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






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


When Your Spouse Isn’t Who You Thought He was

Spouse is not who I think he is

Your spouse: you chose him, and he chose you.

Only thing is, sometimes it seems your spouse isn’t who you thought he was. At least, sometimes he’s not. Maybe he was different when you were dating or maybe you just didn’t pick up on those idiosyncrasies. Perhaps you didn’t listen to the advice of others or maybe everyone else thought he was the guy for you and you didn’t consider otherwise. Maybe you’ve just figured out that he is just like your dad (which might not be all bad), but you don’t want your marriage to be like your parents’. Or you wish he was more like your dad, but he isn’t.

Perhaps you thought you knew him well enough – and you were certain love would carry you through.

And now? Now he’s not your prince charming, and sometimes not your protector.

You feel hung. Hurt or betrayed. Hemmed in.

Sometimes you feel a little scared. Did you make a mistake?

What were you thinking? You thought you knew him pretty well, but did you?

So what do you do?

You’re a Christian. You believe in “’til death do us part.” You know this is right – and good.

But sometimes it’s hard and a little scary.

You want a happy marriage – a good marriage,

but you’re not sure what to do about some of your feelings and some of your fears.

When we struggle with life, there isn’t always a simple formula to make things right. It’s not an easy three-step thing we can do that guarantees success. So we flounder – and we wonder who to talk to and what to do. Really, who wants to share with someone else that marriage is more difficult than easy?!

Whisper in your spouse's ear.

Let me tell you some things that will guarantee your success as a spouse.

These are not things that most folks will tell you to do.  In fact, some folks will tell you to do the opposite. You’ll have to decide for yourself because only you can walk this journey. You’ll have to decide what outcome you want and then choose the path that brings you that outcome. I can assure you that, if you do these things consistently, it will make a difference in your spouse and in your marriage.  Guaranteed, it will make a difference in you.

  1. Commitment. It will make or break your marriage! You’ve got to be committed to your marriage and to your man. This means even when you disagree with him or you find him unattractive, you stay committed. If you allow your mind to think of Divorce, then how committed are you?  That word shouldn’t be in our vocabulary if we plan to be committed for life and until death parts the two of us. If you’re both committed, then you will find a way to work things out. It doesn’t mean you roll over and play dead. It doesn’t mean that you become a martyr because you believe divorce is wrong. You stay committed to the person and to the principle of being one. That means you work at becoming united in the things that matter. You won’t give up or give in to anything less. You’ll hang in there while you work through things. You’ll disagree and cry, you’ll feel discouraged and want to give up, but you’ll stay in that place of commitment.
  2.  Communicate.  Men are often clueless about things they say and do that cause hurt. Educate him in a respectful way. Talk. Tell him. Don’t hide your feelings. Think ahead what you can say so you will be kind yet firm. Choose the right place and the right timing. Don’t say, “You always” OR “You never,” ’cause it just ain’t so, ever. Instead, explain to him so he can understand. Use these words: “When you . . . it makes me feel . . . ” In using these words, you’re telling him what he has done and how it makes you feel. You’re not accusing him of not caring, just that it makes you feel like he doesn’t care. Try saying, “When you fail to ____, it makes me feel unloved.”  “When you wouldn’t go to ____ with me after  I asked you to, it really made me feel that I’m not important to you.” He won’t know unless you communicate with him. Don’t withhold how you feel about your hurts or failures.  It’s never right to keep your mouth shut so he won’t be upset or because it’s not worth the price you might have to pay. Keep talking, keep telling him, keep respecting him and thanking him when he does things that are right and good.
  3. Change yourself.  Don’t try to change him.  Yep. Ask God to change you. Ask God to help you love and respect this man to whom you have committed your life. Remember the things that attracted you to him before marriage. Focus on those things, for starters. Now add to your list. Ask God for wisdom, then listen to the wisdom you get from God – and do it. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive in your man. That’s changing you by changing your outlook. Make a note of the things he does right and that he does well. Focus on the positive and not the negative. If it helps, make a list of things you like about him (then whisper those things, one at a time, in  his ear.) Keep praying and asking God for wisdom. Keep praying for your man, and ask God to help you change you. Give God permission to work in the heart of your spouse, but don’t tell God what to do or how to do it or when to do it!
  4.  Respect. This is a basic need of any man and husband. He’d rather hear that you respect him than that you love him. ‘Don’t believe me? Ask him! My husband will vouch for that. Respect is a basic need of any man and of any husband. That’s why scripture tells the wife to reverence her spouse instead of telling her to love him. If he has your respect and admiration, he will want to conquer the world. A sincere husband will want to make you happy if he knows he has your admiration. It’s not good enough to just not say anything negative. You’ve got to show and say positive things and let the world know you’re proud that he’s your man. You’ve got to say it and show it by how you act. Things you say to him or about him to others tells the world whether or not you respect this man. Believe me, it shows. When you let your spouse know he has your respect and your admiration, he will want to do things to help you feel special.

When spouse isn't who you thought he was

Marriage brings together two people from different families. Sometimes they are from different communities, different cultures, and different backgrounds.  No matter how much alike you thought you were, you’re still different.

A good marriage doesn’t just happen. It takes work.

But oh, is it ever worth the sweat and tears! I can’t guarantee that following these steps will change your spouse, but I know they will change you. Your outlook will change and you won’t need to feel hemmed in and scared anymore. I think that, in time, you’ll see some neat changes in your spouse as well. You might be surprised; he might just become even better than you ever thought he’d be!

Pinterest Spouse isn't who you thought he was