The sound of a leaking roof or a dripping tap can be very annoying. It can irritate you and get on your nerves. It can prevent you from concentrating on your work or it can keep you awake during the night. Grrrr….. You want to fix it as soon as possible or at least make sure that you do not hear this annoying sound of dripping water. The ‘plink’ sound is bad enough, but plumbers tell us that the longer you leave your leaking tap unfixed, the more likely it is that what started as a simple leak, could lead to mold, water damage, and damp. These symptoms will be even worse in people who already have allergies or chronic lung illnesses.
Bearing this in mind, it is very enlightening that Solomon compares a quarrelsome spouse with a leaking tap. Although his one liner speaks of a quarrelsome wife, it is fair to say that a quarrelsome husband has the same effect.
We all know that developing and maintaining an intimate relationship with another human being is hard work and can be challenging at times, particularly when the two of us seem to come from different planets. To deal with difference of opinion, style, preference, feeling, taste etc. can be tiring and arguing is around the corner.
A quarrelsome spouse is compared with a constant dripping tap or the constant dripping of a leaky roof. The word ‘constant’ in these verses suggests that this is not about having an argument now and then with our spouse. Given the fact that husband and wife are usually very different and bring different childhood (and other) experiences and personalities into the marriage, an argument now and then is inevitable. But Solomon refers to a constant nagging and continuing quarreling. In other words: quarreling, nagging seems to have become a behavioral pattern of one of the spouses. The one liner can be paraphrased as: “A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet; You can’t turn it off and you can’t get away from it.” Such an attitude is foolish and can destroy a relationship and drive us apart.
“A quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof.” (Proverbs 19:13)
“A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.” (Proverbs 27: 15,16)
No marriage lacks stressful circumstances that might cause arguing: bill needs to be paid; the neighbors are not as friendly as we would like. There might be health issues or problems related to raising children or regarding relationships with the extended family. Time and again we realize that our spouse has a totally opposite viewpoint. Nevertheless, when we constantly find a way to disagree with or find fault with our spouse, we are leaking the love that keeps the marriage together. Negative comments, constant fault-finding, never-ending criticism, time and again magnifying the spouses’ flaws, day after day devaluating our spouse’s efforts and accomplishments, crushes his or her spirit. The drip-drip-dripping of the nag-nag-nagging, the nit-nit-nit-picking drain-drain-drains the love and intimacy between us and our spouse.
Is there a cure against a nagging wife or a quarrelsome husband? According to Solomon restraining quarrelsome partner (with words or otherwise) does not work. What else? Leave? This is what Solomon seems to suggest:
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife (Proverbs 21:9)
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. (Proverbs 21:19)
Nagging and quarreling drives spouses away from each other. You might temporarily find a solace against the insulting words of your spouse, whether in a desert, another part of the house, or on a boat, a cafe or somewhere else, but sooner or later you’ll come back together, and the quarreling may start again. What is the long-term solution?
Let us return to the leaking tap. The issue is usually the rubber seals – limescale can form on them over time or they may become leaky due to material wear. Like healthy rubber a good marriage relationship is flexible, give and take, balancing distance and intimacy, accepting and forgiving. But what happens when the rubber dries out, due to lack or romance, lack of appreciative words, or compliments, ignoring the emotional needs of one another? Yes, you guessed it. The tap begins to leak, the nagging begins, the quarreling become a regular feature in your relationship. My advice: keep the rubber band of your marriage relationship in good condition. This prevents the leaking of mutual love through constant dripping. It also means you do not have to run away to the rooftop or a desert, in fact you might be welcomed in the marriage bed.