Just Another Fish in the Sea
He didn’t marry an excellent wife. She was awkward in stature and build, and a little bit quirky in social settings. She was young, some would say too young to wear that band of gold.
She was a stranger to the kitchen, unable to execute even a frozen pizza. Their home was unadorned and plain, despite her efforts to “dress it up” with thrift store finds, bought from their meager budget.
We stumbled a bit through our first year of marriage.
Back on that day when it all began, as my heart pounded hard and steady– arm linked in my father’s–as I walked down that aisle, I was not the “Excellent Wife” who is “hard to find”, spoken of in Proverbs 31.
I doubt many of us are on that day as we vow everything we don’t know how to give, and commit to a life wholly foreign to us.
Rather, I believe that it is the strain, the struggle, the commitment, the practice of vulnerability, and the grace which marriage requires that shape us into excellence.
An Excellent Habit it is– That Habit of Excellence!
Aristotle said it,
I don’t believe that many of us at all, standing under that alter with shaky hands, vowing what we know not how to promise, were Excellent Wives.
Standing there in glowing white dress and fragile lace veil, we are anything but excellent. We are brand new and inexperienced.
It is in the passing of time, and how we allow time and its circumstances to shape us, that give us a glimpse into who this Excellent Wife looks like. It is through failure, forgiveness, and grace that we begin to see this type of wife that our husband truly desires at his very core—the wife that he needs.
Likewise, this also affords us a glimpse into the type of wife our husband does not desire; one that does not build him up or prosper him.
But we’ll only see these things if we look closely, because in our world today, the line between these two types of wives has been blurred. The Biblical portrayal of the “Excellent Wife” has been skewed by our contemporary pursuits of “excellence.”
What Does Your Husband Really Want?
Over 5 years have passed since I walked down that aisle, and I still don’t think I can exactly classify myself as an Excellent Wife. However, day by day I am seeing how practicing a habit of excellence is directly tied to paying attention to what my husband really wants, as well as what he doesn’t.
Maybe your husband isn’t looking for a Pinterest Prodigy, Instagram Idol, or Brilliant Blogger. Maybe he’d rather you set down the phone, close up the laptop, and play a game of Scrabble with him.
Maybe he would rather you feed him simple meals than slave away in the kitchen in attempts to become a gourmet chef, or perfectly replicate your “Recipes to Try” board on Pinterest.
Maybe he’d rather you be a little more mindful about how many trips you take to Target, rather than lose you to hours of coupon clipping and budget stressing.
Maybe he doesn’t care so much about having a spotless house, and would rather you leave the toys and laundry be, and escape to the yard for an hour of family play.
Maybe he doesn’t care to be married to an aspiring body builder or Olympic athlete. Perhaps he would simply prefer that you give thought to what you put into your body, join him for walks, and learn to love your body the way that he does.
Maybe he simply wants you to stop stressing about what you’re not, and allow yourself instead to celebrate what you are, and what you can become this year, by focusing instead on your unique strengths, passions, and gifts.
Maybe he just wants you to hold his hand more.
Set Aside Everything You Know About Being an Excellent Wife
You may never know what your husband wants until you set aside your own notions of what an Excellent Wife is; until you leave behind what Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Books, and Magazines have to say about what an “Excellent Wife” looks like, and instead listen to what your husband, and God, have to say about the matter.
2 Simple Questions for Becoming an Excellent Wife
Isn’t the next step before us in transforming our marriage always the simple act of listening? I believe so. I believe it is also the key to becoming an Excellent Wife.
First, sit down next to your husband, put his hand in yours, and ask him this vulnerable question: “How do you want me to transform and grow this year?”
Secondly, dig a little deeper. Expose your heart a little rawer, and ask this follow-up question: “What do you not want me to focus on this year?” Allow your husband to set you free from expectations you’ve been holding for yourself, but that he would rather you not hold yourself to.
These are not, “If you could change one thing about me, what would it be?” sort of questions; I would never recommend those. No, these are, “What do you see as my gifts, talents, and passions, and how would you like me to grow and use those this year?” types of questions.
Further, with your husband’s desires at the forefront of your mind, make some time to sit down with a journal, pen, and Bible. Read Proverbs chapter 31, and write out every attribute of the Proverbs 31 Woman.
Don’t disdain her. Don’t envy her. Don’t sigh in frustration and give up. Instead, write out next to each attribute what that virtue could look like, specific to your own season of life and marriage goals.
And there it is now, sitting before you as ink penned on paper. Your unique picture of what being an Excellent Wife looks like in your own marriage and life. Pick it up, hold it dear, and walk forward in confidence this year, armed with your husband’s heart desires, and wisdom from the Word, as well as prayer and faith.
Practice the habit of Excellence, and become the wife your husband really wants and needs this year!