Well-known theologian John Piper has shared advice for husbands dealing with a quarrelsome wife and offered the reminder that “God is able to make out of a quarrelsome wife a helpful and prudent wife.”
In a recent podcast, Piper responded to a reader who asked the pastor to bring “wisdom and clarity” to Bible verses about quarrelsome wives — as the theme is brought up five times throughout Scripture.
Piper first emphasized that if a man reads verses like Proverbs 21:9 — “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” and concludes that divorce and remarriage are being commended, “he is in the power of a hardened heart, which God disapproves of.”
“There are pointers in Proverbs that leaving this woman for another is not what God approves of,” the pastor said, adding: “Now, this cuts both ways, for the man and the woman, because a covenant obliges both partners in the covenant. ...The man with a quarrelsome wife is not free to abandon her. He has a covenant. He’s made a covenant with her.”
Piper went on to outline four lessons to take away from the Bible regarding the topic of quarrelsome wives, the first being “find the right woman.”
“The first implication is for young men who are not married: Don’t marry a quarrelsome woman,” he said. “Live in a desert if you have to. Live in a tiny room on your roof with your parents if you have to before you do that.”
“So beware, young men: he who finds a wife finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22). Wait for her,” he added.
Second, Piper advised readers to “seek to be agreeable” and listen to the counsel of Proverbs.
“I think it’s assumed that over time, women are going to hear the book of Proverbs — will take them to heart and seek not to be a quarrelsome or contentious wife,” he said. “Of course, she will take the hint that she too might want to be content to live on the roof or in the desert than to marry a quarrelsome husband. It cuts both ways. It’s a lesson: Don’t marry quarrelsome people. And if you’re married, women, do your best not to be quarrelsome and contentious.”
Third, Piper assured readers that God changes hearts — and He’s “able to make out of a quarrelsome wife a helpful and prudent wife.”
Finally, the pastor encouraged husbands to loves their wives “better than she deserves, not worse than she deserves.”
“When Proverbs says, ‘It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife,’ it means that this greater ease, greater comfort, greater peace of the housetop over going downstairs and loving this woman is true. It’s true,” he explained.
“It’s easier, it’s more comfortable, it’s more peaceful to just go up on the roof and get away from this nagging and quarreling wife, from this contention,” Piper continued. “It’s true. It’s better in many ways, but it’s not to be chosen over the path of love. There’s a covenant, and there’s a command: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”
Previously, Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, said that emotional health is one of the most important factors to take into consideration when thinking about marriage as “eight out of 10 marriage breakdowns occur because "one or both of the partners are emotionally unhealthy.”
"Everybody's broken, but some people are a lot more broken than others. And you need to avoid them no matter how good-looking, rich, or nice they are. You have to figure out the emotional health of your potential partner before you enter into a long-term relationship."
An emotionally healthy partner, Warren contended, isn’t “nursing uncontrolled anger” or “harboring bitterness.”
"Don't date until your own emotional hurts are healed or at least until you're in the healing process,” he advised. “We've got to get rid of any bitterness in our lives. Get rid of any anger in our lives. In other words, we've got to deal with our own baggage. How do I do that? Get with God. Learn from Jesus."