Learning how to be a “good wife” takes practice, discernment and a conscious effort. It means taking the high road (even when we don’t want to!).
First, we need to chat about the elephant in the room.
It may be that you are thinking, “Who are you to teach me how to be a good wife?”
I know that’s what I would be thinking if I read an article like this! The fact of the matter is that what I am about to share is not something I have fully mastered. Nor is it something I have made up simply to sound better than anyone else. In reality—just like you—I also want to learn how to be a better wife.
I am one of the “older women” that the apostle Paul mentions in his letter to Titus. Therefore, I have been asked to teach younger wives to love their husbands (Titus 2:4). As a wife, I’ve had many “aha!” moments over the past three decades. My desire is that sharing them may help others avoid pitfalls and experience the joy of a good marriage.
So, here we go!
Bible verses on being a good wife
The traits of a “good wife” that we will discuss in this article are principles that come straight from the Bible. The following four key passages can ground us whenever we need a refresher course.
Proverbs 31 qualities of a good wife:
- She puts her focus on her husband and on her children, home and the needy (verses 11, 20-21).
- She does him good and not evil all the days of her life (verse 12).
- She is highly esteemed by her husband (verse 28).
Titus 2 qualities of a good wife:
- She loves her husband (verse 4).
- She is obedient to her own husband so that the Word of God is not disrespected (verse 5).
1 Timothy 3 qualities of a good wife:
- She is dignified, quiet and serious in her behavior (verse 11).
- She is not a slanderer (verse 11).
- She is sober-minded and humble (verse 11).
- She is faithful in all things (verse 11).
Ephesians 5 qualities of a good wife:
- She submits to her own husband, as to the Lord (verse 22).
Six qualities of a good wife
Let’s take these principles a step further and examine six specific characteristics of a good wife.
1. A good wife is a peacemaker.
The opposite of war is peace, right? So, doesn’t it make sense that we should strive for peace if we want marriages that have fewer struggles and less conflict and pain? The best way to physically strive for peace is to be a peacemaker. The best way to spiritually strive for peace is to pray for it.
Praying for peace is asking God for His mercy in providing us with a tranquil and peaceful marriage. This may need to be a prayer we repeat often and boldly.
Striving to be a peacemaker is something that needs to become a conscious thought or habit. Truthfully, it’s not always easy. Especially when it feels as if we are the only ones trying to be peacemakers in a difficult situation!
It is comforting to know that we can ask God for His mercy to help us be peacemakers in our marriages. The apostle Paul wrote to the Roman congregation, “Let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:19, English Standard Version). King David knew the value of becoming a peacemaker. In Psalm 34:14 he said, “Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
Practice tip: The next time you have the urge to dig in and fight, pause and ask:
- Is what I am about to say helping me be a peacemaker?
Additional reading about being a peacemaker:
2. A good wife allows her husband to lead.
A quick Google search of the meaning behind the word lead shows a verb that’s all over the place! It can mean any of the following:
- To take charge of.
- To take command of.
- To have the first place in a competition or to be ahead of a competitor.
- To be superior to.
- To have the advantage over someone else.
Yikes! With aggressive definitions like those, it’s no wonder we want to dig in our heels!
Thankfully, there’s another definition of lead that we can reflect upon. To lead is to guide, holding another by the hand while moving forward. Following a husband’s lead should describe a relationship where a wife trusts him and follows him, ideally, as he himself follows God and leads her forward with gentleness and concern.
Submitting to one’s husband can be one of the hardest things to do because no one has married a perfect person!
In the apostle Paul’s letter to Christians in Ephesus, he instructed wives to submit to their own husbands as they submit to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). Paul then went on to instruct husbands to love their wives. In fact, both husbands and wives are to submit to Christ, as Head of the Church (verses 23-25).
If you find yourself getting hung up on the English word submit, consider the related word yield. It helps if we picture the action taken while driving a car. Sure, we could totally bulldoze our way onto the merge ramp and perhaps get what we want. However, aren’t there times when gracefully yielding to the other driver makes for a more pleasant driving experience? It’s something to consider.
Practice tip: The next time you have an urge to defend your opinion at all costs, pause and ask:
- Is this the hill I want to die on?
- Is this an issue I could yield on and give the right-of-way?
Additional reading about being submissive:
3. A good wife respects her husband.
Let’s talk about respect in association with submitting to one’s husband by following his lead. The apostle Paul continues in Ephesians. “However, let each one of you [husbands] love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33, ESV).
Remember, he is imperfect. You are imperfect. We all are imperfect! Sometimes bad decisions are made. Sometimes our awesome suggestions are ignored. And sometimes we have to deal with the consequences. Yes, this can be a frustrating (and sometimes heartbreaking) part of being human.
However, respecting one’s husband means that one honors him. It means having regard for his feelings and wishes. It means speaking well of him to others. It means letting go of grudges before they fester and turn to resentment and then bitterness. Respecting one’s husband builds trust.
The husband of the Proverbs 31 woman trusted her in his heart because she did him good, and not harm, all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:11-12).
Practice tip: The next time you have the urge to roll your eyes, bad-mouth your husband, or give him the silent treatment, pause and ask:
- Is this behavior doing him good and not harm?
- Is it doing me good and not harm?
- Will acting this way build up my marriage or tear it down?
Additional reading about being respectful:
4. A good wife encourages her husband.
The essential meaning of encourage is to make someone more determined, hopeful or confident. The meaning of discourage is to deprive someone of courage or confidence.
I much prefer to be encouraged by someone than discouraged. Don’t you? And, since our husbands are human, they prefer it too.
It would do us good to consider Jesus Christ as the ultimate encourager and imitate Him. In Matthew 11:28 He told His disciples, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (New International Version).
Becoming best friends means you enjoy each other’s company. Being his best friend means you are honest and kind at the same time.
A wife encourages her husband when she listens to him and talks with him when he feels weary and burdened. She should be a safe place where he can become more determined, hopeful and confident. And she accomplishes this by spending quality time with him, which provides more moments for sharing.
The apostle Peter stressed the importance of continuing to show a deep love for each other. A deep love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). We show deep love for our mates by encouraging them whenever they need to talk something out. And we show it by really listening (even when they are in the wrong).
Practice tip: The next time you have an urge to get frustrated and jump to a conclusion before your husband has the chance to really talk something out, pause and ask:
- Will this response deprive him of courage or confidence?
- What can I do to make him more determined, hopeful or confident?
Additional reading about being encouraging:
5. A good wife delights in her husband.
There’s a passage in the New Testament that I keep pinned on a bulletin board next to my computer.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NIV).
To delight in one’s husband simply means that one enjoys being with him! We aren’t enjoying each other’s company if we are brawling! Becoming best friends means you enjoy each other’s company. Being his best friend means you are honest and kind at the same time.
A best friend is willing to forgive. When we aren’t forgiving, it can lead to bitterness, rage, slander and every form of malice. Yes, forgiveness can be a tough pill to swallow. That’s when we simply have to trust God’s Word and, focusing on verse 32, practice being kind and compassionate.
A wife should also delight in her husband physically. Compliment him when you can, be appreciative of what he does to keep the home fires burning. It takes a lot to keep a home and family running, and even small efforts should be acknowledged.
And, lastly, delighting in one’s husband physically means that one must keep the romance alive. The apostle Paul warned husbands and wives not to deprive one another of the marriage bed (1 Corinthians 7:2-6). It is wrong to withhold physical love as a type of punishment. Focusing on Ephesians 4:31-32 is a good habit to adopt.
Practice tip: The next time you feel bitterness taking root, pause and ask:
- Is what I am about to do kind and compassionate?
- Am I justifying being hard-hearted and unforgiving?
- Am I able to just drop the brawl and treat him as a best friend instead?
Additional reading about being loving and kind:
- “Journey: The Fruit of the Spirit” (reading for day 6—“Kindness: Knowing What’s Needed”).
- “Fighting the Works of the Flesh: Contentions.”
- “The Gift of Sex.”
6. A good wife works on being her best possible self.
At the end of the day, a marriage involves two flawed human beings. Wrong attitudes, moods and actions happen on both sides. Sometimes the reality is that one may be married to someone who doesn’t seem to care about improving things. Often, the desire to make improvements can feel one-sided.
There’s biblical encouragement if you feel like this describes your present situation. The apostle Peter spoke directly to wives in 1 Peter 3:1, “In the same way you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe God’s word, your conduct will win them over to believe. It will not be necessary for you to say a word” (Good News Translation).
While we can’t force someone else to make improvements, we can work on ourselves to find balance, peace and joy in life. Setting goals and developing good lifestyle habits that improve our own health and mind-set can go a long way. Who knows? Maybe some of these habits can trickle over and have a positive effect on our husbands.
As a wife works on being a peacemaker, allowing her husband to lead, encouraging him and delighting in him, she will get to know what drives him. She may learn dreams that he may have. Dreams that she has. Dreams that may have been stashed aside due to the responsibilities of life.
Aligning one’s priorities with one’s husband’s is a good way to quietly work toward improving a marriage.
Ultimately, our priorities must align with God’s priorities in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Practice tip: The next time you feel you are losing hope that your marriage will ever improve, pause and ask:
- Can I honestly say that I don’t have an area or two in my life that I need to improve?
- What would today, tomorrow and the next day look like if I took the first steps to make improvements?
- Am I truly considering the long-term consequences of living with regrets?
Additional reading about self-improvement:
While none of us is born with a “good wife” gene, we can continually flex and grow that muscle. The best part of the principles shared in this article is that most of these traits would also help men become better husbands and all of us become good children of God.
So strive to do your best to be a good wife by applying these principles to your marriage today!
Check out Life, Hope & Truth’s Relationship section for additional reading about “How to Have a Happy Marriage.”