Understanding When You Don’t Understand

Understanding

The Bible commands husbands in 1 Peter 3:7

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

What does it mean to live with your wife in an understanding way? What does it mean for a wife to live with her husband in an understanding way?

Tom and I are doing a marriage devotional together provided by the YouVersion app on our phones. It’s a 14 day reading plan on marriage, and today’s was on this very topic. The author presented a very provoking thought:

The dictionary traditionally defines understanding as ‘the faculty of the human mind by which it…comprehends the ideas which others express and intend to communicate.’ Yet in the Bible, understanding is not just a transfer of information, but empathy for the other person.

Empathy. That requires you to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes and consider their trouble as if you were them! How many of us really do that? I think I’m more prone to try and convince Tom to see it my way and then he wouldn’t be struggling, at least that’s what my pride would have me believe. <sigh>

Husbands are the ones commanded specifically to do this with their wives, and maybe it’s because men typically don’t get women. Women don’t think like men, and we process our information in a completely different way than they do. But just because we’re different doesn’t mean one is right and the other is wrong. There are generally more ways than one to fix a problem. Even in math, which I don’t like I prefer words, there is more than one way to get the correct answer.

Maybe what it boils down to is a matter of preference?

To understand each other completely we need to be willing to defer our preferences to how our spouse prefers to process something. And then avoid the temptation to mock them or tease them for how they do it. What is of primary importance is to use the obstacles life brings us to learn and grow in our complete understanding of the other.

I love watching couples who have been married for decades for this very reason; they have learned through much practice how their spouse processes things, and they know how to read what they’re thinking before they speak a word. What a blessing it must be to reach that stage of life where you not only love your spouse completely, but your understanding of them reaches beyond what is visible.

Imagine how we will be able to pray for one another in that season? Let’s purpose to do all we can now to grow in our understanding of each another so our prayers will be all the more effective as we intercede on their behalf.

About Debi Walter

Face it, marriage is hard work. But when cultivated daily the fruit produced will satisfy for a lifetime. We're here to help with ideas and encouragement along the way. Having been married 36 years and counting, we share what we've learned with practical tips, Biblical Truths, Date night ideas to help you plow your own vineyard for God's glory.
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2 Responses to Understanding When You Don’t Understand

  1. This is excellent. I love that you point to the fact that while husbands are exhorted to “understand” their wives, it doesn’t mean we wives shouldn’t do the same.

    I find it interesting that the root word “understanding” carries with it the concept of wisdom and knowledge. How amazing that husbands are uniquely and specifically called by God to wisely pursue knowledge about their wives in order to “live” with us well?!? While this doesn’t clearly insinuate compassion I think you’re right to suggest that mercy, compassion and empathy certainly help us know our spouse better! Thanks for that reminder.

    And thanks, too, for mentioning prayer. While I want to grow in understanding Benny I also see God’s call on him to live with me wisely with a goal to gain the kind of knowledge to incarnate Christ to (“love”) me as Christ does the church. What woman doesn’t feel loved when her husband invests the kind of intentionality and focused pursuit that wisely gaining knowledge about someone requires? I’ve always said the husband’s call to love is a weighty one! I want to stop now and pray for him…and me!

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    • Debi Walter says:

      Thank you, Sheree, for taking the time to give such a well thought out comment. I, too, love how Peter says to do this so our prayers won’t be hindered. Think of it, our prayers are so much richer when we pray with knowledge covered with empathy. I’m praying too, friend! Love you so much!
      Debi

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