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 do 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!