“The heart of her husband safely trusts her.” (Proverbs 31:11)
My mother-in-law often talks about a wedding she attended years ago. Imagine a typical wedding. The bride is breath-taking in her flowing white dress. She floats down the aisle to meet the adoring groom. As the young couple gaze into each other’s eyes, even the most cold-hearted guest is caught up in the romance of the moment.
Then … the officiator begins to share his thoughts on marriage.
As my mother-in-law tells it, the officiator said that men are like mugs, hearty and tough, while women resemble frail, breakable teacups. If the wife offers input into household decisions, the husband should smile and nod and then go ahead with whatever it is he wants to do. The woman’s opinion is irrelevant. The man is, after all, the head of the home. The tough one. The mug.
Safe to say, the Bible doesn’t compare men to mugs and women to teacups at all. Anywhere. Period.
In fact, if anything, the Bible shows us that marriage is a partnership and that a woman needs to be strong in order for a marriage to work. Not the leader. But strong nonetheless. Why? Well, Proverbs 31:11 says that the heart of a husband safely trusts his wife. When I read this verse (half of a verse, actually), it stopped me in my tracks. This one short sentence packs a powerful punch. It says that a wife has a huge responsibility—that of her husband’s heart.
(Here’s where I get all Hebrew-y on you, so hang on to your hats!)
The Hebrew word for “heart” refers to “the seat of thought and emotion: conscience, courage, mind, understanding” (Strong’s Concordance).
You’re thinking, “Great. Thanks for that. I feel so enlightened.” Well, let me tell you what the Holy Spirit showed me about my own marriage when I dove into this verse:
If the heart is the seat of one’s mind and understanding, then my husband needs to be able to safely trust me with his thoughts. Occasionally, my husband and I will talk into the wee hours of the morning about anything and everything that comes to mind. We discuss a range of subjects from physics to local news to what the kids ate that day. We are completely comfortable agreeing or disagreeing with one another’s opinions because we respect each other. My husband also trusts me with even deeper thoughts—his fears, his hopes, his dreams and the things that God is working on in his life. He knows that, no matter how big or small these things may seem to other people, I will always take him seriously.
If the heart is the seat of one’s conscience and courage, then my husband needs to be able to safely trust me in areas of conscience. He can expect support and (hopefully) wisdom when he is facing moral decisions. When he is convicted about something, he knows I’ve got his back. Coming up on the blog, the wife of a former pornography addict will be talking about how God healed a very broken marriage. The healing process began because her husband had the courage to talk to her about his addiction. With her support, he then had the courage to seek the help he needed to find freedom. Entrusting one’s conscience includes having the courage to deal with sin and to deal with mistakes—even big ones.
If the heart is the seat of one’s emotions, then my husband needs to be able to safely trust me with his feelings. We can laugh together and cry together. No matter what, I should never make him feel like “less of a man”. I used to think (mistakenly) that real men don’t cry. Once, when my husband was visibly upset, I told him he was weak and wimpy. (Wow, what a jerk I was!) It was untrue, but a part of his heart closed up at that moment. Although he forgave me, it took a very long time to earn back his trust. A husband should be able to trust his wife with his emotions or the wedge between them could completely and permanently destroy their relationship.
Studying Proverbs 31 is completely changing the way I relate to my husband. Why? Because it is opening my eyes to marriage the way God designed it. Although men are the head of the home, God did not make women out of china. To not only guard my own heart, but also my husband’s heart, is a serious responsibility that requires strength–the strength to listen and encourage, the strength to lift him up in prayer, the strength to fight on his behalf, the strength to share the load he carries.
So let’s throw out the mugs and the teacups. I prefer Starbucks anyway.