"You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7)Peter now turns his attention to the husbands and commands them, "in the same way," in what way? As free people voluntarily committing themselves to what is right and good. In this way a man is to approach his relationship with his wife, in a commitment to what is right and good. It is interesting that in all the instructions to husbands in the scripture there is no command for them to ensure that their wife is living up to the commands that have been given to her. Each one, husband and wife, are called to voluntarily commit themselves to the word of God and to what is right. It is not the role of the other to ensure the compliance of their partner in these matters. Each must look after their own lives before God.
It has been said that the Bible does not ask men to understand their wives but simply to be understanding. While funny, its not entirely true. However, the idea of living with them according to knowledge implies attention and an interest in the needs and concerns of another. To live according to knowledge you will need to study them and know them that you might contemplate and understand their needs, ideas, thoughts, and wants. One of the greatest revelations that men can arrive at is that their wives are not them, they are a unique individual with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some men cannot understand their wives because they expect them to act and think like they do, but there not them! If we can learn to see our wives as the unique creation of God that they are then we will be on our way to understanding them and loving them like God asks us to.
I think the New American Standard Bible does a disservice when, in translating this verse, it refers to the wife as, "someone weaker." A better translation is, "giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel." (1 Peter 3:7 NKJV) A weaker vessel, not a weaker person. A woman's soul is just as strong as a man's soul, but in the flesh, women are weaker. Now I know this is a generality and there are many women, I am sure, that are stronger than me. However, we would be foolish to buy into the popular political correct speech to say that women are on every way equal to men. Men and women are different and, I concur with those who speak of the feminine sex as the fairer sex. What this means in a marriage is that, as husbands, we must be careful not to load our wives down with concerns and physical burdens beyond their ability to care for them. We must be willing to help at every turn, to lift their load, to lighten their burden. We cannot sit idly by while we expect our wives to work morning to night trying to meat our needs, demands, and expectations. This is not the way to live with them in honor or in understanding. When I have had a hard day, I can come home and my wife will life me up. When she has had a hard day then I can lift her up when I come home. However, when we both have had a hard day then I have a choice to make. Will I demand my own needs, or will I put on strength and lift her up, being the stronger one in the moment. I believe that it is the calling of men to be strong for their wives, even when we don't feel like it. To be their support and help even when needing it ourselves.
Peter further challenges husbands to see their wives as fellow heirs in Christ. In the Song of Solomon, the bridegroom consistently refers to his bride as, "my sister, my bride." (Song 4:9) Men, when you take a Christian bride, you must remember that she was your sister first; your equal in the things of God. She is not your servant nor another one of your children, she is your sister, your bride. As husbands, we must ask ourselves, would our Father be pleased with how we are treating our sister, His daughter? We are not the king, but even if we are, she would be the queen, full of royal power, beauty, and authority. Men, we cannot find progress in the Kingdom of God if we dishonor and mistreat our fellow sojourners in the way. We cannot please God my bringing suffering to His children. This not only includes those you sit next to on Sunday, but also your wife, who first belongs to God. Our wives are our equal and, if we can grasp this, our marriages will be filled with greater harmony, joy, and love.