Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life….
— 1 Peter 3:7
One of the meanest tricks in the world occurs when a man romances his future bride and treats her like a princess as they are courting — but then once they get married, everything suddenly changes! Before the marriage, the man held her hand, walked with her, opened the door for her, called her on the telephone, wrote her romantic notes, sent her flowers, and took her to dinner. He treated her so royally that she viewed him as her “Prince Charming” and felt like she was his queen!
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Unfortunately, upon returning from the honeymoon, many new husbands suspend all those romantic gestures that made their future brides feel so special. These men begin to act as if they have forgotten how to show their brides the tenderness to which they had grown accustomed. As a result of this change in behavior in their new husbands, young brides often feel disappointed, let down, and deceived. They inwardly ask themselves:
- Where is the Prince Charming I fell in love with before I got married?
- Was that all an act?
- Who is this man I have married?
- Who is this man who rarely calls me, who rarely treats me to a date, who seems to have time for everyone except me, and who shows very little tenderness in our relationship?
- Where did the man go who once treated me so nicely?
Men are often unaware that they are becoming insensitive and neglectful of their wives. Perhaps they get busy at work, or their minds are heavy with details, or they are mentally and physically exhausted. These may be some of the contributing factors that explain why men do the things they do. But regardless of what a husband is feeling or going through at work or in his financial affairs, his wife needs his attention and affection. She married him because she wants to be a part of his life. She has a need to feel cherished by him and to know that he wants to include her in his life.
This is precisely why Peter in First Peter 3:7 told husbands that they are to “dwell” with their wives. The word “dwell” is the Greek word sunoikeo, a compound of the word sun and oikos. The word sun always carries the idea of partnership and cooperation. When the word sun is used in the New Testament, it always connects two or more people into a very vital union. The second part of the word, oikos, is the Greek word for a house. When these words are linked together as they are in First Peter 3:7, it means to share a house together or to dwell together in one residence.
But there’s more to this than simply sharing a house together. The fact is, there are many husbands and wives who live in the same house, who eat at the same table, and who share the same bed, yet who don’t really “dwell” together. They are like two ships that occasionally pass each other. Although they share the same residence, they live separate lives, never really connecting with each other.
Because the first part of the word sunoikos (“dwell”) is the word sun, which always conveys the idea of partnership and cooperation, this lets us know that Peter is urging husbands to share their lives with their wives. This is a great challenge to men, who often want to be quiet when they come home after a busy day at work. Many men would rather sit down in front of the television and flip the channels all evening rather than communicate with their wives.
Husband, learning to share your life with your wife is a skill that must be developed. This is why Peter goes on to say that husbands are to “dwell with them according to knowledge.” The phrase “according to knowledge” implies that you must gain understanding of what blesses and distresses your wife. First, you must seek to obtain that knowledge by reading the Word, by reading a good book on marriage, by attending a seminar on how to be a better husband, by listening to a teaching tape on the subject, and so on. Then you must apply what you learn to your marriage if you want to have a happy wife.
For instance, what do you do, husband, when you come home from work in the evening? Perhaps you’re one of those husbands who walks in the door, plops down on the couch, turns on the television, and begins to flip mindlessly through so many channels that it is impossible to focus on any single program. Meanwhile, your wife has been waiting to talk to you all day long, so she sits next to you as you flip from one channel to the next and wonders, Why doesn’t he turn off the television and talk to me instead?
The truth is, you’ve talked to people all day long, and you probably don’t want to talk anymore. But you have a precious wife who needs you at that moment. She has cleaned the house, taken care of the children, cooked your evening meal, and faced her own challenges throughout the day. After an entire day of caring for the children, she needs some adult fellowship. Even more importantly, she wants fellowship with you because you are the one she loves and needs the most.
Why not turn off the television, take your wife by the hand, and ask her to take a walk with you? Or why don’t you sit at the kitchen table with your wife and let her tell you all about her day over a cup of coffee or tea? And after she is finished telling you every nitty-gritty detail of her day, take the time to tell her about your day! She wants to know what you did, whom you talked to, what they said, what happened next, and so on. She wants to know all about you and your day.
Also, instead of spending most evenings and Saturday with the guys or with other people, send a powerful signal to your wife that she is important by scheduling time to be only with her. That’s right, husband — spend quality time with your wife! Take her out to dinner or a movie. Do things together that you both enjoy so you can keep your relationship fresh and alive.
You need to treat your wife like she is the most central, significant, and important partner in your life. This doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with the guys. Certainly you need fellowship with Christian brothers. However, if you spend every free minute with them and never schedule any time with your wife, you are communicating that your male friends are much more important than she is. Is this the message you want to send to your wife?
As you learn to treat your wife with tender care, it will pay off big dividends in your life. If she is assured that she is a top priority in your life and feels secure in her relationship with you, she will gladly follow you and help you wherever God leads. But if she doesn’t feel valued or secure in her position as your wife, she will find it much harder to follow you with a sweet and submissive heart. She may be afraid that if she follows you, she will ultimately find herself abandoned and uncared for. Thus, how you care for your wife greatly determines how easy or difficult it is for her to follow you.
In my own life, my wife and I actually schedule our times to be together. We plan those moments when we will go for a walk together, go shopping, go to a café to have a cup of coffee or tea, or share a special meal with each other. Like most people, our schedules are very busy. We have found that if we don’t plan these times together, all the other responsibilities of our lives and ministry consume us, and in the end, we don’t spend enough quality time together. But because we both consider our marriage relationship to be the most important relationship in our lives, we treat it like it is important and make certain that we spend quality time together on a regular basis.
Husband, I urge you to make the decision that you are going to do more than just share the couch, share the table, and share the bed with your wife. Share your life with her. Open your heart to her; talk to her like she is your best friend and most important confidant. “Dwell” with her and do everything you can to let her know that no one else is as important to you as she is.
If you’re wondering what your marriage will be like if you fail to treat your wife with this kind of tender care, just ask those husbands who have made the mistake of ignoring their wives. They will testify how they hurt their wives, and many husbands will have to admit that they were a big factor in their wives becoming bitter and hardhearted.
When you invest in your wife, you are investing into your own life. You see, if you have a happy wife, you can be sure that you’ll have a partner who is with you all the way. So I urge you today to learn how to dwell with your wife according to knowledge. Make sure that from this day forward, you treat your wife like she is a top priority in your life!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I ask You to forgive me for not spending enough time with my wife. I know that she needs me and that I haven’t done what I should do to show her the love and attention she deserves. She does so much for me. She loves me and our children and serves us with her whole heart. I am so sorry I’ve been so selfish and haven’t been the husband I need to be for my wife. I repent for my self-centeredness, and I make the decision today to reverse my actions. I want to love her as I should and to do everything I can to communicate that love. Please help me, Lord, to become all I need to be for my wife!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I boldly confess that I am a loving, caring, attentive husband. As God’s Spirit works in me and transforms me more and more into the image of Jesus Christ, I am becoming a better husband to my wife. Because I love her deeply and regularly show my love to her, she feels secure and confident in our relationship. As a result, she is willing to follow me wherever God leads and is supportive of my decisions. Investing in my life partner is the best investment I can make in my own life. Therefore, I choose this day to invest love and attentive care into my wife — the most important person in my life!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Husband, how much time in a week do you think you spend using your remote control to mindlessly flip through the television channels?
2. How much time do you spend talking to your wife and letting her talk to you? Do you have scheduled times when the two of you sit down together to discuss what is happening in your lives so you can stay vitally connected to each other?
3. Husband, what can you eliminate from your schedule so you can spend more time with your wife? Are you sending her the right message when you never have time for her, but you somehow have time for everyone else? Don’t you think it’s time for you to reevaluate your list of activities and make schedule changes to reflect the fact that your wife is more precious to you than anyone else?