I am the excellent wife. No, really. My husband tells me I am…who am I to argue? Okay, okay. He really says I’m a ‘wonderful wife’. Close enough?
Recently a friend started reading Martha Peace’s book The Excellent Wife in a church study group. I am not part of her church or the study group but I was interested in the book. I value this friend’s opinion so I searched the library for a copy to read. Thank goodness for the OhioLink and Ohio Search system! There were none to be found locally (as in, they don’t even have them on the shelves at the libraries ‘near’ me) but my copy hails from Mt. Vernon, OH. Anyway, moving on from the limited local availability of Christian books…
I will say right up front—many women will *not* like this book. Many more women will be offended by this book. Some may find plenty reason to further arm themselves for the argument why ‘organized’ religion is ‘bad’. And of course there are those who will say this just proves that “men” (specifically the male gender, not mankind in general) have corrupted the Bible.
I will also say, although nowhere explicitly stated in the book itself, that this book is NOT referring to those in an abusive home, believing spouse or not. She (Peace) does make mention of it a time or two that if you fear for your life, or your children’s lives, seek the proper authorities; do not ‘suffer for righteousness’ in this situation!
And now onto the book. It is organized as follows:
- Part One: A Wife’s Understanding: Foundational Truths for the Excellent Wife…this talks about the belief in and of God, sin, relationships, marriage & the wife’s role.
- Part Two: A Wife’s Responsibility: Faithful Commitments of the Excellent Wife…the heart (is it focused on Christ or other possible ‘idols’), the home (the wife’s domain), love (it is a choice), respect, intimacy, submission (with joy no less!)
- Part Three: A Wife’s Submission: Fulfillment of the Excellent Wife…Biblical submission, God’s provision (resources for wives from God’s Word), honoring Christ (the motivation), communication (personally my favorite part of this section), conflict (the wife’s response)
- Part Four: A Wife’s Special Concerns: Sin Problems of the Excellent Wife…anger, fear, loneliness, sorrow
- Addendum A: Salvation Worksheets
- Addendum B: The “Put off” - “Put On” Dynamic
- Addendum C: Questions and Answers
- Addendum D: The Biblical View of Authority
- Addendum E: Meekness Assessment and Homework Assignment
- Addendum F: Examples of Not Answering a Fool According to His Folly
- Addendum G: Loneliness
- Addendum H: The Character of God and the Issue of Biblical Submission
- Addendum I: Misperceptions Regarding a Wife’s Submission to Her Husband
- Addendum J: Advice for Women Married to Unbelievers
When I got the book, I wasn’t even aware there were ‘addendums’ because they were not listed in the table of contents. I went through the entire book but started taking notes in Part Two, but I would write the notes in random places so I’m trying to organize them as I’m organizing my post. My first notes were from page 38: “Ways God Helps Us Be More Like Christ”. There is a table, there are quite a few tables throughout the book similar to this one, that gives the “Testing or Pressures” in the first column, Scripture reference in the second, and “Potential Character Qualities” in the last. I found it interesting that some of these I could actually agree about since I’d gone through the ‘test or pressure’—but not always resulting in the potential character quality she has listed. Ahem. My husband does say I’m a ‘wonderful wife’; perhaps ‘excellent’ is the next level. Always room for improvement.
Something that stood out to me near the beginning of the book is that both man and woman were created in God’s image. Granted woman came second and from man’s rib; still—in God’s image. It’s something that I think is often forgotten by both men and women. Reading later on it’s easy to ‘forget’, or rather not bring to mind, when thinking about submission and authority and all that, but I think it is important to keep it in memory while going through this. Women are not to be doormats. God would have made us differently if that were the intent.
There are so many good “principles” presented in this book but at the same time it can be easy to get ‘offended’ by the writing or language of the book itself. What I did for the remainder of the book—which I read in its entirety—was to write down the principle and the verses she related to each principle. Some of her scenarios are…unrealistic. I cannot imagine a person speaking the way she relates. Maybe she does, I have no idea. Also some of the scenarios had me wondering why she chose that over something else but it might be exactly what another reader is dealing with.
There was plenty I can say, or rather I most likely won’t say, that I didn’t care for in the book but there was more for me that I did ‘care for’ even if I didn’t ‘like to hear it’. I’ve grown much in my 16 years of marriage but it certainly wasn’t all my doing! I believe the journey is much easier fit he husband is on the same page. I don’t even mean that he is a ‘believer’; rather that he respects his wife and adores her. If a husband is a tyrant and full of ‘sin’ that the wife does not participate in, or is simply negligent to her as person deserving of the same treatment as himself, well, my prayers are with that couple because it cannot possibly be easy!
This book is directed at *wives* not husbands. There are books out for husbands on the market. I think another point to understand while going through the book is that we are only in control of ourselves. Our actions may indeed have an outcome on what others do but ultimately we are only responsible for our actions. We must take responsibility for our actions, not our husbands (that can be argued of course for certain circumstances). We can’t take their blame either—if that makes sense. Peace does address being aware of our personal responsibility at a few points in the book, the first and most in depth is on page 90 & 91.
The last section of the book is on “Sin Problems of the Excellent Wife,” but I didn’t take notes. Not to say that I’m truly an excellent wife (wonderful isn’t quite excellent, remember? fine, that’s a note to myself) but I didn’t feel that these are problems for me at this point in my life. Now…a few years ago they may have been much more applicable!
There may be more I could say about this book but I will leave it as it is now. As I mentioned, I checked the book out from the library and have renewed it a few times already. It’s time to send it on its way. I’ve finally put my notes together in a somewhat legible order and placed them in one location for future reference.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?
***Disclaimer: I don’t own this book and checked it out from the library. This review is my own, “just because review.”***