Traits of Trust
"A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches." - Proverbs 11:16
Marriage is a wonderful thing. It is the bond of matrimony that God created in Genesis with the first man and woman. The union of marriage should bring lasting and peaceful happiness. Sadly too many married people miss the joy of their marriage as the strength of the bond between husband and wife begins to weaken. Joy and love act as the bonds of unity that hold a marriage together on top of the pillars of principle that give a marriage a good footing. One of the most foundational principle pillars in a marriage is trust. When the trust of a marriage begins to erode, the bond of love and joy will begin to weaken because the footing of the marriage has become uncertain. The wise married couple will then look for ways in which to build and maintain trust in the marriage.
The verse above from Proverbs shows us four traits, two in the woman and two in the man, that will help to build trust in a marriage. The forsaking of these traits will result in the erosion of trust and ultimately the unraveling of the joy, and possibly even love that binds a marriage together.
The Lord describes the traits of the woman first, "A gracious woman retaineth honour..." Every wife ought to strive to have the traits of graciousness and honor in who they are as a person, and as a spouse. The word gracious means favorable; kind; benevolent; merciful; disposed to forgive offenses and impart unmerited blessings. This speaks to the spirit of the wife. If the wife will be gracious it means that she has a selfless desire to be kind to her husband and children and be benevolent, that is to take care of their needs, and merciful. A gracious wife will be quick to forgive both the faults of her husband and her children. A gracious wife gives blessings to her family. Over the years graciousness has been what has created the traditional picture of a loving mother over her children. However, such graciousness is not only becoming of a mother but also of a wife towards her husband. When this graciousness abounds in a wife towards her husband it will cause his trust towards her to be greater. The virtuous woman of Proverbs was gracious, and she had her husband's trust. "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her..." (Proverbs 31:11)
Besides graciousness in a woman, there is also the trait of honor. This trait of honor speaks to her respectability. She carries herself above reproach. Her heart is towards her husband and she is not flirtatious with or seeking other men. Such devotion in a woman demonstrates her honor or respectability. Such honor brings not only trust from a woman's husband, but also praise. The virtuous woman in Proverbs was honorable and she was praised by both her husband and her children. "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." Proverbs 31:28
God also shows us two traits that men should have. "...And strong men retain riches." These traits work in tandem together and are interwoven. The two traits are strength and management. These two traits work together to provide something for the wife, they provide security. A wife who does not feel security from her husband will not trust her husband and will go to find security somewhere else. A wise husband will strive to provide security for his wife and earn her trust.
The strength of the husband is for the purpose of filling his role as the protector. The word protector leads us to think of a man physically protecting his home and family. The husband truly is responsible for physical protection. However, he will be called upon more often to protect his home spiritually. Such protection does not call for physical strength, but rather a strength of character and spiritual strength.
The husband ought to be the spiritual leader in the home. He should be leading his family closer to God. This requires that he too has the strength to both draws himself nearer to God and also reach back with a loving hand and draw his family closer to God. Such strength enables the husband to also deal with spiritual problems that will arise in his home. (There will always be spiritual problems where sinful flesh abides.) The husband is responsible for the spiritual condition of both himself and his family. When a husband tries to distance himself from the spiritual condition of his family it is a sign that he is too weak to protect his family spiritually. This will create insecurity in the home and cause distrust from a man's wife.
Part of the husband's strength of character is in how he will manage his household. The Bible is clear that the man is the head of the house, despite society's opinion to the contrary. "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." (I Corinthians 11:3) Therefore the wife ought to submit to the leadership of the husband. However, the wife will not submit to her husband unless she trusts him. She will not trust him unless she feels secure. She will only feel secure when he can "retain riches" or manage correctly. To give the wife security the husband must make good and sound decisions with the resources of the family. The wise husband keeps his wife informed so that she can both understand his management as well appreciate the decisions being made. (This topic could be a whole article on its own at another time.) Such management creates the security his wife needs to trust him and his ability to lead his home.
If husbands and wives would adopt these traits in their daily lives it would begin to solidify the pillar of trust in that marriage and restore some of the joy that God intended the bond of matrimony to have.