At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, and the ointment of his right hand, which betrayeth itself (KJV).
A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike; Whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand (NKJV).Proverbs 27:15–16
A problem wife is a chronic problem, not an acute one. Like a dull toothache, it throbs all the time, but life staggers on nonetheless. She is described here as an annoyance, or an on-going irrigation—and not as a definitive calamity. Some might take this as the irrigation of a dripping faucet, the irritation coming from drip drip drip of the sound. But it appears to me that the annoyance is caused by a very rainy day, and the continual dropping is the problem of a house that leaks. What should be kept outside is intent on coming inside, and the difficulty that is caused is constant.
This is the kind of observation that causes some to complain about misogyny, as though this common sense take is somehow rooted in a complaint against women in general. But a virtuous wife is to be prized above rubies (Prov. 31:10), she is the crown of her husband (Prov. 12:4), and her children praise her in the gates (Prov. 31:31). Arguing that to say that “nagging wives are a pain” is misogyny is like saying that “men who pick pockets are a nuisance” is to play the role of a misanthrope. We do not object to men, we object to men who steal. In the same way, we do not object to wives, we object to wives who nag.
But it is a safe bet to say that women who think that an objection to nagging wives is an objection to wives in general are likely to be the kind of women who cannot tell the difference, and so it is best to steer clear.
This relates to the other thing to note about this proverb—it appears to say that the best defense against this is preventative. In other words, restraining her after the fact is like to be futile, like holding oil in your hand. The best advice is to take care who you marry. Seek a wife from the Lord (Prov. 18:22). Do not lean on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain (Prov. 31:30), which is not way of saying that you cannot tell if the house is going to leak if the day is bright and sunny.