My wife and I met with a couple for pre-marriage counseling. The man asked, “How can I be an
expert on women?” I said, “Only God can do that. Just be an expert on your wife.” My wife said,
“Even your one wife will change at times!”
“Men and women are created differently in every cell of their bodies.” It doesn’t take long to
realize this truth. Many husbands feel lost in trying to apply 1 Peter 3:7. Peter gives women six
verses of instruction. The man gets only one. Some would say women are just deeper than men.
This is an excellent summary of God’s instruction to husbands about marriage. Live with
understanding! Many husbands feel they want to and try to understand their wives but often fail.
Why is this?
Part of it is pride. Peter says men have been made with more physical strength than women in
general. Men on average have 30% more upper body strength than women. But any strength can
lead to arrogance that tends to look down on those weaker or different than us. Peter is
instructing men to be patient and gentle with any and all differences that show up between them
and their wives. This applies to all arenas of life.
Once my wife and I had an argument. I later vented to a friend about our misunderstanding. He
asked, “Basically you want your wife to communicate like you?” “Yes!” I answered
emphatically. “So you want to be married to a man?”
I understood the point made through the friendly jab. I had chosen to marry this woman
specifically because she was so different than me in many ways. I should enjoy all the
differences rather than trying to conform her to my image.
Proverbs 20:5 is true of all people because we are made in God’s image. There is more to us than
meets the eye. This verse seems doubly true of women. But, if we are men of understanding we
should be able to draw out the depths of others’ hearts, including our wives. Practically, how can
we best do this?
1 Peter 3:7 also speaks of a husband’s prayer life. Does this mainly refer to a husband praying
for his wife or with his wife? Maybe it means both. In my life, I have found a strong link
between praying with and for my wife and understanding the depths of her heart.
Maybe the one most important thing any husband can do is pray with and for his wife. I am
shocked at how many godly couples do not regularly pray with one another. The burden lies on
the husband to make this happen as the head of the marriage.
My wife and I tried to do this from day one in marriage but ran into problems; my stubbornness
and abrasiveness and her insecurity. It took us 4 years to find a way that worked well. Now it is
one of the consistent highlights of our week.
We gave up on the practice of daily prayer together. My wife often goes to bed before me, so we
often found ourselves rushed, offering a five second prayer before she dozed off. We decided to
aim for quality over quantity.
Our practice is to meet for breakfast one morning a week. This works for our schedule, but it
may not for others. Find your best time. Over coffee we catch up at a heart level. It’s a spiritual
date. The goal is to be open and honest with each other about the deepest things going on in our
lives, especially where we feel the weakest. We ask each other questions such as “How’s your
walk with God? How are you feeling about our kids? Are you mad at me about anything etc…?”
When we are done we go outside and sit in the car and pray together for about ten minutes. It is
nothing supernatural, but I often feel like I’m getting a deep glimpse into my wife’s soul. I’m not
aware of anything that has contributed more to a healthy marriage than this weekly prayer time.
It is not the only way that I pursue my wife. It may be the main way.
I was counseling another couple whose marriage was in crisis. I asked both what was the one
main thing they could do to help fix their marriage. The wife responded quickly, “I need to pray
out loud in front of my husband more, I rarely do. In most ways I seem like I have it all together,
but when I pray I fall apart. I question God. I cry and scream. It’s the real me. I don’t want my
husband to see me like that.” Praying together with raw honesty is the most intimate thing we
can do, in some ways, more intimate than sex.
I often feel like my wife has layers of her heart that go deeper than mine. The only way that I can
begin to truly understand her is to pray for God to give me insight but then also to pray with her.
Listening to her pray has been life changing for our marriage and my understanding.
In praying together, I am reminded at once how alike we are and how different we are. We are so
different in the ways we think, feel and process. But we are so similar in that we are both
desperate sinners with no hope if we are left to ourselves. We have no strength except that given
to us. Our only hope in this life and the next is ultimately that Christ has chosen to live with us in
an understanding, compassionate, patient and gentle way. The more that I see and experience
that grace afresh side by side with my wife, the more I am able to practice that same grace
towards her, even when I don’t fully understand her. Honor her by pursuing her regularly in