**The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.** Proverbs 31:11
I know of two definitions of virtuous. It can mean to be of high moral character. It can also mean strength, a force, valor, able, or worthy.
So how does being virtuous and the heart of our husbands go together?
Our hearts are delicate things. Although they are amazing machines that work incessantly for our daily existence, they are fragile emotionally. Even though men are traditionally known as strong and unemotional and are not tuned in to how they feel, they are actually quite vulnerable when it comes to the women they love.
When we moved to Spain years ago, all of our children were of school age. Off they went each morning to deal with teachers, classmates, a new language and a new culture. All day long they faced contradicting life philosophies, contradicting faith, and opposing views on how human beings should be treated. When they arrived home at the end of their long day, they were exhausted physically, emotionally and mentally. I realized early on that things our home needed to be a safe place for them to recharge.
At home they needed to be unconditionally accepted to combat the xenophobia they faced at school.
At home they needed to be dealt with patiently and kindly to combat the harshness of the Aragon mindset.
At home they needed my unwavering support and encouragement to combat their feeling of always swimming against the tide.
Home was a safe place. Home was happier than being out in the Spanish world. Home was about teamwork and feeling protected.
At the same time that my children were heading off to school each day, my husband headed out to the village ministry, to evangelize, build relationships and trust, disciple his co-workers, and battle religious deception, peer pressure and spiritual opposition.
He also came home weary physically, mentally and spiritually.
So, the same rule applied. He needed to find an encouraging environment at home. He needed a hug when he came in the door. He needed someone to listen to his day. He needed me to be on his team.
Don’t get the wrong idea that I was some perfect angel to my family all the time. I wasn’t. I was dealing with my own battles. But I learned to put my battles aside for awhile so that my family could be refreshed and be ready to face it all again. I needed to strengthen their hearts. My husband and children needed to know that they were coming home to a safe place.
In Old Testament times, the men went out to battle and the women stayed at home. They were away for weeks, months, sometimes years at a time. After a victorious battle, they took what they wanted from the conquered city. Gold, garments, women and children. Spoils of war.
Today, our men face different battles. They are not always physical ones. But they do all have battles. And at the end of each one, they are looking for their prize. A little recognition, monetary payment, a raise, encouragement, a compliment, an atta boy, a little respect, honor, or praise. Sometimes, they will get some or all of that from their job, but at the end of the day, the one they really want it from is their wife.
Complimenting and praising others is not my gift. I have to really work at being an encourager and builder of others. But I have seen how my husband stands taller when he knows that I am proud of him. I now make a conscious effort to tell him that he is my favorite preacher/speaker. That I am proud of him for being diligent at his job even though our ministry is in a country that is not very open to our message. That if it wasn’t for his faith and perseverance I would have thrown in the towel years ago.
We also need to remember that we are a wife first and a mom second. That our first responsibility is to our husband’s heart. That if he doesn’t find the respect and encouragement at home, he is going to be more likely to go looking for it somewhere else. A good book to read is Love and Respect by Dr Emerson Eggerichs.
In old times, the warriors would end a battle and look for release from the adrenalin and stress of war, needing to reconnect with the softer things in life. Today, our husbands have a similar need. They are tired, stressed and undervalued wherever they work. But home can be a safe place. An encouraging and building place. A place to be built up again before they face it all another day.
I know that many women work today outside the home, I have too at times, and we can all struggle with these same issues that our husbands have for generations. So, let’s take a few minutes each day to encourage our spouses and let them know that we appreciate all that they do for our families. That we recognize the men that they are and that they are trying to be. Let’s protect their hearts. Because the thing is, we reap what we sow. If we are detached, unappreciative or distracted, our husbands are taking their cue from us. They take our distant behavior as a cue that we are not happy with them and it opens the door to look for spoil. They desperately need respect and honor and praise, let’s be sure that they get their fair share from the one they care the most about.