As I progressed through the years of my adolescence, I heard a lot of married couples talk about women submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives. But nothing I heard or saw fully reflected the importance of wives respecting their husbands.
I was raised with a pretty strong view of respect. But no one taught me the role respect plays in marriage, so I never really knew what respect really looked like in real life.
One of the ways I have disrespected my husband in our marriage has really come out since we had children. Instead of consistently supporting him as the head of our home, I confess that I have often asserted myself in that role. Often I swoop in to the rescue so my children won’t be corrected by their daddy (which is part of his God-given role as father). By trying to protect my children’s emotional well-being I disrespect my husband’s voice as a father in our home.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
I’ve always had a high regard and respect for my husband, yet as we grew our family, our marriage hit a rocky patch. I lost myself in the throes of motherhood. I lost myself as a woman while my wifely role took a huge backseat.
My darling husband’s flaws were staring me right in the face. I couldn’t ignore them. Negative thoughts full of hurt and frustration whirred through my mind. I was drowning in life and pulling my marriage down with me.
We both loved each other but try as I may I could not understand why my heart was telling me something was wrong in my marriage.
Then, I will never forget the one day I said the unthinkable. We were all in the car and before I knew it my hubby and I were having a heated disagreement.
The result? I got out of the car at the next traffic light and began marching home. I may have morphed into a fire-breathing dragon I was so livid. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave it alone.
On my walk home, I told my husband via phone that I hated him. Yeah…..A huge NO!
Because it had been raining, I was soaked when I got home. There he was with our children keeping quiet. I went for a shower to warm up. Not once did my husband retaliate towards me from the moment I got home.
After my shower, I went and apologized to him with absolute remorse and repentance. I melted in his arms as his love and forgiveness washed over me. That day, he showed me respect even though I dishonored him.
It made me wonder, “What does respect really look like in my life? What does it mean? How can I get it?”
Focus on the Good
A beautiful older woman, my husband and I have known for years began to mentor me. Under her gentle guidance, I began to place the focus on my husband’s strengths, instead of his weakness.
Focusing on his good characteristics, instead of his bad was the first step toward respecting my husband.
When I didn’t know what to think or how to react, I would step into the Father’s arms to ask him, “How do you see my husband? What is the truth?”
This simple prayer changed my life.
As I looked at my husband through God’s eyes, I saw the man I have always loved. I saw his efforts, his needs, his heart.
I began to approach every situation with the attitude of – what solution will honor my husband, honor God, and honor me. By doing this, I extended respect to my husband.
Respect is a Journey
At first my respect towards him was in the form of an attitude adjustment. Slowly, my mental lights were moving from a dim setting to a brighter one. Still, God was not finished coaching me.
Respect is more than a kind word. It’s a heart action.
Respect is about having a high regard for someone else irrespective of their behavior or attitude.
Respect asks that we see what God sees each time we talk to a person.
What does God see? What are their strengths, qualities, and virtues?
Because I see my husband’s value and worth, I extend to him my unconditional respect by giving him the benefit of the doubt, affirming him, appreciating his efforts, and tending to his needs.
I became sensitive to my husband’s feelings and needs. When he would come home from the office tired or frustrated, I would often find myself asking Jesus: What does he need today? What must I do? Yes, I had moments where I wanted to correct him or challenge him on some behavior I didn’t like, but I held my tongue. Respect was needed way more than correction.
I focused on leaving him love notes here or there, buying him the occasional chocolate, initiate some romance, and extend grace. Over time, our marriage improved. It wasn’t a once-and-done event.
In the moments of stress and pressure, we find ourselves working more towards mature healthy communication and respect.
Where possible, I avoid assigning blame by taking ownership of my responsibilities in our family and marriage and by voicing my feelings.
Part of showing respect has been to learn to not use “You” statements, rather use “I”.
For example: “Hey love, I feel so frustrated with your long hours at the office. I understand you are dealing with a crisis at the office. I just miss you.”
The Rewards of Respecting Your Husband
What has respect done to my marriage?
I’ve found in the past couple of years, my marriage has become more solid.
Our love as a couple has deepened to an extent I didn’t know possible.
It’s a love that stands bold in the face of imperfection, mistakes, and flaws. It sees the truth of who we are and says “I love you anyway”. It says, “Out of all the people in the world I still choose you as mine.”
Respecting my husband has helped to encourage him during the tough times. It has been a form of ministry to his heart and soul. When he is struggling with his own insecurities and stress, respect brings a safety and security. With me, my husband can let down his guard and be himself.
Our heart connection with each other remains strong. Respect is as much a part of the heartbeat of a healthy marriage as love. The two are married to each other just as I am married to my husband. Love and respect. A great recipe for a happy, successful marriage.