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Do not turn your back on your wife because of her defects. Listen to what the Scriptures say, that "The bee is little among such as a fly, but her fruit is the chief of sweet things." She is made by God. You are not condemning her, but rather the One who made her; what can the woman do? Do not praise her for her beauty. Praise and hatred and love based on personal beauty come from impure souls. 

Search after the beauty of the soul. Imitate the bridegroom of the Church. Outward beauty is full of conceit and licentiousness, and makes men jealous, and it often makes you imagine monstrous things. But does it give any pleasure? For the first or second month, perhaps, or, at most, for a year; but then no longer. The admiration fades away through familiarity.

Meanwhile the ills which arose from the exterior beauty still remain; the pride, the foolishness, the contemptuousness. However, in one who is not beautiful, none of this is to be found. The love that began on honest grounds still continues ardently since its object is beauty of soul and not of the body.  What better, tell me, is there than heaven?

Describe any body you choose, and still there is none so fair. Tell me of any eyes you want, yet there are none so sparkling. When these were created, the very angels gazed in amazement, and we gaze with wonder now; but not with the same amazement as we did at first. 

Such familiarity; things do not strike us in the same degree. How much more in the case of the wife. And if by some chance disease comes, too, all is immediately lost. 

Look for affection, humility and gentleness in a wife; these are the signs of beauty. But loveliness of physical features let us not seek, nor chastise her for lack of these points over which she has no control. No, rather let us not chastise her at all nor be impatient nor morose. 

Don't you see how many men, often living with beautiful wives, have ended their lives despicably and how many, who have lived with those of no great beauty, have lived on to extreme old age with great enjoyment?

Let us wipe off the spot that is written, let us smooth the wrinkles that are within, let us do away with the blemishes that are on the soul. Such is the beauty God requires. Let us make her fair in God's sight, not in our own. 

St. John Chrysostom





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