“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” In marriage, we affect each other in ways we don’t stop to think about, and we are part of each other’s image. But it’s more than just “I make you look bad,” or “I make you look good.” You actually become part of me, and can either make me or break me. You have power over me.
The power struggle goes both ways: from men to women, and women to men. I think women have a knack for controlling men by sheer will-power, stubbornness, and force of authority. Possibly it works because of a man’s relationship with him mother while he was growing up. Women, however, play too strongly on their power and use it make men look like lesser-competent people who need help to make good decisions. They put men down, just as men put women down, and relationships too easily become power struggles (Gn. 3.16).
Men, on the other hand, try to control women by sheer will-power, stubbornness, and force of authority. Possibly it works because of of women’s inability to help men think the way women do, and because of their general fear. (Don’t you think it’s true that women run their lives out of one fear or another? I can elaborate.) Men, however, play too strongly on their power and use it to make women feel guilty, and worthless. They put women down. It too easily becomes a sad state of affairs, and marriages suffer for all the power struggles based in selfishness, pride, and thoughtlessness.
This verse is not trying to establish all the rules and dynamics for marriages and relationships, but to comment that a virtuous and capable wife creates growth rather than decay.