How Should Husbands Treat Their Wives

Scripture Reference

1 Peter 3:7 NLT

[7] In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.


First Commentary Notes:

If a man is not considerate and respectful of his wife, his prayers will not be heard, because a living relationship with God depends on right relationships with others. Jesus said that if you have a problem with a fellow believer, you must make it right with that person before coming to worship (Matthew 5:23, 24). This principle carries over into family relationships. If men use their position to mistreat their wives, their prayers will be hindered.


Second Commentary Notes:

Now the apostle turns to husbands and shows the corresponding duties they must fulfill. They should live considerately with their wives, showing love, courtesy, and understanding. They should bestow the tender regard on their wives that is appropriate for members of the weaker sex.

In this day of the women’s liberation movement, the Bible might seem out of step with the times in speaking of women as the weaker vessels. But it is a simple fact of life that the average woman is weaker than the man physically. Also, generally speaking, she does not have the same power to control her emotions and is more frequently guided by emotional reactions than by rational, logical thought. The handling of deep theological problems is not characteristically her forte. And, in general, she is more dependent than the man.

But the fact that a woman is weaker in some ways does not mean that she is inferior to man; the Bible never suggests this. Neither does it mean that she might not actually be stronger, or more competent in some areas. As a matter of fact, women are generally more devoted to Christ than men. And they usually are better able to bear prolonged pain and adversity.

A man’s attitude toward his wife should recognize the fact that she is a fellow heir of the grace of life. This refers to a marriage in which both are believers. Though weaker than the man in some ways, the woman enjoys equal standing before God and shares equally the gift of everlasting life. Also, she is more than her husband’s equal in bringing new physical life into the world.

When there is discord, prayers are hindered. Bigg says: “The sighs of the injured wife come between the husband’s prayers and God’s hearing.” Also, it is very difficult for a couple to pray together when something is disrupting their fellowship. For the peace and welfare of the home it is important for the husband and wife to observe a few basic rules:

1. Maintain absolute honesty in order to have a basis of mutual confidence.

2. Keep lines of communication open. There must be a constant readiness to talk things out. When steam is allowed to build up in the boiler, an explosion is inevitable. Talking things out includes the willingness for each to say, “I am sorry,” and to forgive-perhaps indefinitely.

3. Overlook minor faults and idiosyncrasies. Love covers a multitude of sins. Don’t demand perfection in others when you are unable to produce it in yourself.

4. Strive for unity in finances. Avoid overspending, installment buying, and the lust to keep up with the Joneses.

5. Remember that love is a commandment, not an uncontrollable emotion. Love means all that is included in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is courteous, for instance; it will keep you from criticizing or contradicting your partner in front of others. Love will keep you from quarreling in front of your children, which could undermine their security. In these and a hundred other ways, love creates a happy atmosphere in the home and rules out strife and separations.


Third Commentary Notes:

As we might have suspected, Peter does not merely speak to wives concerning how they should live; he gives some very helpful and practical advice to the husbands. In short, he tells us how we should live with our wives as Christian husbands.

Peter tells husbands that they should begin by living with their wives with understanding (v. 7). The word for understanding is gnosis, which is usually translated as knowledge. If we are to be understanding or considerate to our wife, we must know her. That is one of the greatest challenges of the marriage relationship or of any close interpersonal relationship. In order to be able to love deeply, we must know each other profoundly. If we are to lovingly respond to the needs of another, we must know what they are.

To know another requires time, honesty, mutual openness, patience, sensitivity, and above all, love. Husbands should be getting to know their wives better and better day by day as they love them, share with them, engage in honest communication, and become deeply intimate.

Peter also teaches that husbands should give honor and respect to their wives, as weaker vessels (v. 7). The word for honor is time´ which is sometimes translated as price or precious. It denotes value and esteem.

Indeed, a wife should be treated as someone very precious, of great value, and to be highly esteemed.

A woman writing to a newspaper columnist expressed it in the following way:

Woman was created from the rib of a man.

She was not made from his head to top him,

Nor out of his feet to be trampled upon.

But out of his side to be equal to him,

Under his arm to be protected,

And near his heart to be loved.

The Lord has not given more of His grace of life to either the husband or the wife. Together, a man and his wife are the children of God and, therefore, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (v. 7, Rom. 8:17). What grace! That God should extend His love to us in such great measure that we should enjoy all the benefits of being His children.

Husbands and wives are neither inferior nor superior to one another. We are encouraged to love each other, to serve each other with the love and spirit of Christ, and to live as heirs together of the grace of life. In other words, we should live in communion with God and with each other.

Peter underscores the importance of living in a vital communion with each other when he states, “that your prayers not be hindered.” There is only one thing that hinders prayers, and that is sin.

And Jesus spoke about the very special sin which will hinder our prayers. It is the sin of being unforgiving. As Jesus taught His disciples and us how to pray in His Sermon on the Mount, He concluded His teaching on prayer by saying, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14–15).

I believe that Peter is focusing on that basic teaching when he instructs husbands to so treat their wives that their prayers not be hindered. They must be living in a loving, open, sensitive, forgiving relationship. Nothing should separate their love, fidelity, and commitment.

Shortly before my wife, Jeannie, and I were married, some friends held a bridal shower for her. One of the highlights of the evening was a time when each of the ladies shared a word of advice or counsel for the young bride-to-be. There was a wise Christian lady who shared some advice which has been of great help to us over the years of our marriage. It was simply this: “Never go to sleep at night without forgiving each other for anything that needs forgiving.”

That is exactly what Peter is saying. Love your wife in the same way in which Christ relates to the church. Let love prevail. Treat your wife with understanding and honor as one who is very precious.

Live together as heirs of the grace of God in its many and varied forms. And keep forgiving her and loving her and living in vital union with her.

Paul summarized these important truths as follows: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).


Fourth Commentary Notes:

Although this seems to imply that both the husband and wife are Christians, I believe that these instructions to husbands would be applicable either way.

A husband is to treat his wife as the weaker vessel, and he is to give her honor because of that. I do not think the current women’s liberation movement is going to last very long. I think a woman wants to be a woman, just as a man wants to be a man. Because she is the weaker vessel, she is to be treated with honor. The man is to give first place to her. She gets into the car first as he holds the door for her. When they enter a room, she goes first. As they walk down the sidewalk, he walks on the outside for her protection. He is to treat her with honor. When a woman loses her place, she doesn’t go up; she goes down. When she takes her place, she can be treated with honor and given her rightful position. I think every husband ought to treat his wife as someone special.

“That your prayers be not hindered.” Peter says that if you are not getting along as husband and wife, it will ruin your family altar, and there is no use praying together. If you are fighting like cats and dogs, well, God just doesn’t hear cats and dogs. But when you are in agreement, you can pray together, and your prayers will not be hindered.

Before we leave this particular section of Scripture, I would like to add one further word. Marriage is something which God has given to the entire human family, not only to Christians or to the nation Israel. In the Book of Genesis, we are told that God made man, and at that time man was alone. I think the Lord let Adam be alone for a long time to let him know he was missing something. Then Scripture says that God took man and from man He made woman. Using the Hebrew words, Genesis 2:23 reads, “She shall be called Isha, because she was taken out of Ish.” She is called “… a help meet for him” (Gen. 2:18, italics mine); that is, a help that was fit for him. In other words, she was to be the other half of him. He was only half a man, and she was to be the other part of him. With that in mind, you can see that the marriage relationship is not to be one of a man insisting on treating his wife like a little child who has to jump every time he says so. She is there to help him. She is there to be a part of him. She is there to love him. And he is there to love and protect her. That is the ideal relationship in marriage.