Marriage was created by God. When a man and a woman join together in marriage, they become one flesh, united together physically, mentally, and emotionally (Ephesians 5:31). Love is the cord that binds the two together. When it comes to loving a wife, Scripture is very clear in its instructions to husbands. A husband is expected to love his wife just as Christ loves the church, meaning sacrificially. Jesus gave His life for all of us, for His church. His love was sacrificial, and so must a husband’s love for his wife be (Ephesians 5:25). Colossians 3:19 says that husbands are to love their wives and never treat them harshly. But, in the first letter of the apostle Peter, God has provided additional instructions that are directed to husbands, instructions that go beyond simply loving their wives (1 Peter 3:7).
Peter writes that a husband must honor his wife. The Greek word translated as honor also means value. A husband is to value his wife. How? By treating her with respect. That means respecting her feelings, respecting her thoughts, and respecting her desires. It doesn’t mean that the husband will, or even has to, share the exact same feelings, thoughts, or desires. Men and women were created differently, but they are also meant to complement each other in marriage. And, as a man, a husband can help make that happen by honoring, by respecting, his wife.
A husband must also treat his wife with understanding. The Greek word translated as understanding literally means knowledge. A husband must know his wife. He must know her moods and her feelings. He must seek to know her needs, her fears, her hopes, and her dreams. In order to do this, one thing is required: communication. A husband needs to communicate with his wife. He needs to share conversation, not just about trivial things, but about the things that are important to his wife, to himself, to their marriage, and to God. A husband needs to talk, something that doesn’t always come easily to men, especially when it comes to feelings. But perhaps more importantly, a husband needs to listen. And he needs to listen not only with his ears, but also with his heart. It’s only by listening with his heart that he can truly “understand” his wife.
Peter points out that a wife may be weaker than her husband. He was not saying that a woman is weaker mentally, morally, or spiritually. He was saying that, of the two, she is the weaker in a physical sense. But, as he points out, while she may be the physically weaker of the two, she is equal to her husband when it comes to being a partner in God’s gracious gift of new life, which we receive through belief in Jesus Christ. And because she is an equal partner in this, a husband must treat his wife as he should, with honor and understanding, so that his prayers may not be hindered.