In reading Ruth 3:1-3, something interesting can be observed in how men and women treat one another before marriage. Naomi is trying to get Ruth a husband. Boaz is the man in the sights. Therefore, Naomi gives counsel how Ruth might win the heart of this man, Boaz. Her advice is this: “Wash thyself (that is, take a bath, clean yourself up – B.H.)… anoint thee (that is, put on some perfume, try to smell your best – B.H.)… put thy raiment upon thee (that is, dress nice, dress to impress, put on your best dress – B.H.)… make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking (the way unto a man’s heart is through is stomach, make sure he eats before you approach him, he’ll be more receptive – B.H.).
Didn’t we do similarly when dating our prospective mates? Didn’t we try to look nice? Didn’t we dine our dates and feed them well? Didn’t we, men, open the door of the car? Didn’t we do all that we could to win them over?
What happened? Women, who would once never want their prospective husbands to see them without their hair being done, now go around the house not dressed well. Men, who once kept themselves fit, now allow themselves to become unhealthy looking and overweight. Women, who once cooked their best for their man, now habitually serve fast food and TV dinners, if they cook at all. Men, who used to say, “I love you,” or “You look beautiful,” now haven’t a kind word to say and are never complimentary of their wife. Men, who used to take their prospective wife out on a date, now haven’t the time or the gumption to do so. They just want to stay home and watch ESPN… and we wonder why love dies.
Brethren, a good rule of thumb is: however much effort it took to make him or her happy before marriage, it will likely take the same after marriage. Women (and men) should strive to dress attractively (Proverbs 31:22). They should speak words of kindness to one another (Proverbs 31:26, 28; Proverbs 18:24a). Instead of wanting to be served, we should serve one another (Matthew 7:12; 23:11; Ephesians 5:25ff). We should talk and especially listen one to another (James 1:19). Remember how you used to hang on his or her every word, listening intently (cf.Song of Solomon 4:11). We should complement one another (Proverbs 31:28). We should remember that God has given us a wonderful body (Psalm 139:14), and we should take care of it (Ephesians 5:28-29; Proverbs 25:16). God didn’t say that bodily exercise profited nothing (1 Timothy 4:8). Women should work in the home (Titus 2:5), striving to make the home an attractive place to be.
My friends, if we would show our spouses the respect we did prior to marriage – if we would strive to win each other again, serving one another, instead of seeking to be served – then much marital difficulty could be undone, and perhaps avoided!
ENDNOTE: The thoughts for this article were prompted by some good words that brother Wayne Cox said during the 13th Annual “Seek the Old Paths” lectureship while commenting on Ruth 3.