This is a book review series of The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.
Chapter One – Chapter Two – Chapter Three – Chapter Four – Chapter Five – Chapter Six – Chapter Seven – Chapter Eight – Chapter Nine – Chapter Ten – Chapter Eleven – Chapter Twelve – Chapter Thirteen – Chapter Fourteen – Chapter Fifteen
We recently had a holiday party at work filled with food, music, and a raffle for prizes. Tickets were randomly drawn throughout the party with people winning some great prizes. Toward the end of the party, my number was picked. I excitedly raised my hand and walked up to claim the prize. When the woman handed it to me she said, “I hope you’re a runner!” (Full disclosure: I think running is only necessary if someone or something is chasing after you. And, I have never been good at faking joy over an unnecessary gift; I disappointed my Grandmother several times as a child.) I looked at phone armband holder, then at the woman and said, “Not really. But, thanks.” As soon as I turned to walk away I felt horrible that I let those words slip out of my mouth. I didn’t mean to be rude, and I was sure it came across that way. Perhaps if I had read chapter sixteen, “Communication: Control of the Wife’s Tongue,” I might have saved myself from the embarrassing insert-foot-in-mouth moment.
One frustrating thing about this book is that everything beyond chapter six seems to be repeat. This chapter has nine “biblical principles” on how a wife should communicate with her husband. Peace has already mentioned several times throughout the book that a wife is to speak to her husband in a soothing, respectful manner. What more can she say about the topic of communication that is new? There’s really not much, but, there are a couple of gems that stand out to address.
First, Peace has conflicting points on her list. Number one states that “a wife’s wrong words begin with wrong thoughts and motives.” She references Matthew 12: 34:
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Number two on her list states that a wife will be held accountable to God for every word she speaks. This is based off Matthew 12: 36-37:
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
However, point number five says that “a wife must give her husband the benefit of the doubt when it comes to judging his motives.” A wife must not overreact or make judgment about what her husband says to her. Peace fails to recognize the whole of Matthew 12: 33-37 and cherry-picks verses to suit her points:
Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
These three points on her list conflict each other. A wife’s words should be spoken with good motives and she will be held accountable for her words; however, she is not to judge the motive of her husband’s words. If a wife can have wrong motives with her words, how is it that she should not judge her husband’s motives? Why are only the wife’s motives judged?
Other than her conflicting statements, the only other point that stood out was number six, “a wife is more likely to sin if her words are rash.” When addressing that a wife should not use harsh, controlling words, she says:
Our Lord entrusted Himself to God. He did not fight back with evil. Peter’s point is that even while suffering an emotional battery from your husband, you are to look to the Lord Jesus Christ as your example. Instead of wounding your husband, use your tongue to bring healing (Proverbs 12:18).
Peter’s “point” refers to 1 Peter 2:23 which talks about Jesus enduring verbal abuse. Wives, you are not Jesus; you were not sent to this earth to save the earth from sin. You do not need to endure verbal abuse and you do not need to be a martyr in your abusive marriage. God wants you to be free from abuse and, if you have to, use any words you need to use to gain that freedom.
P.S. I ended up giving away the phone armband holder to a fellow co-worker who absolutely loved it. The next day, the woman who handed out gifts at the party came up to my desk and gifted me with a hilarious mouse pad to replace my boring plain black one. I apologized to her for my words, and she said it was no big deal. So, all turned out well in the end. It was a good reminder that we can slip up with our words at times – we’re human. Abusers, however, find power and control with their use of words. If you are in a relationship experiencing verbal and emotional abuse from your spouse, their words are not okay. You will not have enough soothing, respectful words to win him over and stop the behavior.