If the woman you’re with shows you these signs, she’s definitely in it for the wrong reasons.
“Since Proverbs 31 paints a picture of an excellent wife, does that mean there’s such a thing as a non-excellent wife?”
I’d never considered the question before, but it was a good one. It made me think.
Essentially, my friend wondered if there are certain types of women that are, or would be, “bad” wives.
If you’re a single man you should want to know. If you’re a married woman, or a woman who one day wants to be married, you should want to know, too. No woman wants to be a bad wife. No man wants to marry one, either.
It is certainly not an easy decision to choose a wife in marriage. Lots of people have made the mistake of choosing wrongly and that usually ends up costing a lot. Fortunately, it is most definitely possible to form a bond with the right woman that will last a lifetime. What’s important is knowing whether or not the woman you’re with has a long term vision that also aligns with your vision. Your wife doesn’t have to be perfect but if she exudes these attributes, she’s a keeper. If you want to recognize the qualities of a good wife, it’s important that you know the signs of a bad one. Most of the characteristics you may think are most important in a wife may not be ones that make for a good, lifelong relationship.
So… what type of woman makes a “less-than-excellent” wife?
1. A Dismissive Woman
“If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.”
Honestly, though, having an attitude of prioritizing one another’s needs, preferences and opinions didn’t come naturally. Frankly, it can be easier to dismiss your partner’s needs than to deal with them.
A dismissive woman devalues or diminishes her spouse’s preferences, opinions or desires. Sometimes you’ll hear a dismissive woman turning the conversation back to herself, (“Yes, but what about my needs?”) or failing to really consider the desire (“That’s just not practical/realistic/happening in this lifetime.”) or even shaming the need (“Oh, for heaven’s sake, you’re not one of the children! Grow up.”).
Sometimes though, a dismissive woman is more subtle. She won’t tell her partner she’s dismissing his need or preference; she’ll simply ignore it. Or she’ll become unavailable physically, sexually, or emotionally.
Why is this “bad”? When a woman unilaterally dismisses her partner’s need or preference, her husband feels rejected, unloved and unimportant. He may not say it, but he feels it. Plain and simple, it hurts.
Anything that hurts a marriage partner hurts the marriage. Period.
Does this mean a wife should be at her husband’s beck and call, ready to fulfill every desire? Absolutely not! It does mean, though, that she genuinely cares about her partner’s feelings and wants to meet his needs when she can.
Really, this attitude is the mandate for all Christ followers, in every relationship. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil 2:4)
2. She Has an Evil Heart
If your wife is constantly consumed with their life and their needs and not the needs of those around her, proceed with caution. This may be a sign that she has an evil heart and will only take advantage of you. They play on the kindness and sympathy of good people, and then try to mislead them. They will demand mercy, but never give any themselves. They will also push for warmth, forgiveness and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy. They also have no real intention of making amends or working hard to regain lost trust. A wife that does not concentrate equally to both individuals in the relationship will not change their priorities down the road.
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3. She Doesn’t Love You Unconditionally
People tend to believe that “true love” relationships are only found in fairytales, but we have the power to turn our own relationships into just that. A good wife loves you unconditionally. She values you the way you are. Unconditional love in essence is true love so different from the kind of love most of have known all our lives that it deserves a definition of its own. Unconditional love is caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves. A woman that doesn’t love you unconditionally likely has ulterior motives. If you don’t keep your eyes open, you will find yourself broken later.
4. An Undependable Woman
The first description of an excellent wife in Proverbs 31—the very first one—is this: “Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.” (Proverbs 31:11, NLT). The NIV says “Her husband has full confidence in her.”
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that if a good wife is trustworthy, a bad wife isn’t.
If you’re considering marrying a woman whose integrity you question, let me offer you a friendly piece of advice: run.
A dependable woman can be trusted to be faithful to her man, responsible in her decisions, and wise with their children. She’ll hang on with you through the tough times and hold on to you in the good.
She’s honest and she’s honorable. She doesn’t withhold the truth; she upholds the truth. Even in small matters.
This type of woman enriches the life of everyone around her—most of all, her husband.
5. She Doesn’t Make You a Better Man
Never overlook a woman who makes you a better man. Any man who has a great wife will tell you that she makes him a better man. Sometime, she doesn’t have to say or do anything. Your wife should elevate you to your best self. If she doesn’t, you need to take a deeper look at your relationship. You can get a good idea from your friends and family. Do they say or act differently when you are around her? If it’s in a negative way, that’s not a good sign. A good wife brings out the best in you, a bad wife does the opposite.
6. A Disrespectful Woman
“How many kids do you have?” I asked. “Three. Four, if you count my husband.” Everyone laughed… sort of. But her answer was no laughing matter. Comments like this—though they sound innocent on the surface—indicate something underneath: a lack of respect for one’s partner.
Disrespect doesn’t always come in the form of words. It can come with a look: eye rolling, a shaking head, or a deep sigh. It can be an attempt to control, to mother or to demean a husband. These actions send the same message: You’re an idiot. I don’t respect you.
God gives only one command directed to wives: “Wives see to it that you respect your husbands” (Ephesians 5:33). In healthy, life-giving marriages, wives respect their husbands and husbands love their wives. God’s plan is a win for both sides.
Are some men are easier to respect than others? You bet. But every healthy relationship, both inside and outside of marriage—every single one—is built on the foundation of respect. Without respect relationships crumble.
7. An Overly Dependent Woman or Overly Independent Woman
All healthy relationships have a level of both dependence and independence, but when the pendulum swings too far on either side, something is amiss.
The overly dependent woman looks to her partner to meet most, if not all, of her emotional needs. She often has a hard time encouraging his independent interests. She frequently manipulates through tears, emotional outbursts, withdrawal or demands. She can even be dramatic, if necessary. Why does she behave this way? She’s prone to see romantic relationships as her savior and feels lost without one. Even in unhealthy scenarios, an overly dependent woman has difficulty severing ties.
Conversely, the overly independent woman has difficulty cementing ties. She may fear commitment. She may fear being controlled. She may be so used to doing things her way, partnering with another person seems foreign.
In relationships neither over-dependence or over-independence is healthy. Marriage is a team sport, meant for two equal partners.
8. She Isn’t Trustworthy
Is the woman you love someone you can trust? If you can’t say yes, you’re in trouble. This is about more than fidelity in marriage. A good wife wants her husband to know that he can trust her and depend on her just like she trusts and depends on him. She sees the marriage as a partnership with God at the helm. You guys are a team. Scripture tells us, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:11-12). A husband trusts her when she does him good and not evil. He will have confidence in her when he is encouraged. The trustworthy wife seeks to do her husband good all the days of her life.
9. She’s Selfish
Never overlook a woman who is selfless. You know you’ve found a good wife when she really values others. A selfless woman also puts God first. She puts other people’s wishes, interests or aspirations first because she values others. A bad wife does the opposite. Her insecurities drive her selfishness. Look at the way she treats her family and friends. Giving to others comes naturally to her. She finds happiness in giving away her energy, time and hard earned money, even to those who need help but don’t ask for it.
10. She Doesn’t Get Along With Others
A good wife genuinely cares about her family. She gets along with your friends and family. A good wife will make an effort to have close relationships with your circle of influence. A bad wife will do the opposite. She’ll try to isolate you from the people you’re closest with because of her own insecurities. If she doesn’t even try to connect with your family and friends, let her go. She shouldn’t be critical of the people who you love and have been loyal to you throughout your life. She is a good fit with the people in your life.
11. A Discouraging Woman
There are two relational truths many women fail to understand:
Truth 1: At the heart of every good man is the desire to please his wife.
Truth 2: It’s hard to stay emotionally, physically and spiritually connected to a person who consistently makes you feel discouraged… even if that person is your wife.
This is why the discouraging wife can be so lethal to a life-giving marriage. The discouraging woman makes her man feel like he can’t do anything right, no matter how hard he tries. In the inner recess of her mind she’s thinks I would like him more if he… Her unspoken goal is change him. She might use criticism (not the healthy, constructive type). She may complain incessantly. She may name call, nitpick, or control. No matter how her discouragement manifests itself, the outcome is the same: Her husband usually feels worse in her presence than better.
This isn’t to say a wife can’t disagree or express disappointment. It doesn’t mean wives can’t have hard conversations. It does mean, though, that we learn the art of having hard conversations without being hard-hearted.
12. She Lacks Compassion
Compassion is one of the most important qualities in a marriage so if your wife lacks it, you’re in trouble. The definition of compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
A compassionate wife is able to recognize when her spouse is suffering in some way. She is loving and kind and can help them move through their process.
Does the woman you’re with possess these qualities? While not every woman displays these qualities, those who do are quite special and deserve to be acknowledged. The woman you are with should add to your life, not take away from it. A good wife puts God first and values her marriage covenant. She will ultimately enhance your life and bring you closer to Christ. If she doesn’t, she’s bad news.
Good wives encourage the best by raising the bar, not discouraging the worst by lowering it.
Are there certain types of women that make bad wives? Yes. There are certain types of men that make bad husbands, too. But God’s Word offers practical advice on how to be a healthy, life-giving partner.
None of us has to be a “bad” spouse—or marry one—if we follow His plan.
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