“A wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain…It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife…It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman…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 19:13b; 21:19; 25:24; 27:15-16)
The Lord apparently knows women to be quarrelsome at times. I chose today for this issue because it logically follows the discussion on divorce. Men (and women) should not be leaving their spouses because they are annoying, which they did in Jesus time and we know they are doing today. It wasn’t just Samuel and the other writers of Proverbs who were annoyed with their wives, and sometimes it is the wives who are annoyed with their argumentative husbands. This grouping of proverbs compares a cantankerous wife to the drips from a leaky roof, the wind that cannot be tamed, and oil that one is trying to hold in his hand. The first picture is one in which something can be fixed—patch the leak, and the rain will no longer enter the house. However, if the roof is not repaired promptly, the drips increase, the water spreads, and the roof will inevitably be destroyed until it needs to be replaced. Of course, wives should be convicted that there are many ways to communicate without being argumentative. Unfortunately, this seems like a common picture of many marriages, where the wife is unhappy, becomes quarrelsome when the husband tries to ignore her (perhaps escaping to a “corner” of the house or to the desert), and the problem just gets worse, until divorce becomes attractive.
Proverbs 27:12 warns a man to flee from danger. A quarrelsome wife is a danger to a marriage, as is a man who finds her “challenging,” thinking he will be able to control her like the wind or oil in his hand. The ESV Study Bible comments, “The fact that the husband tries but fails to restrain his wife pictures the consequences of a marriage working against itself, rather than each person working with and for the other (as seen in contrasting descriptions of 31:11–12, 23, 28, 31).” *Let’s just look at one of these citations, Proverbs 31:11 “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” While many women argue about things “for the good of their husbands,” or “for the good of the family,” verbal fighting isn’t glorifying to God, no matter how it is justified by the hostile party. Anger in a marriage is like the water on the roof. When it’s raining, the damage is apparent; however, when the sun is out, the damage isn’t noticeable from the inside. But then the roofer gets up there to take a look, from an outside, objective viewpoint, and the problem is exposed for what it is.
The Lord knows our hearts (Psalm 44:21). He knows that many of us struggle with anger, which is not always wrong but is frequently mishandled. But Scripture teaches us, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27). Will you wisely work out your issues, with God’s help before they destroy your marriage and pray for others to do the same? If you are quarrelsome, will you stop being provocative and do good to your spouse?
* ESV Study Bible Note on Proverbs 27:15-16, online edition, Crossway Bibles