When I was a little girl, I knew a woman who frequently said negative things about her husband. Nearly every time I overheard her talking with her friends, she was complaining about that husband of hers; how nothing he did was right, how he didn’t love her enough, harping on every flaw he had. There was even bitterness in the way she spoke to him when they were together in public: more berating than teasing. This gave me a certain impression of the man and, as I didn’t see him as often as I saw her, I built a negative image of him in my mind. As I got older, however, I observed him a little bit more closely and, to my surprise, saw a long-suffering, hardworking man who very selflessly and quietly loved his wife, albeit imperfectly and maybe not how she wanted to be loved.
The way we wives talk about our husbands has a huge impact on their reputations. Sure, they make their own reputations in their places of work and in their social settings, but we are responsible for how those who don’t really know our husbands see them. In our circles of girl friends, do we want our husbands to be know as incredible men or do we want them to be known for their flaws?
I have always been moved by the way my mom talks about my dad. Even when I would get angry with him during my teen years when he and I didn’t quite see eye to eye, she would listen to me complain and then patiently give me ways to deal with the situation while still being respectful of my father. Everybody knows that my mom loves my dad. They’re both brutal teasers and poke fun at each other with seeming ruthlessness, but they always know where to draw the line before things get hurtful. I have very few memories of the line being crossed. They’re the type of cuties who will stand in the kitchen, giggling and kissing and calling each other pet names, still as in love now as they were when they first met, despite five children and years of hardship. So you can imagine my frustration when my mom would get together with the aforementioned woman and suddenly spoke about my dad in a way that was out of character for her.
Now I’m not saying that women shouldn’t have a safe place to be able to discuss our marriages. Certainly there are times when our husbands hurt us or that we are frustrated, and it is a blessing to have a friend to talk to. Especially if that friend will encourage you in godliness, reminding you that you love that man to pieces and that you must honour him as per the Biblical mandate in Ephesians 5:22-23. “Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is also the head of the wife, as Christ is also the head of the Church, He Himself being the Saviour of the body.” I’m talking about what we are characterised by. Can it be said of us that we “do him good and not evil all the days of our lives?” (Proverbs 31:12) Or are we more like the foolish woman who tears down her house with her own hands? (Proverbs 14:1b)
They say that behind every great man is a great woman. Comedian Jim Carey’s spin on it has become the more popular version these days. “Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.” Unsurprisingly, I very much disagree with Mr. Carey’s interpretation. Our words have power, as do our actions. If we’re rolling our eyes behind our men, we’re not spurring them on to greatness. We’re tearing them down.
I have a big mouth and often I leave places wondering, “Should I have said that?” I’m still learning to temper my speech and not give into gossip. I want to be like the Proverbs 31 Woman. It’s said of her that “the heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” (verse 11) If I fall prey to gossip, to spreading dirty laundry, I’m not somebody that I would want to put trust in. I want to do him good, not evil! “She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Verse 26) So clearly she must have some nice things to say about her hubby. I have an amazing husband; a man without equal, in my mind. I want everybody to know just how incredible he is. He’s the apple of my eye and I hope that, through my words, the people in my circles see him for the godly, incredible, truly great man that he is.
So sisters, in the words of Paul in Ephesians 5:4 let’s put away “filthiness and silly talk and coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather give thanks.” Let’s make our godly husbands be known in the gates. And hey, the perks of being a Proverbs 31 woman include that husband praising you back. Behind every great man is a great woman. Let’s be great women.