Marriage and a wife’s self-esteem

By Erika Rizkallah

Recently, I had an enlightening discussion with a gentleman in my writer’s critique group. He’s a man dedicated to God and is writing a book that will help other men.

He submitted a devotion about marriage – an analogy based on his time spent hiking the Appalachian Trail. His piece promoted perseverance and commitment and offered help to husbands using four Biblical principles. Well written and informative, our small group (all women) thoroughly enjoyed it.

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However, I told him one sentence “tweaked” my spirit.

“Tweaked?” he asked.

“Yeah, you know. Pricked? Tugged at?”

He just smiled.

Has that ever happened to you? Where you read something and you think Hmm I’m not sure about this or maybe, I’m not sure I agree with that statement. 

The passage spoke about how husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This is correct and true. But then he wrote something like, “A wife draws her self-esteem from her husband.”

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Those were the words that tweaked my spirit.

I politely questioned the statement saying, “I definitely do not get my self-esteem from my husband because he is imperfect. My self-esteem comes from Jesus Christ and who He says I am.”

He replied that his sentence is a biblical truth stated in Ephesians 5:33.

Our group got into an honest discussion about love and respect – what wives and husbands need (which coincidentally) is the title of a popular Christian book written by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs. The book is widely read within the church.

We talked openly about our marriages and what we desired from our spouse. I learned something in our discussion. We all have different ideas about this issue. Ideas influenced by where we live, our life experiences, various teachers, and cultures.

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But nowhere in the Bible can I find any reference to a spouse’s self-esteem coming from their partner. Ephesians 5:33 states: However, each one of you must also love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Love and respect are Biblical commands and I don’t believe they’re mutually exclusive. My husband and I desire both things from one another and the practice of this has made our 23-year marriage strong and healthy.

I’m writing about this for two reasons:

The first is to illustrate how important it is to know what the Bible says, so we’re not influenced by merely human ideas. The second is so that when we seek esteem, we turn to Christ for validation. I love what the Apostle Paul has to say about us:

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17:26-28.

Your Turn: Has your self-esteem been influenced by other people’s ideas? If so, how?

 

One thought on “Marriage and a wife’s self-esteem

  1. I’m approaching the question from the self-esteem side as opposed to the married side – and here’s why. My self-esteem is critically low, it’s barely higher than none at all. For this reason, I’ve remained single. I don’t see myself as worth somebody’s while to marry me. Marriage pretty much requires a healthy amount of self-esteem in the first place. In all the reading I’ve done about improving my own self esteem, it’s all ideas like writing things nice things that people have said about you (“You’re awesome!”), finding an affirmation like “I am OK as I am. I accept and love myself”, and learning to challenge your own negative thoughts about yourself instead of accepting them. That’s why it’s called SELF-esteem, it cannot come from anyone else. Because of my church’s teaching on dying to self, I never really saw Jesus as a source of self-esteem either. Book like “Love and Respect” and all the other books in the same vein really never have anything helpful to offer me where I’m at. I’m familiar with them because my church taught me from them because they think I”ll need to know it for when I’m married, but it strikes me that the instruction does nothing but chip away at my self-esteem as my “role” is to deny myself and submit to my future husband. It doesn’t really build me up in any way. It feels to me like it would be taking a giant leap backwards in terms of self-esteem.

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