Why a man needs a wife. (Why this man does, at any rate.)

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22).

My friend Dr. Fred Luter, pastor of New Orleans’ Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, has an interesting way of introducing his beloved Elizabeth from the pulpit.  He calls her “the love of my life, the apple of my eye, my prime rib, my good thing!”

Elizabeth has heard all that only a few thousand times, but she beams each time, as the congregation laughs and applauds.

My dad, Carl J. McKeever, who loved mom, Lois Kilgore McKeever, every day of his life, would say, “My rib is the best bone in my body.”

When the great C. S. Lewis married Joy Davidman, she moved into his house near Oxford and looked around.  His home, called “The Kilns,” hadn’t been redecorated in decades.  “The walls and carpets are full of holes,” Joy wrote. “The carpets are tattered rags.”  She feared that moving the bookcases might cause the walls to cave in.

Joy was soon bringing in decorators and workmen and turning that pile of rubble into a home worthy of its distinguished resident.

Who can calculate the worth of a good wife?

I was thinking this week about this.

My friend Randy is burying his wonderful wife of 53 years today.  I participated in Charlene’s funeral on Monday, and they were transporting her body to Florida for burial.  My heart goes out to Randy and his family. This distraught husband has some lonely and tearful days and nights ahead, and there is nothing to do but to go through them.

His big house will have never seemed so huge. And so empty.

Yesterday, I saw a dermatologist.  I told him, “I don’t have any particular reason for coming except I no longer have anyone to spot something on my back or neck and tell me I should see a doctor about that.”  I said, “Would you mind looking me over?”

Two years ago, I had skin cancer and surgery, so I’m vulnerable.  The doctor spotted a pink area above one eyebrow. “We’ll keep an eye on that.”  I’m to return in six months.

They say widowers and other single men live shorter lives than married men.  If that’s the case, I think I know why.  A wife will see that a man eats right, and that he sees his doctors as necessary.

I’m still working on eating right. Today, among other things I’ve eaten a banana, a peach, blueberries, strawberries, and an apple; how’s that? I’m taking my vitamins and such, but I’ve done that for years on my own.

And, in the five months-plus since Margaret left, I’ve had a colonoscopy and made appointments with the dermatologist and the optometrist, whose appointment is next week.

I’m trying.

In addition to all the intimate and emotional needs a wife fills, a good wife is a counselor, a sounding board, an advisor, another brain, and someone to stand on the other side of the bed so that making it up is easier.

A good wife will not necessarily pick up after her husband, but she will not allow him to adopt slovenly habits.  “Hey, do you really want to leave those old shoes on my carpet?” That sort of thing.

Next week, my three local grandchildren, who are young adults in their own right, will be sleeping in my house while Neil and Julie participate in a church mission to Washington State.  The girls will sleep in the king-bed in our guest room.  So, today I went to the store and bought a new set of linens, and washed them, then put them on the bed.  It’s not that there aren’t other sheets around here, but some are for twin beds, some for standard, some for queen, and presumably, some for king.  I just couldn’t find the ones for the king bed. (Well, okay. I didn’t look real hard.)

The sheets and pillow cases I bought are wine-colored, sort of a royal purple or maroon.  No one will ever wonder which ones fit the king.

I would not have had to do this if Margaret were still here. She would know exactly where everything is and would have that guest room ready in 5 minutes.  With me, it’s a process.  I imagine it’ll be easier next time.

I miss Margaret telling me what she thinks of a blog I’m working on. She would not hesitate to say, “That’s too long” or “Boring.”  Or, “Why do you think anyone will want to read this?”

You can’t pay someone to do that for you.  Only a life-partner of many years knows you well enough to know what she can get by with saying.

I miss having someone to say those socks do not work with that outfit, that tie with that shirt, or that coat with those slacks.

So, if you see me looking mismatched, you’ll know why.

A wife seems to come into the world knowing about kitchens and menus and nutrition labels.  I’m so ignorant of these things, it’s pitiful.

I bought a counter-top toaster oven the other day.  In order to make space for it, I cleared off some of the things Margaret left there–the tea pot, the electric can opener, that sort of thing.

I’m trying.

Looking at the title of this piece, I wonder if anyone reading it thought I was going to announce either a search for a wife (a funny thought) or that I’d found a new one.  Not hardly.

Even if I thought the Lord wanted that for me down the road, I’m  miles away from anything like that.  As I told Randy earlier this week, I’m not crying every day now. Just every other day.

Some people leave a hole when they depart.  A good wife leaves a crater.

15 thoughts on “Why a man needs a wife. (Why this man does, at any rate.)

  1. Much of what you said can be applied to why a woman needs a husband. Mine has been gone almost 3 years. Down to crying every 3 or 4 days. Still missing him at every turn!

  2. My husband of 51+ years, Stanley, will be gone 7 years this Christmas. My 2 sons & their families have been marvelous; so have other family members. The church family that he served as a deacon has helped greatly, but the bottom line is that each of us in his own way with God’s help must chart our paths. My daily prayer includes help with decisions & thankfulness for agility & clear thinking.

  3. You are doing a GREAT job! And not just with readying a guest room. Sharing your journey helps other so many other men doing life without the love of their loves. The Littons are your fans. Come to Mobile and see us!

  4. I don’t know how you can top some of those mismatched PLAID outfits you wore in the pulpit while in Columbus. Those plaids at permanently burned into my retinas! 🙂 Prayers all around and His peace!

  5. My wonderful husband went to Heaven Three yeats ago this March. I cant cry!! I just grieve in silence. God will take catre oo us!! God bless you and fill your soul with peace.

  6. I hope I am that kind of wife! I also hope I am the kind of mother my kids will keenly miss when I am gone. That means you were a true friend and mentor.
    I thank and praise God you had a true helpmate Bro. Joe.

  7. You are doing fine Dr Joe – I think she would be proud (and she would have said wine colored sheets would fade in the wash, but that’s neither here nor there). I’ve never seen my Dad afraid except when Mom was in the ICU this May — he was “unglued”. The worst thing we did was let him sleep at home by himself one night while I stayed with Mom… He said he never wanted to do that again. Saying a prayer for you today– much love to you!

  8. My husband of thirty five years just passed a month ago. The day after that anniversary. I am newly hiding and trying to come out into the light. For twelve years I have been his caregiver. The last five he was bed bound and beginning to exhibit vascular dementia. Everyday we spent time talking about our love and our friendship….because we quietly knew this was everyday a gift and no promises for tomorrow. Tomorrow came…like a flash, out of nowhere and sent my heart on a trip I may spend a great amount of time trying to find my way home from….everyday….I speak to him and to God…to take good care of him til I get there.

  9. Thank you for sharing. Momma went Home two years ago and we continue to watch Daddy as he waits patiently for our Lord to fulfill His promise of His return or to take him Home. He is faithful! Parting is hard but He provides His grace. Only Him! Thanks for being so open!

  10. When we start out, we all think we shall be together forever, die within a few hours of each other, and wake up in Heaven holding hands. That rarely happens.

    My Barbara had five years of various illnesses, I kept by her side through them all. Her last heart upset required going on hospice from hospital to home but after five days I saw she needed far more than I could provide. To a local nursing home for three months, exactly one month short of 60 years of wonderful friendship, love, and marriage.

    After 22 years as a pastor I’d moved from local church leadership into a local University Medical Center. I transitioned into medical ministry with patients and teaching medical professionals about faith, religion, spirituality and Christianity. Loved the closeness to so many wonderful people. She loved working, teaching, and producing three books.

    As we entered the nursing home that first day I simply asked, “Lord, we are here. Now help me to learn from this what it is you want me to learn about you and all these people here.” He did. I was there constantly. She lasted only three months with all three of our adult children and many fine Christian friends with us at her last heart beat.

    You did the right thing seeing a new dermatologist. A month after Barbara’s funeral, I went to see my primary doctor for a checkup. (I worked in a medical center for 16 years seeing patients plus training medical professionals years as partner on the volunteer faculty. Stay close to your physicians. They are for your best interest.) Still love seeing, counseling, listening, sharing God with people day to day as Jesus told us in Matthew 28. Still call many physicians close friends and colleagues. At 85 I live alone, in relatively good health, and move a bit slower myself. Even decided I wanted to sing praise to the Lord with more style, so took private singing lessons for a four months. It worked. Hallelujah.

  11. As always, beautiful and practical reflections, Joe. Your writings help far more people than you realize or will ever know about in this life.

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