“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 word “understanding” means experiential knowledge. The husband is to live with his wife according to the norm of an experiential understanding of her.
God expects the husband to understand the needs of his wife.
Here is a list of some experiential knowledge of the wife that the husband needs for meeting her needs:
1. Make her feel desirable. “Honey, I want you to know that it is wonderful to be around you.” Because of the routine of daily activities, we can take our wives for granted. This gives the impression that she is no longer desirable. She gets the idea that we do not take cognizance of her. Marriage implies some basic things. It implies companionship, sex, a home, and children to rear. A woman wants these things set in the framework of acceptance.
2. Appeal to her. Part of the knowledge of any woman is that she wants to feel that her husband wants to continue to pursue her. She derives significance from being desired. Buy her flowers. This appeals to her significance to you.
3. Be kind and gentle. A man does not have to be feminine to show gentleness to his wife. The man who can be gentle is truly strong. A woman is a finely tuned instrument. A husband does not have to get back at her if he is mature. He can do this when he is inwardly strong. He does not immediately have to argue his point. He gives her time to think. A woman has little defense against real, tender love. She will melt before it.
4. Make her feel wanted and needed. One of the biggest gripes of women is that “My husband takes me for granted. He never thinks about me. He goes on his way without considering me. He has his hunting trips every year. We never go on vacation by ourselves.” The husband replies, “After all, doesn’t she realize that I work in the salt mines all year?” That is a complete lack of understanding of his wife’s situation. He is devoid of experiential knowledge. Does he not realize that if she chooses to be a home keeper, this requires great skill. It is astounding how some husbands have the gall to think that they are the only ones doing any work. Every wife needs to feel wanted and an essential part of his values.
5. Be a man. If a woman is not neurotic, she wants a man for a husband. Some women indeed distort their female roles. They come to the place where they have been rubbed the wrong way for such a long period that they become callous to their essential needs as a woman. She takes the leadership of the home. God did not make her for this role. Most women will let her husband lean on her emotionally. That is her nature. However, she will hate him for it.
I counseled a woman in her sixties. Her husband just died. Something beyond his death was bothering her. She was carrying guilt for dominating him all their marriage. All through their marriage, she ruled the roost. She told me that she felt guilty about this. I said, “Let me ask you something else. Did you also hate him for letting you dominate him?” For the first time in her life, she acknowledged that she hated him for this. She ran contrary to her fundamental nature of wanting protection from her husband. She built her case for security by domination. That, in turn, undermined her security. Most women do not necessarily want a man who can press 250 pounds. She wants a husband with inner composure who can take the rough phases of life.
[continued next study]