Husbands, likewise, dwell with them 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—NKJV)

“Pride and Prejudice” days are a thing of the past now that women have many more options and have a much stronger voice in declaring their own particular desires. Gone are the olden days when a “knight in shining armor” could whisk a woman off her feet, rescue her, and provide everything for her. However, authentic God-directed chivalry is still what a Christian woman should look for in a potential mate.

God states that the man is to study his bride and to treat her like a “weaker” vessel (meaning the weak one is him, the weaker is his bride). Men may be compared to Corelle ware and women to fine china—intricate, beautiful, and valuable. Our text commands husbands to be men of understanding (to live together in intelligent recognition) giving (assign, apportion, show, pay out) honor to their bride. The concept of chivalry still lives on in healthy marriages of believers.

The attentive husband is one who models Ephesians 5:18–33. He must love his wife like himself; in other words, he must be a leader, lover, loner, and lifter. He must recognize that paying attention to things regarding his wife is just as significant as eating to satisfy his hunger. A leader is a husband-shepherd-servant-leader. A lover is a person who lives up to his word, his promises, and his covenant with his bride. A loner is a person who knows how to leave, cleave and weave. A lifter is one who knows how to feed and satisfy the hungers of his bride’s soul. What does a godly woman need to look for in a husband-shepherd?

  • Full-faceted protection—Physical protection is only the beginning. Protecting a woman from herself is a tall order as well. This entails protection of your dreams, of your spiritual condition, your mental advances, and so forth. Protection from outside forces that are too big for you and inside forces that can tear your family apart.
  • Full-faceted leadership—Being the head of the house is not just occupying the head seat at the table. He must provide leadership that you are willing to follow, not just a career that moves you around and so you follow him like a piece of his furniture, but you follow because you see the wisdom of his words and the foundation upon which his convictions stand. There is no such thing as a man leading only from silent strength. One of the most difficult things for a man is to know what to say at significant times. A man learns to “speak into the darkness,”a place where he is in totally uncharted waters but he is keeping his eye upon the stars that God places in the night sky shining out of His Word. You are a woman—your heart yearns to know the man you will marry; it takes patient words, expansive ideas, pioneering thoughts, and brave honesty for him to unpack and display his heart to you. You will fall in love with his heart, the core of who he is, because the core of his soul is the future of his life (Matthew 12:35–36), the future of your life, and the future of your kids’ lives. Whether good or bad, the words that reflect his heart will echo in the heart of your kids.
  • Full-faceted investedness—Choosing a bride is not like choosing the next vacation location (“This would interest me to try.”), or a new barber (“I like the haircut he gives at this stage in my life.”), or a new car (“I will look good while I go about my business.”). He must be so invested in your happiness such that you have total confidence that what you are doing pleases him and your God. You want joy to come from the fact that he is joyful that you are fulfilled; that must be one of the most important things to him every day. It does not mean that he is constantly communicating with you; rather it means that there is “oneness” of heart with God and with each other.
  • Full-faceted fear of God—This is what makes him fully feel accountable to God for how he treats you, every moment of every day; it will keep him on the straight and narrow; it will keep him holy when he is away from you; it will force him to listen closely to your words and your heart because he must in order to fulfill his sacred vows to both you and God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).

This list is all about being a man of spiritual principle. That means that his reasoning he shares with you will be salted with Bible wisdom. He must know the roots from which his principles arise and he must know they are to be obeyed. If he cannot articulate that a good principle comes from the Bible, then he is not the leader you need. A shepherd is tasked with the protection of the sheep, the feeding of the sheep, the companionship of the sheep, the profitability of the sheep, and the guiding of the sheep. You want the leadership that your husband exerts upon you and your kids to come from the gracious word of God so that you may have a happy heart of worship as you pursue life together to the glory of God. Do not settle for anything less. Trust and obey.