Do you really know your wife? Did you know that God commands you to know your wife? What does it mean as a Christian husband to know your wife? These are some questions I will try to answer in this next post in this series “How to be a godly husband”.
One of the best passages in all the Bible that speaks to a husband’s responsibilities to his wife is found in I Peter chapter 3.
“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)
In this post we will tackle just the first part of this verse – “dwell with them according to knowledge”, and in our next post(“12 Ways to honor your wife“) we will talk about what it means to honor your wife.
What does “dwell” mean?
The English word “dwell” in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word “Sunoikeo” (which is only used here in all the Bible) which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:
“to dwell together
of the domestic association
of intercourse of a husband and wife “
It was a word commonly used in the Greek language to refer to a man and a woman living in a sexual relationship together, it was used both of men with their wives, as well as men with their mistresses.
What does “knowledge” mean?
The English word “knowledge in I Peter 3:7 is a translation of the Greek Word “Gnosis” which is defined by Thayer’s and Smiths Bible dictionary as follows:
“knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding
the general knowledge of Christian religion
the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced
esp. of things lawful and unlawful for Christians
moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living”
This same Greek word is used 28 times in the New Testament, and I will draw your attention to two of them as I think it relates to this:
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” – II Peter 3:18 (KJV)
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” I Corinthians 13:2 (KJV)
I believe, that in the same we need to grow in our knowledge of our Savior, we also need to grow in our knowledge of our wives. But we must also realize as Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:2, that even if we know a lot about our wives, if we don’t have love, then our knowledge of her will be useless.
Previously I wrote a posted entitled “The 12 attributes of marital love” where I explored this wonderful passage of Scripture – which defines love as God sees it, rather than the way we in modern times understand love.
When husbands are commanded to love their wives, it is with this same “agape” love that is defined for us in I Corinthians 13, and it is an unconditional love based in duty, commitment and action.
So what does it mean to live with your wife according to knowledge?
When we put together everything we have seen so far, God is saying this in I Peter 3:
“Husbands as you live in this sexual relationship with you wife, get to know her, talk to her, understand how she ticks and use this knowledge you gain to love her better.”
You can’t know your wife, without talking to your wife
Guys – God is literally telling us as husbands – “you have to talk to your wife”. Communication in Christian marriage is not some “nice to have”, it is essential and commanded by God. Some Christian husbands may have liked in previous posts were I alluded to God’s commands that a husband and wife are to have sex, and they may not deny one another. In many marriages, those commands regarding sex are more difficult for the woman to handle (and much more controversial as the hundreds of emails I got can attest to).
But here is a command that is difficult for us as husbands (and I am sure I won’t have one protest from one wife about this) – that we has husbands must talk with our wives.
And guess what guys – even if our wife is denying us sexually, we don’t have the right to stop talking to her. Two wrongs never make a right. It is a natural and sinful reaction by many men, that if their wives give them the cold shoulder in bed, they give their wives the cold shoulder outside of the bedroom, but this is part of our sin nature and we must combat it. We must talk with and interact with our wives no matter what.
In fact often times we will discover, that if our wives do give us the cold shoulder in bed, it is because they need to talk, that we have not been doing our job in talking to them.
And guess what guys – a secret many men discover is, when you talk to your wife outside the bedroom (and outside the context of sex completely), often times you will find your wife much more responsive to the way you want to “communicate” in the bedroom.
10 Ways to know your wife better(and yes they all involve talking)
OK so I said it – God commands us a husbands to know our wives and the only way we can know someone is by talking to them. But how do we talk to them? Here are 10 ways to talk with your wife:
1. Talk about your faith
Talk about your faith, and ask your wife what she wants to pray for. I think it is a good habit for couples to get into that they pray each night together before bed. I think that we as husbands can learn a lot about our wives by just asking what she wants to pray about, and she can learn a lot about us by what we want to pray about. As part of this talking about our faith, we should also as Christian husbands and wives be able to talk about what we heard on Sunday in Church, or what we have read in the Bible that week, something online, or maybe in a book we are reading.
2. Talk about your day
When you talk to your wife about your day, make sure to give detail. Most of us husbands when our wives ask us how our day at work went will say “it was fine”. But wives’ often want more detail like “was it busy”, “was it stressful”, they want to know about the interpersonal relationships you have at work – it takes some doing for most of us husbands, especially at the end of the day when we don’t feel like talking, but if your wife wants to know, you need to open that up to her.
3. Talk about her day
Some days she may want to talk about the kids, but other days it might be stuff about her mom or her friends. It might be nothing but stuff she saw on TV that day, but whatever it is, listen and interact. Make sure when you are talking with her that she has your undivided attention. If that means turning off the TV then do it. If that means closing the laptop then do it. If you are in the car and that means turning off the radio, then do it. Sometimes it means getting away from the kids – going to your bedroom and just talking (Nothing more).
4. Talking only for sex is a big no-no
Don’t just talk when you want to have sex. This is a big mistake a lot of us husbands make. We start making small talk with our wives only when we want to have sex – this is a big no-no, and it sets up the idea that you only want talk to your wife when you want sex.
5. Don’t always try to solve problems
Don’t try to solve all her problems, sometimes just listen. Notice I used the key word “sometimes”. That means as men God has made us natural problem solvers, and sometimes we may need to offer some advice, but other times we do not. Sometimes we may even need to offer some constructive criticism as well which I will talk about later in this list.
6. Talk about her wants and needs
Ask your wife for ideas on things she would like for herself AND around the house. Make sure you get BOTH personal info (like the kinds of jewelry or flowers she likes, or trips she wants to take) and household things she wants. Women love getting new things for the house, but when you only get her household items and never personal items just for her, it can cause her to grow resentful toward her home and we don’t want that to happen.
7. Know her hopes and dreams
Know your wife’s hopes and dreams, and within your ability to do so, try to make some of them come true. Many women will just come right out with these kinds of things, and most of the time we as husbands have only to listen, and remember. With some wives it may take some prying, as some Christian women think they are being selfish when they talk about such things, but a Christian husband needs to make his wife comfortable with this kind of talk. We as husbands ought to feel secure in sharing our hopes and dreams with our wives as well, and this helps to strengthen the bond and connection between a husband and wife.
8. Know her fears and worries
Ask your wife about what her fears are, what makes her worry, what stresses her out, and what ways you can do to help relieve her stress, worries and fears. Every husband should know his wife’s fears and worries and he should do everything in his power to alleviate those things, and protect her from those things. Most women have deep longing for security, and when we as husbands listen to her fears and worries, and offer her comfort, we can help to give her that security that she needs.
9. Know what she wants in the bedroom
Have the sex conversation from time to time. Some men don’t ever want to talk about this – they just want to do it and no words need to be said. Other men talk about it too much. What I mean is – they are constantly bugging their wives to rate their performance in the bedroom, or tell them what they did wrong or right, and no woman wants that. What I mean by “Have the sex conversation” is as a couple, whether you are comfortable with it, or she is comfortable with it, you need to occasionally talk about you sex life. Ask her is there anything you could do differently in this department? Are there things she likes that you could do more of? Are there things she really does not like that you do? Does she feel like you are not having sex enough for her?
10. Know her weaknesses
Now this is the one women won’t like and even some men might be uncomfortable with. As a husband gets to know his wife better by communicating with her he will inevitably come across wrong thought patterns on the part of his wife. All of us, both men and women have wrong thought patterns – ways of thinking that go contrary to the Word of God.
The Bible tells wives how to respond to their husbands have thought patterns and actions which are disobedient to the Word of God:
“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”
I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)
So for wives God wants them to respond to what them to respond to their husband’s disobedience to God’s Word by continuing to be in submission to them and showing them respect. Win them without a word is the marching order for wives.
However for husbands the situation is very different. Because a husband is his wife’s spiritual authority he has a God given responsibility to try and correct his wife’s wrong thinking and spiritual disobedience in whatever areas it may occur. Some husbands and wives are shaking their heads and saying “where does the Bible say husbands need to call out or try to correct their wife’s weaknesses?” Well I am glad you asked and here is the answer:
“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.“
Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)
Most Christian women today love Ephesians 5:25’s admonition for men to give themselves up for their wives as Christ gave himself up for his church. But they would rather do without the verses on submission that came just before that verse and they also don’t want to read the verses that come directly after verse 25 that tell WHY Christ gave himself up for his Church.
Christ did not give himself up for his bride to make her happy or to appease her and give her anything she wanted but rather he gave himself up in order to purchase his Church “with his own blood”(Acts 20:28) so that he could sanctify her by washing her with the word and cleanse her of her spots, wrinkles and blemishes so as to present her to himself as he wanted her to be.
So it is absolutely a duty of every Christian husband to wash his wife’s spiritual spots, wrinkles and blemishes with the Word of God and he can only do this by getting to know how his wife thinks.
These ways to know your wife are a very tall order for us a men. My wife reading this list would tell you I often fail at many of these things. But just because something is hard does not mean we as Christian men should not strive to be better.
For some men they may have know problem at all knowing and identifying their wife’s weaknesses. But as we wash our wives with the Word, we must also demonstrate God’s mercy and grace and not make out wives feel that every word they speak and everything they do is wrong. We as husbands need to chose our battles.
Also as husbands the frequency of how often we talk to our wives may differ. It is one thing to say husbands need to talk to their wives to know them and it is another to say husbands must spend a certain amount of time every day talking to their wives.
What is the determining factor in how often and for how long men talk to their wives? Is it how ever much time the wife thinks she needs? I don’t think that is the correct answer Biblically speaking. It us as husbands who as the spiritual leaders of our homes must determine how much of our time we give to our wives. God did not just put us here as men to spend hours on end listening to our wives talk.
He wants us to be studying his Word alone so we can later present it to our families. He wants us as men to pursue our work outside the home and make our mark on the world. He may call us to be more involved in the ministries of our church or some other ministry outside the Church(like I do on this blog). And a very important duty we also have is to our children.
But God calls us as men to make these important decisions as to how to balance our lives. We cannot let any one area of our life dominate us so much that we neglect the other areas of our lives. We can work too much to the neglect of our wives or we can spend so much time with our wives that we neglect our work. We can spend too much time with our kids to the neglect of wives or we can spend too much time with our wives to neglect of our kids.
A warning to Christian women reading this
Finally I have a warning for Christian wives reading this. Many wives might read this as some sort of list to beat their husbands over the head with. Remember the passage I cited early from I Peter 3:1-2? It is not your job as a wife to wash your husband with the Word – it is his job to wash you with the Word. Your husband may be doing little to nothing I have written here. Or he may may do it sometimes, but not consistently as many of us Christian husbands are guilty of doing. You must leave him in God’s hands and continue to quietly submit to him and show him your reverence and respect.
Also I hope you will review what I have just told the men previously. You don’t get to demand or determine how often your husband talks to you. If your husband talks to you for an hour three times a week then you need to be grateful for that. Also while I do think husband’s should hear their wife’s grievances, if 90% of what you talk about are the same complaints over and over and especially complaints directed at him don’t be surprised if your husband does not talk to you as much.
The Bible describes a constantly complaining wife in this way:
“A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are alike;”
Proverbs 27:15 (KJV)
Literally imagine sitting in a room with a leaking faucet. “drip, drip, drip…” is all you hear. Would you not want to get out of that room away from that annoying noise? Of course you would! It is the same for your husband. If you are just sitting their with complaints going “drip, drip, drip” he is not going to want to be around you either.
Might their be a place for occasionally asking your husband for some more of his time to talk – sure there is. But just don’t become a nagging and contentious wife in the process.