“Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She will not hinder him but help him all her life.”    – Proverbs 31:11 

Do you square dance?  I don’t, but I love seeing those square dance couples that can often be seen at places like Bob Evans and Cracker Barrell.  They’re usually older couples dressed in their finest and fanciest square dance regallia who are on their way to or from some kind of square dancing engagement or competition.  Sometimes there’s a whole group of them!  If you’ve seen them, too, maybe you’ve noticed that they’re always happy and having a good time.  Even if it’s just one couple, they’re having a good time with each other.  Isn’t that something?  After what must have been many years together (judging by their senior ages), they’re still out running around and having a good time together!  And  I think I know why…It’s because they ‘bow to their partner’. 

In square dancing, the couples assemble in their ‘squares’, the music begins to play, and a ‘caller’ calls out the steps to lead them through their dance.   The ‘caller’ begins by telling the dancers to ‘bow to your partner’ and without missing a beat, they do!   Dressed to look their square-dancing best they turn and bow to their partners with smiles on their faces and making eye contact.  What a wonderful way to honor our spouses!  Can you imagine what a difference it would make if each time our ‘Caller’ told us to ‘bow to our partner’ we tried to look our best, put on a big smile, made contact with our husbands, and did so without missing a beat?  Yes.  I think that if I were better at  bowing to my partner (my husband), we’d be having good ol’ time all the time, too!

God brought this square dancing thing to my mind this morning.  It put a desire in my heart to do better at honoring my husband and led me to seek the Bible’s teaching about this.  The Bible doesn’t teach us about square dancing, but it gives the description of ‘a wife of noble character’ in the 31st chapter of Proverbs.  According to the Bible, King Lemuel’s mother described for him the type of godly woman he should seek to be his wife.  The woman she described has come to be known as ‘The Proverbs 31 Woman’ – and please note that she is described as a wife first – not mother, career woman, or someone who’s all about serving herself.  Clearly, being a wife is first priority for the Proverbs 31 Woman!   Many of us would take a huge step forward in our marriages by simply putting our husbands before everything else in our lives (except God, of course).  Yes, that means those precious little darlings known as your children, who clamor for your time and attention, need to be second in line to your husband.  Making your husband second only to God is a wonderful way to ‘bow to your partner’.

‘Bowing to your partner’ is another way of looking at honoring your husbands  Just this past weekend, while attending the Proverbs 31 conference described in the post below,  two women spoke to me about honoring their husbands.  One was talking about a decision she and her husband were making and, although she didn’t share her husbands feelings on the issue at hand, she told him she would honor him by abiding by his decision.  God eventually led his heart to agree with hers, but in the meantime they avoided nasty words and hurt feelings by her honoring him. 

Another woman noticed her husband was uncomfortable with her wearing a stylish top that accentuated her bustline.  To honor him, she said not a word, but changed tops and decided to wear the first top just for him.  How nice was that!  (This lady and her husband are writing a book about marrriage.  I think I need to read it!)  Why wouldn’t I want to honor my husband?  Just last weekend he honored me in a big way by taking over the home and kids so that I could pursue God’s calling for me to attend the P 31 conference.  He didn’t balk at the cost of the conference and even suggested that I should pursue things like this at least twice a year.  How generous!  He couldn’t have honored me in a better way.  Surely he deserves for me to honor him, too, so let’s look more closely at the teaching of Proverbs 31:11.

The verse above begins by teaching that our husbands should be able to trust us.   We should be honest and conduct our lives in a way that allows them to depend and rely on us.  It means not being deceitful,  hiding things from them, or doing things behind their backs.   I’ll never forget the lady who spent so much on Longaberger baskets that she started recording her checks in her checkbook with ‘Kroger’ so it looked like she’d spent the money on groceries. 

We are also to ‘bow to our partners’ by enriching their lives.  What can you do to enrich your husband’s life?  Keep his laundry done and the house organized?  Reduce chaos in your home and create more peace?  How about being there for him…REALLY being there for him?  When you find ways to put your children and other demands aside, you can better focus dedicated attention on your husband. 

When I think about ways to ‘bow to my partner’ by enriching his life, showing him grace comes to mind.  Our pastors define grace as ‘unmerited favor’.   I think of grace as keeping my mouth shut when it wants to snap; doing something nice because it’s right thing to do – even if it doesn’t seem deserved; expressing my love, appreciation, and respect for him; and doing whatever I can to make his days better.   I haven’t mastered these things, yet, but I’m trying!!!  

Showing grace and being there to aid and assist brings us to the last phrase of the verse above.  It tells us that ‘bowing to our partner’ also means that we are ‘not to hinder him but help him all of our life’.

Some of you reading this have wonderful relationships with your husbands, and I suspect it’s because you’ve already learned how to ‘bow to your partner’.  But others are struggling in their marriages.  One of my dear friends is working hard to reconcile with her husband after a long-time and long-distance separation.  She has been seeking God’s will and direction for her life and for their marriage, and God has been helping her to better see how she can ‘bow to her partner’.  In fact, I’ve been praying for her and the adjustments they’re having to make as they get back together, and I think the words ‘bow to your partner’ came to me as a message for her.

Ladies, it might sound very one-sided and unfair that we are asked to ‘bow to our partners’ in these ways, but I promise you that when you give a little, your husband will respond and give a little, too, and ‘bowing to your partner’ will become a two-way venture.  You’ll soon be doing the do-si-do of life together into a future of love and happiness!          (And if it makes you feel better, 1 Peter 3:7 says, “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives…”  I’ve got that verse circled! ) 

How are things with your husband?  What can you do to ‘bow to your partner’?   Please begin by reading Proverbs 31 for yourself and be mindful of the words that seem to jump out at you.  God is speaking to you in those words.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving me the desire to push other demands aside so that I can think about ways to honor my husband and be pleasing to him.  He does so much for the family and I, and he does deserve for me to bow to him as my partner.  And in doing so, I’m not just honoring him, but honoring You, too, as I seek to be a godly wife.  Lord, I pray for the wives who are struggling in their relationships and pray that you will put in their hearts the desire to ‘bow to their partners’, too, and that you will bless their marriages accordingly when they do.  In Your holy name I pray.  Amen. 

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