After Paula and I were engaged one of our frequent conversations was the kind of home we wanted to have. We both were believers and that meant God’s Word was the guide to our roles and responsibilities. Both of us were committed to following those functions as best as we could with God’s help.
The Bible teaches that the wife and mother has a key role in building the family – “Every wise woman buildeth her house…” (Proverbs 14:1) Whenever you see a strong home you know there is a wise woman in that home.
Notice the word “build” in the Scripture above. There are some specific areas she cares for that result in building her home. How does a wise woman “build” her family? What are the practical means by which she accomplishes this?
A home is strong when a wife builds up her husband. Of course, the same principle is true for other members of the family. We are to each edify the other (I Thessalonians 5:11). But I want to place the emphasis here as the text above in Proverbs does on the wife and her role in building the family.
A wife has an incredible influence in the family; a power unknown to her. When she encourages and praises her husband he thrives in that environment. Men are especially responsive to honor and praise.
Here are two simple ways a wife can build her husband
- Build him with an attitude of respect. Contrary to the cultural confusion on genders today, the Bible is very clear: “male and female created he them”. (Genesis 1:27)
Within these two genders God designed men and women to be different, not only physically, but emotionally. Women thrive primarily on attention; men thrive primarily on admiration. This can be illustrated in a number of ways, but a single blog post doesn’t suffice for that level of detail.
This is a simple, but important way a wife can honor her husband; show him that you respect and admire him and do so sincerely.
The Bible says to let “the wife see that she reverence her husband”. (Ephesians 5:33) The word “reverence” has the idea of respect. Certainly it includes his role as the leader of the family is to be respected. But it also speaks to a need God has placed in his heart to sense honor from his wife. It is how he interprets love.
Respect and honor is such a powerful motivator that it can influence an unbelieving husband to give attention to the Word of God when he is not interested in spiritual things. Even a man that rejects Christianity will listen to his wife when she respects him and honors him.
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” (I Peter 3:1-2)
Notice that this unbelieving husband is watching the way she lives and that her response to him is to be “coupled with fear“. The major thrust of the book of I Peter is how to respond to unjust authorities. Here, he speaks of a wife having an attitude of respect and reverence for her husband’s role in the family.
A wife’s sweet and gracious demeanor is more powerful than any nagging words to pressure him to attend church or participate in any spiritual activities. Our attitude and spirit speaks louder than our words.
I have a friend whose wife was converted to Christ and she was so excited about her salvation that she wanted her husband to also know the Lord. She would make sure that the radio was on a Christian station whenever he was around. When he came to the dinner table she placed Christian literature for him to read by his place setting hoping he would read it.
The very opposite happened. In her sincerity and zeal to reach him he felt condemned by her, that she was better than him and the last place he would ever to was to church, especially the church that had done this to his wife.
This sweet lady quickly learned that this wasn’t working and began to practice the truths of honoring her husband and loving him, showing him respect, and not preaching at him.
It wasn’t long after that, he did attend church with her, and soon he did trust Christ as His Savior and they began to have a Christian home. But it was her respect and honor that won his heart. He interpreted that as love.
That same need in a man’s heart doesn’t change after he is saved. If you want to build your husband, build him with your attitude, a genuine heartfelt attitude of honor and respect.
- Build your husband with your words. One of the most powerful ways a wife can motivate her husband is by how she speaks to him.
The Bible says of a virtuous woman that “…in her tongue is the law of kindness.” (Proverbs 31:26)
The word “law” means “that which governs or rules”. It has the idea that her speech was governed by the principle of kindness. While all of our words ought to be ruled by truth, that isn’t sufficient. The principle of kindness and grace is also to be a part of our speech.
The way you speak to your husband will either edify or discourage him. People don’t react as much to what we say, but to how we say it. And that includes our family. Make sure your words are kind and gracious.
“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24) When our words are like honey they are like food that bring health to the body. Such words are like vitamins that bring health to the soul (and to the body).
In the family, our words come back to us like a boomerang, especially from our children; what we say and how we say it. They not only pick up our vocabulary, but the very speech patterns and tone in the way we speak to each other.
A wife’s attitude establishes the atmosphere for the family. When she reacts to the leadership of her husband the children learn that same attitude of resistance. When she uses words that aren’t kind then the children pick up on the same type of words, even when they are young.
Yes, I know many men are gruff and rude and they need to abide by the same principle. Absolutely. But the purpose of this post is limited to the importance of the wife and mother and her influence in building a strong family by her attitude and words.
Recently I finished bringing a message to our church family on a Sunday morning. Usually we are some of the last to leave the property as I take time to speak to people. That particular day I was especially tired and knew that I had struggled to communicate as I spoke. Finally we piled in the car and Paula was driving and my mind was filled with discouraging thoughts.
“You did a bad job today”.
“The people deserve better”.
“If you didn’t have this disease, you would be more effective”.
I was battling discouragement and I still had another message to bring that night!
We drove quietly for about a mile and then Paula reached across the seat and patted my hand and said, “That was a really good sermon today. You’re a good pastor. You helped a lot of people today. What you said helped me”.
She had no idea of what I had been thinking. While her words didn’t match my feelings, what she said made an incredible impact on my perspective and my disposition. In fact, I still remember her words several weeks later.
Dear lady, your attitude and words make more of a difference than you can ever know in your husband’s heart. Rather than focusing on his faults and failures, find something to praise and God will use it to build your home.
“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success”.