If I’m not honoring my wife, I cannot possibly claim to be growing spiritually. Neither can you. I’m planting and pastoring a church. I write articles for Christian blogs and websites. I’m Editor of one of the world’s leading websites for Pastors. I also consult with ministries on social media and communication strategies. I’ve spoken in a conference or two. But if I don’t honor my precious wife, I could count all of that other stuff pretty much worthless.
Here’s how the apostle Peter put it:
In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.
1 Peter 3:7 NLT
Notice the last line, where Peter lays down the gauntlet. If you don’t honor your wife, your conversation with God will be hindered. Your spiritual growth will be stunted. Success in the secular world often demands an inflated ego and self-confidence. Success in marriage, which is prerequisite to successful spiritual growth and therefore ministry growth requires death to self and a self-sacrificing servant’s heart.
Honoring your wife means assigning value to her. The word “honor” is used elsewhere to describe how we worship God. No, we shouldn’t worship our wives the way we worship God, but there is a similarity in which we lay down our wills, our agendas, and our egos at the feet of those who deserve our sacrifice. She is God’s gift in this new life we share in Christ.
I’m going out on a limb here. I’m going to offer advice in the form of ways to honor our wives that I have personally struggled with. My wife graciously loves me, and she means more to me than anyone else on the planet, but I have a lot of growing room as a husband. These are areas I’m determined to address in my life and my marriage, and you may struggle with these as well. So consider this a list of gentle reminders to me and to you.
I struggle with this along with many other men in the sense that I often hold back my feelings and failures for fear of being criticized by the one person whose opinion I value most. But here’s the brutal truth – nothing destroys intimacy more than deceit and dishonesty. Honesty is the only path to trust and closeness. You can’t stay connected to your wife if you’re aren’t open, honest, and transparent.
I’m addicted to a solid daily routine. I like to wake up early, have my coffee, do some studying and writing, have some interaction with the world, get my work done, hang out with the family, lock all the doors and go to bed. That’s a safe routine. The problem with safe routines, however, is that they require little thought. I’m sometimes ashamed that I try to be so creative in my approach to ministry leadership, but I fail to apply my creative abilities in the realm of how I show love to my wife.
My wife wonders sometimes if she should be worried about my health because I forget so much. I can remember stupid and pointless details (did you know that wasp stings contain pheromones that signal other wasps to sting?), but I sometimes forget whole conversations that I’ve had with my wife. What stinks is that a fellow Pastor can suggest an idea and I excitedly tell my wife who reminds me that she shared the same idea a week before while I was staring into outer space or at a computer screen. If this doesn’t seem like a big deal, think of it this way – failing to tune into what our wives are saying is essentially declaring their words of little or no value. To “honor” is to convey value. So listen up!
My wife and I have had arguments. In fourteen years of marriage, sometimes we’ve said things that cut fairly deep, and when things get intense and my blood pressure goes up, I struggle with the tendency to blow up. No, I’ve never been physically abusive, but I have made the terrible mistake of thinking that if I yell loudly enough, I’ll win! Wrong. Every time I’ve ever yelled, I’ve lost. Why? Because even if I proved a point (which is rare), I’ve stripped away my wife’s sense of being cherished and protected. If another man yelled at my wife, I’d spring into action to defend her, but I don’t always stop myself from hurting her in this way. To honor her as the weaker vessel (Peter’s words, not mine), I need to lead with gentleness.
I’m not a hugger. I don’t mind hugs, but it’s not my natural way of relating to people. But I read a statistic today (wish I had the source) that said the average married couple kisses for five seconds per week! In King James language, brethren, these things ought not to be so. There is something electric about human touch. Babies need to be touched to develop socially and emotionally, and grown-ups are just the same. Hug her. Kiss her. And hug and kiss her for far more than five seconds per week.
Be Her Biggest Fan
My wife followed my to college (okay, I pretty much followed her on that one). She has followed me from one ministry to the next. She followed me to southern California and back. She has changed careers and resigned positions to follow me. Why? She loves me and she’s my biggest fan. But I don’t have half the giftedness of my wife when it comes to things she’s good at. She’s been a social worker, therapist, teacher, and women’s ministry leader. And as God opens doors for her to serve, lead, and excel, I’m going to be cheering her on. I’m her biggest fan. Her identity isn’t wrapped up in me or “my ministry.” She’s awesome on her own accord.
Be Her Lover
I know what you’re thinking – he finally mentioned sex! Nope. I don’t think you’ll be hurting for sex if you truly honor your wife in the ways I’ve mentioned. Instead, I’m talking about understanding how she receives love. I have a tendency to say nice things about my wife. While she appreciates this, words aren’t really the way she receives love. Instead, she responds when I show my love for her in unexpected ways and spend time with her. It’s not enough to love her in the way that comes easiest for me. To honor her, I need to value the way God wired her to receive love.
Be Her Leader
I believe that God wired women to respond to the servant-hearted leadership of their husbands. And God wired husbands to lead at home. Because of depravity, some women don’t want to be led. And because of depravity, some men are either wimps or overlords, neither of which was God’s intention. But when we find our biblical roles and really lead well spiritually, financially, and socially, we create an awesome climate for connection. So lead, just the way God intended!
Honoring our wives means more than saying the right words. It requires that we be willing to stretch beyond our comfort zones, to think, to be intentional, to be a bit radical, to be honest and transparent, and to step up to the plate to lead! When we honor our wives the way God intended, our spiritual roots can grow down deeper than we ever imagined.