In a previous post I mentioned that to become wise, you must flirt with Lady Wisdom. Proverbs 8:32-36 notes that she’s interested in men who study at her gates. Similarly, I submit that in marriage a husband should study his wife.
Not in the sense of being a panderer or a sycophant (that ruins friendships, I imagine it ruins marriages too), but in the sense of figuring out what makes her happy, what her temptations and struggles are, what her goals are, what the Lord has done for her thus far, etc. Then obey Jesus and “do unto others…”
Biblically speaking, wives are obviously admonished to do the same (but there’s no analog for Flirting with the wise guy that sounds as cool). So, just like you have to flirt with Lady Wisdom to become wise. Use the strategies for gaining wisdom to be a good husband or wife. I think of various proverbs (which are not divine revelation in the same sense as Isaiah, the Pentateuch or the Gospels, but are rather an inspired compilation of observational wisdom):
Won’t those who continually plot evil go astray? But gracious love and truth are for those who plan what is good.
Being slow to get angry compares to great understanding as being quick-tempered compares to stupidity. (Pro 14:29)
A gentle response diverts anger, but a harsh statement incites fury. (Pro 15:1)
These are all fairly obvious, but careful reflection can often reveal to the reader that they (that I myself) routinely live out of step with behavior patterns that seem self-evident. For instance “gracious love and truth are with those who plan good.” That’s obvious in life and especially obvious in a marriage with two sane people. Planning to do legitimate good typically (not always because the world is fallen and ugly) leads to good things. But how often do we neglect spiritual disciplines (a plan to become good)? How often do we actually plan to accomplish specific good things for others? I hope often.
Listen to this next string of advice from chapter 15:
The mind of the righteous thinks before speaking, but the wicked person spews out evil. (Pro 15:28)
The LORD is far away from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous. (Pro 15:29)
Bright eyes encourage the heart; good news nourishes the body. (Pro 15:30)
Whoever listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. (Pro 15:31)
Whoever ignores instruction hates himself, but anyone who heeds reproof gains understanding. (Pro 15:32)
The fear of the LORD teaches wisdom, and humility precedes honor. (Pro 15:33)
All of those proverbs make obvious sense but have we done the work? In any relationship are we humble or do we just demand respect? How do we respond to criticism? How about the simple pause to think before speaking? Do we complain so much that we’re a “boring Brenda,” “Troublesome Thomas,” or a “Darlene downer?”
Anyhow, the point is that the book of Proverbs has a lot to say to us about growing up, getting wise and hopefully maintaining the integrity of the relationships with which God has blessed us. May the Lord help us break various cycles of sin as his kingdom comes upon the earth.