Richard Baxter: Six Points to Avoiding Problems Between Husband and Wife

Posted: June 12, 2009 by limabean03 in Christian Theology, Christianity, Discipleship, Puritan Faith, Reformation Theology, Reformed Theology, The Christian Life

wedding cake

Baxter was a Puritan pastor in England in the mid 1600’s.  I enjoy his writings very much for his clear, pracitcal, advice on a range of Christian concerns.  The following is an excerpt from a pamphlet on keeping discord out of the home.  Baxter’s typical style is to begin by showing you why you should be concerned before applying practical advice.  I have left that section out but you can see it if you click through.  Below you will simply find six practical instructions to help a husband and wife have a peaceful relationship.  I’d like to draw your attention to two of them.  Baxter’s first point is that the couple should have sex a lot! (and you call him a Puritan?!?!?).  Conjugal is of course merely an adjective for the state of marriage between husband and wife, however in Baxter’s context “conjugal love” plus “heat and vigor” equal sex.  This is a timely word to husbands and wives in modern North America who are simply too busy to have sex.  Baxter says “make time!  It’s important!”  The second point that I would like to draw your attention to comes under heading number 5, which simply suggests that if you get in an argument you should seek to pray with one another.  I have found bringing Jesus into an argument through prayer quickly throws cold water on any heated argument (if both parties submit to the prayer that is).  So enjoy this bit of advice from a long dead pastor…

(1) Keep up your conjugal love in a constant heat and vigor. Love will suppress wrath; you cannot have a bitter mind upon small provocations, against those that you dearly love; much less can you proceed to reviling words, or to averseness and estrangedness, or any abuse of one another. Or if a breach and wound be unhappily made, the balsamic quality of love will heal it. But when love once cooleth, small matters exasperate and breed distaste.

 (2) Both husband and wife must mortify their pride and passion, which are the causes of impatiency; and must pray and labour for a humble, meek, and quiet spirit. A proud heart is troubled and provoked by every word or carriage that seemeth to tend to their undervaluing. A peevish, froward mind is like a sore and ulcerated member, that will be hurt if it be touched. He that must live near such a sore, diseased, impatient mind, must live even as the nurse doth with the child, that maketh it her business to rock it, and lull, and sing it quiet when it crieth; for to be angry with it, will do no good; and if you have married one of such a sick or childish temper, you must resolve to bear and use them accordingly. But no Christian should bear with such a malady in themselves; nor be patient with such impatiency of mind. Once get the victory over yourselves, and the cure of your own impatience, and you will easily keep peace with one another.

 (3) Agree together beforehand, that when one is in the diseased, angry fit, the other shall silently and gently bear, till it be past and you are come to yourselves again. Be not angry both at once; when the fire is kindled, quench it with gentle words and carriage, and do not cast on oil or fuel, by answering provokingly and sharply, or by multiplying words, and by answering wrath with wrath.

 (4) If you cannot quickly quench your passion, yet at least refrain your tongues; speak not reproachful or provoking words: talking it out hotly doth blow the fire, and increase the flame; be but silent, and you will the sooner return to your serenity and peace. Foul words tend to more displeasure. As Socrates said when his wife first railed at him, and next threw a vessel of foul water upon him, ‘I thought when I heard the thunder, there would come rain’; so you may portend worse following, when foul, unseeming words begin. If you cannot easily allay your wrath, you may hold your tongues, if you are truly willing.

 (5) Let the sober party condescend to speak fair and to entreat the other. Say to your angry wife or husband, ‘You know this should not be betwixt us; love must allay it, and it must be repented of. God doth not approve it, and we shall not approve it when this heat is over. This frame of mind is contrary to a praying frame, and this language contrary to a praying language; we must pray together anon; let us do nothing contrary to prayer now: sweet water and bitter come not from one spring,’ etc. Some calm and condescending words of reason, may stop the torrent, and revive the reason which passion had overcome.

 (6) Confess your fault to one another, when passion hath prevaileth against you; and ask forgiveness of each other, and join in prayer to God for pardon; and this will lay a greater engagement on you the next time to forbear: you will sure be ashamed to do that which you have so confessed and asked forgiveness for of God and man. If you will but practise these directions, your family peace may be preserved.

read it all here

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s