A Contentious Woman

“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” Proverbs 27:15

As in many of the Proverbs, there’s little explanation that follows except to say that containing this type of woman is like containing the wind or holding oil in your hand. Maybe one of Solomon’s wives was looking on and he didn’t want her to know whom he was writing about. Maybe his reference to the wind led her to believe it was the wife who talked too much. Or his allusion to oil was a nod to the woman who used more than her fair share of the perfume.  

What a shame that the wisest man to ever live had to do so with an argumentative woman/women. I can see him now, on his throne, head resting patiently, thoughtlessly on his fist with his wife, standing above him, her ever thrusting finger in rhythmic time with her verbal barrage. “Yes dear,” he would say hoping it would bring him a moment’s peace, no doubt remembering what he had previously written in chapter 21, “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.” By chapter 27 he had probably worked up enough courage to say what he really meant, but made sure the words were hidden between the parts about blessing a friend with a loud voice and of iron sharpening iron.

Little is said of a contentious woman other than she will drive you stark raving mad. Rain doesn’t stop while it is rain. As the verse states, it continues dropping, dropping, and dropping with no thought of your feelings or the fact that you are wearing your suede jacket. “Maybe if I let the rain completely cover my shoes, it will be alright,” you think. “Darker suede, like a new pair.” But no, the rain ruins them all the same.

Similarly, a contentious woman cares little that her words tear up her husband’s manhood, and by doing so he is not becoming the man she thinks she wants him to be. Rather, she is beating him like a helpless puppy and probably becoming her mother at the same time. This is a thought that never occurs to her but that would do her irreparable damage were the observation to be made. Her family thinks, “we should tell her what she’s doing and how she acts.”

Would it be so bad to tell her? It’s likely that in some rickety gym bleachers during a high school pep rally she uttered the words to her BFF, “don’t ever let me become my mother.” Probably because of a fight they had over her short skirt, but telling her that her pseudo-prophecy is coming true would do no good. It would just be more ammunition to throw at her targets. As though she needs more. “You said I was just like my mother so I guess I need to live up to the expectation.” Visions of the Wicked Witch of the West come to mind as well as the large collection of wire hangers I have in my closet.

While the husband is often the hapless victim in circumstances like this, the children also get a good lesson in manipulation and family dysfunction. If you cause people enough guilt yet make them feel sorry for you at the same time, you are in charge and can get whatever you want. The daughter might view her parents’ relationship much like the relationship she has with her hamster, locked in his cage in her room. “I’ll play with it,” she pleaded at the pet store, so giddy and ready to raise a national champion hamster . . . if there is such a thing. Weeks have past and he sits in his cage until she finally takes him out to clean it. “You dirty rat. I can’t stand you,” she mutters as her once prized possession is now little more than an inconvenience. When she finishes with her task, her disposition is more solidified as she hears her mother yell, “Have you swept the floor yet you lazy man?”

The other lesson contentious women give here? “Men are scum, and if we don’t tear them down, they’ll be lazy, good-for-nothings and will probably cheat on us.” It’s true. For generations men have been scoundrels, competing masses of conquering adrenaline that are not fit to be in the presence of refined women who are about the only things we don’t hit over the head anymore. Most of us anyway. And this is for the better because we should be domesticated by now. If I lose at a card game, my instinct is to jump up, allow my chair to scrape against the wooden floor and then punch the guy. Next, if old western have taught us anything, the piano will strike up as we duke it out until being thrown into the horse trough outside. But society and my wife say that this is wrong. I should be a good sport and not a sore loser.

Men are domesticated thanks to women, but in our hearts most of us are still wild. The desire to conquer is strong in us. We still retreat to the woods, we still eat hoards of meat and the desire to drive recklessly is tempered only by the loving eyes of our family. To deal with this, women have two options. First, she can be the type of woman a man longs for, and if he’s smart, he will pursue her with all the gusto he can muster. This will result in a happy and productive marriage along with the occasional trip to the woods or river. We’re still wild, remember? The other option is to be a Trojan horse to him. Lure him in with her seductive ways and promise him happiness until she has him around the throat and his other sensitive parts. This places her in a prime position to get exactly what she wants from him, which may be a child, money or simply the satisfaction that she can rule his life because of her low opinion of men. These women are sick. Her husband bought a ring as a token showing he can care for her and she has slowly become something that he can’t do anything with. She sees no wrong in her selfish actions and everyone is left with an open heart where a loving mother should be.

Proverbs 31 speaks of the virtuous woman, lauding her business sense, piety, and care for her family. Women are one of God’s most precious gifts to us. They are gentle and loving, but when they do not take their place in this world seriously, or worse, use their talents for selfish reasons, everyone suffers.