Avoid this common mistake, by Dane Tyner

My first disturbing encounter, when I began counseling in the early eighties, was with a man and his wife. I only spent one hour with this couple. They were at the end of twenty-some years together. The scene of that hour is etched indelibly in my mind. This quite manly man bawled, and promised stuff, and begged for another chance; but his wife was visibly unmoved. She was obviously DONE.

She had been unhappy for many years and had made it known. She had asked a few times for them to see a counselor, but he would have nothing to do with it. Now that she had moved out and had begun divorce proceedings, he was ready for counseling. He had evidently begged her into coming for at least one session with a counselor. She endured our hour together without the slightest sign of softening. I wish that were my only experience like that.

Many of us men don’t want to go to anyone else with our problems. We may not want our woman to go, either. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s both. Whatever it is, it sure can be very costly.

If your wife has suggested getting counseling, one of the wisest moves you can make, Sir, is to act on this. And conversely, one of the worst things you can do is promise – during a heated conflict – to find a counselor, and then not follow through in the next few days when things cool down between you.

The writer of Proverbs said, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (PR 15:22). When you began your marriage and family, I’m sure you planned to succeed. Still, it is possible that counsel from others is needed in order to actually have those plans succeed.

None of us know what we don’t know; thus, we all need others. To seek help is not a sign of weakness but of wisdom. Sometimes a very valid leadership role of a man in a Christian home is to humbly lead in getting such help.

If you happen to be married to an unhappy woman who acts like she is DONE and says she is DONE, don’t let the example at the beginning of this piece dishearten you. I have also seen such women respond favorably when their man shows them HE IS NOT DONE by getting help. Find a good counselor; invite her to join you there; but go yourself regardless of whether she will.

The Proverbs 31 Man, by Dane Tyner

Like knowing who “the woman at the well” is, another sign of basic biblical literacy is knowing “The Proverbs 31 Woman”. She is that Superwoman of Solomon’s last proverb who inspires some women, intimidates many others, and irritates still others. She is not a real woman; she is the ideal woman. A real woman can get tired just reading about her. No wonder so many women internally cringe at her mention.

Who is this Superwoman? She is the “wife of noble character” who is “worth far more than rubies.” She is wise and virtuous, and vigorously industrious. She is a servant par excellence. She blesses not only her family but her community as well. We all know her; but let us look briefly at the man in the text, the Proverbs 31 Man – her husband.

The text tells us that “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’” (v28) The text does not tell us what all her husband does. We only know that he sits as a respected party among the leaders at the city gate. The proverb ends with this statement: “. . . let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

And who is at that city gate to praise her? Her husband!

I suspect that most Proverbs 31 women are joined to a Proverbs 31 man, a man who blesses her and praises her. He speaks well to her and about her. I believe a logical link exists between these two people. He is successful, at least in part, because of her manifold excellence; and her excellence is fueled by his affirmations.

Gentlemen, if you want to be successful, if you want a Proverbs 31 woman – be a Proverbs 31 man! Encourage and praise your wife. Bless her with your words and actions; don’t curse her with either. Speak well of her when you are around your buddies, work associates, and others. With your words, you have the power to re-fuel her or further deplete the dwindling resources of her life. Beware of “breaking her already bruised reed” and “extinguishing her smoldering wick.” Jesus would! (MT 12:20)

Beware of silence, too. Don’t assume she knows you appreciate her! You may have prided yourself in being “the strong, silent type”; the Proverbs 31 Man is the strong verbal type. Adjust! Indeed, strength is sometimes required to be silent; however, at other times strength is required to speak. God can give you the strength for each particular challenge.

The natural dynamics of relationships give you abundant opportunities to choose which you will do: speak up or be silent, bless or curse, praise or complain, build up or tear down, energize or drain her remaining energy.

Choose well.

Finally, if your Proverbs 31 woman is a few chapters behind, address it openly and honestly and kindly with her. If that doesn't work, talk to your pastor or a godly counselor. Whatever you do, don’t bellyache at the city gate. And remember: the most important issue is to make sure you are not a few chapters behind.
Be a Proverbs 31 man, Man!


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