“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
The phrase “with understanding” means according to the norm or standard of experiential knowledge. Husbands should understand their wives. He should be aware of her physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. God expects him to protect and care for her (Eph. 5:28-30).
There are several Greek words for “understanding.” One means academic knowledge. Another means experiential knowledge. A husband must get personal, experiential knowledge of his wife. It is not enough that he knows basic facts about his wife. He needs to get inside her essential needs.
Women often have difficulty explaining their needs to their husbands. God expects husbands to know what their wives want out of marriage.
God expects the husband to know and love his wife (Eph 5:25-33) and avoid harshness toward her (Col 3:19).
God expects the husband to know how to make his wife feel secure in his love.
A husband says, “My wife, all she thinks about is money, money, money.” Some sympathetic friend says to him, “Well, what does she do with it?” The husband answers, “Beats me; I never give her any!” This is not dwelling with a wife according to the standard of experiential knowledge!
A man’s wife is at A = the feeling of not being cherished by her husband. She is afraid to ask for love because if she did, she would not truly know whether her husband loves her. So she goes to B = this is a test of whether he truly loves her. He is about to play golf, but she asks him to put on the screens to the house for the summer. Her interest is not primarily in the screens but to see if she is more important than golf. What she is genuinely seeking is C = she wants to be secure in her husband’s love.
Most husbands do not understand this. Going to “B” misleads them. They cannot understand why she would make an issue about not going golfing at this time. “I can put the screens on the house tomorrow.” They miss the point because they do not understand that she does not want to ask for love. Yet they must understand it because this is at the heart of femininity. The wife prefers to respond to her husband’s initiative in love. This is how she proves to herself that he loves her.
Many men never know why their wives are upset. They do not understand why their wives nag. They wonder why she is so miserable. It just may be that her husband has neglected to meet her essential need. Every woman needs to feel wanted and needed.