"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, 
and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Peter 3:7). 

It would seem from the expression, "that your prayers be not hindered," that marital harmony and unity can be disrupted and antagonized should the husband not conduct himself after the manner laid down in the rest of the verse. For, a blight upon their mutual prayer life, is an evidence of a blight in their relationship. Maybe, if we could get behind the public profession of even established married couples, and view the hindrances and blemishes that mar and disjoint, we would be greatly surprised. Should we not be the same in public as in private? "The same water is in the bucket as in the well" (G. Swinnock).

The word, "likewise," in our text, downgrades a man from any thoughts of lording or exerting dominion over the woman (cf. v. 1-6). Philip Henry wrote, after twenty years of marriage had passed, "We have been so long married and never reconciled, that is, there never was occasion for it." He also remarked, that they who lie together must pray together. If then, a husband would want the comforts of a happy marriage, he ought happily to practice the duties of marriage. So then the husband’s contribution to an unhindered prayer life, a happy marriage and a virtuous wife, is partly captured in this text, for there are other portions that expand his duty. See then:-

Firstly, his respect for her and to her,—"giving honour ." The word, "honour," refers to all parts of the verse, not just "the weaker vessel." Not only the construction of the verse, but gentility demands it. And secondly, the manner of doing so, namely: (1) "dwelling with them according to knowledge;" (2) "honouring the weaker vessel;" and (3) honouring the fact "that they are heirs together of the grace of life."

His Respect for Her and to Her 

This involves not merely a passive recognition of her, but a positive active giving of honour to her. One of the things that is impressive in Jonathan Edwards’s marriage, is that whenever his wife came into the room where all her children sat, they would stand up until she sat. Not only is that a display of the old New England courtesy, but also the honour and esteem in which they held their mother. They had been trained to demonstrate their respect. Sadly, this practice is reserved only for the Queen today,—due to our neglect. Similarly, the husband is to accord to his wife,—both in public and private,—an active esteem and veneration. A scrupulous sense of what is due to her, and a high estimation constantly conferred upon her. The old Anglican wedding service has these words to be repeated by the husband in his vows: "With my body I thee worship." Today we think of worship as being something reserved only for God, but in older English the term was used also to refer to any demonstrable esteeming of another.

The same value is placed upon honour, as the apostle Paul instructs of love, "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself (Eph.5:28). If we substitute the word honour for love, the truth is evident. Therefore, husbands are not to overlook, underestimate, take for granted, demean, neglect, or imprison their wives as drudges or as inferior in position and standing. For Scripture knows nothing of inferiority of persons, only a subordination of roles. The word, honour, means "weight." Not treating her unworthily, or as unsubstantial, or lightly, but giving her weight of recognition. "Giving honour where honour is due" (Romans 13:7).

There are, then, certain actions that the husband ought to manifest in the loving and honouring of his wife:

Dwelling with them According 
to Knowledge 

The word rendered "dwell" (sunoikevw, sunoikeô) is used only once in the New Testament. It means, "to dwell in a house with" or "to live along with." Three things may be said with respect to this duty of dwelling-with.

Firstly, a husband who is not regularly at home, hinders family prayer and negates the married life of which he ought to be part. How can you live, or have conjugal relations if your job repeatedly takes you away? No, if a wife is to be a keeper at home, her husband should then be a willing dweller at home. Matthew Henry rightly observes that "this forbids unnecessary separation." Now this is true, not only of a man’s occupation, but also of his leisure hours. A wandering man, as a wandering star, has no fixed abode. Therefore, a man honours his wife by esteeming his home as his castle.

Secondly, dwelling-with one’s wife, would mean adhering strictly to Genesis 2:24,—"Therefore, shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife." Apart from very serious exceptions, a man should dwell with his wife (and children) alone, and not with his parents or another household. As John Brown observes, "Nature and reason dictate this." The legacy of mixed relations under the same roof is one of uncomfortable and bitter recrimination. A man honours his wife by desiring to dwell only in her company and presence, as the happiest environment.

But thirdly, the husband who is dwelling-with his wife, dwells according to knowledge. There is an old saying, that you have to live with a person to know him! And a man is to live alongside his wife and be continually learning, in order to know her character and personality. For knowledge, here, is broader than a solely spiritual dimension. He dwells with her, knowing her moods, her frailties, her strengths, her desires, her needs. Many of us men are observant of the needs of others, but overlook the needs of our nearest and dearest. For example, the homemaker sometimes can be so housebound that she hasn’t the opportunities for company, fellowship or even conversation. Dialogue with her children is the extent of her socialising, because when her husband comes home, he either watches the television, gets down to his reading or dozes in the chair; whereas, he should be alive to her need for conversation through the knowledge of her loneliness and her expectancy. In this way, he fails to recognise and honour her as a person, let alone as his wife. His knowledge of her should provide for her body and soul, as the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:3,—"Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence." "Due benevolence" refers, of course to conjugal relations or the duties of marriage.

This knowledge also respects his spiritual understanding and ability to instruct her soul in the ways of godliness and in the paths of righteousness, thus seeking her good, maturing her appreciation and developing the awareness of the grace of life. So, when his wife implements 1 Corinthians 14:35,—"And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home," he responds to her spiritual needs. A man can revel in debating doctrine with fellow members, but maintain a silent or dismissive attitude to his own helpmeet, not realising how hurtful this is to his wife.

Honouring the Weaker Vessel

For so she has been created with the added infirmities of the Fall. She is generally weaker, constitutionally, emotionally and spiritually. Any exceptions only prove the rule. She may be superior intellectually, and morally, but still weaker constitutionally. But the man is to be constantly aware that though she be a vessel of weakness, yet she is still a vessel of honour. Very delicate china has to be handled and treated gently, for it is not robust compared to other vessels. Likewise, a woman’s nature is not to be mishandled, but treated sensitively and honourably. Though one clay vessel is tougher than another, both can be broken. Yet one is easier to break than the other. So it is with male and female. The husband, realising that weakness, should bear with her infirmities and be sensitive to her dependence. So he honours and fulfils in his own home, what Paul taught and desired in the church,—"And those members of the body which we think to be less honourable, upon them we bestow more abundant honour" (1 Cor 12:23).

Honouring as Heirs Together 
of the Grace of Life 

No religions, save Christianity, have given equality to women. She may be a helpmeet to man, a homekeeper, a feebler vessel, yet stands equal with him on redemption ground. She is joint heir with her husband of all salvation’s benefits. The apostle Paul, although he is called a misogynist by modern critics, because of his particular teaching about women in the church, yet informs the Galatians,—"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:26,28). As husband and wife are one flesh, so also they are one in Christ Jesus. There is equality in the participation of spiritual and eternal privileges bestowed by free grace. She has the same salvation; the same blessed hope; the same comforts and consolations; the same precious promises, and shall be raised to the same glory and station in Heaven where there is no marriage or giving in marriage. Swinnock is right in a sense that "Souls have no sexes."

And it is because she is his equal, his partner, partaker with him of the inheritance, that he honours her person and profession, dwelling with her accordingly; rejoicing in their union of bodies and souls through the grace of life working in them by Christ Jesus.


As husbands, we have a two-fold responsibility. Not only to keep our own vineyards, but to be vigilant in the protection, maintenance and production of the vineyards of our wives. As priests and pastors in our own homes, then we are to honour our calling by honouring our charges. To take the lead in this would lead our marriages into greater experiences of sharing in the happiness that Christ can give. Let then, the habits that we may have formed, give way to the precepts that may have dawned by the reading of this text. W