An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 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. (Proverbs 31:10-12, ESV)

A little over twelve years ago, I was a very nerdy, very much single guy wrapping up his Junior year at the University of Illinois. My social awkwardness didn’t really help me get any dates, and though I had been on an online dating site for well over a year, I hadn’t had much luck there either. But, in mid-May of 2004, I got a very short e-mail from someone from about 300 miles away that said “You look like an interesting person” (it was a few more words than that, but only a few).

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we e-mailed a lot, which turned into many, many hours of phone calls, and culminated in an in-person date a few weeks later. The relationship continued to grow. I developed very strong feelings for this young woman, strong enough for me to move to be near her shortly after graduating the following year. The rest, well, thats now a 10+ year history.

This young woman I am referring to is my excellent wife – Summer.

Just over a week ago, we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary.

10 years. It’s crazy to think it has been that long. It surely doesn’t feel like it has been that long. Yet, that time has past and more – we have known each other for over 12 years now.

I am going to do something that I do not recall ever doing, at least not on my personal website, and that is to brag on my wife. That, and maybe pass on a couple lessons learned from my perspective as an imperfect husband. To do this, I am going to build on the quote above.

The heart of her husband trusts in her

I actually failed in this regard for a very, very long time. In the past, in an era before we had smartphones, there were several episodes where I was Summer’s “personal fact checker” – if she said or did something that I didn’t believe, or was about something I thought I knew more about, I had to find the answer and see if it was right (marriage advice – do not do this, regardless of gender). Proving her wrong was futile – she always knew what she was talking about, and my arrogance did not win any husband points.

It may have taken most of 10 years, but I learned that she indeed is extremely wise. She knows what she talks about. She seeks knowledge and understanding. She is a nurse, so has a good of understanding of health-related topics. She does not make quick decisions when it comes to the well being of our children – whatever the parenting topic may be, she studies up on it to make sure the choice is a good one for them and for the family. Sometimes these choices are a little counter-cultural, which (as with any opinion on how to parent) sometimes causes heated discussions with peers, but she always has the research to back up her position. So when it comes to parenting, and to other areas of life, I can completely trust in her – not being a lazy dad or husband that says “Sure honey, whatever you want to do” – but knowing that she has researched it and won my buy-in.

He will have no lack of gain

Almost 8 years ago, we were expecting our first child. We were doing ok financially, but we were on a collision course with growing consumer debt. We were making enough to out-earn our stupidity, but with impending maternity leave, it was becoming obvious that something had to change. Summer is the one who recognized the warning signs, and set out to find new knowledge. It was her idea to do this whole “Financial Peace” thing, something (again in my arrogance) I was opposed to. Yet, here we are, 8 years later, and we owe no man anything. It was her desire to make our family better that started us down that path.

Gain isn’t always monetary. I have had gain in children, that is for sure. When we got married, two children seemed like a good number – thats how many were in my family growing up, and how many were in any branches of my extended family. She had two sisters, and I had a couple friends from 3-child families, so I conceded that maybe 3 would be ok. But, here we are 10 years into our marriage, and we have 4 wonderful kids. I always thought it would be difficult to show love to that many children – who has the time? Yet, and it may sound cliched, the love grows with each additional child. I could not imagine life without each one of them.

She does him good, and not harm…

Doing good – all of the little things add up. This includes the trips from home to bring a treat to me while at work, to home cooked meals on nights even when she has to leave for work. When I have been unhealthy (some weight related issues), it has been her gentle encouragement to make better choices in my diet. When I am not patient with her, she is with me. She puts the needs and well-being of our family above her own, all without ever wanting praise or thanks in return.

Other Little Brags

Here are a few other things that truly stand out about this amazing woman I am married to.

  • She is an excellent nurse – I would gladly be her patient any day
  • She is an awesome cook, and has only gotten better as she has had more time to practice
  • She is a wonderful mother – we have been blessed with four children, and she does this great job of spending time with all of them and teaches (home school) two of them
  • Somehow she manages to balance working 1-2 nights every week, while still teaching two of our children and keeping the other two out of trouble

A few bits of advice to a husband

  • Listen to your wife. This requires being quiet
  • Don’t assume you know more than she does, and certainly don’t be a fact-checker
  • Realize that she very likely has a strong drive to better the family as a whole, don’t fight against that
  • Notice the little things and give her thanks (privately and publicly)
  • Something might not bother you, but it might bother her. Take the time to fix it (I can think of several issues with our house that were actually easy fixes that I put off for way too long because they were not big issues to me)

When we have had a major disagreement or been mad at each other, more than half of the time it comes down to me not doing one of the above. Sure, we are in this together and I’m not the only one to mess up form time to time, but I have learned over 10 years that if I do better at those five things, things can improve dramatically. Of course, ever wife will be different, but these are the lessons that have been most important for me.

Closing

There is so much more I could write about my wife, and a lot more that I should say in private. I do want to leave with this – I am ever grateful for the blessing that is my wife. Though neither of us is perfect, I do know that I am a better man today because of her. We have had a wonderful 10 years together, and I look forward to many, many more in years to come.

I originally started writing this about a week before our anniversary. Things got busy – did I mention 4 kids? – one got sick, we had company, etc. And then the week after was busy too.