Women: The Weaker Vessel?

When my wife posted “10 Marriage Tips Every WIFE Should Hear“, we began to receive comments from women who were offended by some of the tips. For the most part, they felt that some of the concepts were from the 50′s and really don’t apply anymore. Out of necessity, we have become a “self-help for women” society which is fantastic, but most resources aren’t teaching biblical principles. Instead, it’s more of a DIY plan for a woman to be completely independent of men. So when women read “Respect your husband” or “God, husband, kids…in that order”  and take offense, I can understand why. However, my wife and I stay as close to a biblical marriage model as possible and at no point do I hear these things from her. Why is the perspective so skewed?

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At no point do I dominate my wife or use her as a doormat. As far as I’m concerned, God put her in my path as a blessing and as part of His purpose for me. Her respect for me is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of understanding her role in our marriage. The verse below is about as clear as the bible gets about how a wife should treat her husband:

1 Peter 3: 1-2 NKJV
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,  when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. “

My wife is far from perfect, but I see her live out this verse to some extent on a daily basis. We have a blended family of five children. There are a lot of decisions to be made, and we don’t always see eye to eye on how to handle things. In those times, she defers to me. The final decision rests with me in our family, and in the end, knowing that my wife trusts me to make those important decisions motivates me to consistently strive for what is best for our family. This is what submission means in a marriage. It means that while we are a team, the responsibility and role of team leader is mine. It’s not always an easy role, but knowing that my wife supports me in it makes it easier.

As for being won over by my wife’s conduct, our blended family situation is also a prime example of how this princple is often applied in our marriage. We have five kids under the age of 14, and as you can imagine, discipline is frequently required. Add the facets of visitation and communication with former spouses into the mix, and things can get heated real quick.  I can’t tell you how many times my wife’s reaction (or non-reaction) to something I was furious about changed a hateful spirit inside of me. She was the example to me of how to act in that situation and her conduct ultimately won me over. This verse doesn’t say to “submit to his dominance” like so many comments implied. It says to act right even if your hubby is off the deep end. My wife trusts me as the leader in our home, but it is often her attitude that empowers me to lead our family successfully. Putting pride aside is a tough thing and I know it’s a major factor when it comes to the daily ebb and flow of marriage.

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To recap, the wife has to submit and be an example to her husband even if he’s off in la-la land. What about your husband? What’s his role in the context of this verse?

1 Peter 3:7 NKJV “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.” 

To further explain a man’s role, read Ephesians 5:25-29.

Ephesians 5:25-29 NKJV “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”

God is clearly outlining a model for marriage in these verses. It is not until the husband and wife understand their roles and take action that they experience the fullfillment of marriage in God’s design.  A husband must honor his wife “as to the weaker vessel”. These things have nothing to do with men keeping their foot on women’s necks or making them cook, clean and wipe butts. When my wife was laboring without medication to bring our daughter into the world, there was nothing weak about her. She did all the hard work, but there was not a moment that passed where I wasn’t right by her side honoring and supporting her through that labor. This verse simply implies that the man must protect and support his wife physically, emotionally and spiritually!

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Supporting Karen as she labors with our daughter, Mary.

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“Migraine Medicine” – This was a photo I took while participating in the 365 project. Karen had a killer migraine. She was thrilled to find out I had been taking pictures of her while she slept! ;)

Karen is a vital part of our family, and not only do I spend as much time and effort as possible reminding her how much I love her, but I make sure my children do too. They know who my queen is. My wife is the first person to get a kiss when I come home, I never talk negatively about her in front of anyone, and she always gets the buttery, syrupy middle of my pancakes.

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18 thoughts on “Women: The Weaker Vessel?

  1. I read Karen’s 10 marriage tips and also Franks 7 Keys to a Happy Wife article and would like to say thank you for your articles.
    I am recently engaged and instead of enjoying this time, we have been spending it arguing about the wedding and what society and family expect.

    As an independent woman I am use to being in control and having my way, I guess I have become emotionally rough and tough over the years. Karen’s article just reminded me to give some power back to my fiancé. This site gave me some clarity into our disagreements, reminding myself its OK to trust & rely on others and respect my man and our relationship.

    • Cynthia, I am so happy you were able to receive the posts we’ve been writing. It’s really nice to hear from people that are being helped through our experiences. As far as your engagement, just take a deep breath and pray for a change of perspective. I’m Karen’s 3rd hubbie and she is my 2nd wife. Our perspective was shaped by that. We really just wanted to be married and hit the road to be together someplace new. It was just about US, not her, me or our family. Of course we did some things we felt would satisfy the traditional expectations of family as long as it could be delegated or it didn’t take away from our experience.

      God Bless you and your new marriage!
      Frank

  2. Good article, thanks. It’s important for husbands to remember that the verse which tells wives to be submissive is written to wives – it doesn’t say “husbands, make sure your wife submits” as that’s where domineering comes in.

  3. Its amazing how people of different background follow their heart to find the truth in whats right by God. I am a Muslim and this concept is not new in Islam.but boy it is a struggle for me sometimes to apply it in practice. theres always this side of me who wants and demands more and more and forgets to be appreciative towards my husband. thanks for the reminder Frank

  4. I totally agree. I’ve been married for 23 years and I totally believe this is the reason why. Whenever I tell people the way we live in our house, they can hardly believe it. This way brings God glory!!! I have one child, a son (age 17) and I hope that the example his father and I have led will help him in finding a Godly wife in his future.

  5. Absolutely loved this post. My husband and I strive for these very same things. It has not been easy, me speaking from the female point of view. Before I met my husband I was living a very world centric (not God centric) lifestyle: incredibly independent, self righteous and prideful. Needless to say, that wasn’t working out so well for me! By grace, Jesus came into my heart and gave me my beautiful husband. We began building a biblical life. Slowly, the old self is dying and finding new life. As I said, it is not easy and every little battle with my human side is a small victory in Christ. Will now be checking out your blog regularly!

  6. Great article. My wife and I have a marriage like the one you described. She respects me as the head of the house, which has made me love her even more than I could imagine. It is a win-win for both of us. She has always been supportive of me. We are going on 18 years and are raising two great kids. To God be the glory!

  7. Hi, Frank. I have known Karen since middle school. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to watch your marriage unfold (via Facebook…lol). I’m so happy that she has found a godly man to share her life with. People have misconceptions about what marriage is “supposed” to be. Especially people who have no biblical knowledge. They see “submit” and freak out! But what I tell people is, “Keep reading!” I’m so sorry that you and Karen have to be bombarded with negative comments from people. But, that just means that you’re doing something right and stirring something up in people. Even if they leave negative comments, your and Karen’s blogs make them think about the way God ordained the institution of marriage. Keep up the good work, you two!! There are a lot of us out here who are supporting you!

  8. The world and even Christians have a hard time displaying and understanding God’s plan for marriage. I tell people all the time, my husband is my head covering when I don’t submit to what God says I hurt myself. Man will never know God’s truths. Continue to let your marriage shine before others, some one needs to see it and be blessed.

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