A Manual on “How to Be a Wife”
When I was first asked to write this blog, the topic suggested to me was so broad that I blanched a little. “Write about being a wife,” I was told. Um, that’s a really big topic. Besides I’ve only been married 4 years. What could I possibly have to offer in comparison to someone who’s been married 10, 20, or 30 years? Where do you even start approaching such a subject? As I mused over the subject, I thought back to my first months as a newlywed.
Within a few months of getting married, I found myself wishing for a manual on how to be a wife. I had questions about things that I wasn’t sure how to ask and sometimes I found myself in a situation where I wasn’t sure of the right course of action as someone wishing to be a good wife. I so very much wanted to be a good wife for my husband and I remember wishing so desperately that there was something I could turn to that would give me all the answers I sought. I wanted a manual that would give me a recipe for “How to be the Perfect Wife.”
However, marriage doesn’t come with a manual or a recipe (as I’m sure you’re well aware). Of course, there are lots of well-written books out there, as well as wives who can give you all sorts of well-thought-out answers. Somehow though, I was too embarrassed to ask my questions and there are soooo very many books that I didn’t know where to start. “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 31:10). Oh, how very much did I want that to be true of me!
So, I decided to turn to the one book that I knew I should turn to before I turned to anyone or anything else: the Bible. What does the Bible say about being a wife, specifically? What better passage to turn to than the one that causes preachers to tremble, wives to want to breathe fire, and husbands to want to run for cover?
“ Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). I’m not going to go into any exegesis on this verse, but rather I just want to focus on submission. This topic can rankle even the sweetest disposition. I admit that on first contemplating the subject of submission, I felt a certain level of annoyance and pride rising up. Why should I have to submit? I don’t like being told to do something, much less to submit to authority. Ahhh, pride. When I first recognized that it was the pride within me that made this verse difficult, I realized that I needed to confess that pride to God and furthermore, to confess that I wasn’t wanting to obey a clear directive in His Word. I realized that I needed to humble myself and submit myself to God’s authority; otherwise, how could I say that I truly loved God? After all, Jesus did say, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Realizing that I needed to humble myself in this regard, my thoughts turned to the greatest example of humility that we have:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” – Philippians 2:3-8
Keep in mind that being condemned to die on a cross was a horrible, humiliating way to die. It was meant for thieves and murders and caused the condemned to die one suffocating breath at a time, raised up for all to see their shame. It is amazing to reflect on the fact that Jesus knew all this and yet, on the point of death he was able to say, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:38). If Jesus so humbled himself in obedience to God’s will, ought we not to follow his example?
We are called to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. If we call ourselves Christians, followers of Christ, we need to be ready to bow our will to His. If he, the one who took on God’s wrath to save us, was obedient to God’s will even to the point of dying a humiliating death that he did not deserve; ought not we be ready to respond with a joyful and thankful willingness to bend our will to His? In light of Jesus, submission to one’s husband ought to be a light, easy task. In submitting to my husband, I am obeying God and submitting to God. While submission isn’t always easy and I still struggle with pride wanting to rear its ugly head, there is joy in submitting to God and consequently a peace in submitting to my husband.
So, how can one be a good wife? By keeping her eyes on Jesus and remembering who He is and what He did for us. Is there a manual on how to be a good wife? Yes, it’s called the Bible. Learn it, love it, live it.
By Jen Jolly