Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
A while back we worked our way through the Fireproof curriculum in our Wednesday evening meeting at Cottonwood Community Church and one of the Scripture passages referenced in the weekly assignment is 1 Peter 3:7. The verse is well known to most Christian couples but unfortunately it is often misunderstood.
The Greek word translated as “understanding” in this verse is gnosis which means “knowledge, knowing or general intelligence.” Thus, the Apostle is not instructing men to be considerate of their wives as some would have us to believe (although considerate behavior is incumbent upon husbands in light of Philippians 2:2-5 and etc.). Rather, Peter is commanding men to learn about their wives, to really investigate who they are and to respect their uniqueness as a woman.
One of the things I have found over the years is that most men do not really know or cherish their wives as they ought. They do not take time to comprehend the intricate inner workings of the female mind they are in covenant with. Often, men are more interested in investigating the fuel injection system in their car or the capabilities of their desktop computer than discovering the marvelous mind of their mate.
Part of the problem is men are wired in such a way that before they will become deeply engaged in any project they need to be convinced the rate of return will be adequate to compensate for their time. Occasionally the return on effort is monetary, sometimes it is ideological and sometimes a feeling of accomplishment is considered a satisfactory return. This is the way God made men and it is useful as they fulfill their duty to provide for their families. It should also be valuable in impelling a man to become deeply acquainted with his wife.
When a man makes it his aim to understand the manner in which his wife views this world he will be rewarded in a number of ways. In the first place he will have the joy of discovering the exotic nature of the lovely creature he shares a home with. He will begin to understand how she is designed to complete him and that he is stronger with her than without her. Moreover, he will value her because of the ways she is different than him rather than deride her for her dissimilarity and weakness.
He will also learn she must be protected physically and emotionally. He will recognize it is a privilege to have the responsibility of leadership over one so extraordinary. If he is truly a student of womanly emotion and intellect he will learn that daily, thoughtful, tender interaction with his wife will enable her to blossom. As a result his life will be filled with a wonder far surpassing anything offered by other pursuits.
If a man fails to make progress in his responsibilities as a husband, he can expect his spiritual life to suffer. The text in 1 Peter 3:7 literally says his prayers will be “cut off.” Certainly this takes into account the loss of fellowship in prayer between a man and his wife if he is mistreating her. Yet it must be understood to warn against the breach of fellowship between a man and God Himself. A man’s prayers can be stymied when he prays selfishly (James 4:3): they can be cut off if he is not in harmony with his wife.