We have all heard the expression, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” This may be good advice for elementary school children but it is not preferred for husbands.
Am I saying, “Feel free to insult your wife.” Hardly. Instead I am saying that we need to try harder, look deeper, pay more attention.
Along these lines Timothy Witmer writes to husbands in his book Shepherd Leader At Home, (p.40):
You should thank her just for her willingness to have hitched herself to you!…There are plenty of (other) things you can say to build up your wife. When is the last time you complimented her appearance? When is the last time you thanked her for all she does in taking care of you and the children? Even more important is taking the opportunity to praise her for her character qualities. Be sure to be specific. The writer of Proverbs 31 was very specific about the praiseworthy traits of an excellent wife. She is praised for everything from being a good seamstress to being a good businesswoman. However, the summary statement focuses on the most essential thing. ‘Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.’ (Prov. 31.30)
If your wife is a Christian then the Holy Spirit is working the grace of Christ more deeply into her life as he grows her. These footprints of grace are for you to discover as you lovingly lead your wife. Far from the passive disengagement that reflects discouragement this is active shepherding that reflects Jesus’ shepherding model. What more privilege can we have then to gather these encouraging clues of grace in our wife’s life only to bring them to their attention for encouragement.
If you don’t have anything nice to say to your wife tonight then…try harder, look more deeply and pay more attention.