How can I compliment my wife?

How can a man praise his wife? How can a man give compliments to his wife? This is difficult for us a men to do.  As men we are more creatures of action than creatures of words.  It is often times much easier for us to buy our wife some flowers or jewelry than it is for us to string to together a verbal compliment.

But just because something is hard to do does not mean it is not the right thing to do. Often times the hardest things to do in life are the right things to do.

I Peter 3:7 talks about men honoring their wives.

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” – I Peter 3:7 (KJV)

What do the words “honor” and “weaker vessel” mean?

The English word “honor” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word Time” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

   “a valuing by which the price is fixed

of the price itself

of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold

honour which belongs or is shown to one

of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds

deference, reverence”

The English word “weaker” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word “Asthenes” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

   “weak, infirm, feeble”

The English word “vessel” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word “Skeuos” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:

“a vessel

an implement

in the plural

household utensils, domestic gear

the tackle and armament of vessels, used specifically of sails and ropes

metaph.

a man of quality, a chosen instrument

in a bad sense, an assistant in accomplishing an evil deed

“Vessel” was a common Greek metaphor for “body” since Greeks thought of souls living temporarily in bodies.”

In the case of I Peter 3, “honor” has to do with a husband honoring his wife’s position as “the weaker vessel”. This is actually the most literal rendering – “weaker vessel”. Some translations have tried to change it a bit and they will usually add a foot note at the bottom of the page “lit “weaker vessel”.

Why we honor our wives

In a previous post “Why does the Bible call woman the weaker vessel?” I stated this:

“What God is saying is this – “Men I want you to recognize that your wife is not as strong as you, both emotionally and physically. You need to be considerate of those qualities, and appreciate those qualities for the many ways they help her to be a good wife and mother. Don’t belittle her for being weaker or more fragile than you, but instead honor her position as your wife and the mother of your children.”

I stand by that understanding, and I believe that we are called to honor our wife’s position as our wife and as the mother of our children. In other words, we honor her position as the help meet to man for which she was designed by God.

We honor the position, not necessarily the person

There are two types of honor or respect Biblically speaking. One is an honor based on position, the other is an honor that is earned, based on what a person actually does with their position.

The Bible tells us to “Honour thy father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2), when we honor our parents, we honor their position as our parents, not necessarily their person. It is the same way with a husband or wife, a wife is called respect her husband’s position, even if his person is not respectable. (Ephesians 5:33). Finally a husband is called to honor or respect his wife’s position, even if her person is not worthy of that respect.

For most of us, while our parents may have been imperfect, they not only deserve to be honored for their “position” as our parents, but they also deserve to be honored for their “performance” as our parents.

I have a close Christian friend, whose mother whored around with different men his whole life, and on top of that she was a drug addict. He has had to walk that fine line his whole life, of honoring his mother’s position, while have nothing but distain for her person because of the horrible things she has done. His mother has not earned any respect, but he must always honor her position as his mother.

The Bible recognizes that many husbands might face this dilemma of having to honor a wife that does not seek to model the role of a Biblical wife and mother:

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” – Proverbs 12:4(KJV)

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” – Proverbs 14:1(KJV)

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.” – Proverbs 11:22(KJV)

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”  – Proverbs 21:9(KJV)

So as husbands we all hope that we find a virtuous woman who wants to model God’s design for a wife and mother, but even if we don’t have such a wife we must honor her position as our wife and the mother of our children, while we may not honor her particular behavior as a wife and mother.

Praise is a primary way that we honor our wives

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her… She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Proverbs 31:10-11 & 26-31 (KJV)

Praise is one way that we can honor our wives. But praise unlike honor, is not unconditional. Notice in Proverbs 31 that the wife’s works are what make her worthy of praise. We honor our wives for what they do right, not for what they do not do or what they do that violates God’s Word.

12 Ways to Honor your wife

1. Praise her faith

Praise her living out her faith and teaching it teaching your children about God, tell her how much you appreciate her example and instilling her faith in your children.

2. Praise her use of her talents

If she teaches a woman’s Sunday school class, or runs a Christian woman’s blog, or writes books for Christian women, if she uses her talents for the Lord, remember to praise her.

3. Praise her submission

Praise your wife for her submission to your headship, especially when it is hard to do. You might have to make a decision as the head of your home that she disagrees with, but when she recognizes your authority to so, and follows you even when disagrees – don’t forgot to show your appreciation for that. Don’t take that for granite.

4. Praise her wisdom

Praise your wife for her wisdom, when she give you advice that really helps you make a good decision and praise her when she gave you advice that you didn’t follow, but later you found to be right.

5. Praise her cooking

Praise her for every meal she makes, even if it does not taste good, praise the effort.

6. Praise her care of your home

Praise her, and notice when she cleans the house, even if it is done imperfectly.

7. Praise her organization

Praise her for how she looks out for your family, to make sure everyone has the right clothes and the house is stocked correctly.

8. Praise her efforts to make herself beautiful

Praise her whenever she fixes herself up, when she puts on makeup and nice clothes, never forget to praise her for this. Tell her she is beautiful.

9. Praise her efforts to be sexy for you

Praise her when she dresses sexy for you, or when she puts on lingerie, never take that for granted.

10. Honor her for respecting the importance of sex in your marriage

Praise her when she initiates sex and show her your gratitude. Recognize her when you know she acted selflessly and had sex with you even when she was not in the mood.

11. Make your children respect her position

Respect your wife’s position as your children’s mother and authority. Don’t let your children undermine your wife’s authority, and unless they tell you something immoral or sinful she has done (something abusive or wrong) you need to back her.

12. Protect her reputation whenever possible

If you need to confront your wife about something she has done wrong, try to do this in private. There are some exceptions where confronting her behavior in front of others is appropriate. For instance if your wife disrespects you in front of your children, it is appropriate to call her out on this in front of them so they will understand that type of behavior is not acceptable.

What honoring your wife does NOT mean

Some feminist Christians have tried to take the phrase from I Peter 3:7 – “and as being heirs together of the grace of life” to say that since we are equal heirs of the grace of life, that God sees men and women as equal in all ways and there are in fact no gender roles, and Peter is telling husbands to honor their wife as their equal partner in marriage. In fact the NIV actually changed “weaker vessel” to “weaker partner” in an attempt to appease feminist Christians with the idea that marriage is an equal partnership.

Such an interpretation does not match even the language of this passage, let alone the witness of the entire Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. The literal phrase “weaker vessel” actually displays the inequality of man and woman, not their equality.

Never once in all the Scriptures does the Bible present marriage as an equal partnership, and partner is never used when speaking of a husband and wife relationship. The wife is called a companion of her husband, but never a partner. A companion in the Scripture is not necessarily an equal, but one who goes along aside someone. A master traveling with his servant, would consider his servant a “traveling companion”.

Christian feminists, and even non-Christians teach, that unless women are equal partners in marriage, and have equal social status in all areas of life, that they are being treated as less than human. In their view a person’s humanity is synonymous with their rights, if they have less rights in any area for any reason, then these people are being dehumanized in their view.

The Bible does not recognize such a definition of humanity. We are all human, not because of what rights we possess, but because God created man in his image, and he created woman in man’s image. That is why we are special (both men and women), that is why despite all our inequalities (both physical, and in our roles) we are still equal in our value as human beings.

The consequences of not honoring our wives

Just as there are consequences for not honoring our parents, there are also consequences for not honoring our wives.

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” – I Peter 3:7 (KJV)

God tells us that if we do not know our wives (talk with our wives) and honor our wives as the weaker vessel, he will not hear our prayers as husbands. God takes it very seriously when a man does not grant his wife the honor that her position is due.

Conclusion

As Christian husbands we have a duty to honor our wife’s position. A primary way we can do that is by praising her when she does things right in various areas.  I know this is hard for us as men to be verbal.  We may think it – but we don’t say it. Praise is not praise when we just think it – praise must be verbalized. I will fully admit as a husband I don’t always praise my wife as a I should.  It takes intentional effort to do this.

On the other hand –  praising one’s wife does not mean we have to worship her or give her false praise for things she has not really done.  If your wife is frigid in the bedroom you don’t have to pretend like she rocked your world when she clearly just phoned it in.  And you don’t have to praise her for her sexual availability if she only allows you to have sex with her once or twice a month.

Remember that unlike the Agape love that is unconditional (love from the will, not based in feelings) that men are called to in the Scriptures to have toward their wives – praise is something that is earned by one’s actions.

A warning to Christian women reading this:

This Biblically based advice is directed at husbands to help encourage them to be the kind of husband God calls us as men to be. But do NOT use this list as something to beat your husband over the head with.  Women send their husbands articles like this all the time trying to “help” their husbands be the husbands they think they should be.  But you are not your husband’s spiritual authority and it is not your job to rebuke him or chastise him into be what you think is a better husband.

In fact if you read I Peter 3:1-2 you will see that you are to behave just the opposite toward your husband even if you are convinced he is mistreating you in some way. You are to win him “without a word” by placing yourself in subjection to him,  showing him proper respect and serving him with a gentle and quiet spirit.

 

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