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

 

respect

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!

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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

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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!

 

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A Fire, a Fuel Stop, and Two Sisters

Family stories are such fun to tell.  With those stories, you have to know the people or you had to have been there.  Unless you fit in at least one of these categories, they’re usually not funny to the average Joe.

Like the time two of my sisters went on vacation together.  They came through southern Virginia on their way home to see us.  Dave and I hadn’t been married more than a year or two, and he didn’t know these gals as well as he does now.  That evening, he was just shaking his head at their escapades. We are still laughing about this episode.

If one of my sisters can do something illegal and get away with it, it’s the older one. She’ll drive the wrong way on a one-way street (not on purpose, of course), but nobody ever sees her.  Speed limit?  What’s that?  Tickets? Very few. If she is stopped, she manages to weasel her way out of it in a totally innocent fashion.  She always knows someone who knows someone, and she gets off Scott-free.

They told us about the evening in the hotel when the fire alarm went off.  One of them wanted to throw her suitcase out the window from the fifth story.  Luckily, youngest sister stopped her before her wallet-stashed-with-money-hidden-in-the-suitcase disappeared into the night. Too excited to get dressed, they threw housecoats on and took the steps to the lobby, where they found other guests fully clothed and totally calm since there really was no fire.  The alarm was the result of a child pulling on the bar.

Their last stop before they turned down the road to the Union community was at the gas station in Halifax – back in the days before Self Service came into play, back when an attendant washed your windshield and checked your oil while pumping gas for you.

They pulled into the station and failed to notice that this was a “self-serve” island.  Never fear.

Older sister rolled down her window and called to the gentleman coming out of the store, “Can you fill it up, please?”

They noticed he seemed a little startled, but he proceeded to pump their gas.

Older sister stuck her head out the window again, “Do you wash windshields?”  (Where she was from, attendants always wash windshields while they are pumping your gas, and she couldn’t figure out why she had to even ask him to do this for her.  After all, it should be part of the service.)

service station window squeegie

As a true gentleman, he proceeded to the front of her car and washed the windshield for her.

Then he got into his pickup truck on the other side of the island and drove away.

That was when they realized they had pulled into a self-serve island and been served by another customer.

Who knows what stories he told when he got home that evening?!

Was he shaking his head in bewilderment or in laughter at these obvious northerners who lacked a southern drawl?

Did he notice their out-of-state license plate or recognize their Yankee accent? Did he think they were lazy or foolhardy, or did he realize that they had no idea they’d pulled into a self-service island?

He could have said, “Serve yourself,”  but he didn’t.  He could have said, “That ain’t my job,” but  he didn’t.  He could have shrugged his shoulders, hopped into his pickup and rolled away.  He didn’t.

Truly a southern gentleman, he filled their request without complaint, reprimand, or disdain.

That, my friends, is service at its very best.

Sometimes Mama’s Home Remedy Works the Best

I had never known a summer could be so hot. That summer, I thought that if heat could kill a person, I would die.  I wasn’t from Southside Virginia, and I wasn’t used to the temperatures and humidity in this part of the country. I’d come to work as the nurse at Camp Staunton Meadows for the summer and was unprepared for the blistering temperatures. Somehow, I survived. So did the campers.

Many years later, I wrote about an event that happened that summer. The story is in the book Southside Glimmers. You can read about the book here.

And now, here is the story.

cartoon-313489__180 CHILDREN

Mama’s Home Remedy

Temperatures soared that summer. Humidity squeezed every drop from the children’s flushed bodies as they worked and played. Yet heat and humidity didn’t stop the kids at camp from having a great time!

CHILDREN swimming 2

There were the usual mishaps: a few cuts and scrapes, a myriad of heat-induced headaches, a sprain, a host of insect bites, a few stings, and one broken finger.

I was ready for all of them, I thought. I handed out the usual Tylenol, juice, ace wraps, ice , nd Band-Aids. I was ready for anything—until the bee sting.

BEE 2

 

She was a petite girl from a big city, and her dark eyes looked up at me, glistening with tears. Her face betrayed her fear while she attempted to still her quivering chin.

CHILDREN crying

She tried to be brave as I wiped the sting and applied my remedy. In a few minutes, she was up and playing with her comrades, seeming to forget about the sting and its pain.

She talked to her father that night, long distance. She told him about the sting, and about the nurse whose medicine had made the hurt go away.

A few weeks later her father came to take her home. Amid the noise and bustle of kids saying good-bye at the end of camp, I noticed the two of them standing off to the side. They seemed to be waiting for something as they stood with clasped hands. Finally, after most of the campers had left, he approached me, pen and paper in hand.

“I vork vor ze Vashington Post,” he introduced himself. “I haf many friends who are doctors. I vould like to know vat medicine you give to my girl.”

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For a moment, I was blank and frightened. Was he angry with me? What had I done? Then I noticed his smile.

“I vant to buy more medicine like it for ven my little girl gets bee sting again. Do I need to haf a prescription?” he asked.

Then I remembered those translucent brimming eyes following the sting of the bee. I remembered the brave, trusting, look on the olive-skinned girl’s face a few weeks ago.

“Prescription?” I asked, trying not to laugh with relief. “No, you don’t need a prescription,” I answered. “It’s not really a medicine,” I attempted to explain.

“Den vat iss it called?” he wanted to know. “My yittle girl gets sting many times. Always it hurts. She cries for long time. Dis time, she call to tell us, the nurse use special medicine and zee pain goes away like zat!” he demonstrated, snapping his fingers.

“I vant to vrite it down zo I can get some medicine vor ze next time she gets sting. Vere did you learn about dis medicine?” he persisted.

“I learned about it when I was a little girl, from my mother,” I explained. “Do you know what Cornstarch is? Do you have it in your house?”

He nodded, obviously puzzled.

“All you need is some cornstarch and water.”

“Cornstarch? Vater?” he asked.

“Yes, you just mix some cornstarch with cold water until you have a smooth paste. Just put a spoonful or two of the paste on the sting. It cools the skin and eases the pain,” I assured him.

“Dat is vot you used?” he asked, incredulous. “Dat iss all?”

“That’s what I used,” I assured him.

He tucked his paper and pen into his pocket. Then, reaching down, he took his daughter’s hand.

“I vill be sure to tell my vife,” he assured me. “Sank you zo veddy, veddy much.”

“You’re so welcome,” I answered.

I watched them leave, smiling to myself. Cornstarch and water. Mama’s home remedy.

I had come to Clover, Virginia, to be a camp nurse for the summer, leaving my job at a medical center. I had worked with some of the best professionals in our hospital. I had participated in and witnessed numerous miracles, and I had administered expensive, rare drugs in order to save lives.

Yet when she came crying to me for comfort and help with the sting of the bee, I responded with my mother’s home remedy instead of a sting-stick. Of course, it took a little longer to treat the problem. I needed to mix the paste and sit beside her, spooning the liquid onto the welt on her arm. It also made a bigger mess than other methods would have made.

Was it the time and attention that helped the cure, or was it the ingredients in the remedy? Could it perhaps have been the combination of both that produced the healing results?

In the years since that sting and that father’s questions, I’ve come to appreciate even more some of the tried and true home remedies available to anyone. They’re always on hand, always available, and the benefits are priceless. Just like cornstarch and water.

In the sickness of the world around me, there are some who scoff at the basics and ridicule those who dare to rise above mankind’s fallen state. They claim that times have changed, and that we live in a different world from back then.

How many times I’ve run for the latest invention, read the latest philosophy, or pondered the latest theory. How many times I’ve felt disillusioned and disheartened! How often I’ve wished I had just stuck with the basics!

CHILDREN campfire

When it comes to raising kids or relating to others around me, I plan to stick with the home remedies I learned as a child. They work, every time. Mama instilled in us a reverence for God and for His Word. She modeled respect for authority, thereby expecting it of us. Mama didn’t gossip; she fleshed out restitution and forgiveness. My mama also believed in and practiced the rod of correction for training her children to act and respond properly. Mama knew the importance – and  demonstrated – repetition for learning. Our mother taught us responsibility for actions.

They may be old-fashioned, but they’re still the best for me. I’ve never known any of these ingredients, if applied correctly, to fail. They provide greater healing than any quick-fix methods I’ve seen recommended.

These days when I’m tempted to try out the latest trend in dialog or tolerance, I remember that Mama’s home remedy still works best of all.

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