The Strong Marriage Check List: Item #5 – Love

by Leslie De Morais

Opinions differ regarding what a marriage needs to either become strong or stay strong. The following is from a list I compiled of ten essential characteristics couples need to build a strong and lasting marriage.


You might wonder why I’d include “love” on the Strong Marriage Check List. Isn’t love a given? Isn’t it obvious that a marriage requires love? Yet I’ve met many women who have married for innumerous reasons other than love. Here are a few (all the names are fictitious):

  • Pat married to get out of her parents’ home.
  • Jenny married because all her friends were getting married.
  • Diane married because she got pregnant.
  • Beth married because she feared her boyfriend was interested in another woman.
  • Sue married because she was obsessed with having her dream wedding.
  • Cathy married because she thought it would solve some of her financial problems.
  • Linda married to end the relentless pressure from her family.
  • Terry married because she was bored and thought it’d be fun.
  • Paige married because she didn’t think she’d get a better offer.
  • Judy married because she was afraid of growing older and being alone.

And the list goes on. Even if you married for love, it may be difficult to maintain that love as life unfolds.

I’ve learned from my own marriage that without love there really is no marriage. Love is the glue that holds us together in the tough times and enables us to flourish in the good times. Love is more than a feeling; it is more than an emotion. Love is a decision made daily, regardless of circumstances and independent of sentiment. Love is the result of a choice and the choice is, “I choose you, I choose us.”

But what exactly is love?

If you are as old as I am, you might remember searching the newspaper for the popular “Love is…” drawings by New Zealand artist Kim Casali. Over the years, the successful comic strip must have accumulated thousands of definitions of love. Some funny, some insightful, some whimsical.

When it comes to love, it seems as if everyone has their own definition.

Watch this video of children who candidly share their ideas about love.

 

Now, what do you do if you found yourself on the list above of women who married for reasons other than love? What is love and how can you cultivate it in your relationship?

Eppie Lederer, A.K.A. Ann Landers

Known for her practical advice dispensed for decades through a syndicated newspaper column, Ann Landers gets us a little closer to a working definition of love. Yet there’s an even more complete definition inspired by the One who invented love.

If I speak in the languages of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.                                                                                                                  – 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV)

The first three verses describe how accomplishing incredible feats and deeds without love only results in emptiness and utter failure. Let’s apply this to marriage:

  • If I have an awesome wedding planner and amazing party, a fabulous dress and incredible honeymoon but have not love, I gain nothing.
  • If I marry a man my friends think is perfect and my family accepts but I do not love, I set myself up for heartache and disappointment.
  • If I have the good intentions and a desire to make things work but have not love, I am likely to fail.

Not very satisfying statements. Yet when individuals do not profoundly understand the true meaning of love, it’s easy to comprehend how couples enter into marriages where love is sorely lacking.

Verses 4-8 of 1 Corinthians 13 are well known and are the adopted passage for many brides and grooms on their wedding day. It is one of God’s biblical definitions of love.

Many years ago, in a class for wives, the speaker challenged us all to reread the passage removing the word love and put our own names or pronoun in its place. The verse would then read something like this:

Leslie is patient, Leslie is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud. Leslie does not dishonor others, she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs. Leslie does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  She always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Leslie never fails.

It was only after this exercise that some aspects of the biblical love God expects me to have for my husband became crystal clear. I had to admit, some days were difficult to claim possession of even one of these traits. At least now, I knew what love looked like. Love was deep, steady and enduring. Love required discipline and self-control. It selflessly focused on others. Love was incredibly difficult yet somehow attainable. Love was possible…with God in the middle of it.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,           that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.                       – John 3:16 (NIV)

I cannot love like the Bible describes without closeness to God. Without Him to remind me how great His love is for me, I would not have the capacity to love others, to love my husband, or even to love myself. His awe-inspiring love teaches us, by example, how to love. It is this unfathomable, rich and spiritual love that attracts, binds and matures as the years pass.

What does love look like in your marriage? Can you confidently place your name in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as the definition of love? If not, then begin today, trait by trait, adding to your love. Both you and your husband will love the result.


As with any check list, this one may show your strengths and weaknesses, what’s already present and what’s missing from your relationship. A check list reveals where you’re at and where you need to go. The good news is you can celebrate what’s going well and make a plan to fortify what’s lacking in your marriage.  With reliance on God and some attention to the matter, you’ll soon be checking all the boxes!

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character: #4 – She is Diligent

by Leslie De Morais

Diligent – [dil-i-juh nt] (adj) 1. Constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything: a diligent student. 2. Done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking: a diligent search of the files.1

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.                                                                                                  – Proverbs 31:13 (NIV)

Wool and Flax

As many of us know, wool comes from sheep. Usually, once a year in the spring, the sheep are shorn (or sheared, depending on the dialect of the region). The wool is then spun into yarn.

What about flax? Considering the verse above, I wondered about flax, so I did some investigating. Here’s what I found out:

Flax (also known as common flax or linseed), Linum usitatissimum, is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world. The textile made from flax in the Western countries is known as linen. It is traditionally used for bed sheets, underclothes, and table linen. The oil is known as linseed oil. In addition to referring to the plant itself, the word “flax” may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant. The plant species is known only as a cultivated plant, and appears to have been domesticated just once from the wild species Linum bienne, called pale flax.2

If you have a moment, watch this short and informative three-minute video that shows how to spin flax.3

Now, getting back to the theme verse (Proverbs 31:13) of this blog post and the definition of diligent, what can we learn from the Wife of Noble Character?

What Motivates Diligence?

Imagine living in a time where you not only have to make your own clothes, and those for your family, but you also need to spin the yarn or thread for your fabric. The words time-consuming and tedious come to mind. How full would your wardrobe be if all that work were required of you? What could possibly motivate the Proverbs 31 woman to “work with eager hands?”

Only one answer stands out. She highly valued the end product much more than the long hours ahead of her. Perhaps she envisioned her children dressed in the clothes she so painstakingly made for them. Maybe she cherished the cozy touch of the brand new bed linens that she and her husband would slip into after a long day’s work. Possibly, she was imagining beautiful table linens that would make a meal special when visitors called. The end product is the inspiration that fueled her task, and diligence is what set her apart from the rest.

Consistency, persistence and perseverance are qualities we all admire. No one ever wrote a book or made a movie about the guy or girl who half way through a tough job, long journey, or daunting battle gave up! Who would want to read about that or see that movie? Yet we all love to hear about the person who stuck it out during a challenge. It gives us hope that we can do the same.

A Surprising Quote

“Running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline. I applied this in everything I did.” 4

If this quote came from a cross-country runner, you might say, “That makes sense.” If I told you an Olympic athlete was known for making this statement, you might think it nothing out of the ordinary. How would you feel about that quote if you now discovered it came from a man who spent most of his adult life in political and ethical struggles against racism and injustice?

Nelson Mandela, human rights activist and President of South Africa from 1994-1999.

For most of us, we practice a sport, play an instrument or indulge in a hobby because we have a natural inclination or talent for it.  In Nelson Mandela’s case, he had neither when it came to cross-country running. He got through his task by harnessing diligence. Certainly, this discipline gave him the strength and hope to endure the 27 years he spent in prison for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.

Diligent Wives Get What they Want…Eventually

How does a wife benefit from being diligent? There’s a Brazilian saying, “Quem casa, quer casa.” Translation: “The one who marries wants a home.” We’d all love to have an unlimited budget to buy our dream home and decorate it with the finest furnishings. Personally, I have yet to meet a woman in those ideal circumstances. Diligence is the stuff that fuels dreams, little by little.

Consider these verses:

Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.                                                                                                     – Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)

A sluggard’s appetite is never filled,                                                                         but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.                                                           – Proverbs 13:4 (NIV)

It’s easy to sit around dreaming or worse, complaining because you don’t have what you want (be it a beautiful home, higher education, an amazing marriage or closeness to God). It takes diligence to bring those desires of the heart into reality.

My husband is a smart and capable man. He has accomplished many difficult undertakings in his life, such as: completing his college education, becoming fluent in a second language, moving to new countries and adapting to unfamiliar cultures, navigating the challenges of raising two teenagers successfully, relocating and beginning new careers several times and going for his master’s degree at age 50. Not to mention becoming a Christian and not wavering in his decision for over 30 years. Obviously, he is grateful to God for the many opportunities and blessings he has received. However, to what personal characteristic does Alcides attribute his success? Diligence. He doesn’t consider himself extremely intelligent or unusually gifted. He understands the benefit of staying the course even when it gets hard and when giving up would be much more comfortable.

Diligent Wives Remove Obstacles

William Penn, English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania.

William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.

A man of extreme religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous works in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of Primitive Christianity. He was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross, No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a Christian classic.5

Like Mandela, William Penn was imprisoned for his idealism. You might think an ordeal like that would dampen his fervor or soften his convictions. Yet Penn was known for this statement:

Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains.                                            – William Penn

What are the obstacles you need to remove in your life?

  • Do you have a home in desperate need of organization and order?
  • Are there personal goals you’d like to reach but procrastination and excuses have paralyzed you?
  • Is your husband not yet a Christian and your faith that he’ll become one is dwindling?
  • Does your husband lack the spiritual leadership for your family that you would like him to have and you’ve given up on being the helpmate he needs?

Do you have what it takes to remove these obstacles from your heart and mind? Patient diligence (in prayer, faith, and actions) is what’s required.

Diligent Wives are Wholehearted

In the fourth chapter of 1 Timothy, Paul encourages and exhorts the young evangelist about some of a pastor’s worst fears. He warns Timothy that some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons! Paul then cautions Timothy to:

  • Be a good minister
  • Have nothing to do with godless myths or old wives tales
  • Train himself to be godly
  • Put his hope in God
  • Command and teach these things to others
  • Not let anyone look down on him because of his youth
  • Set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity
  • Not neglect his gift of preaching and teaching

Paul ends the chapter by giving Timothy the key to his future success.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.  – 1 Timothy 4:15-16 (NIV)

Wholehearted diligence and perseverance. Timothy had a mountain to move and Paul set him up for victory.

Whatever mountains you may need to move, whatever your past track record has been, imitating the diligence of the Proverbs 31 Wife of Noble Character will certainly get you closer than ever to making your goals and dreams reality.


Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flax

3 Spinning Flax with Christine MacCleod – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az2VNllZhEE

4 BrainyQuote.com

5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Penn

 

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character: #3 – She is good

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Good – [goo d] (adj.) 1) morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man.  2) satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree: a good teacher; good health. 3) of high quality; excellent. 4) right; proper; fit: It is good that you are here. His credentials are good. 5) well-behaved: a good child. 6) kind, beneficent, or friendly: to do a good deed.  7) honorable or worthy; in good standing: a good name. Ect. 1

Good – [goo d] (noun) 1) profit or advantage; worth; benefit: What good will that do? We shall work for the common good. 2) excellence or merit; kindness: to do good. 3) moral righteousness; virtue: to be a power for good. 4) the good.  a) the idea of goodness or morality. b) good things or persons collectively.

She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.                                                                                                                           – Proverbs 31:12 (NIV)

How good is good?

Much to my surprise, I found over 50 definitions, in a variety of forms, for the word “good.” Only 11 are listed above. Who knew such an unassuming little word was so ample and versatile. The fact is we take the word “good” for granted. It’s not as grand as great or as flashy as fantastic. The word good doesn’t hold our attention like amazing or wow us like wonderful. We tend to think of the word good as sufficient, as in the expression “good enough,” or like the contemporary response “I’m good,” which communicates a satisfactorily satiated state when asked if more food or drink are desired.

In a world of mind numbing choices of products, services and experiences, who would ever settle for plain old good. We want the best! There’s also a never-ending quest for individuals to rise above the crowd and be set apart from the masses. In view of the incessant selfies and constant social media self-promotion to which so many are addicted, settling for good just doesn’t cut it. Then, what on earth did God see in the word “good” that He should inspire its use in Proverbs 31:12, regarding the wife of noble character?

Lessons Learned from Creation

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.                                       – Genesis 1:1-5 (NIV)

In the third verse of the Bible, God uses the word good to describe the light he had made from nothing. By verse 30, God used the word good six times to describe a few little things he created, like: the land and the sea; all variations of vegetation; the sun, the moon and the stars; all living creatures in the sky and the water; and all living creatures on land. All this He deemed good. Good? I would have said stupendous, incredible, marvelous, astonishing or so many other phenomenal adjectives.

Then, when God stepped back and admired his work, He decided to live a little and described that first six days of work as very good.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.                                               – Genesis 1:31 (NIV)

If God sees fit to use the word good to describe the birth of a galaxy or the formation of a planet as good, well perhaps we’d all better upgrade this dictionary classification from ordinary and sufficient to and an all-encompassing mighty titan of a word worthy of great feats!

The Proverbs 31 Wife

The wife of noble character is described as someone who “brings her husband good.” What exactly does that mean? How can a wife bring her husband “good?”

Over the years I have observed, both in my own husband and in the male gender in general, that men like to keep things uncomplicated. Women, on the other hand, have a tendency toward the more complex. If you’re reading between the lines right now, you might be coming up with some adjectives of your own to describe how each of the sexes approaches life.  One style isn’t better than the other. They are just different.  It is to a spouse’s benefit to understand the differences and react or adjust accordingly.

Three words come to mind when thinking about how to bring my husband “good.” The words are “easy, simple and happy.” At first glance, you may think these three little words are  exceedingly elementary or immensely mundane. But if we’re talking about how to bring our husbands good and not harm, we must first consider their definition of good and not our own.

Easy

The fall of “man” (AKA: Adam) resulted in a major life style change for all mankind: hard work.  Apparently, what Adam had been doing in the Garden of Eden up until he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit was not considered hard work. In Eden, God required two things from Adam: take care of the garden (Genesis 2:15), and name all the animals (Genesis 2:19-20a). Then, Eve sinned by disobeying God and Adam followed right along. The result for Adam that ensued was backbreaking, never ending hard work.

 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”                                                                                      – Genesis 3:17-19 (NIV)

Hard work is the curse brought down on man for the iniquities of Adam. That connection with work is deep in the male gender’s DNA. Men seem to derive their self-worth from their work. They also assess one another based on the type of work they do and the strength or intelligence required to perform that work. As a by-product, the income received or the quality of life resulting from that work is also factored into the appraisal equation. In general, when it comes to their daily toil, men are competitive, driven and dedicated to their work. This is neither praise of the fact nor criticism on my part, simply an observation.

I have also observed an area of a married man’s life where he does not want work: his relationship with his wife.

What do I mean by “work” in the relationship? Men tend to be objective, concise, no frills. Women tend to be the opposite. Men want relating to their wives to be easy. They want their wives to be easy to talk to and easy to understand. Easy to lead. Easy going, easy to please. For the majority of men, their “work” is what they leave the house to do. They want their relationship with their spouse to be synchronized, balanced and functional.

So how can a wife bring her husband good?  Be easy to be with. Sounds easy enough, yet a woman has towering challenges to surmount in order to become an easygoing person.

Hormones and Emotions

A woman’s monthly cycle does not typically facilitate any of her relationships and especially the one with her spouse. I’m sure you are familiar with all those symptoms that afflict women every 28 days. Irritability, pain, bloating, discomfort and fatigue. It’s a wonder we can maintain any relationship while dealing with these ailments. The physical changes in the body coupled with the spike in hormones creates the perfect menstrual storm and our husbands are the tiny fishing boats trying to weather it unscathed.

How can a wife be easy to be with while going through the most painful and uncomfortable time of the month? Here are a few suggestions:

Be Prepared

Many women have absolutely no idea when their period is about to strike. Why is that? For most, their menstruation is like clockwork, on time and reliable. So, why not prepare for it? How? Prayer and scripture. God expects us to be self-controlled in all situations. That’s how we avoid sin even when we’re in pain. Here are some helpful tips:

Use a calendar to keep track of your monthly cycle.
  • Use a calendar to record the beginning and end of your cycle. Note the most challenging days and the symptoms you experience. It will likely be the same each month.
  • Explain to your spouse what you go though, both the physical and the emotional. Men have a hard time understanding or remembering what you feeling since they have never experienced anything like it.
  • Let your husband know when your period is about to kick in so he can be aware and be sensitive to what you’re going through.

Be Spiritual

  • In your daily devotionals, pray for self-control and read scriptures that will encourage the same. Pray for a double portion of patience, kindness and restraint.

Be Practical

  • Whenever able, use sick leave from work for your worst menstrual days. Although having your period is not an illness, you’re definitely not well. For many years I toughed it out at work during my period only to come home feeling completely spent and irritated, taking my pain and frustration out on my family. Only in later years did I discover the wisdom of allowing myself the much-needed rest and pampering my body and emotions craved during my menstrual cycle.

The same is true of pregnancy and menopause. Although symptoms vary with each phase of life, and from person to person, one thing remains true: we are not condemned to be controlled by hormones and emotions. We’ll be women who are easy to be with the more we are determined to take control of what we’re experiencing during uncomfortable or painful times of our lives.

Simple

Women love events. We love dressing up and going out. We love excitement and entertainment. We love turning the mundane into an occasion and the ordinary into an experience. We love adorning, embellishing, decorating and designing. We love planning and prepping. We’re all about the tiny details as well as creating show stopping wow factors. We love color and texture, mixing and matching. Men on the other hand, like to keep things simple.

Has this ever happened to you? You enthusiastically begin telling your husband some amazing plans you have. Vividly, you describe all your ideas down to infinitesimal detail and he begins to look as if he’s developing a headache? That’s because most men are big picture people. They understand the plan in broad brushstrokes. The details are of little consequence, in their view. However, for those of us of the fairer sex, the details are significant and are a way to express our creativity and personality. How can you bring your husband good? Try your best to keep things simple, in speech and in actions, especially if he actually makes that request.  Remember, less really is more…at least for men.

Happy

When thinking of the scene of a young man nervously asking the father of his beloved for her hand in marriage, I’m reminded of the reply from the protective dad heard in countless books and movies, “Just be sure to make her happy.”

Unfortunately, many women go into marriage believing it is the husband’s duty to make his bride happy. But is it? Ephesians 5 teaches that husbands must love their wives and ensure they are holy and blameless before God. That, in and of itself, is a monumental task. Is the husband also responsible for his wife’s happiness?

If a man is following the word of God and loving his wife as Christ loved the church, laying down his very life for her, I imagine that would make any woman happy. However, what about her day-to-day happiness. A better question is, “Can anyone be solely responsible for another’s continued happiness?”

Just as faith, repentance and discipleship are individual responsibilities, I believe happiness is, too. One way for a wife to bring her husband good and not harm is to be accountable for her own happiness. Why? In my experience, I have found that happiness is a decision. It’s a decision that only I can make for myself.

Something that inspires me in the decision to be happy is the fact that happiness makes a person more beautiful naturally. It also lightens any mood and brightens circumstances.

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.     – Proverbs 15:13 (NIV)

A happy woman attracts people and her happiness is contagious. She is a person who lifts spirits just by smiling genuinely. She lights up a room and people are drawn to her.

Easy, simple, and happy. That’s a good starting point for any woman to bring her husband good, not harm, all the days of her life.

 

The Strong Marriage Check List: Item #4: Respect

Opinions differ regarding what a marriage needs to either become strong or stay strong. The following is from a list I compiled of ten essential characteristics couples need to build a strong and lasting marriage.


by Leslie De Morais

Item #4: Respect

“When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom,” says the best-selling author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, John Gray.

There may be times in your marriage when you think to yourself, “I’ve married a completely different life form! One from outer space!” This thought springs from the fact that men and women think and act so differently. It might seem as if your husband is from another planet!

In this age of acceptance and tolerance, you might assume it would be easier to adjust ourselves to one another in marriage. However, the daily challenges of seeing eye-to-eye with your spouse remain.

The quote from John Gray gives us a window into some basic understanding of what a relationship needs to function. Acceptance of each another’s differences is impossible without the first step of respect.

Respect and Love

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.                          – Ephesians 5:22-33 (NIV)

This well-known passage, which outlines the attitudes and actions God expects of us in marriage, is sometimes misunderstood. Words like submit, obey, and respect, are hot button topics for most women. Not taking the time to understand what the Bible is teaching us can cause our hearts to become stubborn, unbelieving or even rebellious toward God’s word. The dangerous consequences can result in either rejecting His standard for our lives or modifying it to suit our own ideas or lifestyle. Attitudes such as these nullify the Bible and our acts of worshiping God are rendered useless. (Read Matthew 15:1-9 to see an example of this concept.)

So why is respect such a difficult trait to develop in marriage? For most of us, we look at the concept of respect from the wrong end of the matter. We tend to focus on the recipient of respect instead of the giver of respect.

From a very young age, we are taught that respect must be earned. And to some extent, that notion is true. But does that mean we have free reign to disrespect those who have not earned our respect? I don’t believe so.

Respect Everyone

Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

In a worldly sense, those who are elevated to a level of respect usually have a long list of admirable qualities and strong characters. These people are respected for their accomplishments and contributions. They inspire awe and high esteem. And we revere them for being better than ourselves.

An example of this would be my attitude toward particular styles of art. A friend proudly displayed an original painting she bought at a pricey gallery. It consisted of a thick brushstroke of black down the middle, a squiggly line of red and a yellow circle. Surprised at my lack of enthusiasm she asked why I didn’t like it. I replied, “I don’t appreciated art I can do myself.”

It is this same approach some people take when confronted with the idea of respect. If the recipient of the respect isn’t “better” than me, then how can I be expected to respect him or her? There’s a monumental problem with this rationale. What if half the world doesn’t pass your assessment of being better than you are? What about your husband? What happens if he doesn’t find himself in that coveted category of being better than you are?

Consider Christ

Let’s think about Jesus for a moment. Who walking the earth was better than him? Who was more spiritual? More loving? Wiser? More intelligent? Without sin? The answer is no one. Yet look at this incredible example of respect he leaves us to imitate:

53 Then they all went home,but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”         – John 7:53-8:11 (NIV)

Picture this scene. Someone “caught in the act” of adultery is most likely naked or at least scantily clad. Either way, it would make for an extremely compromising situation. Now imagine being in that predicament completely surrounded by men. Compound the circumstances with the fact that those men are religious leaders bent on condemnation. What does Jesus do? In a matter of a split second, he assesses the fact that the question posed is a trap. They are using the woman’s sin to condemn her and trap Jesus. Two birds with one stone!

Now, how can Jesus school these legalistic leaders and have a lasting impact on the woman? He shrewdly diverts the men’s attention away from the woman by writing on the ground. Envision that moment when all the men lean in to see what Jesus is scribbling in the dirt. Out of respect, Jesus is not looking at the humiliated woman. Because of him, neither is the crowd of men. Jesus goes a step further and causes each one of the men to look inward at themselves by saying, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Who then had the courage to look at the woman after those wise words? I don’t suppose those men had the courage to even look at one another yet alone the woman.

Here’s a question for you: was the woman caught in adultery worthy of Christ’s respect? If you’d asked the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, surely they would say, “No.” What about the onlookers? Were they worthy of Christ’s respect? Jesus could have shamed them because of their sinful ways, yet he gently reproved them by causing each one to examine his own heart and life. You see, the only person worthy of respect in this scenario was Jesus and he was the only one showing respect.

Respect for others is achieved when we comprehend that the respect given is based on a decision to be a respectful person. True respect is not dependent on another’s worthiness to receive it.

Your husband is not Jesus. He is imperfect, like you are. He has flaws, as do you. Why should you respect him? Well, hopefully you will respect him because you have decided to be a respectful person. Your decision just might inspire and motivate those around you to be people worthy of respect. But even if others do not change, you can imitate that in Jesus which is good and right and pleases God.


As with any check list, this one may show your strengths and weaknesses, what’s already present and what’s missing from your relationship. A check list reveals where you’re at and where you need to go. The good news is you can celebrate what’s going well and make a plan to fortify what’s lacking in your marriage.  With reliance on God and some attention to the matter, you’ll soon be checking all the boxes!

 

Footnotes:

1 John Gray (born December 28, 1951) is an American relationship counselor, lecturer and author. In 1969, he began a nine-year association with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi before beginning his career as an author and personal relationship counselor. In 1992, he published the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, which became a long-term best seller and formed the central theme of all his subsequent books and career activities. His books have sold millions of copies. (Wikipedia)

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character – #2 She is Trustworthy

by Leslie De Morais

Characteristic #2 – She is trustworthy

Definition

Trustworthy – [truhst-wur-th ee]  (adj.) 1) deserving of trust or confidence; dependable; reliable: The treasurer was not entirely trustworthy. 1

Her husband has full confidence in her                                                                               and lacks nothing of value.   – Proverbs 31:11 (NIV)

 

Romance and Royals

Like many of you, I love a good romance set in an historic period, such as the novels of Emily Bronte or Jane Austen. Just picture a meticulous English garden or the breath-taking French countryside, or imposing manor houses and stone castles. These settings coupled with the idea of an aristocrat’s lifestyle all make for an enticing escape from our humdrum 21st century lives.

In the past two decades or so, I have found myself especially drawn to European history, primarily through classic novels depicted artistically down to minute details in movies or mini-series. Fully fascinated by the costumes of the era, the architecture, interior décor and the high standards of propriety, I find myself immersed in the drama of the characters. The complexity of noble hierarchies, intrigue wreaking havoc in monarchies and the disparity between the royals and commoners create real life settings and stories the imagination would be hard pressed to improve upon.

Netflix’s “The Crown,” starring Claire Foy

While watching one of these series, I found myself contemplating the pros and cons of being born into a royal family. Much to my surprise, my list of cons far outweighed the pros. The case against this imagined circumstance included, but was not limited to, considerations such as:

  • having extremely high expectations forced upon one’s self,
  • the weight of a nation’s progress and well-being as one’s primary responsibility,
  • and, a greatly diminished amount of privacy or lack of anonymity.

Perhaps thoughts like these gave birth to the expression, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.” The original source of this phrase is not known, but William Shakespeare used it in his play, King Henry IV, with little modification:

                        “Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!                                                                             Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

In Act III, Scene I, King Henry IV says these lines to express how tough his duty of kingship is, and how difficult it is to take on such a serious responsibility, which constantly worries him.2

 

A Royal Proclamation

The line in Shakespeare’s play causes me to consider this quote:

“I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.”  – Queen Elizabeth II2

Queen Elizabeth II in February 1952

What an amazing promise make and live up to! And from a queen, no less! It certainly conveys a deep understanding of the daunting task that laid ahead of a young 26-year-old princess who became queen due to the abdication of the throne by her uncle and later the subsequent passing of her father.

Queen Elizabeth II vowed trustworthiness, not only to a nation, but also to the entire common wealth of the United Kingdom.

Now, let’s bring all this home.

Would you be able to make that same pledge (and keep your word) to just one human being? Could you say it, in all sincerity, to your husband? Picture yourself speaking these words to him:

“Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.”

Does your husband have full confidence in you in all areas of the marriage? What are those areas? Here are some, to name just a few:

  • marital fidelity,
  • family finances,
  • your thoughts,
  • your words,
  • and your deeds.

Lessons on trustworthiness from the Bible

God sets us a divine example of trustworthiness, in his actions, his promises and in his precepts.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. – Psalm 19:7 (NIV)

The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. – Psalm 111:7 (NIV)

The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy. – Psalm 119:138 (NIV)

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. – Psalm 145:13 (NIV)

Paul was an example of trustworthiness:

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.                          – 1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)

Paul’s expectation of women in the church:

In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.              – 1 Timothy 3:11 (NIV)

In everything? Yes, in everything.

 

Practical Application

Marital fidelity

Do you think it impossible to be unfaithful to your husband? Here are the 2011 statistics regarding adultery, according to Dr. Kelly James Bonewell, a psychologist and theologian counselor.

Infidelity Statistics

  • Over 33% of married men will cheat on their wives;
  • Nearly 25% of all married women will cheat on their husbands;
  • More than 50% of all marriages will be impacted by one of the spouses being unfaithful.

Grim statistics if you think about them.

Here are some other interesting facts that we know:

  • Back in the 1960’s it was usually the husband who was unfaithful.
  • Today, researchers are finding that women are just as likely as men to have an affair.

As a way of comparison to how adultery has become more prevalent: a 1983 study found that 29% of married people under twenty-five had had an affair. By comparison, only 9 percent of spouses in the 1950s under the age of 25 had been involved in extramarital sex.

Ten percent of extramarital affairs are “one night stands;” ten percent last more than one day, but less than a month; half of all affairs last more than a month but less than a year; and 40 percent last two or more years (Lampe, 2000).

Perhaps you are thinking, “This can’t be a problem in the church. Certainly the moral standards of Christians are higher.” There is growing evidence that adultery is also a tremendous problem in Christian circles. One could site many studies—the most recent from Christianity Today shows that 45 percent of Christians indicate having done something sexually inappropriate, and 23 percent having extramarital intercourse (Anderson, 2000). These numbers pretty much mirror the national averages.3

Flirting may ignite a flame you can’t control.

With Dr. Bonewell’s findings in mind, think about your trustworthiness. Adultery begins with letting down your guard with flirtation or allowing the mind to wander. It could start with inappropriate joking or unnecessary physical contact, intimate comments or confiding in the wrong person about struggles in your marriage. Hidden online contact or conversations should certainly be a red flag. Avoid temptation. Don’t be naïve.

Faithfulness to your husband is directly linked to your faithfulness to God. A trustworthy wife is sexually faithful to her husband not because he is so awesome or handsome or such a good provider, or even because she loves him. She is trustworthy in this area of her life because of the commitment she made first and foremost to God.

Family finances

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?                – Luke 16:10-12 (NIV)

Hey, Big Spender! Do you need to confess, Mrs. Shopaholic?

Can your husband trust you to stick to a budget? Are you able to account for what you spend? Does your reasoning constantly outweigh his requests to spend only what is necessary? Family finances are one of the three things about which couples most argue and disagree.

As a woman who loves fashion, interior design and entertaining, I can verify there is always a “reason” to spend just a little more. In our relationship, I soon learned that my husband and I had very different ideas as to what was necessary and what was not. It took us years to successfully discuss and reach middle ground regarding how money should be allotted, saved and spent. As with most topics in marriage, it required love, respect and compromise on both parts. However, changing my reputation as an irresponsible spender took almost a decade. Today, being considered trustworthy by my husband is more important to me than anything I could buy in a store.

 

Your thoughts

Thoughts are the easiest aspect of ourselves to hide. The mind is a secret place where we can do what we please and conceal it from everyone – everyone except God, of course.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV)

In the Old Testament book of Proverbs and the New Testament book of Matthew, we learn the heart and our thoughts are connected, spiritually speaking.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” – Matthew 15:18-20 (NIV)

Here’s what we should, as Christians, be thinking:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Now Playing: The Movie of Your Thoughts!

If it were possible to show a film of your thoughts on the big screen at the movie theater in your town, would you be applauded or would you cringe in shame and embarrassment? Can your husband have full confidence in the thoughts you have about him and others?

 

Your words

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. – Proverbs 12:22 (NIV)

Lies are just one of the ways we can sin against God and wound our relationship with our husband. Do you exaggerate? Do you speak in a snide or cynical fashion? Do you hurt others with words and cover it up behind jokes? Do you publically make disparaging comments about your husband to others?

Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.                                        – Ephesians 4:25 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Words are powerful tools. They can either build others up or tear them down. Be trustworthy in how you use them.

 

Your deeds

A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing. – Proverbs 13:17 (NIV)

A reliable messenger is refreshing to the one who sends him, like cold water in the heat of harvest time. – Proverbs 25:13 (GNT)

Can your husband depend on you to do what you promise? Or, are you full of excuses? If he should ask you to take on a task, can he forget about it or does he constantly need to follow up?

Being a trustworthy wife is a tall order that encompasses every area of our lives. It takes a strong character and deep understanding that being worthy of trust begins with being trustworthy before God himself. Your fortunate husband simply reaps the benefit.

 

Footnotes

1 Dictionary.com

2 Literarydevices.net

3 http://www.kellybonewell.com/adultery-just-the-statistics/

31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character – #1 She is Valued

by Leslie De Morais

Definition

Valued – [val-yood] (adj.) 1) highly regarded or esteemed: a valued friend. 2) estimated; appraised: jewels valued at $100,000. 3) having a value of a specified kind: a triple-valued offer. 1

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.                                                                                              – Proverbs 31:10 (NIV)

An Interesting Factoid

According to the website Energy Muse, rubies bring love and passion and are associated with vitality and strong feelings.  The gem stone ruby is the good luck stone of love, encouraging sensitivity in a relationship. Ruby also promotes clarity and wisdom allowing the wearer to attract wealth. Ruby strengthens the body’s immune system against infectious diseases. 2

Personally, I cannot attest to all these claims about rubies. However, if this was the common belief back in the day when Proverbs 31 was written, a virtuous wife was certainly held in high esteem.  The comparison to rubies was not a trivial choice. The author understood the great value rubies would convey.

Unfortunately, in today’s western society and perhaps worldwide, the perceived value of the role of a wife has diminished considerably. Why is that? Certainly, negative factors like machismo add to the deflation of a woman’s value. But can all the blame be attributed to the unenlightened minority of the male sex? Even some misguided concepts stemming from the feminist movement may contribute to the devaluing of the standing and role of wives nowadays.

Rosie the Riveter as depicted by Norman Rockwell in 1943.

Recent history reveals the steady shift from the long-established home life where a wife and mother was a permanent fixture who maintained a high standard for herself, her family and home. World Wars I and II provided the call to action for women that inevitably changed the fabric of family life, perhaps forever. Women were needed in the workplace as their male counterparts went off to war. Once the wars were over and the men returned home (and in many cases they did not return), women needed and wanted to retain their newly acquired status, opportunities and freedom their efforts during the war provided. And rightly so.

The decades that followed the last World War ushered in an explosive advancement in women’s rights. Women were now entering professions never before held by the female gender. Great strides were made towards fair wages, acceptance in the workplace and equal opportunity. The pendulum swing, regarding a woman’s role in modern life, was an inevitable and natural occurrence. In just about every great movement, in order to change the status quo, a pendulum swing takes place and a complete shift of mentality goes from one extreme to another. When discussing women’s development in society over the last 100 years, one of the great shifts that took place went from appreciating the roles of wife and mother to almost scorning them.

The challenge today is to recapture and maintain the high regard and intrinsic value of being an excellent wife while retaining the positive advancement of women. Unfortunately, too many times we wives do not value our own role as we should. Instead of cultivating our character to better handle the challenges and responsibilities, we complain, make excuses and are mediocre. Then, we wonder why we are undervalued.

How much do you value your role as wife? Do you hold this facet of your life in high esteem? Do you have as much concentration and determination to grow in this role as you do in your profession?

An Incredible Quote

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (born November 30, 1874 and died January 24, 1965) was a British politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. As Prime Minister, Churchill led Britain to victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a non-academic historian, and a writer. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his overall, lifetime body of work.3

Now that is a résumé to be proud of, for sure. Yet, what did Churchill value above all that?

“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me.”     – Winston Chruchill4

Stop and think about the amazing implications of that statement. Churchill valued gaining his wife above becoming Prime Minister, winning the war over Nazi Germany and being awarded the Nobel Prize.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

Motivating Bible Verses  

The more I read about, study and contemplate the idea of being a wife, the more I see and understand it has much more to do with my relationship with God than my relationship with my husband. In my role as a wife, I’m being called to be like Jesus in every aspect of my character in every moment of my day. It’s a spiritual approach to a challenging situation I find exhilarating and motivating. In my marriage, I do what I do to please God, who sees my effort and my heart even when my husband does not.

Consider these verses:

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.   – Proverbs 12:4 (NIV)

Being a wife of noble character would figuratively make your husband feel like a king! The opposite would cause him to desire death!

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.     Proverbs 18:22 (NIV)

It is a blessing from God for a man to find a good wife. What surpasses a blessing from God?

Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.  – Proverbs 19:14 (NIV)

The value of houses and wealth is obvious to any of us. Yet a sensible and wise wife is a spiritual gift from God. Do we women recognize the value of that? If not, how can we expect others to value what we do and who we are?

How can you become a valued wife?

 1. Start valuing yourself and your role as a wife.

Who you are and what you do as a wife will be valued by others if you value it.

Your value before God:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  – John 3:16 (NIV)

This well-known verse sums up the incredible value God places on each one of us.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  – 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

God is omnipotent and the creator of all that is seen and unseen. Therefore, it amazes me that He takes the time and makes the effort to communicate to wives that particular female character traits are of great worth to Him.

Your value to your husband:

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.   – Proverbs 31:10-11 (NIV)

Imagine your husband acknowledging as long as he had you by his side, he’d lacked nothing of value. That’s powerful.

2. Stop undermining your worth.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.   – Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)

In chapter 3, Paul urges the Ephesians to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge. In view of that statement, he then urges them in chapter 4 to live lives worthy of Christ. What would that look like? Would it include belittling your role as a wife or mother? Would it mean complaining about daily tasks or spending your time wishing you were in different circumstances? No! Because of Christ, everything we do and everything we are has the potential to be used by God to accomplish great things.

3. Decide to be invaluable.

Show me someone who does a good job, and I will show you someone who is better than most and worthy of the company of kings.                  – Proverbs 22:29 (GNT)

I worked for many years as a secretary. The profession has many similarities to being a wife. In fact, among secretaries you may often hear them refer to their boss as their “work husband.” The best secretaries (those in high demand) anticipate needs, hope for the best and plan for the worst-case scenarios. They keep important information at their fingertips and their number one goal is to become invaluable. The best bosses know, appreciate and greatly value the assistants’ role, knowing how difficult it would be to get the job done without them.

Are you invaluable to your “home husband?” Becoming an invaluable wife is a decision coupled with a plan that is motivated by Christ.

Decide to be a gem. Decide to be a jewel. And you’ll be treasured.

A wife of noble character, she is valued.

 

Footnotes:

1 Dictionary.com

2 https://energymuse.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/gemstone-of-the-day-ruby/

3 Wikipedia

4 www.brainyquote.com

An Introduction to 31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character

by Leslie De Morais

 

In this modern world of ours, a woman may aspire to countless professions, attributes, titles and abilities. However, I cannot think of one that compares or competes with becoming a wife of noble character.

As you read Proverbs 31:10-31, see if you can identify the 31 characteristics of a wife of noble character.

10A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.                                                                                                            –  Proverbs 31:10-31 (NIV)

The virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 is awe inspiring indeed. Surely, she is the culmination of the ideal wife and mature woman.

Her numerous attributes may leave us overwhelmed, however, I prefer to learn from her rather than be intimidated by her.

My list of her amazing qualities is meant to be used as a source of inspiration, meditation, imitation and admiration. Each of the 31 qualities comes with:

  • A dictionary definition
  • Inspiring quotes
  • Bible scriptures
  • Practical application

As you study, you may find other adjectives that describe her. Add them to your list.

Take your time reading. It’s not a race, because I doubt there’s a finish line. Transformation into a wife of noble character takes a lifetime of training and perfecting.

Beware the temptation to doubt the existence of the woman of Proverbs 31. Becoming like her is possible. I have actually known incredible women who fit this description.

Here’s my list of her characteristics:

  1. Valued (v. 10)
  2. Trustworthy (v. 11)
  3. Good (v. 12)
  4. Diligent (v. 13)
  5. Consistent (v. 14)
  6. Hard working (v. 15a)
  7. Serving (v. 15b,c)
  8. Business woman (v. 16a)
  9. Financially responsible (v. 16b)
  10. Stamina (v. 17a)
  11. Physically fit (v. 17b)
  12. Savvy (v. 18)
  13. Capable (v. 19)
  14. Compassionate (v. 20)
  15. Fearless (v. 21a)
  16. Prepared (v. 22b)
  17. Determined (v. 22a)
  18. Elegant (v. 22b)
  19. Discerning (v. 23)
  20. Industrious (v. 24)
  21. Strong (v. 25a)
  22. Dignified (v. 25a)
  23. Confident (v. 25b)
  24. Wise (v. 26a)
  25. Knowledgeable (v. 26b)
  26. Attentive (v. 27a)
  27. Busy (v. 27b)
  28. Respected (v. 28)
  29. Excellent (v. 29)
  30. Righteous (v. 30)
  31. Honored (v.31)

The list of 31 characteristics of a wife of noble character is inspiring to say the least. It is perhaps a little daunting or even intimidating. Let’s learn from her one characteristic at a time. Are you up to the challenge?

_____________________________________________________

New blog articles featuring the 31 Characteristics of the Wife of Noble Character will be posted weekly.

The Strong Marriage Check List: Item #3 – Humor

by Leslie De Morais

 

Opinions differ regarding what a marriage needs to either become strong or stay strong. The following is from a list I compiled of ten essential characteristics couples need to build a strong and lasting marriage.

Item #3: Humor

Being able to laugh, with one another, at each other, or at your circumstances, could just possibly be one of the best ways to weather tough times.  It can also help a marriage to last. Humor, lightheartedness and having fun are some of God’s best gifts for any relationship. They give way to happiness, appreciation and serenity, even if only momentarily. These times of spontaneous smiles, giggles, chuckles or raucous laughter relieve stress and ease tension. They bring levity and a sense of contentment to a marriage.

The comedian Milton Burle once said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”

Not only is it an instantaneous vacation, it’s free and lasts as long as you make it last.

There is great assurance in a relationship when you know your partner has the ability and discernment to use humor in a proper manner, time and place.

When I first met Alcides, one of his characteristics I found myself drawn to was his sense of humor. It was so diverse! He could imitate a variety of accents or individuals. He could make witty commentaries about current events or recite a repertoire of his father’s vintage jokes on command, one right after another.  He could even make light of the mistakes he made in English (since it is his second language). He was so funny. Or, was I simply in love? Being able to laugh at your husband’s sense of humor is a good gauge to the level of closeness in your relationship.

There are two things that are almost impossible for a wife to do if there’s a wedge between her and her husband: have sex with him or laugh at his jokes.

What do the two have in common? Laughter, inside jokes, and goofiness, they are all a form of intimacy. They are the product of months, years, decades together. They communicate, “I know you. I know how you think, I know what you’re about to say. I know you and I love you.” Humor allows us to relax a little and let down our guard, even when life is not perfect. Our time together just seems more enjoyable when we’re able to laugh, no matter what else is going on.

When was the last time you and your husband had a good laugh? Not at externally sourced humor from a comedian or TV show, but a laugh at something just between the two of you. Perhaps a private joke. Maybe about something that always made you laugh in the past. If it’s been a while, there may be an impediment to your closeness. It could be stress or an unresolved issue. It could be you just haven’t made the time to stop and simply spend time together.

Humor thieves

What robs us of the good fun we could be having with our spouse?

We all know that life happens. Constant bliss is what we have to look forward to when we’re in heaven. On this earth, we may face troubles and trials of many kinds, such as: worry, unemployment, debt, disappointment, illness, loss, etc.

Since none of us are immuned to the innumerous predicaments life can throw our way, the best course of action is to learn how to take life in stride and not let it steal our joy.

Insurance against theft

Having a spiritual perspective is what one Bible character chose to do. The Apostle Paul made a decision to keep his eye on the prize (heaven, being united with Christ and coming into God’s presence) instead of allowing the weight of life’s problems to drag him down. And he had some fairly hefty problems!

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?                – 2 Corinthians 11:21b-29 (NIV)

Floggings, beatings, attacked with stones, shipwrecked, lost at sea, in danger, without sleep, without food and naked. That’s what Paul had to contend with. Some of us might not make it through just one of the things on his list. In view of that collection of problems, read what Paul writes here:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   – Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

“Rejoice in the Lord always? How? Have you seen my bills?” you might say. “Don’t be anxious about anything? Do you know what kind of pressure I’m facing at work?” you might ask. Paul could possibly respond by saying, “No, I can’t imagine what you’re going through. Can you imagine being flogged? Or stoned? Or beaten?”

With everything he went through, how could he actually rejoice? How could he be happy? And yes, I’ll stretch the comparison just a bit by asking how could he perhaps even laugh at his circumstances?

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  – Philippians 4:10-13 (NIV)

Paul’s focus was on Christ and the strength he provides. Unlike Paul, many times, our suffering is due to our own unrighteousness. It may be a direct result of not obeying God’s Word in the first place. Nevertheless, Paul reveals to us the secret of maintaining joy and happiness in the worst moments of life: get your strength from Jesus.

Weathering Life’s Storms with Humor

Ron and Linda Brumley are exemplary disciples of Christ in a variety of ways, but one of the aspects I most admire about them is the sense of humor they both have. Although they are getting on in years, it is that lighthearted approach and quick wit that preserves a remarkable youthfulness about them.

Back in the ’80s, Ron was in the hospital for a biopsy on a tumor in his chest that turned out to be malignant. His room was overflowing with friends and family who had come to visit. Linda, of course, was by his bedside. Ron began to speak and the room fell silent.

“Linda,” he said, “years ago, you were there when the doctor gave us the bad news about our son possibly having juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.” Remembering the scare they had been through, Linda nodded, receiving sympathetic looks from family.

“Linda,” Ron continued, “you were there that year when our daughter was in and out of the hospital battling pneumonia.” Linda nodded again, recalling that challenging time they faced together. The onlookers murmured supportively.

“And Linda,” Ron went on, “you were there every time we went through tough times financially.” Again, Linda nodded as the crowd of friends pressed in closer trying to hear every word.

“Linda,” Ron affirmed with conviction, “you’re bad luck!”

After a split second of confusion mixed with disbelief, the room erupted in boisterous laughter. Linda, however, saw that punch line coming from a mile away.

Sometimes, being a good wife is being a good straight man for your husband, too.

Ron told Linda his first joke over 50 years ago and they are still able to laugh together.


As with any check list, this one may show your strengths and weaknesses, what’s already present and what’s missing from your relationship. A check list reveals where you’re at and where you need to go. The good news is you can celebrate what’s going well and make a plan to fortify what’s lacking in your marriage.  With reliance on God and some attention to the matter, you’ll soon be checking all the boxes!

The Strong Marriage Check List: Item #2 – Trust

by Leslie De Morais

 

Opinions differ regarding what a marriage needs to either become strong or stay strong. The following is from a list I compiled of ten essential characteristics couples need to build a strong and lasting marriage.

Item #2: Trust

“The best proof of love is trust.” That’s a quote from the renowned American psychologist and columnist, Joyce Brothers1. We’ve all read something similar to her quote in the Bible.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.    – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

That’s the Biblical definition of love. It’s what we are all striving for in our relationships. It’s what we want our marriages to be based on. But what if your marriage has suffered a breach of confidence? It could be a minor infraction like forgetting to accomplish a promised task or it could be infinitely more damaging like the infidelity with which some couples must grapple.  What do you do to overcome mistrust? On the other end of the spectrum, how can you regain your spouse’s trust once lost?

Entire books are written about questions such as these. I’ll not pretend to provide all the answers in a short post like this. However, after reading this you may find yourself pointed in the right direction. The hard work will then be up to you.

The Basis of Trust

Trust, like a good name, takes years to establish and only a single moment to loose.  It may be based on a handshake, a promise, a vow or even the simple desire to believe. Trust is the consensus between two parties of a mutual understanding.

In the beginning, trust is like a tiny sapling that has the potential to grow into a mighty tree; well rooted and immovable, with a fortitude that inspires complete confidence. Or, that same vulnerable sapling may also be stepped on and crushed.

Deep inside most of us is the strong desire to trust. We want to believe with all our heart, in someone or something. In marriage, we want to believe in our spouse and we want to believe in love. It gives us hope. Trust is that northern star that guides us and provides a sense of direction, purpose and stability.

A relationship with God is much the same. While alive on this earth, He is invisible to us. We cannot see, hear or touch Him, yet we are asked to believe and trust in His existence. His son lived a distant 2000 years before us and God works through a Holy Spirit, which is also unseen and not physically felt.  Everything about our relationship with God relies entirely on trust, and a blind trust at that. So why and how do we do it?

Why do we trust?

God has made Himself known to us in everything we see, touch and feel. He is all around us and in everything He created. Have you ever watched a sunrise or sunset and marveled at the beauty of it? Have you ever wondered at the complexity of a living organism? Have you ever been amazed at the perfection of the human body or the miracle of life in a newborn baby? That’s God making himself known to us so that we can trust Him.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  – Romans 1:20 (NIV)

How do we trust?

It starts with baby steps of faith. We read about God, His promises, His kingdom, His Son, His Spirit and we think, “Can it be true?” So, we take a small step and test our footing. Still on firm ground, we practice a Biblical concept to see what will happen. Perhaps we decide to make time for daily devotion and soon we feel closer to God. We start understanding a spiritual teaching and experience a shift in attitude or make a character change. We read some more. We wonder. We step out on faith. And we are not disappointed. We are building trust. Our walk with God begins and grows stronger.

Hopefully, your relationship with your husband began the same way. You got to know one another slowly. You deposited faith and confidence in each other. Trust grew little by little.

There’s only one problem.

God is amazingly perfect, always consistent, ever infallible, reassuringly reliable, absolutely dependable and completely trustworthy. We are not.

Then how can any marriage become strong if trust is one of the qualities a marriage requires?  How can we trust one another when we each have an imperfect nature and sinful tendencies?

The solution is simple, but not easy. We trust our spouse by imitating the attitude God has towards us. He trusts that we will keep our promises to Him. If or when we fail, He forgives us and we begin again.

When God asks us to trust not only Him but each other in marriage, He knows He’s asked a lot of us. Here’s a quote I really admire and ponder:

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”                  – Corrie ten Boom2.

Our future may be unknown to us and the depths of our spouse’s heart may also be unknown to us, but we are still in the hands of a known God.

Learning to Trust

My parents divorced when I was 12. It didn’t affect me much at the time since my father was predominantly an absent parent. My mother rarely criticized him openly, although I know she suffered greatly in a loveless marriage. During my adolescence, my mother sometimes confided in me more as a much-needed friend than a daughter. She began to open up to me about the reality of marriage. Out of a desire to protect and prepare me, she shared her acquired philosophy and worldly wisdom regarding marriage, gleaned from years of disappointment and disillusionment. She told me that all men cheated. She warned me about marrying a man from certain cultures because women were mere pieces of property to them. She advised me that if I chose to marry, I would be smart to have a separate and secret bank account so that when my husband left me I’d have something to fall back on.

Those comments, made continuously during my teen years, completely infiltrated and tainted my thinking. She had to be right, I reflected, just look at the outcome of her life and that of so many others. But was she?

When I became a Christian at age 22, I began learning how to discern spiritual concepts from worldly ones. I don’t doubt my mother’s genuine concern for my welfare. I believe she thought she was giving valuable motherly advice that would save me from pain and sorrow. However, her perspective was not biblical. It was based on her own experiences, which were not governed by Christ.

As a young disciple of Jesus, I had a long, hard road ahead of me to learn how to trust. It meant intense mental, emotional and spiritual training to undo the flawed ideas accumulated in the world and then carefully replace them with the spiritual concepts of Christ. It was necessary to learn a new perspective, believe a new narrative. God would reshape everything I had been taught up until then about men, relationships and marriage. This passage helped me:

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord
so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.    – 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (NIV)

By the wisdom of this world, I had no reason to trust anyone. As a Christian, I made the decision to no longer live according to this world, and in this case, that meant stepping out on faith by trusting.

God’s wisdom is definitely a mystery. But with the mind of Christ, we can comprehend even a mystery like trust.

Regaining Trust

The only thing more difficult than building trust is regaining it. We mere mortals seem to have an innate aversion to making the same mistake twice, hence the tendency to be unforgiving and to keep a record of wrongs.

There’s a Brazilian proverb that says, “A scalded cat fears even cold water.”

The truth is, regaining trust requires time and an impressive (and repentant) new track record. This passage outlines a plan:

First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.      – Acts 26:20

Repentance is change. It’s a change others can see. It’s a change made from the inside out. It’s real and it’s lasting. We obtain it by turning to God. Relying on Him is the only way to transform our true nature. Then, we prove we’ve changed by our actions and attitudes.

Humility is also key to this transformation. Have you ever known someone who was clearly in the wrong, sees they were wrong, and may even admit they were wrong, but gets defensive when the matter is brought up? Perhaps you’ve been that person. Someone sincerely interested in regaining trust has the humility and good sense to know others have reason to be cautious. The presence of humility will help assure and aid them in the healing process of regaining trust.

When repentance is coupled with humility, our past may be brought up, discussed and even used as an example of what not to do without affecting us negatively. Why?  Because of the positive change that has taken place.

Trust is more than a lofty idea or romantic notion. Trust is obtainable. It is real and worth more than you can imagine. It is truly the cornerstone of any solid relationship. What are your trust issues? Are you ready to align yourself with a Biblical standard? Take the time and the steps needed to nurture trust. You’ll be glad you did. Trust me!

_______________________________________________________________

As with any check list, this one may show your strengths and weaknesses, what’s already present and what’s missing from your relationship. A check list reveals where you’re at and where you need to go. The good news is you can celebrate what’s going well and make a plan to fortify what’s lacking in your marriage.  With reliance on God and some attention to the matter, you’ll soon be checking all the boxes!

The Strong Marriage Check List: Item #1 – Honesty

by Leslie De Morais

Characteristic #1: Honesty

“Honesty is such a lonely word…everyone is so untrue…honesty is hardly ever heard…and mostly what I need from you.” Billy Joel’s lyrics ring true. We all desire honesty in our relationships and especially in our marriage. As with all the other items on the Strong Marriage Check List, we must first ask ourselves, “Do I have the characteristic I’m seeking in my spouse?”

Fearless Honesty

During an eight-week marriage course my husband and I took a few years back, the question of honesty arose. Using a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being a perfect score), we were asked to rate each other on a list of desirable qualities for our marriage and then discuss our ratings with our spouse. As I thought about my husband, he scored well on all the honesty related queries. I assumed we’d breeze through that portion of the survey. I was wrong. First, I shared all the high marks I gave him, smiling and innocent as to what was to befall me. Then, as he took in a deep breath and revealed my shoddy scores, “Five in truthfulness, four in openness, and five in candor,” I gasped aloud. “What!” Was there time to revise the scores I had given him? How could this be? What was he thinking? If I had been a Russian gymnast, I’d have been given a one-way ticket on the next train to Siberia with scores like that!

We tend to think of honesty as simply telling the truth, which it certainly is. However, it is more than that. It’s not holding back any of the truth. It’s not sugarcoating or telling half-truths. No omissions or filtering. Honesty risks angering or even hurting your spouse’s feelings so they can know you fully and completely. Sometimes it risks losing someone’s admiration or good opinion of you.

“How have I been dishonest with you?” I demanded to know. “You don’t share your dreams with me,” he replied.  Whoa. He was right. I had made a conscious yet semi-unconscious decision to stop sharing certain thoughts, dreams and aspirations with him some time ago. I wasn’t even sure when, but I had done it. Why? Well, my husband is one of those realists, you know the kind, tell him a goal and he’ll be sure to show you how and why it won’t work. Share a starry-eyed dream with him and he’ll shoot it full of holes. Moreover, he thinks he’s doing you a favor by explaining why you shouldn’t waste your time, money and effort on something that won’t work. I had good reasons not be open about my fragile, vulnerable and precious little dreams…I didn’t want them killed!

So, with great care and uncanny detail, I reminded him of past massacres. He agreed and admitted he had not known how to listen to my dreams without resisting the urge to adjust them so they made sense in his mind. Okay. Now we were starting to get somewhere. As we continued to unravel the honesty dilemma, we came to several very important conclusions about how we approach life in different ways; neither way was better, nor worse, just different. As a compromise, we adopted the French phrase, “Vive la différence!”

Just as I thought we could move on to the next item on the survey, he asked, “So, are you going to start sharing your dreams with me?” I was hoping he wouldn’t ask. I was hoping I could share just a little bit more and it might be enough. He wanted it all. That would leave me feeling uncomfortably vulnerable at the chance of reliving past disappointments where dreams, goals and aspirations were slashed and slaughtered, much like the protagonist’s friends in a teen horror flick.

“But what if you do it again? What if you step on my dreams and discourage me?” I asked.

“It’s possible. I’m not perfect. I may not be able to change overnight. But if you don’t take the first step by opening up I’ll never have the chance to change,” he refuted. I couldn’t argue that rationale. “And besides,” he continued, “as Christians, we do what’s right because it’s right, not because someone else reacts perfectly.” Match, set and game. He was right. I could not continue to shield myself. If honesty was truly important to me, I had to risk openness because the reward of true closeness and unity was too great. It would most likely require some patience and undoubtedly some forgiveness on my part, but if he was willing to change his evil ways then I was too.

Share Your Life Openly

Some Bible study helped me to gain more conviction about what I was learning. Honesty, to be fully effective, goes hand in hand with love.  Consider this scripture:

Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.                                                  – 1 Thessalonians 2:8b (NIV)

In the beginning of the chapter, the Apostle Paul addresses the fact that even though Silas, Timothy and he had “suffered and been treated outrageously” in Philippi (the previous town on their missionary journey), they did not fail to share the gospel with the Thessalonians. They did it out of love; love for God, love for Christ and love for those who needed to hear the message. Their hope that the Thessalonians would soon become their brothers in Christ outweighed their fear of being hurt once more.

I couldn’t claim to have suffered or been treated outrageously when my husband applied his realist’s viewpoints to my dreams. There were even instances when he raised valid points about feasibility and finances. His perspective challenged me to do more than dream.

Speak the Truth in Love

For some, being completely honest is not an easy task because they are more concerned with their spouse’s feeling than with genuine openness. Others, are all too willing to tell it like it is, but lack the sensitivity required when discussing difficult topics. Biblical honesty will call us to new heights in our marriages. Honesty can inspire deep change and meaningful growth, not only in ourselves but also in others. However, there’s a way to do it.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.              – Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)

The word instead refers to the prior verse, which talks about the immaturity and instability that comes from unbiblical teachings and unspiritual influences. Only through speaking the truth in love will we ever obtain the unity taught in the rest of the passage.

My husband Alcides and I have decided to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…in love. It’s a decision I need to make repeatedly because I’m tempted to protect my feelings. We also made the decision to listen in love.

Honesty. Can you check this off on your list?

Decide to be open. Decide to speak the truth in love.

I’m convinced, it’s one of the best ways to stay in love.


As with any check list, this one may show your strengths and weaknesses, what’s already present and what’s missing from your relationship. A check list reveals where you’re at and where you need to go. The good news is you can celebrate what’s going well and make a plan to fortify what’s lacking in your marriage.  With reliance on God and some attention to the matter, you’ll soon be checking all the boxes!