Using Scripture and examples from the Bible, I will show you how it’s possible to have a successful, long-lasting marriage — a supportive, complimentary relationship where both husband and wife work together in a state of biblical harmony.
To preface this message, let’s begin by looking at First Peter. At the time First Peter was written, Peter was extremely old. It’s believed that he was married for almost 60 years, and by the time he wrote his first epistle, he and his wife were still alive. After 60 long years, they were still married, and their marriage was happy!
I find it interesting that Peter’s wife was happy after all that time because the Bible tells us in First Corinthians that she traveled with him everywhere he went, which means that although they probably didn’t live the most comfortable life, their marriage was solid. They found happiness in doing what they were called to do.
First, Peter 3 speaks of a man passionate about his beliefs about marriage. From his words, you can tell that Peter is a happy husband with a happy wife. In chapter 3, Peter addresses husbands and wives about what the marital relationship should look like. It reads:
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.
— 1 Peter 3:1
So where did Peter begin? Well, he begins with the word “subjection.” This word is the Greek word hupotasso. It’s a military term that describes a soldier who knows his position and, equally important, also knows what his position is not. He knows who he is to answer to. This is the word that Peter uses, and he begins to tell us that God has designed order in the home. This is very important.
We know from Paul’s Ephesian writings that in the home, the husband is the head of the family.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
— Ephesians 5:23
I want to tell you something that I’ve observed over many years. Women are significant and influential. When women are in the position God has for them, they have tremendous influence in their homes. Denise Renner regularly teaches that women have the power to build up or tear down their homes during her weekly program, TIME With Denise Renner — women are so powerful when they are in their God-ordained place.
But I want to say to the men. It will be much easier for your wife to be submitted to you if she sees that you’re praying, reading your Bible, and being kind. But on the other hand, if you’re stiff and unkind, not reading your Bible or praying, it makes it much more difficult for a wife to trust you. As husbands, we must do everything we can to make it easy for a wife to be in that place of trust.
At the time this was written, many Christian women were married to unbelieving men. Also, many Christian women were married to Christian men who were not living right and not obeying the Word of God. And in these two scenarios, the temptation is for women to try to help their husbands by preaching to them. But Peter encouraged these wives by stating that it is possible to win your husband and do it without preaching to them!
And it might come from a right desire because the husband is the head of the family. You want him to do good because if he doesn’t, it affects the whole family. And so, it would be a natural temptation to jump in to try to save the situation by telling that husband what he’s doing wrong. And, although I think it’s perfectly fine to express your heart if you are just continually preaching to your husband, I’ll do nothing but push that man far from you. It causes him to close his heart to you. He doesn’t want to be preached to by his wife, and he perceives it as a nuisance and will not respond correctly to it.
But in this verse, Peter says:
1 Peter 3:1
1 …women are so powerful; they can win the game of their home without a word.
1 Peter 3:1 KJV
1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
That is amazing! And when the Bible says, “You can win,” the Greek word means if you play your cards right, or if you cast your dice right, and if you play the game right, you can win the game in your house without ever saying a word. That is amazing.
What is he talking about? Well, he tells us in verse 2:
1 Peter 3:2 KJV
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
Wives — an important thing to understand about men is that they watch their wives. I’ll give an example of my own. My wife Denise is such a powerful woman. But we’ve had moments, like every marriage has, when maybe she doesn’t like what I’m doing. She has wanted to help me, and it’s okay to tell me once. But as a man, I don’t like it when She repeatedly tells me what I am doing right and what I should be doing. This causes me to close my ears entirely. And thankfully, Denise doesn’t do that very often.
But I noticed the moment that Denise changed her approach. And when she changes her approach towards me, I know that she has decided not to preach to me but to pray for me and to trust that I also have ears to hear from the Holy Spirit. And I know that for her to change her approach, she’s had to pray, and she’s had to decide to restrain her mouth. I notice that. Men notice their wives. They see when their wives are nagging. And the men may not tell you, but they notice when you change.
And Peter says, “Men notice.” And you can win your husband by your life — live right, have a good attitude, and win your husband without ever saying a word.
I want to give you an example that you will find quite entertaining. Many years ago, Denise wanted me to get up early and pray with her every day. But back then, I stayed up very late working, so I needed more time to get up early. And Denise would say, “I want you to get up at 5:00 to pray with me. It’s my dream.”
I’d say, “Denise, I work late. Please let me sleep.”
A couple of days go by, and I hear, “Oh, how wonderful it would be to have a husband who would get up early in the morning and pray with me.” I said, “Denise, I think I’ve heard enough of this. I’m not going to get up at 5:00 in the morning.”
So then, her method changed. I was sleeping, and when she would get out of bed at 500 to pray, I could feel her throw the blankets out! And I would feel her getting out of bed and entering the next room. Then, she would get on her knees. And I’d be lying in bed, not sleeping because I was so upset by her behavior. But I would hear her in the next room praying, “God, speak to my husband that he will get out of bed and pray with me.”
And I would lay in bed. I’d say, “First, Denise isn’t talking to God. She’s talking to me. She just found a new way to preach to me.” And I lay there in my bed, and I said, “Hell will freeze before I get out of this bed.” And this went on for quite a long period of time.
Then, something happened, and my attitude changed. She began quietly getting out of bed. I would hear her in the next room. But now, she’s praying so quietly. I had to sit straight in my bed to lean forward to see what she was saying. And I would hear things like, “God, please bless Rick. He works so hard. He needs to sleep.”
And I think — I’m sitting straight up in bed listening and thinking, “Wow, something’s happened.” And morning after morning, this would continue. Denise had changed her approach towards me.
After some time, I’d start thinking, “What kind of a lousy husband are you? Your wife is praying for you, and you’re just lying here. And she dreams that you would pray with her.” So, guess what? I finally got out of bed, knelt, and said to her, “Denise, you won.” And friend, she did it without preaching!
You have to work on this, but God wants you and your spouse to be partners and heirs together in the grace of life. When it talks about the grace of life, it’s really talking about a strife-free life.
It’s quite simple, but when the wife does what she’s supposed to do, and the husband does what he’s supposed to do, it’s incredible how order comes. And when order comes, things begin to flow correctly. If we just do what the Bible says to do, it brings everything wonderful into our home.
And I’ll give one more example. In the early years, when our sons were young, Denise and I were traveling the United States in a little car to preach. And we’d be in that little car for hours on end. When you have three small children and your wife in a tiny car, you are presented with many opportunities for strife and notice something.
And Denise and I noticed that every time she and I got into disunity, one of our kids would get sick. Every single time. It took us a while to catch it, but one day, we were driving, and one of our kids was sick. Denise and I were talking, and we saw this pattern. We began to understand that strife in marriage opens the door for sickness, the door for the devil, and affects your ability to have power in prayer together.
But when you and your spouse are together, you have power when you pray. This is one reason why I do everything I can to always avoid getting in strife with Denise. And she doesn’t want to conflict with me. We have decided to choose not to enter into these opportunities of strife.
So, in our marriage, if we have a hot conversation, I may just say, “This is done. Let’s step away from this conversation, cool down, and return when ready for a respectful, mature conversation.” I’m not trying to cut her off. I’m just saying no to strife. We just don’t allow that in our house. We quickly bring it to an end because where there’s disunity, it brings trouble. But where there is unity, it brings power!