I was at a restaurant for lunch today and saw an amusing sign that said "If you don’t like my attitude, stop talking to me." Sometimes I wonder if this isn’t what women are saying to men today. And sure enough, men do stop talking to women when they don’t like their attitude.
Women have had their share of problems and issues with men. But men don’t have it that easy either. They are confused about women. Men know what they are looking for in a woman, but cannot articulate it.
So let me help out a little by sharing what the Bible outlines as a woman who will make a good wife and a woman who will not.
We find this Scriptural help in the book of Sirach, chapter 26:"A jealous wife is heartache and mourning, and a scourging tongue like the other three. A bad wife is a chafing yoke; he who marries her seizes a scorpion. A drunken wife arouses great anger, for she does not hide her shame. By her eyelids and her haughty stare an unchaste wife can be recognized. Keep a strict watch over an unruly wife, lest, finding an opportunity, she make use of it. A gracious wife delights her husband, her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones. A gift from the Lord is her governed speech, and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth. Choicest of blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste person. Like the sun rising in the Lord’s heavens, the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home."
The first part outlines what a wife should not be. Jealous, scourging tongue, drunken, unchaste and unruly. The first four are self-explanatory for the most part. The last one is not, so I will say a word about a woman who is "unruly."
"Unruly" is a great word. You don’t hear it much anymore. Yet it really does summarize all the things that would be unattractive about a woman to a man. By definition, it means "not readily ruled, disciplined, or managed." The Thesaurus says that terms to describe "unruly" are disorderly, rowdy, boisterous, wild, uncontrollable, and unmanageable.
The more unruly women there are in society, the uglier society is. That can make it hard for a man to find a good woman, and hurt his confidence. However, there is hope. There are many, many women who are what the Book of Sirach outlines as being a woman worthy of becoming a wife. They really and truly are out there. You have to keep your eyes and heart open to them. Many good women have built protective walls that will take a good man to patiently, gently, attentively, and persistently break down. There are Sirach women behind those walls. Invest the time for both of your sakes.
Now, let’s unpack Sirach’s description of a good wife:
To be supportive and care for a man. The greatest support she gives him is in his mission to love her and provide for her needs. This is the man’s primarily mission in marriage. When St. Paul says to women to be "submissive" to her husband, he means that she is to be in "sub – mission;" meaning, to help him with his mission. She does that through the quality of herself as a person, the way she conducts herself, and the way she handles her husband. She has to care about and be supportive of him and show a genuine interest in his work and how hard he works.
To be gracious and thoughtful. A woman who are polite, non-confrontational, gentle, kind, compassionate and empathetic is a gracious woman. She is thoughtful in considering a man’s needs, and works to know him well enough to know how to handle him. These qualities melt the heart of a good man, and he responds favorably.
To be governed in her speech. Some women today can rightly be accused of talking too much, too harshly, too loosely, too loudly, too hastily, too ignorantly. They are quick to gossip. They feel they have a right to speak their mind, even with hurtful words and intentions, instead of realizing the gift of speech is to be used with noble purpose. Women of governed speech are women who are careful about what they say and when. There is a strength behind their gentle speech. And they are good listeners.
To be of firm virtue. Her virtue is who she is, and she does not waiver from those virtues she firmly believes in. She knows that to betray her virtue is to betray herself and God. She conducts herself with a man in a manner that tells him that she is who she is, balanced by a manner that makes him feel that he can be who he is. She shows herself to be an inspiring example.
To be modest and chaste. Modesty applies to the whole of a woman’s life, not just to how she covers her body. The modest woman does not dress provocatively, scantily, or any way that is deliberately meant to draw the attention of men. Modesty also includes the applying of makeup, the wearing of jewelry, and the presentation of her hair. The most important thing is that her heart is pure in motive, and that she is thoughtful about how she presents herself. Modesty also means how a woman conducts herself; the way she talks, the way she walks, her mannerisms, how she flirts with men, etc.
A chaste woman disciplines herself and practices restraint when with a man. A chaste woman knows that her body is a gift for her future husband and her kiss a sign of her love and devotion. She is not loose or carefree with either. She knows there is an exchange of rights to each other’s body given on the wedding day. If she has failed in chastity, she does not despair, and a good man does not condemn her or pass over her for it. A repentant heart and life should be celebrated and blessed.
To see her home as the priority of her attentions. To manage it well, and see it as the place she belongs most of all, and where she has the greatest responsibility before God. Far too many women look at their home as a prison, and the concept of caring for their home a death sentence. Too many women want what they think is "it all!" They want to work or have a fulfilling career AND be married, have children and a home. I recognize the dilemma of the modern woman in this regard. Society is unfortunately structured to need a two-income household. But my concern is the attitude toward what the home is. It seems to have lost its place as being a reflection of the woman’s beauty as the Scriptures say. That the radiant home is a reflection on who she is as a woman. That the home is her domain, her kingdom, her heaven.
I know that may sound out-dated, but if you think about it, it makes sense that it is mentioned this way in Scripture. The home "receives" the people who live there and any guests. The home is the "dwelling" of the family. These are very much the concepts of Heaven; a place where you are welcome, and feel at home, find warmth and joy, experience love and care, and things that elevate the spirit. Too often we see families just living in a house, not a home. A "home" is where the matriarch is. She is the cornerstone. Without her, it is not what is should be in full.
These points outline the vocation of a woman of God for Christian marriage. I suppose this will be interpreted by some as being a very old-fashioned, outdated, over-simplified, even sexist notion of a woman as a wife. But it is completely Biblical, so I suggest you take it up with God first and foremost.
Women, do not lose sight of what it means to be a good wife, and live your life now as a single woman in ways that will prepare you to be this good wife outlined in the Book of Sirach. This is what men are looking for.
Anthony Buono is the founder of Avemariasingles.com. For thousands of Catholic singles, Anthony offers guidance, humor, understanding, and practical relationship advice. Visit his blog at 6stonejars.com.