“Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” What are readers of Scripture supposed to learn from a proverb like this?
In the last third of the book of Proverbs, the theme of the quarrelsome wife is brought up five times (Proverbs 19:13; 21:9; 21:19; 25:24; 27:15). And those references raise a question: Is a husband encouraged to separate himself from such a wife? This is the question today, not from a man, but from a woman, a listener named Sarah.
“Hello, Pastor John! My question is regarding verses in Proverbs to husbands about their wives. Specifically Proverbs 21:9 — ‘Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.’ And Proverbs 21:19 — ‘Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.’ In the verses, and specifically in Proverbs when talking about the quarrelsome wife, I get the impression that the man should not stay with a wife of this character. Or at least it is not good to be with a wife who is quarrelsome.
“Is this a warning to men in being wise in selecting a wife? Or is this for women, a warning to wives and future wives to root our hearts in God’s wisdom so we don’t become quarrelsome? And how does this verse apply if a wife does in fact become quarrelsome later in the marriage? I know God’s will is for a man and woman to stay together for life. But can you bring clarity on the meaning and wisdom that should be pulled from these verses that seem to suggest separation?”