I always thought that once I got married, I would have no difficulty abiding by Peter’s instruction: “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow-heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (I Pet 3:7). After all, I had studied the Bible for several years, had a graduate degree, and considered myself to be “a person of understanding.” How tough could it be to “understand” her?
Little did I realize, that to truly “understand” my wife, I would need to learn some important lessons. Here are the top 3 things I learned (and am still learning!):
- I will never come close to understanding her if I don’t listen to her and then seek to process what she’s saying (or not saying). Yes, listening is important, but letting her know that she’s been heard and understood is huge.
- Realize that her “weakness” does not mean spiritual (or intellectual) weakness – because she is a “fellow-heir”, a spiritual equal. Rather, she has a more delicate nature physically and emotionally – in most cases. These weaker/delicate attributes are God-given, God-ordained. I finally began to recognize and appreciate that God has marvelously created her this way. There is nothing wrong with us being emotionally different – it is God’s design and is of value. I can learn to appreciate this difference and live with it in an understanding way!
- Recognize how difficult it must be for her to “submit to” (arrange/place/rank herself under) my authority since, though I am saved, I still possess a sin nature and disobey God’s word. Peter says “In the same way you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior” (I Pet 3:1-2). Her choice to behave in a way that still honors my authority even when I’ve sinned against her and acted like an egotistical, self-centered jerk, should humble me to the point of asking for forgiveness, and drive me back into a right relationship with her and the Lord. Appreciating the degree of difficulty involved in acting “chaste and respectful” while in a submissive role, is humbling for me and compels me to live with her in an understanding way.