5. A HUSBAND MUST BE SWEET TO HIS WIFE AND NOT BITTER.
Where does the Bible say that, preacher? Colossians 3:19 - "Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them." Paul forbids husbands from being bitter toward their wives. Stated positively, a husband should make every effort to be sweet to his wife. Did God inspire this to be written because He knew this would be a difficulty for men? Perhaps. It is easy to be sweet to our wives when things are going well in general. However, when stress levels rise at work, for example, or when we haven't gotten enough sleep, it is easy to be bitter and mean-spirited toward our spouse. We must not take our frustrations out on them. Our wives are our helpers, not our enemies. My faithfulness to the Lord hinges partly on how I treat my wife. I must treat her sweetly even when I'm not on top of my game, so to speak.
6. A HUSBAND MUST HONOR HIS WIFE.
Consider I Peter 3:7 again - "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." Well, what exactly does it mean for a husband to honor his wife? Looking to other Scriptures to see how honor is given will not necessarily shed much light here. For example, I doubt very much that most wives would feel honored to be publicly paraded around town on a horse (Est. 6:6ff)! Some would enjoy it, but many would be embarrassed. But, it was a great honor in Esther's day.
What should a man do to honor his wife? That will depend upon the woman and her preferences. In general, however, to honor her means to value her and esteem her. To honor one's wife is to treat her as a person of dignity. Take note, men, that this is much different than just tolerating her! Take some time to brainstorm as to ways you can honor your mate. Let me offer a few ideas to get you started. Most women enjoy pleasant surprises, and when you bring her a surprise, wrap it. Don't just hand it to her in the Wal-Mart sack! It requires thought and deliberate action to honor our wives--it won't happen on accident. Your investment in time and money is worth it for she will value your honor and encouragement. She knows it takes thought on your part and consideration. Sincere praise of our wives in both public and private is also a good way to show honor. Complement her in front of others appropriately. We show honor to our mate when we open the car door for her. "But why would I do that, preacher? She's got a hand and she knows how the handle works!" Here's why: because you want to honor her! God doesn't tell you specifically how to honor your wife. You've got to figure it out and then act accordingly!
Before we conclude this portion of our study, let me talk briefly about the relationship triangle--husband, wife, and God. Each of us has a duty to God and to our spouse. This is significant to remember because sometimes our spouses will let us down and mistreat us, and we will be tempted to return the favor. Friends, if you are in a marriage where your mate does not live up to the Biblical ideal, you still have a duty to God to do your part! Regardless of whether or not your spouse will reciprocate, you must fulfill your God-given role and responsibilities to the best of your ability. God is watching!
Wives, even if your husband won't honor you as he should, you must still respect him. It won't be natural emotionally, perhaps, but you've got a duty. The same goes for you, husbands. Even if she won't be your helper and respect you, you still must love her and give her the affection that is due to her. Be a Christian husband and be a Christian wife! You will find, I think, that if you fulfill your role Biblically to the best of your ability, that your spouse, even if they haven't been fulfilling their role, will start to do better when you do! It does take two to have a great marriage, but if one person starts going in the right direction the other will often move that way too. You can create a better marriage even without your spouse's help!