The Anchor of Hope
An e-publication of Living Hope Presbyterian Church
October 29, 2014
1Peter 3:7 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 heard a conversation between a young couple recently that went like this.
Wife: “Do you want to go on another date night?”
Preoccupied husband: “I don’t know.”
The women reading the above conversation probably cringed, knowing what just transpired. And most of the men, myself included, have innocently responded in a similar fashion to their wife, not realizing the pain they had just inflicted and the storm that will soon break upon their heads for it.
The wife was not just asking about a date night. She was also likely inquiring, “Do you want to spend time with me.” From a male point of view, I would guess that he totally missed the deeper intent, and in his response he merely meant something like, “I’m busy with something else, so I don’t want to talk about that right now.” But from grim experience, I know the wife heard, “I do NOT want to spend time with you.”
Unless the wife says something immediately, the husband will normally go merrily on his way, oblivious to the gathering clouds of hurt feelings. Then later the wife will overreact, in his estimation, to some trivial offense removed from the real reason for which she is expressing her pain. The blind-sided husband, still not connecting her reaction to the original offense, concludes her problem must be hormonal. And if he voices such an opinion, he will deeply regret that decision very quickly.
The point here is, as that famous line in the movie “Cool Hand Luke” goes, “What we got here is failure to communicate.” Or more precisely, it was a failure on both sides to interpret the communication correctly.
While both sides share some blame here, the husband has been given the responsibility of prevention and protection in the marriage relationship. Paul’s words above tells men to “live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel”. Men, you are commanded to know the woman God has given you, and respond to her accordingly. It is your responsibility to treat her as if she were a fragile vessel, but not condescendingly. She is to be granted honor as a fellow heir of Christ’s Kingdom. And what is spiritually at stake in this aspect of your married relationship? The verse tells us the effectiveness of the husband’s prayers hinges on his treatment of his wife.
I can imagine the weeping and gnashing of teeth that is occurring among the husband’s reading this piece. The well-known jokes about trying to understand women notwithstanding, the responsibility is still yours men. This command was not a cruel maneuver by bachelor Paul to keep men celibate, or to make them overwhelmed at the task. Of course, perfection is not achievable in this life. But are we really trying that hard to fulfill the command? Is this a command that has ever cognitively affected your actions toward your wife? Or are your actions more motivated to just keeping the peace in the home? The latter is all well and good, but it does not fulfill Paul’s words.
And ladies, you want your husband to understand and know you according to Paul’s commands? Help him out. He may well-intentioned, but he cannot read minds. Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no. To illustrate, do not frustrate him when he asks what restaurant you want to go to and you say it doesn’t matter, and then get upset because he chose the wrong one.
Other times he is pre-occupied. Make sure you have his attention. For instance, don’t test him while he is engrossed in a favorite pastime, like watching a football game. That’s a recipe for hurt feelings on your part. Yes, you are more important than a football game, but you don’t have to intentionally make him prove it to you when the issue is not immediate. Don’t set him up to fail. Make sure you have his attention first, wait for a commercial.
And if your husband falls short, which he undoubtedly will at times, you are called to win him over, not with words, but with chaste and respectful behavior as you remain submissive to his leadership (1Pt 3.1-2).
[Note: Now if you think I am somehow a highly successful achiever with this command, I am sure Jenny could spend several hours (or possibly days) discussing how often and badly I fall short here. But we are called to continue to follow Him who is the author and perfecter of our faith.]