What should I look for in a wife? Any list for such a broad question is going to be selective, but the following aspects are six of the most important things men should look for in a potential wife.
l. A good wife must have personal faith and trust in the Lord Jesus.
This requirement is the basis for any and all other qualities on the list. It is hard to overstate the importance of ensuring that we not enter into an intimate relationship where one person is a Christian and the other is not. The Bible refers to this situation as being “unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14, KJV).
Paul commands believers to marry “only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39, KJV). A marriage with only half the people committed to godly things cannot be regarded as “in the Lord.” Young men wanting a wife need the same warning as women looking for a husband. It’s not as common as the reverse situation, yet sometimes a man finds himself in a deepening friendship with an unbelieving woman. Despite the counsel he receives to the contrary, he desperately wants to believe that he will win her over to Christianity once they become husband and wife. More often than not, the woman makes little effort to pursue spiritual things once the ring is on her finger. The man is left to go to church and work on his spiritual life alone — or worse yet, to eventually stop trying altogether.
2. A wife should possess beauty that is deeper than the skin.
I don’t know of anyone who sets out to find a spouse who is physically unattractive, yet it is important to remember that beauty is often in the eye of the beholder. A wise man looks for a woman whose beauty comes from time spent in front of the mirror of the Word of God.
Before my wife, Sue, and I were even engaged, I was walking on the beach with her dad. Sue was out in the water. As we reached the spot where she was swimming, she walked toward us, tossed her head back, and shook the water from her long hair. Her father said, “What a beautiful girl inside and outside!” I agreed with his opinion then, and I still do!
While external features might get our attention, it’s the person’s inner qualities that should cause the real attraction.
3. A wife should be an initiative taker with an attitude of submission.
A wise man desires a woman with ideas, abilities, hopes, plans and dreams — a whole panorama of abilities she brings to marriage. In many areas he will be dependent upon her knowledge, insight, courage, faith and expertise.
The word submission is so frequently misunderstood that it has become a sensitive issue for many people. God’s intended role for the wife is not to wait around for her husband’s directives, as if somehow she were paralyzed without them. She is God’s gift to the man as a companion and helper. There will seldom be a day when he does not have occasion to thank God for his wife’s wisdom and grace.
However, it is also important not to fall into the clutches of a bossy, self-opinionated woman who is clearly unprepared to submit her heart, mind and lifestyle to the clear teaching of God’s Word.
4. A wife’s behavior should build her husband’s confidence.
Trustworthiness stems from character. A woman’s intrinsic qualities are revealed by her actions. She knows, for example, the difference between dressing to look attractive and deliberately trying to appear seductive. When a man tells me his wife chooses swimsuits that make her the object of male attention at the neighborhood pool, I know there are serious issues that need to be faced in that marriage.
Another key to trustworthy behavior is a controlled tongue. Some women are known for their capacity to gossip and slander. A man who wants to get married will do well to look for a woman whose speech is full of wisdom. It is much easier to put one’s complete trust and confidence in such a person.
5. A wife should display kindness that touches others.
While women do not have exclusive ownership of the characteristic of kindness, it seems that they do a much better job of expressing compassion than most men do. When Paul wanted to emphasize the extent of the gentleness he and his fellow ministers had tried to show one group of people, he compared it to the gentleness of a mother caring for her little children (1 Thessalonians 2:7).
As our culture continues to promote effeminate men and masculine women, we as Christians must be prepared in the face of ridicule, abuse and probably persecution, to be unashamed in holding firm to the guidelines of Scripture when it comes to these things. There were very clear reasons for the Old Testament commands relating to the distinction between the sexes, and we do well to pay more careful attention to them at this time.
6. A wife should have a sense of humor that braves adversity.
This is another area that is equally important for men and women. The ability to laugh will get the couple through more than a few rough spots.
One of the qualities of “the wife of noble character” described in Proverbs 31 is that “she is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come” (v. 25, NIV). Along with this ability, the passage explains that she is tender, but also tough. She can oversee numerous projects and handle all the variables. When the threat of discouragement or destruction looms, she is able to chuckle to herself because her dependence is upon God. She doesn’t rely on her charm. She recognizes that physical beauty is fleeting, but that fact doesn’t cause her to curl up in a ball or slump on a psychologist’s couch. No, she laughs at the days to come.
This article was adapted from Lasting Love: How to avoid marital failure by Alistair Begg, who is the senior pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio.
Whether you're engaged to be married or you’re serving as a pastor or mentor coaching an engaged couple, find more information about marriage preparation at Ready To Wed.