Meeting each other’s basic needs (Proverbs 31 vs the Duggars)

I’m sure you are all aware of a reality TV family by the name of Duggar, who preach a very traditional form of Christian values. Through their Facebook page, a friend directed me to an article upon which their personal speaking engagements are based. You can read it here:

Modern women, even Christian wives, are up in arms about this article. I suppose this is because it one-sidedly involves a wife meeting her husband’s basic needs. But read it again…it should hold nothing offensive to the Proverbs 31 woman, because her Proverbs 31 man is meeting those very same needs in her. I have used parts of my book, The Proverbs Principle, to take another look at the article, point-by-point, changing the wording slightly to reflect what the couple needs, as opposed to what the man needs:

1. “A husband and wife need a partner who is loyal and supportive”

“Realize that your perspectives are different.” Of course they are, because men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. Men tend see the big picture and are able to endure short term discomfort better, because they realize it will help to achieve the goals. Because of our nurturing instincts, women are more in tune to the immediate comfort needs of the family. Discuss these together and work toward something that works for everyone.

“Encourage each other, support ideas and be enthusiastic about achievements.” There’s nothing wrong with that, after all, he’s the man you love. And he should do the same for you!

“Believe in your partner, no matter what.” As the article correctly states, loyalty can be demonstrated only in adversity. Go through the tough times together. Disloyalty and conflict are bad for any marriage. That is not to say you can’t disagree with his opinion, but you can disagree without being disagreeable. Discuss, don’t fight.

“A wife or husband is never supposed to take over.” Absolutely true! Marriage is a partnership, and the husband and wife both need to respect the other. The Proverbs 31 marriage was a partnership. They were neither dependent upon one another, nor independent. Instead, they were interdependent.

“It’s God’s job to convict —not yours or your husband’s.” Yes, even if your husband is making a stupid choice. You can support him without supporting his choice, and your support of him will open the gates of communication so he will value your opinion and listen to a woman’s reasoning. Your job is to be each other’s best friend and supporter, not their judge and jury. Many couples forget that, and spend a great deal of time criticizing each other.

“Seek each other’s advice first.” The Proverbs 31 woman was wise, and her husband knew he could depend on her advice. Perhaps the wisdom of his wife was one of the reasons the Proverbs 31 husband was so highly esteemed. He listened to her because he knew how strong she was in her heart and mind. He saw the greatness in her, and through it he increased his own. She was the kind of wife to whom he could turn for a valued opinion, or to handle his affairs in his absence.

“Enjoy the privilege of physical intimacy.” Be your husband’s best friend. Be affectionate, with back rubs, cuddles, and “I love you’s.” When you leave the house, see each other to the door. Tell him regularly how much you love and appreciate him. Take time during the day to send a quick text message. Believe in each other.

2. A husband and wife need a partner who honour their roles in the marriage and home.

I think this is the major argument many have with this article. In the Proverbs Principle, I tried to explain Paul’s statement that the husband is the head of his wife:

Modern Christian women have difficulty with Paul’s words to the Ephesians: Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Peter also wrote, in the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians in Greek. When the Bible was translated, some of Paul’s context was changed. The Greek word for “head” can mean an authority figure—as we so often interpret it—but it is also the word for the one who goes first into battle, in other words, willing to die for his wife and children. The word Paul used for “submissive” also meant “loyal.”

 “Honor each other’s God-given authority” This is sometimes hard for a stay-at-home wife. If your marriage has clearly defined roles, respect your husband’s job, just as he will resect the way you keep the home. If you both contribute to the household finances, respect each other’s hard work on your behalf.

“Express appreciation and admiration for each other’s Godliness.” You married him because of the qualities you admire, so praise him for them and he will do the same for your good qualities.

“Express your confidence in each other.” Cheer each other on, and be each other’s greatest supporter. Truly believe in each other.

“Help your partner understand your needs.” As tuned into each other as you might be, don’t expect that you can read each other’s minds. Talk about what you really need and want, and work together toward a common goal.

“Recognition of your roles in the marriage is a reflection of your faith in God.” The Proverbs 31 man certainly valued his wife; he may have been the head of the household, but she was its heart! Modern men prefer a wife who is a true life’s partner, working shoulder-to-shoulder with him. You cannot be a Proverbs 31 woman if you feel you are entitled to pampering and a life of leisure while your husband works to support you. Even a stay-at-home wife must work hard to create a home atmosphere you’ll both be proud of.

“Don’t undermine each other.” Don’t compete with your husband. You are a team—a success for one of you is a success for both of you, and the best thing about success is having someone to share it.

3. A husband and wife need a partner who develops inward and outward beauty.

“Learn to have a meek and quiet spirit.” No one is perfect, but the combination of our imperfections creates who we are. That one special man finds your imperfections irresistibly beautiful. Love each other on every level—emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual. Learn to tolerate his annoying habits; you aren’t perfect either. Overlook your husband’s faults and he just might do the same for you!

“Be conscious of your potential influence in your family.” Although the Proverbs 31 woman was far from conceited, she would have never gone to the other extreme and been self-deprecating. She knew her worth, and took her family obligations seriously.

“Stay beautiful for your husband.” We live in a society that places great emphasis on physical beauty while claiming to value the individuals we are on the inside. You can’t control the contour of your face but you can control its expression. The Proverbs 31 woman is proof that inner beauty is forever. Still, He who made sunsets, flowers and the beauty of nature expects us also to be pleasing to the eye. It goes both ways. Husbands should never allow their physical appearance to suffer. To be disinterested in your appearance shows a defect in character and a lack of respect for yourself and for those you care about.

“Practice self-control, especially in the area of diet.” Excess pounds contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and many other serious medical conditions. It is easier to prevent weight gain than it is to lose weight. As you grow older, your metabolism slows down at a rate of approximately 3 percent per decade. Fifty extra calories each day add up to ten pounds in just one year. Do not deprive yourself of your favorite foods; you will be tempted to splurge and then feel guilty. Instead, just eat smaller portions.

4. A man and woman need a partner who will make appeals, not demands.

“Your success as a couple should be the motivation for your appeal.” The only thing you must absolutely agree on is your commitment to each other. Everything else is optional. Complaining about trivial things creates negative energy. Save your concerns for the major problems, such as those that will potentially cause damage to yourselves, your family, or others. Before beginning a discussion, identify the problem. If you resent his spending too much money on a new car, don’t lament about the high cost of groceries. A hidden agenda guarantees a major blow-up in the near future.

“Serve each other well.” Love, loyalty, and a genuine concern for each other and the family unit are key to all discussions.

“Guard your heart and your mouth.” Speak wisely and avoid all lies and slander. Above all, never discredit each other. Any differences of opinion must be addressed in private.

 5. A man and woman need a partner who understands his/her need for time alone with God.

“Recognize the benefits of time alone.” If the Proverbs 31 couple was burdened by something, they unloaded their consciences before God. Sometimes they’d do it together, sometimes alone. Most couples have shared hobbies, but it’s healthy to spend time alone as well. Dave enjoys getting out on his motorcycle. Sometimes I join him, but I don’t have the strong tailbone he does for extra long rides. At those times, we realize that God can be felt and seen in a sunset, a flower, and the solitude of nature.

 6. A man and woman need a grateful partner.

“Frequently express sincere gratitude.” The Proverbs 31 husband appreciated his wife and he praised her, both publicly and privately. He didn’t assume that she knew how he felt. He told her! He was speaking to her, not about her, when he said, “you surpass them all.” As a result, the Proverbs 31 woman was secure in her husband’s love and trust. Her eagerness to work hard—and the joy she took in doing so—tells us how happy she was to be his wife. She would not have been able to smile at the future without this security.

“Become a virtuous woman.” The Proverbs 31 woman was “more precious than rubies.” Not as precious, but more precious. So are you!

7. A man and woman need a partner who will be praised by others.

It makes a man feel good to hear others saying wonderful this about his wife. On the flip side, the Proverbs 31 husband was respected at the city gate, where he took his seat among the elders of the land. He was well known, esteemed, honored, and respected. In Old Testament times, every city had its own ruling body of elders, who acted as judges, conducted inquests, and heard pleas for asylum. Because the city gates were the centers of government and commerce, the word “gate” became a synonym for power or authority.

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