To begin with, it’s okay to disagree with your spouse. Disagreement does not equal disrespect. It’s even okay to let him know when he does something that you don’t think is a good idea. In fact, it’s more than a good idea, because you really ought to let him know. What isn’t okay is for a gal to put down her man in such a way that she is being disrespectful. If a gal agrees with everything her man does, then does he really need her?
Secondly, I assure you that I have little tolerance for women who belittle their spouse in front of others. It matters not if it’s in the company of just one person, a group of women, the kids, neighbors, or church folks. You don’t have to say a word to belittle your spouse; you can do it with eye movement, facial expressions, and body posture. Tell me it ain’t so! Belittling your man is emasculating him, which is totally counter to “reverencing” one’s spouse. The scripture asks the Christian wife to reverence her husband.
So what’s a gal to do when she knows that others are wrongly affected by the choices (or lack of them) of her spouse? This can be related to work/co-workers, committees (social or church), or family situations. Unless your spouse is perfect, it’s happened to you. Sometimes others come to you expecting you to tell your spouse their grievances.
For some reason, there are gals who think that showing respect means defending their spouse no matter what. It puts them in a pickle. For to defend him is to say they agree with him. Yet, they think that indicating that they don’t feel good about a decision is being disrespectful to their spouse.Of course, there is a time, a place, and an attitude – all of which must be right if we are going to be respectful.
My point here is the other extreme: the woman who defends her spouse to others – no matter what he says or does – because he is her spouse. For some reason, we seem to think that if anyone finds out that we are not in agreement, it will make us not look good. After all, a gal will say, I’m his helpmeet, his support, and his chief admirer. How can I disagree with him and be all of these things at the same time?
For starters, a spouse is not a true helpmeet, support, or true admirer if she is not honest. To be supportive of our spouse means we are honest with him. Being untruthful is not being faithful to our commitment to love and honor. When we are dishonest, we are not honoring the one about whom we are lying.
How is a gal to disagree with her husband and still be respectful? I have some ideas, and here they are.
- Don’t tell all. Only tell what is necessary. If your spouse makes a decision that affects others and you are asked about that decision, it’s okay to say, “I’m sorry for the way this affected you.” You don’t have to say, “I told him this wasn’t a good idea and I just knew this was going to happen!” This tells the ones who are affected that you recognize how his decision (or lack of it) affected them. It doesn’t excuse him or defend him. It also absolves you of responsibility.
- Don’t defend. A few weeks ago I sent a friend a private message because my hubby asked me to. This gal’s hubby wasn’t responding to numerous voice mail messages. We both felt it was because he’s a busy guy, but my man still needed to talk to this guy. The reply of the spouse was this. “I’m sorry. I’ll give him the message.” You see what she did there? She acknowledged that her man had been delinquent in responding, but she didn’t defend him. She apologized which said she recognized this was inconvenient for others and gave us contact info to get in touch with her man. No excuses (He’s just so busy; if you only knew!) no putting him down (I don’t know what’s the matter with him), just total respect. Total recognition and not defending someone who had slacked a little on the job. She’s in his corner, as evidenced by her response.
- Don’t be a message bearer. If someone has a grievance with your spouse, encourage that person to talk to him instead of you. It’s not your job to relay messages from others about his failures. Refusing to be a message bearer is not being dishonest, nor it is defending him. It’s being in his corner. If the problem is big enough for someone to think it needs to be addressed, then the biblical thing is for that person to bring it to his attention, and not yours. If a person won’t talk to your spouse (even if she takes someone with her), then it must not be that large a problem. Don’t get caught up using someone else’s grievances to get a message to your spouse.
- Don’t deny the truth. When you have to make choices based on the wishes of your spouse, it’s okay to tell your friends that you’d love to do such-and-such, but out of respect for your spouse’s wishes, you will defer to him. It’s okay to change your schedule and sometimes meetings with friends because of your spouse, and it’s more than okay to let your friends know that while it might appear to be shunning on your part, you have made the choice because you are honoring your spouse. What isn’t okay is not being truthful about the why behind your actions. Your friends should not need to wonder if they’ve done something or if you’re upset with them. They should know the truth.
- Honor with your pocketbook. Or something like that, anyhow. Your pocketbook or other things. Dave hates a large pocketbook. When I go shopping, I like to carry a larger bag so I can stuff all my small packages in the bag and not carry individual packages. In my case, I am likely to leave a small package behind in some store when I lay it down to purchase more items. We have an agreement: I don’t carry a large pocketbook when we go shopping together and he carries all my packages. If I go shopping with other gals or by myself, I carry whatever size I want. He doesn’t care because he’s not with me. Your issue probably isn’t the size of your pocketbook. It might be something you wear or something you do or even places you go. To continue doing something when you know your spouse isn’t happy about it is disrespectful. It emasculates him. It places the wife over her spouse every single time.
When we follow these principles, it goes a long way in honoring and respecting our spouse even when we disagree. Following these principles helps us live with integrity, not only with our spouse, but also with others. Our husbands don’t need us to defend them. They need us to honor and respect their position as the leader in the relationship. Our spouses need to be elevated instead of emasculated.
What changes could you make this week to show honor and respect to your spouse even when you think he’s in the wrong? For starters, choose one of the points listed above, focus on developing this change – then watch and see what God is going to do!