When describing spouses as equals, Peter charges husbands to “live with your wives in an understanding way” (1 Pet. 3:7). He means be considerate of her. Since she’s your equal, and you’re certainly considerate of yourself, consider her as you would yourself.
In contrast to the world’s definition of maleness—independence, pride, machismo—living with understanding advocates sympathy, concern, sensitivity, and a desire to meet your wife’s needs. It requires you to make a sincere effort to understand her fears, goals, dreams, desires, and feelings. It means you are attentive to her at the deepest level.
This doesn’t mean you need to agree with her way of thinking or feel the way she feels. It does mean, however, that you should value her way of thinking and feeling by seeking to understand and consider it like you would your own.
Stay with me, men.
This is not rocket science. You might think the female mind is from the moon, but it’s equally made and equally loved by God. It’s as important as your own. (The truth is, we just have a hard time thinking outside of our box, I mean, head.)
Granted, this is not the first gift God gave us. (We might even argue that God withheld it from us altogether!) But, we are fully capable of living with our wives in an understanding way. It just requires intentional effort motivated by sincere value. With those two things, we can easily overcome the mysterious language gap that lies between the male and female.
Husbands, Question Your Wife
Make a plan to sit with your wife regularly—weekly, bi-weekly—as it works with your schedule. In between those visits, think of questions that require her to answer with deep responses. When the two of you come together, free from distractions, offer the questions in a conversational manner and dig deeply into her life.
Husbands, Listen to Your Wife
Your questions might be along the lines of goals, dreams, fears, frustrations, regrets, and more. When she answers, pay close attention and follow up with more questions. You want to hear her as your equal and value her thoughts, no matter how foreign they are to you. Your goal is to understand who she is.
Husbands, Value Your Wife
Finally, what you do with what you learn is key. Her unique goals, dreams, fears, and whatever flows from your conversation is yours to protect, nourish, and consider appropriately. If you see your wife as your equal, you should value what she tells you and not think you are above her. In my experience, women often think more broadly and more deeply than men. And this, my good man, is why we are so puzzled when they speak.
With a little planning and intentionality, you can become your wife’s deepest friend and learn to lead and live with her in an understanding way. This is the mark of true love.