I was—and even now can be—a nagging wife.
“A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand” (Proverbs 27.15–16″ data-version=”esv”>Proverbs 27:15–16).
Solomon laments about the nagging wife and counsels each of us that our behavior can be torturous to our husbands. Like the infrequent and unexpected rain that used to leak through the concrete roof of my house in the Arabian Gulf, the way I would approach my husband overwhelmed him and tested his patience.
See, I was that “quarrelsome” (ESV), “contentious” (NKJV) and “nagging” (MSG) wife.
When my husband failed to lead our family in the early years of our marriage, I nagged him to death, thinking that would change his heart. I forgot that only Jesus could. My constant reproach further damaged our relationship.
Of course, I never took the Bible’s admonition to correct my own behavior; my husband was the one sinning, and I needed to tell him about it.
This verse makes us bristle because of its truth. And we are tempted to sin in defense by pointing our quarrelsome finger at our husbands and our God. “My husband is not X. He is not doing Y. If I don’t remind him, correct him, challenge him, how will he ever grow?”
What our nagging means.
My contentious ways revealed my heart. I doubted a sovereign God and my place in his redemption story. I doubted that my husband, even on his best days, could lead me or our family better than I could. And although I would never admit it, my nagging revealed my deep-seated and sinful belief that somehow I could change my husband. I had given up on the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. I falsely believed my words had that kind of power.
My quarreling also covered up my weaknesses. Could I be that vulnerable with another human being? Could I trust my husband that completely? I was young and quite full of myself, and my quarreling served as a way to be heard. Not that my husband never asked my opinion, but I was terrified of the possibility that he wouldn’t. So, I was quick to dish out my thoughts and drown him in my opinions.
I was that unrestrained woman. When pushed, we unrestrained women can respond in sin with fight or flight. In those early years, every challenge, obstacle or question of me was a push, and I fought back with everything I had. Although Jesus had saved me from eternal hell, I was stiff-necked and hard-hearted to relinquish all to him. The fierce independence I so valued damaged my relationships with the two most important men in my life—my husband and my Jesus.
Are you a quarrelsome wife? Do you fight and contend more than you seek peace and consensus? Do you bristle at this verse in Proverbs?
Many dislike Solomon’s comparison of women to dripping water. Some think it too demeaning, too sexist. In fact, one translation even changes the wording for wife to spouse to soften the blow. The wording once offended me, and here’s why: When you’re unrepentant, the truth stings.