1 Peter 3:7 calls husbands to “live with your wives in an understanding way . . . since they are heirs with you of the grace of life.” After 18 years of marriage, God continually surprises me with his grace and commitment to make me look like Jesus.
Once, my wife and I were preparing for a busy week, which included hosting out-of-town guests and dealing with a car in the shop. With an already full plate, Jen was squeezing in an appointment when her hair dresser called to say she had to cancel the appointment.
Jen came to me, overwhelmed and stressed. Seeing her distress, I said, “I understand, Jen.” I gave her a ride to pick up our car and then took care of some things at home for her while she was gone.
Later that afternoon when Jen came home, she said, “Thanks for telling me you understood earlier today. It made me feel loved, and cared for. I don’t think you’ve ever said that to me before.” I had to stop and think about that. She was right.
You Don’t Have to Understand Her to Serve Her
Let me get something straight: I don’t understand my wife’s hair. (I’ve heard her and her friends talk about hair being “fun”; I will never understand that.) But I did understand that my wife needed my support and my compassion. Although her hair contributed to the stress of the situation, it was not the problem.
When Peter tells husbands to “live with your wives in an understanding way,” he is telling them to pursue their wives’ hearts, not to get hung up on the circumstances.
Too often in our marriage, I have made my wife the problem, in essence missing her heart and setting her up to feel alone and misunderstood. In making her the problem, I miss the deeper problem going on in my heart: I like life and marriage to be easy. When that idol gets threatened, it is tempting for me to blame her.
In this case, I could have selfishly responded by wondering why she had to get her hair cut today or why she was so upset, missing a wonderful opportunity to serve and love her. But thankfully, God intervened on my behalf so I could extend her grace and help.
Husbands, remember you and your wife are equal as image bearers and grace recipients, defined and refined by the work of Jesus.
Understanding your wife means you need to set your agenda and insight aside. Are you willing to do that for her good and the glory of God? Seek to engage your spouse and face the trials together with the help of Jesus who is with you and for you. Mature together. Endure together. Don’t quit even if that seems like the only option. God will not quit on you.
Phil Smidt is the marriage and family pastor at Mars Hill Church Ballard.