I remember one day years ago someone asking my youngest daughter what her Daddy’s name was, and she replied, “Sir.” That answer elicited a strange look in my direction and I quickly responded that indeed that is what I called my husband and that’s what had stuck in her mind. I have been around lots of people over the years who have heard me address my husband as “Sir,” and many – thinking it odd – have questioned why I did that. I don’t remember having a good answer to that question. I don’t know when I started calling my husband “Sir.” I’m sure it was sometime early in our marriage, and I think it was just something that began innocently and without a lot of forethought. And now, after almost 20 years of marriage, I still call my husband “Sir.”
Here is what I think might have happened – subconsciously, I’m sure. As a young wife, I heard on more than one occasion that wives are to submit to their husbands, that husbands are the heads of the home and that wives are to show them respect. I remember thinking, “What a bunch of baloney.” That was fine for stupid women who needed their husbands to think for them. I, on the other hand, was educated and intelligent and more than capable of thinking for myself. I did not need to submit to my husband – or so I thought. I remember being quite disrespectful to my poor husband as I would constantly interrupt him to finish his sentences, knowing full well what he intended to say but just couldn’t get the words out fast enough. In times of decision-making, it never occurred to me to defer to my husband. I felt like he should know my opinions and take them into consideration when going along with what I wanted to do.
Fortunately, we were submersed in a good church where we were getting good teaching from God’s Word. However, most of the young wives and mothers I spent time with were quite open in sharing their husbands’ trials and tribulations so that others could pray for them. None of us considered how our words were tearing our husbands down. At some point, it occurred to me that wives should really be their husbands’ biggest cheerleaders. It is our job to encourage them and treat them with respect just as we expect them to be treated respectfully in their jobs. I also realized that my children were watching how I treated my husband, and that I was modeling and influencing the way they would treat him -and others – in the future. I think it may have been during this time that I began calling my husband, “Sir.”
It was a sign of respect. Giving my husband the title of “Sir,” helped me to keep the right perspective – to see my husband as the head of our family. As I began making a purposeful attempt to submit to my husband, God built a true respect and admiration for him in my heart. I truly began to see him as a man of wisdom and integrity. I stopped interrupting him in conversation, I deferred to him in big decisions, I sought his counsel, and I remember realizing that my husband was indeed the smartest man in the whole world. (I apologize to those of you who have been living under the delusion that your husband is the smartest man in the whole world – trust me – if you ever met my husband I’m sure you would be convinced of his unsurpassed wisdom as well.)
As I think back over the early years of my marriage, I sometimes wonder how in the world my husband could have put up with me and my foolishness. I was the contentious wife discussed more than once in the Book of Proverbs. Matthew Henry has this to say, “A cross peevish wife is as great an affliction: Her contentions are continual; every day, and every hour in the day, she finds some occasion to make herself and those about her uneasy. Those that are accustomed to chide never want something or other to chide at; but it is a continual dropping, that is, a continual vexation, as it is to have a house so much out of repair that it rains in and a man cannot lie dry in it. That man has an uncomfortable life, and has need of a great deal of wisdom and grace to enable him to bear his affliction and do his duty, who has a sot for his son and a scold for his wife.”
Then Matthew Henry goes on to say, “A discreet and virtuous wife is a choice gift of God’s providence to a man—a wife that is prudent, in opposition to one that is contentious. For, though a wife that is continually finding fault may think it is her wit and wisdom to be so, it is really her folly; a prudent wife is meek and quiet, and makes the best of every thing. If a man has such a wife, let him not ascribe it to the wisdom of his own choice or his own management (for the wisest have been deceived both in and by a woman), but let him ascribe it to the goodness of God, who made him a help meet for him, and perhaps by some hits and turns of providence that seemed casual brought her to him. Every creature is what he makes it. Happy marriages, we are sure, are made in heaven. It is a more valuable gift than house and riches, contributes more to the comfort and credit of a man’s life and the welfare of his family, is a greater token of God’s favour, and about which the divine providence is in a more especial manner conversant. A good estate may be the inheritance of fathers, which, by the common direction of Providence, comes in course to a man; but no man has a good wife by descent or entail. Parents that are worldly, in disposing of their children, look no further than to match them to house and riches, but, if withal it be to a prudent wife, let God have the glory.”
I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Oh, that I would be that prudent, discreet and virtuous wife. In my mind, there is no better lesson a seasoned wife could give to the newlywed than this one: do not be contentious, a continual vexation; but rather be prudent and discreet, meek and quiet. Look to your beloved husband for sound guidance and Godly wisdom. I have learned to quickly turn to my “Sir” for wise counsel, knowing that his counsel comes ultimately from the heart of God. Our happy marriage, I am sure, was made in heaven.
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). 1706. Print.
July 19, 2010