Having warned the wives of possible pitfalls of talking too much, I want to turn to the husbands who may be guilty of talking too little.
Note that after Peter instructs the wives to do less talking and more quiet, respectful living before their husbands (1 Peter 3:1-6), he goes on to say, “You husbands likewise live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (v. 7 NASB 1977).
First of all, let’s confront the term “weaker vessel” which has surely raised red flags for the women reading this! The phrase weaker vessel should not be interpreted to mean that a woman is inferior to a man. Peter is speaking of how God made the wife to be like a delicate porcelain bowl, not a copper or cast-iron pot. For more on this, see Love & Respect (pp. 146-147).
But there is much more in this passage for the less talkative husband to ponder. As a way of honoring Christ, he is to obediently attend to his wife’s concerns. He is to work at being understanding by moving toward her to listen and empathize. Peter specifically instructs husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way because, by nature, the typical male neglects trying to understand. He tends to move away from his pink wife to go do his blue thing. Few things hurt her more or make her feel more unloved.
Let me talk man-to-man with the nontalkative husband as well as to the more talkative guy who forgets to listen with understanding:
• When your wife comes to talk to you, realize she is coming to you because you matter more to her than anyone else. Listen to her heart. Give her a chance to express her concerns and, as she does so, don’t try to fix her. Don’t give her your solutions unless she asks for them.
• At times invite your wife to make suggestions or even offer constructive criticism about how you are doing as a husband. This will probably be no fun. You are apt to hear “You always…” or “You never…” Take the hits like a man of honor. Realize you can crush her spirit very quickly if you get defensive or push her away. Sure, you have lots of that kind of power, but you never want to use it. Instead, be humble. Apologize and seek to make adjustments.
• When your wife is being inaccurate and needs better information, calmly explain the facts. Do not be patronizing or arrogant. Let the truth carry its own weight.
• Coach your wife on saying things respectfully. You don’t need to explode or lash out to get respect. Just tell her when something sounds disrespectful. Be firm but tender.
Now a brief warning to both the men and women: Don’t use the information I’ve share this week and last week as a weapon against your spouse! Wives, don’t use this as ammunition to tell your husband, “You need to listen to me like Emerson says!!” And husbands, resist the urge to tell your wife, “Emerson says you need to stop talking so much!!” None of us need that kind of help (especially not me)!
Are you willing to focus on what YOU need to do rather than on what your spouse is failing to do?
Excerpts taken from The Language of Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.