Why Respect for My Husband Has To Be Earned – or Does It?



A Stranger Noticed My Respect

The sun was streaming the day I pulled into the small town north of us and hopped out, ready to drive the new (to us) 15-passenger van home. Dave was there waiting for me, and he handed me the keys. We chatted for a few minutes and then Dave went to move our other vehicle out of the way. The owner and I continued chatting. I’d met him the week before when I had test-driven the van and our conversations were just normal run-of-the-mill talk.

I noticed that the owner watched me as I pulled out of his small business, checking carefully for traffic. I assumed he wanted to make sure I would make the turn okay out of his lot onto the highway. Soon I was sailing home, enjoying the ride and the drive.

That evening Dave told me that the owner had talked to him about me.

“George told me that he envies me,” Dave told me. “He said, ‘Not only can your wife wheel that 15-passenger van, she treats you with such respect and admiration.’ ”

This business owner (whose marriage was failing then) admitted that over the two times he’d met me, he noticed how I talked about my husband.

What had I said or done? I really don’t know.

I might have said something like “I’m waiting for my man,” or “He’s my favorite person in the world,” or “Doesn’t he take good care of me?”

When Dave asked me what I’d said to him, I had to stop and think about our conversation because I couldn’t put my finger on anything. I suppose that’s because the conversation didn’t seem unusual to me.

I rather like my man, and I don’t mind if folks know it. Somehow, during our conversations about possibly purchasing this vehicle, in whatever it was I said, that must have been evident.

I’m not always that good.  Oh no, I am not always that good.

Others Can Notice my Lack of Respect

I remember times (and I’m sure my kids can vouch) when I said things like, “I know you’re hungry. I have no idea where your father is.” I’ve said things like, “If he would only call, we could know if we should go ahead and eat supper or not.” I’m not saying that stating the reason would be wrong, but the attitude in which it is done is key.

There are times I’ve failed to honor and respect the man to whom I’m married. I can blame tiredness, illness, being frazzled, or any number of things. Or if I’m honest, I can blame selfishness, impatience, or frustration. The fact remains that I choose how I will respond and what I will say. Like all the other wives in the world, there are times when I’ve majorly blown it.

I like to think that I have gotten better over the years. I like to think that I’ve grown up since the first years of our marriage. I like to think that I recognized the seriousness of doing what the Bible says: reverence my man. In today’s terms, that word would be “respect”.

Respect Does Not Have To Be Earned

We tend to think we only need to show respect when our spouse deserves it. He has to earn it, we say. You know, when he’s doing everything right and is meeting my needs and unselfishly yielding what he wants to do. We tend to think we only have to respect his role if he’s honest, kind, and faithful. If he meets our needs, then he deserves respect. He’s supposed to be a leader, so he’ll get respect when he rises to the occasion and takes charge as we think he should.

The problem with that scenario is that it doesn’t work that way if we’re following what God says. You see, God said that marriage is a symbol of Christ and the church. The husband (symbolic to Christ) is to love his Bride just like Christ loved the church (which means he is willing to die for his bride). The wife (symbolic of the church)  “must see that she reverences her husband.”

Well now, that doesn’t sound like it comes naturally.

It doesn’t. Come on, folks, if it came naturally we wouldn’t even need to be instructed in it!


Respect is a Conscious Choice

Truly, respect is a choice we make.

I rather figure if I got paid a million bucks for being positive and respectful (even if I was sick, tired, feeling negative or frustrated with him) I’d find some good things to say without having to search too hard. You would, too. There you have it.

I reckon with the fact that, as emotional women, it’s easier to respect someone if there’s something there to respect. It’s easier to show respect if someone “deserves it.” It’s easier to be respectful if the person has our approval and admiration.

But. Yes, but.

We do not have a choice if we want to do marriage the way God designed it to be. That’s because God’s Word tells women to respect and reverence their husbands. It gives us no “IFs” to consider. We are called to respect.

  • Not IF he deserves it.
  • Not IF he asks for it.
  • Not IF we agree with him.
  • Not IF there is anything in him to respect.

Men need Respect Over Love and Sex

We respect because of his position and his title in our family/relationship. We respect because, in the same way that Christ is the head of the church, the man (husband) is ordained by God to be our head.

Respecting him does not mean I applaud him when he is wrong.

Respecting him does not mean I defend him to others.

Respecting him does not mean I go along with his desires if they conflict with God’s requirements in His Word.

There’s a reason God did not instruct us specifically to love our men.  There’s a reason God instructed us to respect our men. Men are wired for respect.

It matters more to them than money or fame. It matters more than love. It matters more than sex. If you don’t believe me, google it. I found so many links and studies that I didn’t know where to start.  You can click right here and it will take you to Google’s finds on “Does a man want respect more than sex?” Not all of these links are from a Christian perspective, but it’s interesting to note that a relationship with God doesn’t change their need one iota.

[I’m not saying sex isn’t important to a man. It is, even when marriage is hard. To read about that, you can go here.]

Men need our respect in public as well as in private. It might be a good idea to ask your man if he feels respected by you. If he says yes, then ask him what you do that shows respect. It will help you keep doing what you are doing right. If he says no, then ask him to tell you what you can do that will make him feel respected.

Here are some things wives do that show a lack of respect:

  • rolling my eyes
  • avoiding looking at him
  • ignoring what he is saying or doing
  • refusing to help him, especially when he asks – finding his keys, his socks, his glasses
  • speaking negatively to him
  • speaking negatively about him to others (including my kids)
  • not speaking positively about him to my kids or to others
  • deliberately doing things that not have his support
  • doing what I want instead of checking with him first – especially when I know that he would not feel good about it
  • frequently correcting him in public (when the details are unimportant)
  • telling him how to do something that is not my responsibility
  • questioning his judgment in front of others


Choosing to Respect is Well Worth the Effort

In marriage (or any other relationship), it’s easiest to wait for the other person to be intentional. It’s easy to expect someone else to make the first move. Yet, easy isn’t always what is best or right.

I find that the oftener I do something, the easier it becomes. Sometimes we have to make that conscious effort to do what is right because God asks it of us.  Not so surprisingly, when we start looking for things to respect, we will keep finding them.

Choosing to respect is so worth the energy and the effort. It might not change my spouse, but it will certainly change me!


Pinterest respect






Anniversary Celebration with Oil and Ice


July could not have been hotter or more humid that summer. We were seven months late celebrating our anniversary for several reasons. Money was tight in December, and so was our schedule. Child care was also a dilemma.  We decided to wait until later.

Later finally came, in July.

“If you’ll go with me, I promise I’ll stop and buy you diet coke on ice or an ice cream cone whenever you ask,” my hubby told me.

That’s because our little blue Mazda had air conditioning that didn’t work. Its oil reservoir had a continual leak. We would be stopping to add oil as often as we would petrol. We packed a case of motor oil, opened our windows, and hit the road.

Just the two of us. How long had it been since we’d had time to ourselves – just the two of us?

Less than half an hour after we left home, we stopped for gas – and to fill up with oil. Next, we stopped for my diet coke (that was back in the days when I drank soft drinks instead of water) and Dave got his favorite: Mello Yellow.


Every time we stopped to fuel the car, Dave added oil. We didn’t care.  Our half-dozen were in the care of a reliable babysitter and we had nary a care in the world.

Footloose and fancy-free, we drove west for almost six hours, stopping along the way to stretch and cool off our backs from those seats in the car.



Three days of relaxation and fun being together. Three days of fixing only our food and our plates of food. Three days of going to bed when we felt like it and getting up because we wanted to and not because someone else was calling our name.celebration

We’ve been a lot of places since then and celebrated in a myriad of different ways. They’ve all been fun. Yet the one that makes us smile the most is the time we hit the road in a Mazda with over 200,000 miles on it with money for gas, oil, and ice.


One True Fragrance (in Marriage)


Roses. I do like roses and their fragrance.

‘Especially on our anniversary, my birthday, on Mother’s day, or any other time in-between. Especially other special times, like the births of our babies – I like roses.

I used to tell folks that when I wanted a dozen roses, all I had to do was have another baby.

While it’s true that roses were waiting for me six times over when I got back to my hospital room from Labor and Delivery, it’s also true that I don’t get roses for every birthday, every anniversary, or every Mother’s day. Just sometimes, and sometimes in-between.

After all these years, he continues to splurge. He keeps saying that he doesn’t know how much longer we’ll have each other and he wants to have no regrets, so I’ve quit fussing about the cost.


You know what makes the roses so special? 

The fact that, on any other day when there are no roses, my man is in my corner. Any other day when I’m unkempt and the house is a mess, he helps pick up the pieces and puts me back together again.

Any other day when there is no wafting fragrance in the house, he becomes the fragrance by serving me, again.

The man’s rather imperfect, and no one knows it better than I.  But then, so is his wife. Imagine that. He can verify that, but he won’t broadcast that because, he says, we are one. To speak negatively of me is speaking negatively about himself because we are on the same team. Even so, in a world of strife where so many marriages have dissolved or  are falling apart, we are blessed.

Like so many other marriages, ours could simply be a statistic.

It’s not that we’re so smart or so special. It’s that God – and the way He tells us to do marriage – is.

When you go to God for help, when you really seek for wisdom, when you truly apply what you know to do even when you don’t feel like it,  you  will find that marriage can be done well.

There have been days when I’ve stormed the gates of Heaven, asking God to show me how to understand and love this man. Every time I have asked, He has given me answers.  ‘Not that I always liked the answers or felt like following the directions, mind you. But every time I’ve asked for wisdom, He has given what I needed. ‘Trouble is that sometimes we just don’t bother to ask or we just don’t really don’t want to know.

Our marriage bed is not an array of roses minus thorns.

It’s a fragrance that comes when the petals are crushed as  becomes us.

It’s a fragrance that comes when making love is not so much about “everything is perfect and we’ve got it all together” as it is about “even though we are frustrated with each other, we are still committed to each other; so tonight making love to you is a great way to emphasize that commitment.”

I always thought I’d want a summer wedding, but that didn’t happen. Does that matter now? Not at all. That’s how it is with marriage. The things on the “must have” list, many times, are no longer important and really weren’t that important in the first place. What really matters is commitment.

I figure some folks are tired of hearing me say that, but it’s true. If more people truly believed it, there would be fewer marriages floundering by the wayside.

In a small town in western Maryland over thirty-two years ago, in the church where my parents were married many years before, we tied the knot. Amid freshly-fallen snow, family, and friends, we celebrated. With flowers, music, family – and with God – we were wed.

Life happened, and now our kids are grown and mostly on their own. Life happened, and it is still happening. As life happens, we still celebrate. I still enjoy roses and their perfume. Most especially, I enjoy the fragrance of commitment.

Most especially, we continue to celebrate the greatest fragrance of all: the true faithfulness of God.

pinterest fragrance

Three Things that Make Marriage Hard

hard marriage

Our dreams of marriage don’t include the hard marriage.  

We rather like – and expect – smooth sailing. Sometimes we wake up to realize that our dreams haven’t come true like we thought they would (or should).

Starry eyes and happily ever after is sure to come to the couple so madly in love. Pre-marital counseling is completed and all that needs to be done is to say I Do – and then a lifetime of happiness and smooth sailing awaits.

After the disagreements and adjustments are complete. Which happens to be never.

Oh sure, marriage is fun and glorious when the sun is shining and the ship’s smooth sailing continues. Until that is, we hit choppy waters. You know, the choppy waters that other couples face, but not us. For we are so in love and so ready to get married. The seasickness that other couples endure, but not us. For we have it all together. We’ve waited and prayed for years for the right person. So when we find him, we know that our good ship marriage will face unchartered waters with calmness and serenity. For, after all, love is in the air!

hard marriage

Then it happens.

Sailing these waters is a little harder than we thought. We disagree on which course to take, on which way to turn the rudder, on what to do about the rent or the budget (or even if we need a budget) or the broken-down vehicle. We disagree about food and restaurants and what relaxing means.

Sometimes, because of our own childhood experiences, we want to remain totally in control – for as kids we had to be in charge. Sometimes, because of our childhoods, we expect others to pick up the slack – for as kids we had siblings or parents who allowed us to be selfish and irresponsible. Or we don’t want to talk about the small leak in the boat because we don’t do conflict. Or we haven’t learned how to communicate frustration and insist on talk, talk, talking when our spouse needs time to process first. So the night sets and the water becomes more choppy instead of calmer and our boat begins to take in water, one trickle at a time.

marriage is hard

There’s no easy cure-all for turbulence, but these three areas can become a pitfall.  If we can work on these three and come out ahead, the sailing of our ship is bound to be smoother. Otherwise, we have a good chance of suffering shipwreck.

marriage is hard

  • Gender Differences. Let’s face it. Men and women do not think alike. There’s no reason to try to make our spouse think like we do. They can’t because they are a different gender. Rather than try to force the other to be like ourselves, we need to accentuate the differences and be blessed by them instead of biased. Gender differences are why it’s so much easier for women to talk to other women about their problems (including their spouse) than it is to talk to the spouse.  He doesn’t think like we do; he can’t empathize like our friends can, and his thought processes in solving the problem are not like ours. If we were so much alike, it would become boring. We can learn to appreciate and allow our differences to remain instead of trying to change our spouse. Celebrate the differences!
  • SelfishnessWe’re born with it. Some of us are more used to getting our way than others.  Some of us got away with things when we were dating and now suddenly our spouse doesn’t think we’re cute or funny anymore. Woops. That’s a new wrinkle, isn’t it? Some of us have never had to share a room with a sibling, much less share an entire apartment or a house. Some of us always had to give in to other siblings, and we’re not about to be the one giving in now. My way or the highway.  So do it my way or you’re a loser.  We think, If he really loves me, he will . . . .  ‘Only problem is that sometimes he thinks if really love him, then I would be willing to . . . . .All of us have inherited that sinful nature of self. There’s only one cure for this: “let each esteem the other better than themselves. For certain, we need to nix that selfishness.  At the same time, we must never hide our feelings and concerns about matters that aren’t related to being selfish.
  • Our pastThis includes how we’ve handled conflict in the past or how we have been used to doing things. Simple things like where and how to celebrate Christmas can be divisive if we allow it. It doesn’t  matter if you grew up in the same community, went to the same school and the same church. The way things were done in our homes is different from each other. That means there will be disagreements and/or conflicts. Simple things like how quickly you take a child to the doctor can be a source of conflict. When I was a child, our family doctor charged little for our family’s visits because our father had been his patient. So when my father’s widow brought her children to the doctor, she was charged 10% of what everyone else had to pay. Little wonder then that my mother didn’t hesitate if we had a sore throat or were running a fever to take us to the doctor. Dave’s parents, on the other hand, used a doctor for emergencies only.  There were times when they treated their kids at home when they should probably have seen a doctor. Money was tight and their background gave them the inclination to do everything else possible and if all else failed, see the doctor.  A few years after we had children, someone asked me if we took our kids to the doctor frequently if they were sick.  I responded, “Not nearly as often as my mother would have, and a whole lot more often than Dave’s parents would have.” We had to find a balance. You will, too, because you also have ingrained patterns of handling life’s challenges. Whether we commandeer or hide from conflict, it is something we learned as kids and/or saw modeled by adults in our lives. When we bring those patterns from our past into our present, it will affect the way we do marriage. Don’t fight the turbulence in those waves! Ride with those waves and learn how to maneuver so that you can effectively blend your pasts into your marriage, together.

hard marriage

No matter the struggles or the storms that come our way, if our anchor is Jesus Christ, we can be unafraid during the storms while we do the hard part of marriage.

Jesus can come into the winds of our conflict and speak to the turmoil. In the Bible account of when Jesus woke up during the storm, He spoke. When He said, “Peace, be still,” the waves stopped crashing the boat and the wind became still.

He can do the same for us if we allow Him into our marriage boat. Trouble is, so often we try to out-row the storm instead of allowing Him to enter our strongholds and bring peace out of chaos. When we try to ride out the storm alone, we’re bound to take in water and sink. If we experience His presence in our marriage and ask Him to steer the rudder of our boat, we can be certain He can be the calm in the storms of our lives.

When the disciples were afraid for their lives, they called on Jesus.  They cried, “Save us or we will die!”

That’s what we need to do when marriage is hard. We need to cry out, “Save us for our marriage is on the rocks!” He will come. He will speak. He will bring peace, and we can be still.

Pinterest 3 things that make marriage hard