“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 3:15

It is a sad reality that what has been considered a “wholesome marriage” for generations is now vilified in so many quarters of our society. Any whiff of traditional gender roles is scorned and topsy-turvy gender roles are glorified. Dysmorphia and gender perversion, and hatred of all that God is abounds—and along with that cultural drift always comes God’s judgment (Romans 1). The deleterious effects may not always be a blatantly obvious punishment from the hand of God, but rest assured, God will not be mocked!

Thankfully, there are men and women who have yielded allegiance to God and have patterned their lives after the Scriptures. Things done in submission to God and in God’s way will always bring God’s blessing (Psalm 101, 127, 128). There is nothing “old-fashioned” or “out of touch” about obedience to the timeless truth of God’s revelation to mankind. Just as “abstinence works every time it is tried” in order to avoid unintended pregnancy, so humble yielding to God’s instructions for a couple’s relationship in marriage will always bring happy, lifelong benefits to husband and wife as they unitedly cooperate with God’s design.

Mutual submission is required of both male and female in marriage (Ephesians 5:21). A special burden of submission is also called for on the part of the wife (Ephesians 5:22). This is a tough spot to be in, to be called to submission to a husband who is also a sinner! Wives, God does not leave you without hope in this situation. First, your primary allegiance is always to God. No husband has a right to force his wife to do something in violation of God’s law. Second, you have the responsibility to only marry a husband who is a believer (2 Corinthians 6:14). In marrying a believer you marry someone who is also bound under submission to Jesus Christ and he has the Holy Spirit within him to bring conviction upon his heart when he is disobedient in his role as head of his household. Third, make sure you and your husband attend church regularly so that he may be “nagged by the preacher” and other solid men in the church, so that you do not have as much work to do to encourage him to be a good husband for you (Hebrews 10:24f). It is always wise for a couple to discuss what role they desire the pastor of their church to have to their family.

Husbands, your wife’s job as outlined by God is a very hard one when you are disobedient to God. Your lack of loving leadership will always cast your wife adrift when it comes to figuring out how to be your “helpmeet” (Genesis 2:18). You throw your whole household into disarray in your selfishness and you steer your relationship with your bride onto the rocks. Ephesians 5:30 commands you to nourish and cherish your wife “just as the Lord does the church.” Your role model is Jesus Christ and His selfless service for His people. To nourish is to nurture, to grow, to provide, and to sustain your wife. To cherish is to warm and foster with tender care. Such selfless, forward-thinking, attentive and loving leadership is what most wives long for in their man. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).

Peter’s words (1 Peter 3:7) echo Paul’s admonitions. He deals with a wife’s submission and reaching a husband’s heart in verses 1–6 and then he speaks to husbands. The word “likewise” reaches back to “likewise” in 3:1, which reaches back to 2:21ff, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth….’” In other words, both husband and wife fulfill their roles in their marriage taking their individual cues from the Lord!

The reason we know 1 Peter 3:7 is about your marriage relationship is the word “dwell.” It means to “house with.” Though the husband is the “head of the home,” the wife is the “keeper of the home” (Titus 2:1–8). In order for these commands to be obeyed there has to be good-willed cooperation on the part of both husband and wife, each submitted to the other and together submitted to the Lord!

While a godly woman can maintain the biblical attitude and actions required of submission without much encouragement from her husband, there is undoubtedly a lot more joy in her life if he provides leadership in love as God outlines for us in 1 Peter 3:7. Husbands need to provide character, leadership, security, and love worthy of a wife’s loving response. This requires constant personal growth, men.

Peter speaks of dwelling with your wife with understanding, or common sense. Husbands are to give honor (assign, apportion, and pay) through intelligent recognition of his wife’s worth. Your honorable wife thirsts for your recognition, approval, and cherishing of her. A woman generally marries for a relationship and a man generally marries for his completion. Peter reminds you that she is “the weaker vessel.” He cannot mean that she is weak in the frivolous sense of the word, but weak in the sense of delicacy, grace, and sensitivities. You are tin-ware while she is fine china! By her willing obedience to the Lord in submission, she voluntarily makes herself “weaker.” That virtue of hers alone deserves your notice, respect, and honor!

It takes two to provide harmony in a marriage! Both are “heirs together of the grace of life,” the best earthly relationship that the world has to offer! Disobedience in this holy relationship will interrupt and cut off your prayers and God’s answers to them. Husbands, you will give account one day! Trust and obey.