Rejoice with the wife of thy youth. (Proverbs 5:18)
When did you go astray, her husband? When did your job, your car, your hobbies become more important? That fishing trip, that game night, your “working vacation.” When did your life together become, her life and your life on parallel paths and not your steps together?
This is the woman you pledged your life to. This is for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health. This is the hand that wears the never-ending promise of your commitment. The arms you embraced because you had to get closer, had to feel her there, smell her perfume, and touch her hair.
This is the lame joke you told that made her laugh, age sixteen. Your longing to capture the sound in your ears, with your eyes, with your mouth. To drink it in and savor it, to linger, because it’s hers. Because she made your heart beat faster, your arms stronger, your goals make sense.
She pushed you forward in college. She encouraged you to go for it, to try harder, to try again. She lived in that tiny apartment with you, bumping elbows between the stove and the fridge.
She’s an adornment, a jewel to your otherwise boring existence, the beauty in the room that takes your breath away. A friend, a confidante, a lover. She’s the best of the earth and the sky and the stars, in all seasons.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth. The woman who picks up your clothes, scrubs your dishes, sweeps your floors. Avoids your misplaced, dirty shoes.
Rejoice in her endurance. To give your children life. To stay awake in the wee hours, rocking Jenny and James. Rejoice in what she forfeited to feed, to nourish, and to play.
Rejoice in her efforts. To pay the bills, walk the dog, navigate the grocery store. Find time for the gym, and Jenny’s dance classes, and James’s football games. Your family’s parade of awkward holiday meals.
Rejoice in her failings. That she falls but gets up again, stumbles but walks straight afterward. Rejoice that she chose you to support her, build her up, and carry her through.
Rejoice in her tears, her aches and her scars. Rejoice when she’s hurting. When she cuts her hand or stubs her toe. When her hair thins, her waistline thickens, her back curves. Rejoice when she’s PMSing. When she’s grumpy and ill-tempered. When she’s going through menopause.
Rejoice, remembering she’s tried her hardest to look her greatest. She’s given her all to make your life better. She put her best foot forward. For you.
Husbands, you in turn must treat your wives with tenderness, viewing them as feminine partners who deserve to be honored, for they are co-heirs with you of the “divine grace of life,” so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (1Pe 3:7 TPT)
Much is said of the virtuous woman and rightly so. But be the virtuous man. The man who thinks of her first. Puts himself last. Sets himself aside for her joy, denying what he wants. To eat, to watch on TV. To do at 7 a.m.
Rejoice and give her a reason to wake up and be herself again tomorrow. Because you’re in this together. Your future is hers. Your knee sprain, car accident, hearing loss is hers to bear. The job you quit affects her. The bonus you got, that’s hers, too. It’s not fifty-fifty, but all-or-nothing, 100%. For everything she does, you do the same in return.
Buy her the shoes.
Compliment her dress.
Let her have dessert without counting her calories.
Admire the curves that came with time and age. The gray hair. The wrinkles.
And when she’s not at her best, admire that, too. She’s perfect exactly how she is, and if she isn’t today, then pray for her. Lift her up. Raise her spirits. Build her ego. Give and give and when you think you can’t do it any longer, give some more.
Life is short, and time is precious, and finding someone who will endure your foibles is rare and beautiful. Holding her hands, when you can’t walk anymore because your legs aren’t strong, when you need help in and out of the shower, when you can’t remember what happened, long ago in your youth, those are God-given gifts.
Rejoice while you can and look back at the ups and downs that she traveled with you. Then, when she’s gone, rejoice in how lucky you were for fifty-odd years, or thirty, or twenty, or ten.
Suzanne D. Williams