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Are you wondering how a man should treat his wife according to the Bible? What does it mean to live with your wives in an understanding way as 1 Peter 3:7 commands? Read or listen to this chapter from Your Marriage God’s Way to find out!
Table of Contents
- A MAN TREATS HIS WIFE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE BY LEARNING ABOUT HER
- A MAN TREATS HIS WIFE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE BY VALUING HER FEMININITY
- A MAN TREATS HIS WIFE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE BY PROTECTING HER
- A MAN TREATS HIS WIFE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE BY KEEPING HIS PRAYERS FROM BEING “CHOPPED DOWN”
- HOW A HUSBAND MISTREATS HIS WIFE
- CONCERNED WITH THE RESPONSIBILITIES
The text in this post is from Your Marriage God’s Way, and the audio is from the accompanying audiobook. I am praying God uses the book and workbook to strengthen marriages and exalt Christ.
There’s a story about a pastor who, when he preached on 1 Peter 3:1-7, he told his congregation that he didn’t know why there were six verses for wives but only one verse for husbands. After the service was over an elderly, wise woman came up to the pastor and said, “It’s because women can remember six verses, but men can only remember one.”
Whether that’s true or not, Peter packs so much into the one verse for husbands that it could be multiple verses: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with [your wives] with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
In verses 1 through 6, Peter instructed wives to submit to their husbands, and then in verse 7, he taught husbands how to treat their wives to ensure they didn’t abuse the authority entrusted to them by God. The first six verses describe a godly wife, and then verse 7 correspondingly describes how a godly husband treats his wife.
A MAN TREATS HIS WIFE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE BY LEARNING ABOUT HER
Let’s begin with a look at the New Testament Greek words Peter chose when he admonished husbands about their conduct. Earlier we learned about the different Greek words for love, and there are also different Greek words that translate to “know” or “knowing.” Epistamai means “to put one’s attention on or to fix one’s thoughts on.” This is an intellectual knowledge that comes by observing, but it lacks personal relationship or experience. On the other hand, ginosko means “to learn, get a knowledge of, feel.” This is a knowledge that comes from personal relationship or experience. Here are two examples of how these terms can be applied:
- I know what rugby is even though I have never played it; therefore, I know it intellectually, or epistamai. On the other hand, I have played and coached football, which means I know it experientially, or ginosko.
- I know of (epistamai) Abraham Lincoln historically, but I know (ginosko) my wife, Katie, relationally.
Husbands are told to “dwell with [their wives] with understanding,” and the Greek word translated “understanding” is gnosis, which is related to the word ginosko. It describes a close intimacy—the same word is used in Luke 1:34, where Mary said, in response to the angel who told her she would give birth to the Messiah, “How can this be, since I do not know [ginosko] a man?”
Peter commands husbands to develop an intimate knowledge or understanding of their wives that comes through personal relationship or experience. We talked earlier about a wife learning about her husband: what his needs and strengths are to be a “comparable helper” to him, what he finds respectful and disrespectful. Similarly, husbands need to get to know their wives and learn about and understand them.
Do wives want husbands who make a priority of learning about and understanding them? Definitely! Wives feel loved by being understood. A lot of wives wish their husbands knew as much about them as they know about sports, cars, television shows, friends, food, music, video games, you name it.
Now, what exactly are husbands supposed to know about their wives? Everything that is important to them. If it’s important to the wife, it is vital that the husband know about it. This means knowing what she likes and doesn’t like, enjoys and doesn’t enjoy, desires and despises. A husband ought to know as much as he can about the woman who will be at his side for the rest of his life.
Respecting Him and Understanding Her
In chapter 12, we learned about God’s command for wives to respect their husbands. Then in chapter 14 we looked at the importance of obeying the Bible versus obeying the world.
Because we live in a fallen, sinful world, we can fully expect culture to contradict the Bible. So if God commands wives to respect their husbands, what is the world going to do? It’s going to try to convince wives to disrespect their husbands. How does today’s culture do this? One way is by making men look like they’re not worthy of respect. Whether it’s commercials, shows, movies, music, books, or general counsel from ungodly women, men are consistently made to look bumbling and foolish. Husbands are presented as incompetent and inept, to the point a wife has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. There’s no way she can trust her husband to lead or do what needs to get done. Consequently, Christian wives need to realize that when they choose to disrespect their husbands, they’re supporting society’s agenda instead of obeying God.
Similarly, if God commands husbands to learn about and understand their wives, what is the world going to do? It’s going to try to convince men that it’s impossible to do so: “You can’t understand women!” Again, think of what we frequently see in the media. Women are shown to be complicated or confusing, so there’s no reason to even bothering trying to understand them. Christian husbands must realize that when they act as though they can’t understand their wives, they’re supporting society’s agenda instead of obeying God.
Living with Her According to Knowledge
In 1 Peter 3:7, the word “dwell” (most Bible versions say “live”) communicates being together physically, but it means more than just occupying the same house. Sadly, some marriages look like little more than two roommates, and the spousal relationship is little more than a business partnership. Peter puts the responsibility on husbands to prevent this from happening. A man must make his wife his true companion in all that life offers. God didn’t design for a marriage to be two people living independently of each other spending most of their time “doing their own thing.”
Let’s connect the dots. Together, the words “understanding” and “dwell” command husbands to develop knowledge of their wives and then live with them according to that knowledge. What good would it do if a husband learned about his wife but didn’t apply that knowledge to his daily life with her? To put it simply, a husband should understand what makes his wife feel loved and seek to love her that way; he should know how she wants to be treated and strive to care for her that way.
Dwelling with our wives in an understanding way also means dealing tenderly with them; we don’t treat them the same way we do our male friends. This is especially applicable regarding our wives’ weaknesses. Katie has given me permission to share here the ways she appreciates me gently addressing two of her struggles based on the knowledge I have of her:
- My wife is a visionary, creative woman with many plans and thoughts. She likes to think months, years, or even decades in advance. On the other hand, I generally have one focus each week: making sure Sunday goes well. I count time by the number of days until the sermon must be completed. When Sunday is over, the countdown begins again. I rarely think eight days ahead (much less eight months or eight years). As a result, Katie appreciates me listening to her ideas no matter how far they look into the future, and regardless of whether there is much chance they will come to fruition.
- Most strengths have a corresponding weakness, so even though Katie has many plans, she also has trouble finishing things she starts. Some of her favorite words to say to herself come from Ecclesiastes 7:8: “The end of a thing is better than its beginning.” In other words, finishing is better than starting. Because Katie knows this about herself, she has asked me to do two things for her: encourage her to finish whatever she starts, and discourage her from beginning new projects until previous ones are completed.
These are simple yet important ways Katie wants me to “dwell with [her] with understanding.” Each wife is different, which means each husband must learn how his wife wants him to dwell with her in an understanding way.
A MAN TREATS HIS WIFE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE BY VALUING HER FEMININITY
Next, Peter urges husbands to “[give] honor to the wife,” and the Greek word translated “honor” is timē, which means “a valuing by which the price is fixed.” Eight times in Scripture, the Greek word time is translated as “price” because it refers to the value of something. Here are two examples of its use:
- “The chief priests took the silver pieces and said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price [timē] of blood’” (Matthew 27:6).
- “Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price [timē] of the land for yourself?’” (Acts 5:3).
Peter’s message to husbands is clear: Recognize the value of your wife, and as a result, honor her.
The phrase “to the wife” has an interesting application as well. The Greek word translated “wife” is gyne, occurring 221 times in the New Testament. The word is used twice in 1 Peter 3: “Wives [gyne], likewise, be submissive…In former times, the holy women [gyne]” (verses 1, 5). But the phrase “to the wife” is only one word in the Greek text, gynaikeios, and this is the only place it appears in Scripture. While gyne is a noun, gynaikeios is an adjective meaning “of or belonging to a woman, feminine.”
Peter is not commanding husbands to honor their wives simply for the sake of honoring them. Instead, he’s urging them to honor their wives for being feminine—that is, being the woman God created her to be. A man should find value in his wife’s feminine nature and praise her for it. If we allow Scripture, versus the world, to define femininity for us, we can develop a good understanding from the passages we’ve covered, such as Proverbs 31:10- 31, 1 Timothy 2:9-15, and 1 Peter 3:1-6. Completing the picture for us is Titus 2:3-5, which reveals what God expects of feminine women whether they are older or young:
Older women [should] be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
A wife who lives out these verses is manifesting biblical femininity, which should prompt the husband to see her value and honor her as a result. Sadly, because the secular feminist movement discourages women from being feminine in the way God designed them to be, it destroys their value. Feminists encourage women to move away from what God says gives them honor.
Ladies—young or old, single or married—should celebrate their femininity and enjoy the beauty God has given them. Husbands should encourage their wives in their femininity. Parents should raise their daughters to be feminine, as this is what will allow them to be honored by their husbands in the future.
A MAN TREATS HIS WIFE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE BY PROTECTING HER
Next, Peter says wives are “the weaker vessel,” but this does not mean they are weaker morally, intellectually, or spiritually. Some women are stronger than their husbands in these areas. This is speaking of men being stronger physically. The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker.” Studies have shown that physiologically women are approximately 40-50 percent weaker than men in the upper body and 30-40 percent weaker in the lower body.1 2
It is also important to notice that Peter said “weaker” instead of “weak.” Men are physically weak too. They get sick. They can be injured. They are susceptible to aging and eventually die. A man’s physical weakness should be a reminder to him to be sensitive to his wife’s physical weakness.
Why did God make men physically stronger? Primarily so men can protect women! One of the evilest tragedies is when men use their strength to hurt women. God gave men greater strength so they could be protective. James 4:17 describes the sin of omission: “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” When men physically abuse women, they’re doubly sinning:
- They’re committing a sin of commission through their behavior.
- They’re committing a sin of omission by failing to use their strength for the reason God gave it to them.
Treating our wives as the weaker vessels means making our wives feel safe and protected. Colossians 3:19 instructs, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (NIV, see also ESV). Wives should not have to fear verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. Rather, every wife should be confident that her husband will step up and protect her from conflict or danger. Every husband, as best as he can, should put himself between his wife and anything that might threaten her physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.
Even though women are physically “weaker,” when we bring that together with the next words in 1 Peter 3:7—“heirs together of the grace of life”—we see that Peter prevents his readers from thinking wives are at all inferior to their husbands because the word “heirs” speaks of equality. In the ancient Roman world, only males were heirs. In contrast, the gospel makes women fellow heirs and co-inheritors, which was a radical concept in that era. The fact wives are “heirs together” reminds husbands that even though they are given headship, their wives are still identical to them in terms of spiritual privilege and importance. Husbands who see their wives in this way will protect them because they recognize they’re married to daughters of the King.
A MAN TREATS HIS WIFE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE BY KEEPING HIS PRAYERS FROM BEING “CHOPPED DOWN”
If the world isn’t trying to feminize men by completely discouraging them from using their distinctively masculine traits, then it’s trying to push them to the other extreme, or chauvinism and hypermasculinity that values physical strength above all else. God wants husbands to resist both extremes and be strong spiritual leaders. It is for this reason that 1 Peter 3:7 ends with a sobering warning that should cause any Christian husband to treat his wife well: “that your prayers may not be hindered.” Scripture teaches that sin hinders our prayers:
- “When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:15).
- “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18).
- “God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (John 9:31).
First Peter 3:7 specifies one sin that prevents God from hearing the prayers of husbands—the sin of mistreating their wives. The Greek word translated “hindered” is ekkopto, which means “cut off; of a tree.” The Amplified Bible renders this passage “in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off.” Elsewhere in the New Testament, Jesus used the word twice in connection with cutting down a fruit tree:
- “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down [ekkopto]” (Matthew 7:19).
- “Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down [ekkopto]” (Luke 13:7).
Why would God use a word that speaks of cutting down a fruit tree to describe a husband’s prayers being hindered? The intended imagery is that of a husband’s prayers being fruitless or “chopped down.” For a husband to be a good spiritual leader, he needs to have God hear his prayers. In 1 Peter 3:7, God is saying that, to Him, it is so important that husbands treat their wives well that He will not hear them if they disobey in this area. The only prayer God will hear from husbands when they mistreat their wives is a prayer of repentance: “I am truly sorry for the way I treated my wife.” I am ashamed to say there have been days when I left for the office only to have to turn around and head home to make sure things were right with Katie. I realized I had not treated her the way I should, and I knew that unless I made things right, God would not hear me when I prayed.
The nineteenth-century preacher Charles Spurgeon said:
To true believers prayer is so invaluable that the danger of hindering it is used by Peter as a motive…in their marriage relationships.C.H. Spurgeon, Sermons of the Rev. C.H. Spurgeon, of London, vol. 20 (New York: Sheldon, Blakeman, 1875), 506.
Sadly, some men have such a low regard for prayer that this warning does not cause them to treat their wives any differently. One reason this attitude is so terrible is that the passage, 1 Peter 3:1-7, is largely about wives submitting to their husbands, and wives will have a much easier time submitting to spiritual men who are fearful of having their prayers hindered. A wife who has a husband who values having his prayers heard by God will have a much easier time submitting to him.
I believe it is safe to say that one of the best motivators for a husband to treat his wife well is to keep his prayers from being “chopped down.”
HOW A HUSBAND MISTREATS HIS WIFE
So far, we have looked at how husbands should treat their wives. Now we will look at two examples—from Scripture—of how husbands should not treat their wives.
A Husband Mistreats His Wife When He Responds in Anger
Jacob married two sisters, Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29:15-28), which in itself was a problem. You may wonder why biblical patriarchs took multiple wives for themselves, but realize that God never condoned this. The Old Testament passages that mention polygamy are descriptive in nature, not prescriptive. This practice of marrying multiple women portrays the sad reality of ancient cultures. Jesus said, “Wisdom is justified by all her children” (Luke 7:35). There, “justified” means “declared right.” The wisdom of a person’s decisions is shown to be right (justified) by what’s produced from them (the children). The “wisdom” of polygamy is shown to be foolishness because whenever it took place, it only produced problems. All instances of polygamy in the Bible are characterized by turmoil and strife instead of peace and harmony. That was the case with Jacob’s marriages to Rachel and Leah.
Rachel was the more beautiful of the two sisters, and Jacob loved her the most (Genesis 29:17-20, 30). Upon seeing Jacob’s lack of love for Leah, God opened Leah’s womb and gave her a total of six sons and at least one daughter (Genesis 29:31-35). In that era, being infertile was a great shame for a woman. You can imagine how Rachel felt when she was unable to bear children, but her husband’s other wife, who also happened to be her sister, was able to have so many. Genesis 30:1 says, “When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die!’” This account is instructive not only for husbands but for wives as well. Women can learn two lessons from Rachel’s response to her predicament.
First, consider whom Rachel held responsible for her suffering: her husband. Was it really Jacob’s fault that she could not have any children? Clearly not, because he had been able to have children with Leah. Instead of blaming Jacob, Rachel should have taken her problem in prayer to God. A wife reading this could ask herself: “When I’m suffering, do I hold my husband responsible? If I’m upset, do I get frustrated with those around me? When I’m having a bad day, do I make sure my husband—or the rest of my family—has a bad day too?”
Second, Rachel’s anger stemmed from the fact Leah was the only one having children. Her anger was not motivated by something her husband had done, but by her own sins: jealousy and discontentment. A wife reading this could ask herself: “Am I jealous of other women? Do I covet what they have? Am I discontent with my lot in life? Is this planting a root of bitterness in my heart as it did with Rachel?”
Even so, Jacob had the opportunity to be a loving, sensitive husband. In the spirit of 1 Peter 3:7, he should have asked himself, “After all that I’ve learned about my wife, how can I respond to her so I’m dwelling with her in an understanding way? Part of her femininity is a desire to have children, so she has a reason to be upset. How can I honor her when she’s feeling this way? We are heirs together in the grace of life, so how would God have me treat her right now so my prayers will not be hindered? I need to go to her and say, ‘I am so sorry you have not been able to bear any children. This must be difficult. Can we pray together and bring this matter to God?’”
But that wasn’t Jacob’s response. Instead, according to Genesis 30:2, “Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’” Other Bible versions translate this even more strongly: “Jacob’s anger was kindled” (ESV) and “Jacob’s anger burned” (NASB).
Jacob’s words were true enough; he was not in control of whether his wife conceived and had children. But we as husbands can be right and wrong at the same time: We can be right in what we say, but wrong because of the way we say it. When wives are upset or emotional, it can be tempting for husbands to get angry in return. Instead, a husband should strive to learn why his wife is upset so he can respond in a loving, compassionate way.
A Husband Mistreats His Wife When He Responds Insensitively
Elkanah also had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Like Jacob and his wives, Peninnah could have children, but Hannah could not. What made Hannah’s situation even worse was Peninnah’s cruelty toward her:
[Hannah’s] rival [Peninnah] also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that [Peninnah] provoked her; therefore [Hannah] wept and did not eat (1 Samuel 1:6-7).
Twice we’re told that Peninnah was cruel to Hannah to emphasize how difficult Hannah’s barrenness must have been for her. Sadly, Elkanah didn’t make matters any better. First Samuel 1:8 records, “Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?’” Husband, when your wife is upset, do not use Elkanah as a model! In one short response, he made two common mistakes.
First, Elkanah asked insensitive questions that leave only two possibilities about his state of awareness in this situation: He really didn’t know why his wife was grieving, which makes him look like a completely oblivious man. More than likely he knew exactly why she was so upset. This means Jacob’s questions gave the impression that his wife’s hurt was illegitimate; at the least, he showed that her reasons weren’t good enough for him. His actions communicated, “You shouldn’t be upset about this!” Husbands should learn from this example and avoid questions that make their wives feel bad about being upset, such as, “Why are you crying?”
Second, Elkanah made the king of all prideful statements: “Is not being married to me better than all the children you could have?” He rebuked Hannah for crying, and then added, “Why are you upset about not having any children when you already have me?” Today’s equivalent would be to tell your wife, “Aren’t you glad you are married to me? You are one lucky lady. Think of all I do for you, and you won’t be sad!”
There is a difference and a similarity between Jacob and Elkanah. The difference is that while Jacob became angry with his wife, Elkanah at least tried to encourage his wife—even though he failed spectacularly in doing so. The similarity is that their actions showed they didn’t know how to dwell with their wives in an understanding way. Proverbs 25:20 says, “Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, and like vinegar on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” When people are hurting, they don’t want someone to come alongside and encourage them with clichés and platitudes. Instead, they want a caring person to listen and be with them. This is known as the ministry of presence, and after talking about what husbands shouldn’t do, this helps us to see what husbands should do.
How Should a Husband Respond to His Wife’s Hurt?
In the years that I’ve been a pastor, many people have told me, “I know someone who is hurting. I want to encourage that person, but I don’t know what to say.” I frequently tell them they already have the right response to the situation: “If you don’t know what to say, there’s less chance of saying something you shouldn’t. If you can’t improve on silence, don’t!” Of all the times I’ve been with grieving people, I can’t think of one instance that someone asked me a difficult question that would have been helped with any kind of profound response. Instead, people simply wanted a listening ear during their grief. We see this illustrated by Job’s friends—at least at the beginning of his suffering:
When Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place…For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great (Job 2:11-13).
How did they comfort him in the beginning? They did what Romans 12:15 encourages: “Weep with those who weep.” They comforted him with their silent presence. When did they stop comforting him? When they opened their mouths!
This is instructive for husbands. You should respond with sympathy to your wife by listening well and then saying something like, “I am very sorry. I can see this is difficult. What can I do for you? Would you like me to pray with you?”
Husbands, when our wives are upset, let’s make sure we don’t respond in anger like Jacob because we lack patience, or insensitively like Elkanah by pointing out the reasons we think they should be in a good mood. When we respond in such ways, we disobey 1 Peter 3:7, which calls us to dwell with understanding with our wives. We should study and learn about our wives so we can respond in gentle, caring ways.
CONCERNED WITH THE RESPONSIBILITIES
Most military officers will say one of the biggest days of their life was when they were commissioned. Fittingly, you choose someone important to you to administer the oath. I chose a retired general who mentored me and taught some of my college classes. Because he outranked everyone at the ceremony, he felt the liberty to deliver a small, unexpected speech. Although he spoke directly to me, his words applied to all the cadets who would soon be second lieutenants. He read the speech from a paper that he later gave to me, and afterward, I framed it and put it on my wall.
The general began by extolling the advantages that would be ours because of our authority as officers. As you can imagine, we all enjoyed this part of the speech that caused us to feel good about ourselves, our positions, and the fact that we were not lower-ranking soldiers. But toward the end of the speech, he began talking about the huge weight on our shoulders and he concluded with a quote that has stuck with me since: “You need to be more concerned with your responsibilities than your privileges.” What seemed like a speech meant to encourage us clearly became one meant to somber us to the task ahead.
Husband and brother in Christ, let me address you personally like the general did with me. I have listened to enough sermons to know that many pastors shy away from preaching on submission, or they soften the message so much it removes the pointedness and conviction it could bring. They leave out portions they believe will offend people or add enough qualifiers that nobody thinks the Scripture text applies to them. When I started writing Your Marriage God’s Way, I was committed to being faithful to Scripture regardless of whether it would be popular. I would like to think that in the last few chapters I have encouraged wives to take their role seriously by being straightforward and honest with them about God’s instruction to them. And I know this: however high the bar is for wives, because God has commanded husbands to be the head of the relationship, it is even higher for us.
This is the conclusion for the chapter, but because this chapter concludes our look at the biblical content directly aimed at husbands, it is also the final part of this book’s instruction for husbands. I wish I could speak to you face to face and share just how important it is that we be faithful. It’s not to say that you don’t know this, but we need to be reminded, myself included. With our role comes authority, but we must be more concerned with our responsibilities. While I could say that I am charging you to take your role seriously, that would mean little. Instead, we must keep in mind that God charges us to take our role seriously. Of all the stewardships in our lives as men, none are more important than that of husband, and “it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
Biblically speaking, the opposite of faithful is treacherous. In the Old Testament, the priests were the spiritual leaders of the nation. Consider this strong rebuke God had for them: “The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit?…Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth” (Malachi 2:14-15). God has made us one with our wives with His Spirit between us. Let us pursue our wives in such a faithful way, lacking treachery, that God would be pleased with how we are caring for His daughter.
In the military there are many benefits to having competent, disciplined, skilled leaders. It wouldn’t be too much to say that there are many similarities with marriage. Little in this world has as much potential to affect positive change for the kingdom of God than spiritually strong, competent, disciplined, skilled leaders who are aware that they will stand before God and give an account. As husbands, let’s faithfully love and cherish our wives, not just for their sake, but for the sake of Christ, who gave Himself for us (Titus 2:14).
- A.E. Miller, J.D. MacDougall, M.A. Tarnopolsky, D.G. Sale, “Gender differences in strength and muscle fiber characteristics,” European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, March 1993, 66 (3): 254-62.
- One example of both the disparity between men’s and women’s strength and the failure of men to use their strength as God intended occurs in athletics. We don’t see transgender females trying to compete in men’s sports. Rather, we seeing transgender males competing in women’s sports. Biological male Gavin Hubbard set the New Zealand junior weightlifting records in 1998. “New Zealand Interschool’s Weightlifting Championship 2014 – Round 6” (PDF), Sporty.co.nz. In 2012 he became a transgender, changed his name to Laurel, and competed in the 2017 Australian International and Australian Open weightlifting competition, where he won the gold medal—all because he had biological advantages over the female competitors. Matt Windley, “Laurel Hubbard wins female 90kg+ division at weightlifting’s Australian International,” Herald Sun, March 19, 2017. Transgender men, who have no business competing in women’s sports, typically win because God created the genders with physical differences.
So I am currently looking for a better paying job. My husband does not hesitate to provide for the kids and I. He always goes above and beyond, and he is a Type A personality. A leader and a go-getter. Thing is, when I complain that I have applied, and I am frustrated that I still do not have a job. His response was, “Maybe it’s your faith level?” “Maybe you need to change the way you pray to God and ask for things”. He says whenever he prays God answers him because his faith level is different. Of course, we got into an argument about this because I felt like instead of encouraging, he became judgmental. He says, well, the word of God is judgmental and is not always supposed to make a person feel good but to motivate them to do better……Is this okay for a husband to say to his wife?
I haven’t heard your husband’s side, so it’s hard to respond. The Bible says we should hear the other side before coming to a conclusion. But if we assume that your husband did say this, then I agree with you that it was not right. Just because God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want, it does not mean that we lack faith or that we prayed it the wrong way. Maybe it simply is not God’s will. When something is not God’s will, it doesn’t matter how we pray or how much faith we have He is not going to give it to us.
With that said, I would encourage you to look for any truth in what your husband shared. Maybe God is trying to use Him to help you in your prayer life.
This is a great post! I love how it is written from a man’s perspective. It is so helpful to have a guide like this. Thank you for writing it!
You’re welcome. Glad it ministered to you.
Thank you for writing content that helps us spiritually. I love reading posts that help me mature in my faith. Great material!
Thank you for letting me know. I’m blessed that God used my sermon in your life.
I’m wondering if respect is something you can define? Is it objective or subjective? It it actions, attitude or feeling or a combination of all 3?
Also, how would you define emotional abuse?
What should a wife do in an emotionally abusive situation where the husband will not get help or counsel or allow her to tell anyone about their marriage struggles?
If I had to concisely define respect I would say it means to hold in high regard. It is an attitude that plays itself out in behaviors and actions. Please take a look at this post I wrote about wives respecting their husbands, because it does a much more thorough job explaining what respect and disrespect look like.
Emotional abuse is when cruel words and threatening actions are used to wear down a person’s self-esteem and undermine their mental health. If the actions move beyond verbal to physical and emotional abuse has become physically abusive. If a wife is being abused, whether emotionally or physically, and the husband will not get help or counsel as you said, she should reach out to her elders for help.
Ok, so you believe a woman is no longer required to submit to her husband’s wishes that no “outside help” is sought in the case where she feels emotionally abused and he won’t get help from any human but insists the Bible and Holy Spirit are all that we need as “counselors”? Are there any scriptures that could back this up?
Good question. Yes, if things have gotten that bad, then yes I think a wife should seek help even if it is against her husband’s wishes. I think the account with Ananias and Sapphira as application. She should not have submitted to her husband, because it involved sinning. Your husband is sinning against you and he needs help.
Plus, the idea that the Bible and the Holy Spirit are all we need is counselors is contradicted by all the verses about wisdom being found in many counselors. Plus many of the one another commands in the New Testament discuss exhorting each other, which would not be the case if we were only to listen to the Bible and the Holy Spirit.
Do look into all of Leslie Vernicks books and her Facebook pages.
I’m not familiar with her. Can you tell me a little about her so I can decide whether I would be comfortable recommending her?
I’m aware of a man who used to talk horribly about his wife. She was a very godly woman, spiritually mature, had all the qualities of Galatians 5:22-23. This man thought it was funny to make fun of her in public, which of course was not funny. Although, I understand what you are saying, “you reap what you sow,” sometimes there is a lot to be said about what men are seeing mentored in their family of origin. He would have done well to read this article, not because he needed to move his wife toward Christ, but because he himself needed to figure out what love looked like. Thanks for this thought provoking post.
I’ve heard a number of men (and women) talk poorly about their spouse. It is very unfortunate. At least in the husband’s case it can sometimes be a reflection of poor spiritual leadership and failing to sanctify his wife.
I’m sorry to hear about a man talking about his wife as you described; I’m glad you feel like this post would’ve benefited him.
You said, “sometimes there is a lot to be said about what men are seeing mentored in their family of origin.” I completely agree with that; we often treat our spouse the way we saw our parents treat each other, and we often expect to be treated the way we saw our parents treat each other. I discussed this topic somewhat in my last post on generational curses. If you’re interested in checking it out I’d be glad to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Wow! I had not ruminated on the topic in the past, but can see it having played out in so many marriages.
Thankfully, we can change. However, a husband finally becoming the spiritual head of the home isn’t going to gain the spiritual wife overnight. And, a spiritual wife can (through her example and prayer) can help a husband find his way.
Yes, I agree, even the best spiritual leadership won’t change a woman overnight.
You said, “a spiritual wife can (through her example and prayer) can help a husband find his way.” This seems to be exactly what Scripture recommends in 1 Peter 3:1-2:
That’s such a good observation! I do believe we each have a responsibility to continue to treat others how we want to be treated no matter how they are treating us but at the same time, I believe what you are saying is so true. If a husband cultivates a spiritual relationship, it will grow and get stronger for both the husband and the wife. What a blessing that would be!
Thank you for reading and commenting.
Yes, there’s definitely a balance, but as you mentioned that husband’s spiritual “cultivation” in the marriage can truly bless the relationship.
This is an interesting topic, especially when considering marriages I’m familiar with (including my own!). I’m seeking God through His word with or without my husband, but his spiritual leadership is beneficial and welcomed when offered. I’m thankful that wives don’t have to wait on their husbands to grow closer to God themselves.
I know more couples with wives who are the more spiritually mature/active than vice versa. It’s not how God would have it, I know. But in the absence of a husbands spiritual leadership, many wives step up and disciple their children while trying to gracefully and respectfully pull their husbands along.
When both spouses are following God’s directions, they grow closer to each other and God. That’s His perfect design. I see this post as encouragement for men to step up and walk in God’s commands.
Right, wives don’t have to wait on their husbands to grow in their relationships with the Lord. There are plenty of women who have to apply 1 Peter 3:1-2 because they’re married to unbelievers:
You said, “I know more couples with wives who are the more spiritually mature/active than vice versa. It’s not how God would have it, I know. But in the absence of a husbands spiritual leadership, many wives step up and disciple their children while trying to gracefully and respectfully pull their husbands along.”
I’ve seen the same too. Sometimes it seems like there are more spiritually-minded women than men. Maybe God allows us to be this way so when a man is finally ready to lead spiritually he’ll have a wife ready to join him.
Yes, that is the way the post is meant—as an encouragement to men.
I so agree! I’m so thankful that my husband has learned to listen and sympathize with me. I appreciate his humble and caring spirit!
Thanks for reading and commenting.
I’m glad your husband is strong in this area.
Hey Scott, I appreciated you unpacking this episode between Elkanah & Hannah. I’ve kind of glossed over it in the past, but you helped me slow down and process it in a fresh way. Nice job with the discussion questions, too.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
I actually just finished reading your post (7 Signs Your Relationship Isn’t Marriage Material) and thought the same of your discussion questions.
God bless; thanks for your ministry!
Sounds like a good thing to discuss and communicate about as a couple.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
I have always thought Elkanah misunderstand Hannah’s hurts but had never put it in the perspective. It’s very thought provoking and true.
These are great discussion points for couples.
Yes, there are lots of other – sensitive and sympathetic – things Elkanah could’ve said at that time.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
This is an interesting perspective. Though it seems that Elkanah was simply trying to cheer Hannah up and help her to see some perspective, in truth, it was more like he was rubbing salt in a very open wound. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Thanks for sharing.
From counseling couples I’ve seen that wives often want their husbands to listen…versus cheer them up (aka “fix things”). My wife has made this clear too :). Elkanah seems to have been guilty of this!
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Good insights from Hannah’s story. Your three points from Elkanah’s answers are right on target!
Thank you for reading and commenting!