Thursday, September 9, 2010

An Excellent Wife Who Can Find?

I am absolutely in love with my wife Tara. We've been married for more than four years and she still causes me to continuously fall for her.

How is this possible? Don't all good things come to an end, or so they say? Isn't Al Bundy the poster child for every man exiting bachelorhood? Isn't marriage equated to "biting the dust"? Doesn't tying the knot demand that all the fun you'd been having come to an abrupt and screeching halt? Isn't hardened resentment for each other supposed to cultivate and permeate deep into the fabric of your joyless coexistence? Aren't you expected to lose attraction to your spouse? And let's be honest here -- isn't physical intimacy supposed to pretty much end once you get married?

In our marriage -- and I wish it was so for every marriage -- the clear and thundering answer to all of those questions is NO!

The other day, I was reading chapter 31 in the book of Proverbs, and I came upon a passage that really struck me and reminded me of my wife and her character:

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

As I read these words from the Lord, I was overcome by how blessed I am to be married to this woman. Tara has taught me, in many ways, how to love and serve others by being a faithful example herself. She has loved me at times when I was more or less unlovable. She has pointed me to the Lord's grace when I didn't always want to face myself in the mirror. She is patient with me when I am impatient. She has laughed with me, cried with me, had fun with me, and suffered with me.

This might sound strange but one area that has really grown us over the past four years was in learning how to fight. What? Isn't the goal to not fight with each other? Well, in some respects, yes. But we're imperfect people, living in a very imperfect world. The reality is that before death do you part, you will fight. A lot. Yup.

When we first got married, I was quite irritable and argumentative. Not sure why, but I think I always just felt a foolish sense of entitlement; something I still struggle with from time to time. At a time when some women would have just shut down or fought back angrily, she fought FOR me. Over time, we learned the best ways to communicate with each other, and when we fight nowadays, there is usually a certain level of respect in our tone, no matter how angry we are with each other.

My advice to all couples: learn to fight constructively with each other.
To those couples who claim they never fight: You better start soon or you're in for an unexpected nuclear explosion!

With the passing of each year, I cannot deny that I have continued to buck our society's trend and become even more attracted to my wife; an absolutely beautiful woman on the inside and out. A couple of years ago, I was walking down the street with a married male former coworker. As we were talking, he suggested we make a turn down a path that was in the direction opposite to where we were going. I asked why, but then noticed two women, wearing more skin than clothing, headed down that way. I looked back at my coworker, shook my head, and in an attempt to be equally serious and humorous, I pointed to my wedding ring and said "No thanks, I'm good." He responded, "How long have you been married?" I said, "Two years." His next words saddened, but did not surprise me: "Wait 'til you've been married for fifteen."

While it's true that I have not yet been married for fifteen years, I can honestly say that as time continues to progress, I am not headed down that unfortunate path that my former coworker and so many others choose to follow. I don't say that arrogantly, but cautiously and as a warning to other men that marriage takes work, but is unbelievably worth it.

"An excellent wife who can find?"

I found her. And I'm keeping her. And cherishing her. And only her. Until my breath gives out.

And I can say with all certainty that "many women have done excellently, but you (Tara) surpass them all."

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