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There are many verses in the Bible that single out a man or a woman, husband or a wife, but often these verses can be applied to both sexes or both spouses. This would be true of a verse that one of Jesus’ disciples Peter would pen when he wrote a letter that is identified by his name in the Bible. It says:

7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 NLT

Honor and understanding. If we take a few minutes and apply this to both spouses, what can we learn from that? How do both of these words affect our marriage? What does it mean to honor or understand one another?

The word honor implies a good name or public esteem. It lends itself to our reputation. It also means that we offer respect. In the context of marriage it is important for both of us to protect the other’s good name and reputation. Not only with our own actions, but also in the context of how we portray their own flaws, failures and shortcomings to others. We must guard their reputation and not harm them by tearing them down to others, no matter how hurt or angry we may be. But we should also honor and respect them by making sure they are first in our human relationships. When in public, we should acknowledge them when they speak and respect them in front of others. It should be clear to everyone how important our spouse is to us. Often we are unaware of how we disrespect or fail to show honor to our spouse.

To understand our spouse means that we have a mental grasp of them or we comprehend them. Understanding your spouse requires you to be intentional. It is diligently seeking to learn the other person for mutual benefit. We can serve someone’s needs much better when we have attempted to understand them. Often we keep offering things they do not want or need and we cannot understand why they do not respond to us the way we want them to. It is because we have not yet understood them; we have not learned their “why”. Why they were created. Why they act like they act or want what they want. It is to put ourselves in their shoes so that we can better appreciate them as a person and the needs they have. When we understand our spouse, we will be better suited to meet their needs.

Maybe an exercise you can do today would be to talk to your spouse and ask them how you could honor them better. Are there times they feel disrespected? Ask your spouse how they feel misunderstood. Ask them what things you keep offering them or ways you continue to approach them that is not appealing to them. Ask them for a single place they wish you would honor or understand them more. Take turns with this. Then commit yourself to improving. As we learn to honor and understand one another, our marriages will grow and we will be more fulfilled.