My mother used to have a memorable ceramic piece in the living room. That is, until I haphazardly smacked it while wrestling nearby. The piece fell to the floor and shattered.
As her partner in marriage, you are to live with your wife in an understanding way. This implies an inner connection where you find her deepest feelings and value them as if they are your own. It means when it comes to the inner sensibilities, you are not the same. Neither are you alike when it comes to the outer framework.
Peter adds to his charge to husbands to honor their wives “as the weaker vessel” (1 Pet. 3:7). This refers primarily to the physical realm. It suggests that God designed women to be under the protection of a man.
Now, before some of you get up in arms, let’s look at this plainly. I don’t want to make it more than it appears for the sake of being politically correct. Women are—read this slowly to get my drift—categorically physically weaker than men. There, I said it. Let it soak in.
In some cases, men have wives that are physically more powerful than they are. (I can name of few of my church friends.) Please don’t think that I mean this is anatomically incorrect. It happens. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nor do these cases negate the principle of honoring the wife as the weaker vessel in marriage. It still applies.
My opening illustration found me playing with my strength unleashed. Instead of being self-controlled and careful of the fragility around me, my wrestling ended in shatter ceramics. When I love my wife with gentle care, my strength works to her advantage instead of her destruction.
Husband, Be Gentle with Your Wife
This principle unfolds in at least two ways. First, husbands are to be gentle with their wives. This is clearly implied by the text. She is called the “weaker vessel,” which immediately brings to mind a fragile vase. You honor the vase—its beauty, its fragility—by handling it carefully and gently. Honor you wife in the same manner.
Husband, Be Strong for Your Wife
Additionally, our wives should be served from our strength. This is also implied in the term “weaker vessel.” It speaks to the physical strength of the vessel. Serve your wife by doing the heavier tasks. For instance, open the doors, change the tires, move big furniture, and do the muscle jobs around the house. There are things that put your wife at a disadvantage because of her physical weakness, and she can benefit from your help.
Husband, Be Sensible to Your Wife
A third thing comes to mind as the prior two points connect with you. That is this: in being the weaker vessel, you should not consider her the weak person. The principle is not to diminish her spiritually. Nor—and get this—is she the weakling. Calling her “weaker” implies that you are weak, as well. (Didn’t see that coming, did you?)
Honoring your wife as the weaker vessel strictly prohibits any kind of physical force meant to harm. As a husband, your strength is to be used responsibly to gently meet her need at the appropriate level of physical power.
Your wife is the weaker of the two of you—if not in frame, in principle. Honor your wife with gentleness, and God will honor your prayers in abundance.