripture is clear that we are to respect our husbands.
As I mentioned above, when I spoke to my Pastor. He told me that instead of praying for my husband to change, I had to change first. I had to change the way I viewed him, the way I though of him and I had to act like a Proverbs 31 wife, whether or not I felt like he deserved it.
In both my book and my course: The God-Centered Marriage, we cover love languages by Gary Chapman. Each person feels love and respect in different ways. Learn how your husband feels loved and take small actions each day to allow him to feel that way.
For some, it’s words of affirmation. For others it is gifts (even picking up his favorite snack – we’re not talking about buying him a new car ?) Still others, it’s the gesture of touch and affection or quality time.
You’ll notice that as you do these little things, your husband will notice, and he may even reciprocate.
In the movie and the book based on it, The Love Dare, changing YOUR behavior may very well cause a reaction for your spouse to do the same.
I’m now remarried to a loving, appreciative, godly man who tells (and shows) me every day how much he loves me and appreciates my walk with God and my aspirations toward the Proverbs 31 wife ideal. God answered my prayers – not in the way (or timeline!) that I thought, but He did and how He answered them is way better than anything my human mind could have dreamed up on my own.
I am praying for you, sweet friend.
If you want to dig deeper, check out my book The Complete Proverbs 31 Wife: A Verse by Verse Exploration of What it Means to Be a Proverbs 31 Woman in Today’s World.or these other highly recommended resources:
Love Dare Book
Love and Respect Book