FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Understanding and Honoring Your Wife, Pa

with Dennis Rainey | April 20, 2010
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On today's broadcast, renowned speaker and author Dennis Rainey gives practical suggestions for loving your wife and honoring her in a way she'll truly understand.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • On today's broadcast, renowned speaker and author Dennis Rainey gives practical suggestions for loving your wife and honoring her in a way she'll truly understand.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Dennis Rainey gives practical suggestions for loving your wife and honoring her in a way she’ll truly understand.

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Understanding and Honoring Your Wife, Pa

With Dennis Rainey
April 20, 2010
| Download Transcript PDF

Man:  Hey, sugar, just what, I just bought a bike.

Woman:  You did what?

Man:  A motorcycle.

Woman:  Why didn't you call?

Man:  Oh, I've heard marriage is hard and everything, but it can't be that hard.

Woman:  You bought a Harley?

Man:  Yeah, cool, huh?

Man:  I think that's like in high school when they tell you "This is going to be the hardest final you've ever taken."

Woman:  I'm pregnant.

Man:  I guess I didn't think of that.

Woman:  You bought a Harley, I'm pregnant.

Man:  You know, I bring her flowers, and you have to—like, you know—do all the little lovebirds and …

Woman:  I'm pregnant, and you bought a Harley!

Man:  I think marriage is kind of like that.  It's, you know, stuff like that, but it can't be that hard.

Woman:  (crying) I'm pregnant, and you bought a Harley!

Bob:  And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.  All right, help is on the way guys.  For clueless husbands, for those of us who need just a little reminder of what it is that God’s called us to do.  We’re going to talk about that today.  It’s also something we talk about at our Weekend to Remember® Marriage Conferences and, if you’re a FamilyLife Today listener and you’d like to attend one of those conferences, this is the week to register. 

Our team got together recently and they said, “We’ve got about 30 or 40 of these conferences left this spring, let’s get folks to come on out and so, they are making a special offer this week for FamilyLife Today listeners.  You sign up this week, and when you register, for yourself, at the regular price, your spouse comes free.  So, it’s a buy-one-get-one-free offer for the Weekend to Remember® it’s good this week only, good through Sunday night, but you need to go online now.  Some of these locations are starting to fill up.  So, if you’d like to attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember®, you can find out where and when it’s going to be by going online at 

You can register at  When you do that you’ll come to a key code box on the online registration form.  Type my name, type “BOB” in the key code box, and that will make you eligible for the buy-one-get-one-free offer.  Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, just tell them you want to attend the Weekend to Remember® and that you listen to FamilyLife Today and you’ll be automatically enrolled for the buy-one-get-one-free opportunity.  It’s good this week only.  So, take care of it today, and plan to join us for one of the upcoming Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences coming to a city near you, sometime in the next six to eight weeks.  We hope you’ll plan to come on out and be with us for one of these conferences.

As I said, we spend time at the Weekend to Remember® talking with wives about their responsibilities as a wife.  We also spend time with the men on Sunday morning talking to them about their responsibilities as husbands and as dads.  Do you think most guys when they get married, do you think they have a basic understanding about what their role is supposed to be in marriage?  They don’t do they?

Dennis:  Oh, no, I think a great illustration of that is my grafted-in son, Michael, my first new son who married my first-born daughter, Ashley.  After they were married, you know, they signed a marriage covenant as part of their marriage ceremony, and Ashley found him in the front hallway of their house, right where you open the front door and go into their home, re-reading what he’d promised …

Bob:  … in that marriage covenant?

Dennis:  In that marriage covenant and I think the point he wanted to know what he promised when he said "I do."

Bob:  It sounded simple back when he was saying it.  Now he's reading it again and going, "I had no idea."

Dennis:  Yes, and that's why we need the Scripture.  You know, the Bible is a blueprint for life, and it's definitely a blueprint for building a Christian marriage.  And so whether you've been married for a few weeks, a few months, a few years or many years, we all need to be sharpened and shaped by the words of the Bible.  Earlier we talked about how husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way, and that comes from 1 Peter, chapter 3, verse 7.  There's a second half to this verse I want us to catch today, though – "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."

Earlier this week we talked about the whole aspect of dwelling with our wives according to knowledge and understanding – understanding her.  I just wrote down some statements about this, Bob:  Not living with her lustfully but serving her; not selfishly but denying yourself; not being rough with her physically or emotionally, but being gentle and kind, remembering she is not just a buddy, she is a friend who has been given to you by God but a weaker vessel. 

Not neglecting her but paying attention to her; not emotionally abusing her with your words or your attitudes but using words to build her up and to strengthen her and encourage her; not making fun of her or poking fun at her but instead looking for opportunities to use phrases or terms of endearment to express your appreciation to let her know you'd marry her all over again – that all has to do with living with your wife in an understanding way.

Today I want to talk, though, about honoring your wife, and I want to just give you three quick reasons from the Scripture as to why you need to honor your wife.  They are all found right here in 1 Peter 3:7.  First of all, you should honor her as your wife because she is a vessel of God.  It's interesting, the word actually is a picture for the vessels that were used in the temple for worship – selected by God for His purposes, our wives have been hand-selected by God as a vessel for purposes in your life, in your marriage, in your family, and for your impact together as a couple.

A second reason why we need to honor our wives is she is a weaker vessel, she is a woman, and being a woman is not a reason for contempt or to make fun of her because she is weaker or because she thinks differently.  She is simply that – a weaker physical vessel.

Bob:  Do you think it's talking about her being physically weaker than her husband?

Dennis:  Absolutely.

Bob:  Yeah, I've seen reports that, in general, a man has 50% more upper body strength than an average woman does, those are the statistics.  Now, if that's the case, it ought to mean that the stuff that involves more physical exertion, a little more heavy lifting – that ought to fall to us, that's a part of how we honor our wives.  Now, as soon as I say that, somebody is going to remember that they saw Mary Ann out mowing the yard, and she was still pregnant with Amy.  In fact, it was right before she delivered Amy.  But she had that burst of energy that women have right at the end.  That's why she was out doing it.

Dennis:  There you go.

Bob:  But, in general …

Dennis:  In general, you'd lost energy because she was pregnant, isn't that right?

Bob:  That's right.  In general, we ought to be the ones who are bearing the physical load.

Dennis:  That's exactly right, and there's a third reason why we need to grant our wives honor, and the Scripture says she's a "joint heir of the grace of life," and that simply means she's a follower of Christ.  She's been redeemed; she's been forgiven and, as such – well, I think it's kind of going back to the concept is she's a sacred vessel – grant her honor as a sacred vessel.

And what I want to do for the remaining part of our time together is I just want to give men a number of ways to practically honor our wives, and I'm going to set it up by reading an e-mail [rattles paper] that I promised I'd read here, and this is pretty cool.

"Dear Dennis, I'm a long-time listener to FamilyLife Today on WAVA in Washington, D.C., and I'm a Legacy Partner" – they give monthly to our ministry – "I wanted to again commend you and all who are involved with FamilyLife Today for the broadcast recently that you've been airing earlier this week."  That particular week he was listening was a series we did about protecting your marriage from affairs. 

He goes on to say, "I've been a listener for at least a decade, and I don't think that I've ever heard anything better than what I've been hearing this week.  I expect that I will give out many recordings of this week's broadcast in the years ahead." 

But now listen to what he says here.  He has a confession here – he said, "It also impacted me personally in that I realized while listening to the guest speak that I usually put more effort into planning my golf outing with my buddies than I put into planning dates with my wife.  I want to change that.  I thank God for the ministry of FamilyLife."  I'll not mention his name on air just in case he's continuing his ways with his golf.

But what he's saying here is we all need help in knowing how to focus on our wives, and I just want to click off a number of ways we can honor our wives.  First way is by serving them, and one of the most basic ways you can serve your wife, in my opinion, is expressing common courtesies. 

I still stand by Barbara's chair when we have dinner home alone together as empty-nesters, and I'll pull the chair out and push it under her as she is seated.  I open the door of her car – not always but many times.  I open the door to our house and allow her to enter first.  I think those are all pictures of honoring our wives.  The concept of honor here in 1 Peter 3:7 means to affix a price, to place value upon another.  And I think we need a revival of common courtesies, personally. 

A second way we can honor our spouse is by valuing her opinion, and, you know, this takes time.  The problem for a man is this takes time. 

Our wives ask about our day, and they ask about some decision we're facing that may be a financial decision, and we know in order to truly explain the decision to her, we have to get into the details.  And, honestly, truthfully, sometimes I am too tired or too selfish to want to explain it.  But I've learned and have come to realize that Barbara really appreciates it when her opinion is valued.  In fact, the more important the decision, the more important it is that I engage her in the process of making that decision.

Bob:  You're not talking exclusively about decisions that affect both of you.  You're talking about decisions you are facing where you are seeking her counsel even though she may not be affected by the ultimate decision, right?

Dennis:  Right, and I'm also thinking, though, of financial decisions that a man can make in a marriage and, truthfully, here is where my dad – and I don't want to dishonor him in any way, but Dad just made most of the decisions.  He didn't bring my mom into them.  Certainly, that generation had a style where men kind of did their thing and women did their thing, and I don't know that it necessarily contributed to the strengthening of the marriage relationship, and it certainly doesn't communicate honor.

Bob:  When our kids were still little, I learned early on that when one of the kids would come and say, "Hey, Dad, can I" – and then they were going to ask to do whatever – that the wise response in most of those situations was, "Let me talk to your mom," and Mary Ann learned the same thing.  She would say, "Let me talk to your dad," and the reason for that is because my default answer in a lot of those situations with the kids was "Yes."  I always want to say yes rather than no.  Mary Ann's default answer was typically "No."  And it's not that she's mean, it's just that she's thinking, "I've got a plan, I've got an agenda, and we're not going to interrupt that."

So by getting together and saying, "What do you think about this decision that one of the kids just asked about, I was able to get the benefit of insight that I often didn't have when a child would make a request, and I've just got to say here, I think there are some dads who think, "I'm the dad, I should make those decisions."  Well, there'll be situations where you may need to make a judgment call.  But a wise, honoring husband isn't going to make those in isolation.

Dennis:  And if you are one with her, and you take the time to become one with her around these decisions, that honors her.  You also honor her, though, when you back up her authority.

There is another way we honor our wives, and that's by boldly loving her, boldly pursuing her.  I'll not get into the details of what Barbara did, it's not important, but she disappointed me.  She did something that disappointed me.  She made a choice and I remember just feeling intensely a desire to either totally retreat and run away from the relationship and punish her with silence or to point out – you know, what I mean? 

Bob:  I know what you mean.

Dennis:  Point out and …

Bob:  You were looking at rejection or correction, which were you going to do, right?

Dennis:  Yes, exactly, and what I ended up doing was saying nothing and instead deciding to continue to love her and pursue her.  That communicates honor – bold love communicates honor to our wives, especially when they disappoint us.

Bob:  Now, there may be a husband who is going, “Are you saying you just ignored this disappointment?  You didn't bring it up and address it?”

Dennis:  No, we talked about it, but it was later.  It wasn't right then; it wasn't appropriate right then, because I was steamed.

Bob:  So you waited until some of the emotion had drained out of …

Dennis:  … for both of us …

Bob:  … the situation before you sat down to address it.

Dennis:  Exactly, and that really leads to another way we can bring honor to our wives, and that's through our words.  When we do decide to speak use words that build up not words that tear down and turn your conversations into a demolition derby.  A lot of times in a marriage relationship, you get two people who get locked up emotionally, and they get fixated on a problem, which can happen in marriage, and you just start back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and you get two people who are angry, and they both say things that are negative to each other, hurt each other worse, and it just escalates from there.

But there is another way to use words positively, Bob, and that's at the dinner table.  One of the ways we used to do this with Barbara is when she'd had a horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad day, I'd call the kids together at dinnertime after we'd finished the meal, and I'd say, "Okay, kids, let's have a cheer for Mom," and they'd cheer, and I'd say, "Now we're going to go around the table a couple of times – what do you like best about Mom?"  And, you know, you had the older kids who were able to articulate certain things, and you could just see Barbara's shoulders beginning to raise a bit, and her head to kind of come up, especially when the little ones would say – "and she lets me play with her toys," you know, when they express those fun little expressions.

Bob:  I have to think that Barbara knew what was going on, you were trying to cheer her up …

Dennis:  Oh, sure.

Bob:  …you had the kids kind of rallying.

Dennis:  And sometimes it didn't work.  I mean, if it had been a real bad day, there's no amount of cheering that's going to lift somebody's spirits, but it never hurts.

Bob:  And it can't hurt for a wife to hear words of esteem.  I mean, even if it doesn't snap the spell of the bad day, it's not doing any damage, is it?

Dennis:  No, it isn't, and you're not using words, again, as I said, to have an effect that's like a demolition derby.

Bob:  To tear down, that's right.

Dennis:  That's exactly right.  You know, there is another way we communicate honor to our wives, and it's found over in Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 29 where the Apostle Paul is instructing husbands in how they should love their wives, and I’m going to tell you, both of these words are powerful words in delivering honor to our wives.  The words are "nourish" and "cherish."  It talks about a husband nourishing and cherishing his wife.

The word "nourish" is really interesting.  It means "to nurture to maturity."  So a husband's assignment, spiritually speaking, is to help his wife in such a way that helps her continue to grow and become the woman God made her to be.  That may occur through the reading of the Bible, that may mean praying with her or for her or over her, but the point is that you, as a husband, are taking responsibility to nourish your wife.  But you also cherish her.

And I like this word "cherish."  It's such a happy term, especially if you say it to your wife – "I cherish you."  The word literally means "to warm another."  When you cherish someone, if you think about it, honor brings a warm feeling to the heart.  One of the things that I believe cherishes our wives is conversation.  It is having the confidence in your wife to share some of your innermost thoughts; some of your fears; some of your disappointments; when things go wrong at work, and then to listen to them while they share about their day – and to delight in them and in conversation.

Frankly, this has been one of the surprises of the empty nest.  Barbara and I have had some dinners alone where we've sat and talked from 6:30 until 8 – hour and a half, and some nights it will be almost all her.  I'll be listening, and she'll be talking, and I'll be taking it all in.  I'm not giving her a sermon, I'm just listening.  We're talking about her dreams, what she wants to do, where she wants to go, things she wants to accomplish, and the rug upstairs that needs to be replaced.  I'm listening to her, and you know what?  That lets her know that I honor her.

In all these things, I think there is one missing ingredient in honoring our wives that most men miss, and anyone who has listened to FamilyLife Today for any number of years knows that we talk about this.  We pound the table about it.  I'm passionate about it, because I do this with Barbara every day, and I think, frankly, this may be the ultimate way you can honor your wife, and that's by praying with her.

It's interesting that in 1 Peter, chapter 3, verse 7, it says "we should honor our wives as a fellow heir of the grace of life so that our prayers may not be hindered."  And it's interesting, there is a little bit of a play on words.  The word "hindered" actually means that your prayers may not be interrupted.  Now, think about it for a moment.  If you're not honoring Mary Ann, and you seek to bow your head with her and pray with her, are there going to be some hindrances to those prayers being heard by God and being ultimately received with favor by him?  I think so.

So I think the Scriptures are saying, "Honor your wife so that when you bow your heads together—whether it's at the beginning of the day, in the middle of the day, or at the end of the day—and you pray together, your prayers are not interrupted.  There is nothing between you, there is no hindrance.  You can bow together in unity because she is feeling honored, and you can take her hand, and you can pray with her, you can pray for her, or you can pray over her. 

We hear back from couples who do this.  I promise you, if you will begin the habit of praying every day with your wife, men, every day – just make a commitment, and if you miss a night, pick it up again tomorrow night.  If you'll do that, at the end of two years, your marriage will not be the same.  Your relationship will experience profound growth.  You will see your wife flourish, you will see her nourished and cherished.  She will become a wife who is honored.

Bob:  I’ve seen guys come up to you on Sunday morning at the Weekend to Remember® marriage conference after you’ve made this challenge in person at one of our conferences.  Seeing them hand you their business card and say I’ll take the challenge.  Some of those guys have followed back up with you and have said, “It really was a turning point in our marriage relationship.” 

One of the things we try to do at the Weekend to Remember® is to provide very practical biblical help for couples who, well frankly most of them are there just for a tune-up.  They’re there just to get some of the dust out of the cracks of their marriage.  But, some of them are there for a deep cleaning in their marriage relationship.  This week we’re encouraging listeners to attend one of the upcoming Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences.  We’ve got 30 or 40 conferences still to come this spring in cities all across the country.  But all the dates and locations are online at 

If you register this week, and identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener, when you buy one registration you get the second registration absolutely free.  A buy-one-get-one-free offer, so you register for yourself and your spouse comes for free.  You can register online at, if you do that you have to type my name, you have to type “BOB” in the key code box. 

Or if you call 1-800-FL-TODAY we can answer any questions you have.  We can let you know when the conference is going to be near you, and we can get you registered over the phone.  Just make sure you mention that you listen to FamilyLife Today and, again, this special offer is available for FamilyLife Today listeners this week only.  So let us hear from you right away so you can take advantage of this special offer and then plan to join us at one of our Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences. 

It’s a great getaway for couples.  In fact it comes with a complete money back guarantee.  So if for any reason you come out to the conference and you want your money back, we’ll refund the registration fee with no questions asked.  So, you can’t lose really.  And, it really is a great getaway for a husband and a wife, and we hope you’ll make plans and join us for a Weekend to Remember® marriage conference.

Now, tomorrow Pastor Dave Harvey is going to be here go join us.  We’re going to talk about how we combat the presence of sin in our marriage.  And, guess what?  It’s there in each one of us.  Dave wrote a book called, When Sinners Say ‘I Do.’  It’s a great book and we’re going to talk more about it tomorrow.  I hope you can be back with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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