I think Peter the Apostle was a happy husband and he must have had a happy wife because he writes so knowledgeably about the formula for a happy marriage. Now I believe he was inspired by the Holy Spirit in his writing, but I suspect much of what he wrote about was true in his own marriage.
In I Peter 3, he talks about the things that couples need to do to keep each other happy.
He begins by speaking to wives about keeping their husbands happy and mentions 3 basic things:
1. Assume a Role That is Pleasing to Him – vs 1
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
– I Peter 3:1
Submissive wives make for happy husbands. Submission is a military term meaning ‘to place oneself under.’ This is not popular in today’s culture.
Everyone in life has to submit to a higher authority, that is a fact of life without which there is no peace. Within the context of marriage, God has given the leadership role to the man (whether Christian or not) and one of the wife’s goal in marriage is to help the man assume and exercise this role properly.
A big problem is when a “strong” woman takes over from a “weak” man rather than helping him lead. This role does not mean one is superior or more valuable, only that we have different functions. One of the most frequent complaints of non-believing husbands is a Christian wife who uses her faith to hijack his authority where there is no moral or spiritual conflict. A wife who is truly submissive is a joy to her husband and an incentive for him to assume his own role as a man.
2. Develop Attitudes That Make Him Happy – vs. 2
as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
– I Peter 3:2
A chaste attitude makes him happy. This means sexually pure in word, dress and action. Chastity is an attitude that you have in everything you say and do.
We are free to express our sexuality with our spouses in any way we choose but as free as we are with our partners, we are exclusive and private with others. Provocative dressing, careless affection, intimate gestures and exchanges with others do not build a husband’s trust.
Let’s face it, men are easily provoked to jealousy (it is not a quality) but a wise woman (a chaste one) will recognize this and build a climate of trust in her husband. A man is happy with a wife who is recognized as chaste by other men.
A respectful wife makes him happy. This means to be restrained in words and actions, dignified. It is an attitude marked by discretion, prudence and wisdom in her opinions and her decisions and the way she acts.
A man is happy to have a wife that doesn’t make a fool of herself or of him with her words, emotions or actions. A lot of women try to change their husbands when they should really be working on developing chaste and respectful behavior themselves.
You never change a man by gossiping about his weaknesses to your friends or putting him down in front of his friends – that is undignified.
3. Cultivate an Appearance That Makes Him Happy – vs. 3-6
Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham,calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
– I Peter 3:3-6
In the beginning men are attracted by what they see on the outside, but for a happy marriage he must continue to be drawn to what he sees on the inside. This passage doesn’t mean that it is not ok to look good on the outside, he is simply saying that it isn’t the outside that makes you beautiful, it is the inside.
This internal beauty God sees inside of women consists of:
1. A gentle and quiet spirit. This means not to be proud or stubborn. God works on this proud and stubborn spirit by asking women to submit to their husbands. Nothing creates a humble spirit more effectively than having to submit to an imperfect man. God doesn’t want women to submit to their husbands because they are better; He asks this as a demonstration of love to Him and to maintain order in the family. Gentle and quiet spirit is beautiful, right before God and makes a husband happy.
2. Doing what is right. Being a righteous person in family relations, in business, in church – to seek and do the right thing, this is also beautiful to behold. For example, I can always count on my wife to want to do the right thing – this is her most beautiful quality.
3. No Fear. Not the foolish bravado of today when they say “No Fear” they don’t know what they are talking about. Not afraid because, like Sarah, a woman’s faith is in God not herself or her husband, or her abilities. Not afraid because she is ready to meet evil, failure, disappointment, even death with the assurance that Christ will be with her at all times. The appearance that makes him happy begins with a pleasing exterior but will only last if the interior is cultivated as well.
Peter gives wives three very specific ways to make their husbands happy:
- Care about it. Learn what submission means, discuss it with him. I challenge you, wives, to ask him how you could be more submissive to him.
- Cultivate attitude of chastity and respect. Ask him if he thinks you are, how you can change to be more so.
- Concentrate on the inner woman rather than the outer one. Invest more time in spiritual exercises, study, doing good works – these will beautify you in God’s eyes and his eyes too.