When my husband and I were first dating, we were kind and respectful to each other. We were considerate of each others’ feelings and we rarely squabbled about petty things. Even if we did, we were quick to make things right again. Most married people know that it doesn’t take long for this type of consideration and kindness to fall by the wayside as we rush around trying to accomplish our goals. These goals can be as simple getting a toddler (who insists on being naked) to keep his clothes on while you rush to get out of the house for church. Often times we can get short with our spouse and take our frustrations out on them.
1 Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
This verse is specific in commanding husbands to show honor to their wives. It describes women as “the weaker vessel” and just as worthy of the grace of salvation as a man is. Hearing the apostle Paul call women weak in this verse can make some women cringe. In fact, I used to feel the same way since I’m a strong, independent, and sometimes (ok often) a stubborn woman. Paul is not calling women inferior to men by suggesting that we are weaker. Instead, the he is giving us great consideration by understanding that we are typically physically weaker than men.
The Bible not only calls husbands to honor their wives, but we are all commanded repeatedly to show love and honor to our fellow humans. In Exodus we are commanded to show honor to our parents. In most areas of the New Testament we are again and again reminded to love one another as we love our own self. While husbands are called to honor, we all deserve to be honored.
So how can we bring honor back to our marriages? Here are 3 practical ways that you can bring honor back to your marriage:
1. Honor Your Spouse’s Requests
When your spouse becomes vulnerable enough to share with you something of great importance, you should show honor by listening and taking serious consideration to the request. When Jerry and I were first married, I told him about my abusive childhood. I explained to him that I still had some difficulty when he would playfully tap me, and sometimes when he tapped me to get my attention. While there is nothing wrong with tapping someone to get their attention, this would often trigger a painful memory for me, therefore I would overreact. Once we discussed this, he quickly honored my request, and uses other means to get my attention. If he happens to forget and tap me, I work very hard to understand that he didn’t do anything on purpose and I know he honors my request in his heart.
A friend of mine was divorced after her husband had an affair. For her when she remarried, she was particularly sensitive to her new husband having relationships with other women. I suggested that she speak openly and honestly about protecting their marriage from any future affairs and to come to a compromise that would ultimately honor their marriage. After she spoke with her husband, they discovered that he too wanted to protect their marriage from an affair, and they were able to set up boundaries that they both could honor.
2. Honor Your Spouse as a Person
One of the definitions of the word honor is, to “hold in high respect, to esteem, to hold in high regard, and to regard as extremely valuable”. When you examine the definition against your actions, can you say that you are truly honoring your spouse? I have often thought of the many times that I have teased my husband about a minor mistake, or simply corrected him in front of others. In the moment it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but deep down I am not showing him honor because I am not holding his opinions in high regard.
My husband values his time with his family and our family traditions. I try to honor him by letting him take the lead, and not putting up too much of a fight (hey, I’m not perfect) when his grand ideas of a family road trip don’t seem quite as exciting to me as they do to him. Our kids and I may groan and grumble at first, but we all value his commitment to us, and we try show him great honor and appreciation for his efforts. I hear my children tell him thank you for his hard work and his special gifts to us.
Another way you can honor your spouse as a person is to go on a date with your spouse and discuss the things that you are most passionate about together. If your spouse has always wanted to write a novel, then honor that and help to make it happen. Maybe your spouse wants to volunteer at a local charity; honor that by making a way for them to fulfill their calling. If your spouse has a different point of view regarding politics, hear their point of view and look for ways you can honor their opinion, even if you don’t agree.
3. Honor Marriage
Honoring your marriage can look like many things, but one of the best things you can do is to speak positively about your own marriage, and about other marriages. Any person who has watched television or a movie these days can easily point out the ways that marriage is disparaged. In some shows, men joke about their nagging wives and lie and hide things from her. In other shows men and women have affairs and validate their actions with what can sometimes seem like a good reason. Some shows even encourage teenagers to have sex with whoever, whenever, and where ever they want as long as they “use protection.” These shows also make us laugh at the way the children and wife make fun of the husband and father of the show. The problem with these images is that it goes against God’s plan and commandments regarding marriage. You can bring honor back to marriage by telling others to value marriage for themselves and others. Teach your children where these shows go against God’s design, and openly discuss how we can do better in our own lives.
Another way to honor your marriage, as well as those around you is by setting up a hedge of protection around your marriage and family. Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” The little foxes can come in forms of stress, work, children, in laws, money, health problems, and many other areas. One important thing you can do for your own marriage is to discuss with your spouse how you can protect your marriage from these “foxes”. Set aside a date night so that you can nourish and revive your vineyard. Set up boundaries to prevent another person from getting into your vineyard and falling into an affair.
Honor is something that seems to be lacking in our society. I start to feel this way when I see how we treat our Bibles. We lay God’s holy word on the floor, or throw it in our trunk, in a backpack, or the floor of our car. We forget to remove our hats and place our hand over our hearts during the National Anthem. We rush through doorways without holding the door for the next person. Sometimes we just forget to look for ways to show honor to others. Sadly, this is especially true for treating our own spouse, home, and marriage with honor.
Let’s pray that God will show us they way that He wants us to show honor to others. Ask Him to show us the areas where we are lacking in honor, and let’s repent and begin to bring honor back to our lives.