Up on the roof

Faith & Inspiration

“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 21:9; 25:24).

Not content to state the fact once, the author of Proverbs smuggles this saying in a second time! This is astounding, since I can think of no other Proverb repeated verbatim. The author evidently really means to drive this one home: “Guys, take notice: Living with a contentious woman is the pits.”

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It is interesting that God never weighs in on whether the wife in question has a legitimate grievance. There are no qualifications or exceptions given to the injunction against nagging. I tend to want to object a little at this point: Maybe the wife is right about the matter she is complaining about. Maybe he is a selfish man. Maybe he never sees her pain. Maybe he stays out too late. Maybe he drinks. Maybe he smells bad.

The silence of God here is disconcerting. It forces me to consider the possibility (ugh) that it doesn’t matter much what the lady’s grievance is; it just matters that she is a nag about it. Evidently, almost nothing the husband in question does is worse than her constant harping on it. Good grief, is nagging that serious a fault?

A woman I know told me that when she got married she wanted to cure her husband of a particular fault, but that he was not responding to her pleadings. She took the matter to her mother, and her mother gave her advice she has used the rest of her marriage. (They have now been married 30-plus years, and happily, to all appearances.) The mother said words to this effect:

“If you have an issue with your husband, tell him once, and then pray about it.”

This seems to be the wisest course. It averts the two opposite errors respecting other people’s sins: neglect and belligerence. Jesus said that when someone sins against us (if it is even a sin), we should tell the brother his fault (Matthew 18:15), so there is a valid place for confrontation. But Jesus also wants us to trust the Father, and we best demonstrate that trust when we put matters into His hands after praying, and do not imagine that our badgering is indispensable to success.

After all, you don’t want to come home one day and find your husband has hauled his bed and linens up to the corner of the roof.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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