I’ve read 1 Peter 3:7 hundreds—if not thousands—of times.
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.—1 Peter 3:7
This verse is rich with marital counsel to husbands, and I use it often in counseling.
- Dwell with them according to knowledge: Really know what her needs are as well as her likes, dislikes, and preferences.
- As unto the weaker vessel: Remember she has special needs, and be sensitive to them.
- As being heirs together of the grace of life: Treat your wife as an equal—as heirs together of God’s grace.
- That your prayers be not hindered: If a husband is not being sensitive to his wife, he is limiting his access to answered prayer.
But while I was meditating on this verse several months ago, a phrase that I had not given much thought to hit me like a lead pipe:
Giving honour unto the wife…
That’s contrary to how men think. We think it is our wives who are to give us honor. But in that moment, the Holy Spirit said to me, “You don’t honor Terrie as much as you could.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love Terrie more than I love any person in the world. She means everything to me. I’m thankful beyond words for her. But I realized I wasn’t purposefully giving her honor—at least as much as I could and should.
How can a husband honor his wife? As I meditated on this verse and prepared to share it with the men of our church in our couples’ retreat last year, I listed fifteen good ways to start:
- Speak to her kindly. One of the ways we demean others is by the way we speak. Whether it is in our actual choice of words or the tone we use, we can bring deep hurt with our words. Even in difficult moments, remember Ephesians 4:26: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” It is possible to be angry at a problem without being angry at a person. Speak kindly.
- Do not discuss her weaknesses with others. Remember, you are “one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31). When you talk trash about your wife, you may as well be saying it about yourself. Don’t demean your wife to other people.
- Show interest in her projects. The simple truth is that ladies sometimes have projects and interests that don’t excite men. Frankly, while I appreciate Terrie’s special touches in our home, I don’t get excited to discuss décor or consider all the possibilities of it. The same goes for recipes. Terrie enjoys cooking—including planning menus and considering new dishes. I just enjoy eating! But I have learned that I can show honor to Terrie by being interested in talking about or listening to what interests her. And I find that it strengthens my appreciation of her, as well as our relationship.
- Do not ask her to view inappropriate images on television shows, magazines, etc. I talk to men who have such a problem with porn (and that is a problem—a sin problem) that they are asking their wives to look at trash as well. You are to nourish and cherish your wife—to love her as you love your own body (Ephesians 5:28–29). To ask your wife to look with you at inappropriate images is terribly degrading and dishonoring.
- Speak highly of her to your children. Teach your children to respect their mom. Thank and complement her in front of them. Show physical affection to her in your children’s presence.
- Learn her likes and dislikes. Whether it be a diet coke or a special place she likes to go to celebrate your anniversary, learn what she likes, and avoid what she dislikes. You honor her by caring enough to learn and remember.
- Learn her joys and sorrows. What makes your wife happy? I can give you one way without even knowing your wife—when you spend time doing things together as a family. It doesn’t have to be Disneyland. A day at the park, an evening playing games, or even watching you play with the kids means the world to your wife. Conversely, learn what hurts her. Is there a painful situation from her past that she needs your understanding in? Is there something in her past that she needs your forgiveness and for you to not bring up? Honor her by giving her joy and comforting her in her sorrows.
- Do not demean her health situations. A woman’s health needs are real issues for her. Don’t demean something that she has no control over. Also, be her strongest ally in finding help for health needs that could be resolved. Don’t make light of them or refuse to believe they are real.
- Remember her special days. Do for her on her birthday, Valentine’s Day, and your anniversary what you did before you were married. Remember when you bought her cards, flowers, and candy? If you need reminders, use them. But don’t forget those special moments.
- Tell her what she means to you. When was the last time you told your wife, “Sweetheart, I just want you to know that no matter what happens, I’m always going to be grateful that you let me be your husband. I’m yours, and I’m with you and for you”? You cannot tell her enough how grateful you are for her.
- Tell her specific things she does that encourage you. And if you think there are none, open your eyes. You probably take for granted much of what she does. Thank her for the simple things—the way she cares for the kids, the laundry she did, a trait about her that you appreciate. Take time to notice and thank her.
- Do not treat her as a servant. A little tip here: women do not like to be addressed as, “Woman.” Your wife is not your servant; she is your queen. “As heirs together of the grace of God,” remember? Look for ways to serve her.
- Do not compare her to other women. Pointing out how another woman dresses or what another woman does for her husband is one of the fast ways to demotivate and wound your wife. She’s your wife, not someone else’s. Be loyal to her, and don’t compare her.
- Make sure she has immediate access to you. Your wife ought to be able to pop in on you at work at any moment without the concern that you’ll be at the water cooler with another woman. As a pastor, I have safeguards built in to give my wife security. For instance, I don’t counsel women alone, I have glass doors in my office, and my wife can walk into my study at any time. You need to set safeguards specific to your life so your wife knows she is special to you and has immediate access to you.
- Be accountable with your schedule. If you want to eliminate doubt, elevate dependability. When you’re stuck in traffic on the way home from work, call your wife and tell her. Don’t cause worry by not being accountable. If you honor and respect someone, you’ll let them know what’s going on.
These are simple thoughts, and you could add more. But start somewhere!
I believe that if you invest honor into your wife, she’ll give it back. It may not be tomorrow. But the process will strengthen your marriage.
Remember, your wife is the person who you asked to marry you. And when you married, God made the two of you one flesh. Don’t unravel—by neglect or criticism—what God has put together.
Honor your wife…so long as you both shall live.