Peter seeks for ethical guidelines for both wives (3:1-6) and husbands (3:7) when it comes to how this small group of Christians were learning how to live (and survive) in the Roman Empire. Wives are exhorted to live with their non-Christian husbands in such a way to “gain them” for the gospel. What about husbands?
Husbands are to live considerately and they are to bestow honor on their wives.
First, the verb of 2:13 (“live within the order”) shapes the central command for each group: how to live with rulers, how household servants lived with their scurrilous masters, how Christian women lived with their non-Christian husbands, and how Christian husbands were to live with their Christian wives. Each of these is given “orderly” directives. So, the husbands are to “live considerately with your wives” (3:7).
Second, the contextual focus cannot be lost: living considerately is part of how to avoid sin and do good (2:11-12).
Third, husbands are to live considerately — and that means sensitively, lovingly, and with equity. And they are to live considerately because their wives are “a weaker feminine vessel” (3:7b). It is most likely that this refers to the physical weakness of women, and thus it describes what most ancients experienced as the physical strength of the male and less physical strength on the part of the female. (Should you wish full discussion, see JH Elliott’s Anchor Bible commentary.)
Why? Here is what Peter does that is innovative: husbands are to “bestow honor” on their wives (and this is an honor-shame comment; give wives honor and status and respect) because they are “co-heirs of the grace of life.” Peter did not work out the socio- or ecclesiological implications of equality in Christ, but he did see a spiritual equity and eternity that pushes the boundaries.
Why else? Because husbands who do not live considerately with their wives will blockade their (mutual) prayers: when they begin the day, pause in the middle of the day, and end the day (as was the Christian custom, esp the Jewish Christian custom at this time) their prayers will be blocked if husbands are not living considerately with their wives.
Hermeneutics: many feminists would simply see this text as condescending and oppressive; evangelical Christian feminists would tend to see the text as containing enduring insights into how husbands ought to conduct themselves. Traditionalists see something permanent here. They are the ones who most need to hear Peter’s very words: living considerately and bestowing honor.