He Doesn’t Deserve Respect…

If your marriage is difficult, understand that the enemy wants you to believe you have just TWO CHOICES:

1) Stay and be miserable…

or …

2) Divorce…

He’s pretty good at what he does. He’ll tell you things like, “Your kids are better off without all the fighting,” which simply is not true (check The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce for the landmark 25 year research – bottom line, neglect and abuse damages kids, not divorce).

What if there was another choice? What if your husband (or wife) was the sandpaper God wanted to use to smooth out your rough edges (and vice-versa)?

What if your relationship with Jesus results in you being a woman of strength and dignity, filled with joy, even when married to a critical and negative man?

Do you know your responses to your circumstances witness volumes to those around you?

Do you know Him that well yet? Or are you still focused on your own selfishness?

KNOW that there are OTHER CHOICES that God has within the context of marriage to help you:

  1. mature in your faith
  2. learn to speak the truth in love
  3. overcome evil
  4. grow
  5. do conflict well
  6. wrap your identity up in ONLY God’s opinion of you
  7. become like Christ
  8. do hard things without fear
  9. find life abundant
  10. reflect Him to others

The list goes on and on…


Understand that “being a doormat” is not on the list. Neither is “live in fear.” Sometimes “love” does super hard things – harder than avoiding conflict, like learning to engage in disagreements in a healthy, loving way, respecting your husband, yourself and your God.

Sometimes love must be strong enough to put an end to your husband’s abusive behavior. And love is never abusive or neglectful itself.

Is it good for your husband to get away with hitting you or shoving you? Is it good for you to ignore his behavior? Sorry, no it is not. The abuse will likely escalate. If you have children, your acceptance of teaches them – either as abusers or as victims. In the Bible, Paul’s friends broke him out of prison. He left. Yes, get your own act together, yes, be respectful in your behavior, but God doesn’t even want to hear your husband’s prayers if he treats you harshly (1 Peter3:7), so help him respect you and bring him good.

Like a painful but helpful medical procedure, “good” can sometimes be painful.

There is a difference between “good” and “nice.” But there’s freedom there.


Proverbs 31:12 says, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”

Sometimes “good,” means “the not easy thing,” like confronting your husband’s sinful behaviors. Maybe even with others, Matthew 18-style.

Sometimes “good,” means “the really hard things,” like putting an end to avoiding conflict and truly helping your husband by ceasing to enable him.

Sometimes “good,” means doing something unselfish, even when it might cost you.

I admit I have taken a while to become more firm in my position on this. I am really sorry for that and I hope you can forgive me for being slow to learn and come to a conclusion.

Unfortunately, like too many others, I received teaching for years that left me with the impression that women are “unsubmissive” if they do not tolerate abuse. I had trouble reconciling what the Word told me, how the apostles were martyred, and what I’ve been taught over the years. Like many of you, I received teaching that we ALL may be martyred for our faith, and I’ve dialogued with women who felt called by God to be martyred in their own homes, living with abusive husbands. Please know I do not challenge what they feel led by God to be doing, and I know God has used their situations for His glory. But I also believe that they are not the majority. And when I look at the Word and the world today, it is the teachers of many and those of great numerical influence that historically were/are martyred. Know this happens today – check out Voice of the Martyrs for more information – it will give perspective, and I find their stories personally inspiring.

Dare you to check this post – especially the comments – for resources that will help you if you are living in an abusive relationship. If your children are part of this environment, you have a responsibility to take action to protect them.

Dare you also to find a couple of elderly Christian women who were married for over 30 years and start learning from them. You will find that many of these ladies, like Abigail Adams, were women who had strong relationships with their husbands. Dare you to strive to figure these things out so you can BECOME one of these Titus 2 women for others and for His glory.

Double dog dare you to ask God to help you figure out how to respect yourself, your husband, and your God, regardless of what your circumstances are. Don’t buy the lie, “respect should be earned or deserved,” and understand this – NONE of us, (myself included) “deserve” anything but the fires of hell itself. We are all sinners, but because of Christ, we can have the riches of heaven if we accept Him, follow Him, and make Him Lord of our lives (Romans 10:9). Understand that The Respect Dare is a small slice of marriage – it is simply a book with ideas of what respect might look like. It lightly addresses spiritual issues while growing our relationship with God – and I don’t believe I wrote it, but rather that He did through me. I’m working on a book now that deals with more of the elements in marriage, specifically addressing communication and conflict. Prayers are appreciated.

SO glad you are on the journey with me! I wish I knew all there was to know, but this life is a never-ending journey to righteousness as God refines all of us.

Love to you,

~Nina

What about you? What struck you today? What do you think?


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Comments

  1. Anneke says

    I am not really sure where to post this. I am at a very tough crossroads in my marriage of 7 years. My husband is pondering leaving me–seemingly out of nowhere. There seems to be only one area that he keeps bringing up. Earlier on in our marriage there were times when I acted out of anger and smacked my husband on the shoulder or pinched him etc. I know this is not right and I didn’t realize I had this temper and acted out of anger in this way. I get very heated quickly and have also called a lot of names that were inappropriate and undeserved. I didn’t mean them and apologized repeatedly. I realize that despite my apologies there was still damage done. Now years later he is bringing up all of these things I thought I had been forgiven for. He has accused me of domestic violence and hitting him over 100 times, which is extremely far from the truth. I have tried my best to repent and apologize and he keeps bringing it up. I don’t know what he wants from me? I cannot seem to apologize enough and I have not acted out of anger in this way for well over a year. What do I do? The more he brings it up, the more frustrated I get that he says he has forgiven me but cannot seem to let it go. I know I was wrong and am very ashamed of my choice but I have owned my sin.

  2. Kay Fabian says

    My husband of 49 years has always been in control of everything Even though there have been changes and improvements through the years, we are in a situation now which has got me stumped. We have a 44 year old son who has reached his limit in being around his father. He refuses to talk to him and does not want a relationship. Even tho my son wants to talk to me, I am having a hard time b/c it causes an argument w/my husband every time I do talk to him. Should I take a stand and insist on having my own relationship or try to live without my son. We lost a 5 year old daugh6ter to cancer in 1092 then lost our other son to cancer in 2010 so this triples my painb. Any suggestions?

    • Nina Roesner says

      Kay –
      This is free advice, might be worth what you paid for it, which is nothing. But in my opinion, you are an adult, and you have your own relationships. Your husband’s choices are his. Yours are yours. Is it a sin of harshness and abusive of your husband to be controlling here? Possibly. I don’t know all the details. Is it a sin for you not to submit? Possibly – again, I don’t know all the details, but God also is pretty clear that you don’t submit to sinful behavior, so I’m not sure how that impacts your situation.

      If it is a situation where he is sinning against you, you can choose to confront, overlook, avoid, or steamroll. The last two choices are not godly, the first two depend on what God tells you to do.

      Prayers to you. For what it’s worth, I have family members who do not speak to each other, but I have relationship with all of them. A few get upset over this, but it’s not my problem, it’s theirs. Yes, they say things to me about it, but I choose to respond carefully, and with respect for myself.

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your other children. That has got to be the worst.

      SO glad you are here! I am praying for your situation, beautiful. I’m sure Dad has an answer for you – be listening!
      Love to you,
      ~Nina

    • Trying hard to trust says

      Kay, your story is very much like my family’s story (my friend pointed out that my family issues seem to be a generational curse and I need to work to break it; I married a man like my mom and grandpa – my daughters were appalled at how my mom treats my dad, which is how my grandpa treated my grandma and my husband treats me, to a lesser extent). Anyway, my mom was so fed up with my grandpa by the time she turned 18 she left and refused to speak to him. She kept in touch with my grandma and her grandparents, but would hang up if my grandpa answered the phone. He didn’t even know he was a grandfather until I was over a year old and it slipped out in an argument. That woke him up, he was still rude and domineering, but he worked hard on his relationship with his kids after that. I don’t know what issues your husband has with your son, if it’s justified (i.e. he’s in illegal stuff and needs “tough love” or if he and your husband just don’t get along), but two wrongs don’t make a right. Your relationship with your son is between you and your son and your husband’s relationship with your son is their relationship. However, if your husband has valid reasons then you need to hear him out (I know families where the grown child has manipulated one parent and caused a lot of strife in the marriage).

  3. says

    I appreciate this post. I have been following TRD for a few years. I have NOT signed up for the fee group, but did sign up a few years back and was sent the regular dare challenges. I have shared them with friends and people I love who want to have an intact marriage, but are stuck in their circumstances. I want a miracle. I started reading “This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper. It has given me a way to see, as you put it, “I am praying that God works a miracle in your heart so you can see yourself defined outside this relationship, and then, having your identity wrapped up in the Audience of One’s opinion of you, do the hard things that move you toward providing the right kind of help your husband needs” My marriage has a purpose, I can be happy, but that isn’t the goal, it is to glorify God.. I am dealing with my selfish ambition of feeling loved, instead of knowing I am loved and being one who loves. Spiritual armor and warfare is a must. The unseen places that are waring against my marriage, to destroy our testimony. You see we just had our 25 wedding anniversary. My husband has not yet said anything, happy anniversary or let’s make this work, nothing. We are both believers and have voices our commitment to not give up. Our levels of commitment to fight for our marriage are not the same. I have devoted myself to learning more about God’s design for marriage, Bible studies on facebook (oh the friends I have made, friends for life) ” Excellent wife” “Lies Women believe” “Created to His Helpmeet” “The Respect Dare” you name it. I discovered in the process I am a FULL on CoDependent, My enabling behavior has brought damage to family relationships, husband and children. I have been working on me for the last 2 yrs. I have a different paradigm that gives me freedom to not be in control of everything and find peace in the midst of the chaos. The problems are never cause by one person’s sin. I now, can inventory my own sin, no condemnation, but with a vision to change and be live with the identity found in Christ. The words that God spoke to me at the beginning of my journey (I was at my bottom and wanted to quit) “Kim, do you love me, trust Me, will you obey Me?” my answer, “Well of course” then He asked “Even if NOTHING changes?” I was floored, I was hoping for all my problems to go away, now, He is even hinting they may not change. I said “Yes” He is working with me, my limited, selfish, hurt self. It is true, my reactions are different, My perspective is different, my goals are and my identity is intact and I have more hope. My hope deferred had made my heart grow sick, instead of hiding and waiting to die, I got up and fought, I will continue to fight, not my husband but FOR my marriage and to the gory of God. The gift I have received are new friends, sisters in the Lord and the opportunity to minister to other hurting women. Nina, I appreciate your ministry so much. Words cannot express the edification and hope it has spoke into my life and marriage.

    • Nina Roesner says

      Kim, I am in awe of what you have written. And I have lived it. I totally get this. And it’s what He wants ALL of us to fully understand (and yes, I still have moments where I forget and have my own pity party) that this life is about His glory – but there’s blessing there. Even when life is awful, I can have joy and contentment and peace (okay, not 100% of the time, but more often than not FINALLY) and it’s LEGIT, not some “performance” because of what the bible says I should feel… it’s relationship with Him. SO glad you posted here, so glad you are on this VERY HARD JOURNEY with us. Don’t quit. You are a treasure, and while I can’t take credit for the work He’s doing here and in the book, your words still spur me on. :)
      Love to you,
      ~Nina

    • says

      I agree with Nina. Don’t quit. A good friend mentor asked me once if I would still love my family if they never changed. I wanted to say no but in my heart I understood that she and God wanted me to understand God’s grace towards us. God loves us even when we reject Him and turn to other things for false love. He patiently hangs in there until we come to the knowledge of His unending love for us. This is a tremendous faith building time in grace. Hang ib there. God hangs in there for us. Amen.

  4. Trying hard to trust says

    Ann, I’m in a bad situation too. My husband has changed for the worst in the last year and plans to leave. I’m praying for him and trying to change me. A pastor actually told me yesterday that maybe I’ve been called to love in a horrible marriage. I’ve been told by God numerous times to stay and everytime I start to question I get another sign telling me to stand in my marriage. I worry what it is teaching my daughters to see me stay in a marriage where my husband is verbally and financially abusing me, but I’m trusting God. The hardest part is watching our daughters see their dad in a new light (and it’s not positive). I struggle with being respectful and honoring him when they’re hurting and speaking the truth. Everything in me wants to agree with them and all I can do is bite my tongue. What am I supposed to tell them?

    • Nina Roesner says

      Praying for you, beautiful. Please know that no one is suggesting that lying is respectful. Truth can be dished hurtfully, meanly, sarcastically, or it can be told respectfully, gently. I want to encourage you to read “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship” by Leslie Vernick. Submission also doesn’t mean silence. It’s okay your kids see what is true – and there is a fine line because you can’t use them for emotional support and venting as that is not responsible. But they know what is going on, and you can’t (and I’m not suggesting that you are) hide the truth from them. keep learning and growing and focused on your own behavior. You can’t control his, but you can choose to respond well, regardless of your circumstances. Just because he pitches a fit doesn’t mean that you need to as well. Search “angry husband” here on this blog and you’ll come across a bunch of examples of what other women have done. I plan to write more about this topic in the coming weeks, too.
      Love to you,
      ~Nina

      • Trying hard to trust says

        I don’t lie to them and say, “no, he’s not xyz”, I just say things like “we don’t say those things” or lately I just shrug. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. My kids are 11 to 17, they’re not oblivious to what’s going on and I’m afraid my relationship with them is on the line if I protect him. Please pray for our family!

        • Nina Roesner says

          Am privileged to do so. And at their ages, depending on their maturity, it is okay to let them know when you are having a hard time – they know already. Fine line, isn’t it? Rock and Hard Place is an accurate description, His way through the too is a dental floss-thin tightrope.
          Praying!!
          ~Nina

  5. Ann says

    You talk alot about Physical Abuse…but what what Passive Aggressive Covert Abuse? How do you live with a man that seems so nice and great, but is secretive, lies, blames, plays the victim, and is not sympathetic and chooses not to be one because he wants to lead his own life. Will not honor his vows and its your fault that he kept in contact with other women behind your back because he is miserable with you and stalked them online and is emotionally available?

    • says

      I am curious to see how Nina answers this.

      However, I do want to tell you a little about my experience. I went through the Respect Dare, and through it, my husband said many mean things about it. I didnt even tell him that I was doing it. Behind closed doors, he would mock me and mimic me. To family, he would talk about how hard WE were working to save our marriage.

      He had an emotional affair that went to far physically. I was devestated. He broke it off and tried to be a better husband. We also had a couple friend who lived a couple of hours away. He was out that way for legitimate reasons, but didnt tell me he was going. He and the husband went to do something, his car broke down and they were side swiped by an 18-wheeler. Thank God they were ok, but I was very upset, because the other wife knew immediately, I did not know until the next day. I was livid to say the least. That whole visit had been about lies, and i was sick of it. Because I didnt fall over and his kiss feet for lying to me, she told him to divorce me.

      I called her and told her that as a friend she was crossing boundaries and she was interjecting herself into MY marriage and to butt out. She told me in no uncertain terms that her friendship was more important to him than our marriage would ever be and she couldnt wait to see me hurt when he divorced me. He defended her said she was just upset with me for hurting him. I asked if she would get upset with him about his lying to me. You see, he blamed my church for our martial probelms. What he didnt see was they were the only group of people who supported me in remaining married. He was a veteran struggling with PTSD, and it was killing me emotionally and spiritually. But as a military wife, I had promised to stand by him and God was telling me to stay.

      I explained that real FRIENDS never believe that they are more important than the spouse, unless the spouse has said it or led them to believe it. I will be honest, I was tempted to block her from our phones. I was given great counsel in that if I did it, I would never know if he truly changed his heart OR if I was just forcing him to do so. I am not sure what happened, I do know for the next six months, she would call and taunt me through him. I overheard him one day, ask her why she was so determined to ruin his marriage that he thought she was a friend. He never told me what was said, but I can tell you from the phone bills, they have not spoken again.

      A few weeks ago, we had a friend talking about a jealous wife and female friend. He looked at the friend and said NO ONE is worth losing your marriage over. If you are crossing the line to the point, your wife is that hurt, SHE is not worth it. Fix your marriage.

      A few days ago, We have another couple friend, and the male asked a single friend of mine out on a date. She was so upset. I was upset. My husband said, I know I went much further. He doesnt realize the slope he is on. I said what do I do. He said you pray, thats what you do, so pray. I will think about it, but I don’t think his wife would be willing to fix the marriage if she finds out, she is NOT you. (I beleive he was trying to give me a compliment for forgiving him, not 100% sure). I am still praying about the situation. My friend says he has left her alone.

      He also now credits my church for helping save our marriage. Our son was recently hospitalized for mental health issues. He needed to list someone outside of us he trusted to call for him, but we had to approve. My son said I knew when i put Pastor J down, you would be fine, but I didnt know how he would react. The counselor asked him his opinion. He said that man loves my family, that man believes my marriage is worth saving, and that man would protect my family almost as much as me, so if my son trusts him, then keep him on the list because I trust him.

      The point of this is to tell you, it may take a long time. You may feel like you are the end of your rope. My husband is still not a believer. But we have crossed a threshold. Church is no longer the enemy. My marriage and MY feelings are more important than people outside the family. We have a long way to go, but God will get us through to the other side. Listen to him, he may tell you to leave, or he may tell you to stay and FIGHT. He told me to stay and FIGHT for my family and HIS honor.

    • Nina Roesner says

      Sin is sin. Physical abuse, harshness, pornography, irresponsibility, it’s all sin. And it’s a very careful walk we walk. I would encourage you to read “How to Act Right when Your Spouse Acts Wrong,” by Leslie Vernick. How do you live with him? Through the power of the Holy Spirit, and nothing else.
      I’m so sorry for what you are going through. What you described has to be deeply painful for you. I’m so sorry. ((hugs)) :)
      I am praying that God works a miracle in your heart so you can see yourself defined outside this relationship, and then, having your identity wrapped up in the Audience of One’s opinion of you, do the hard things that move you toward providing the right kind of help your husband needs. He needs restoration, but gentle. Pitching fits, arguing, fighting doesn’t work. Action does. But only when your heart is soft and God is leading.
      Prayers for you, beloved.
      ~Nina

    • Leah says

      Ann,

      I just want to encourage you, sweet sister. Your road sounds very hard – much like mine. This community has given me an opportunity to find many women who struggle with issues similar to my own… and similar to yours as well. Be alert… follow God first and He will lead you through the rest.

      If you have not yet done TRD, I would say go for it. It teaches wives a lot about how God says we are to treat our men. My husband is verbally/emotionally abusive and I still learned a lot from it. He’s changed some.. but more importantly, I have changed a lot. God has given me a lot to learn with as I continue on this journey. The other day, for the first time, he said something to me (angry and expecting unrealistic things) and instead of taking it personally, I was finally able to separate that from myself and realize… it’s just him.

      God is faithful… don’t lose hope. He has a plan for you and your marriage and He will make it clear to you when the time is right… I promise!!

  6. says

    I appreciate your dialogues on divorce. I agree with you – I don’t see any where that “respect” says “doormat, stay in your marriage without change”. I think, though, that in our broken world where we need so badly for answers to be easy, and black and white, that this is none of those things. Different people at different places in their walks are going to get different direction from God for what to do specifically – some may be called to be a martyr while others are called to leave and sharpen, while still others are called to something else. I have learned so much about Matt 18 conflict resolution here. I appreciate how we can see you grow too. Thanks for being transparent with us.

    • Nina Roesner says

      :) Thanks, Leah. :) My visit to Family Life Ministries deeply impacted me. I’m frustrated with our culture (as you can probably tell) that fails miserably at teaching women to be strong and dignified. We can help our men rise to a higher level by being women who behave in ways worthy of respect, and I’m still trying to figure out how to talk about it. :)
      Love to you,
      ~Nina

      • says

        I can’t wait to hear more about the book.” I’m working on a book now that deals with more of the elements in marriage, specifically addressing communication and conflict. Prayers are appreciated.” I will be praying for you and watching for when it comes out. My husband and I were once a part of the local ministry team for Family Life, They are good people with a great ministry.

        • Nina Roesner says

          OH THANK YOU!!! :)

          And I am praying for your marriage, dear heart. Who knows what Dad will do?
          Love & hugs!
          Nina

Trackbacks

  1. […] I know some women are afraid of doing The Respect Dare because they think it makes them a doormat. Like they are giving away power or something. Not true. It’s not a book about respecting yourself, but rather a book about how to communicate respect to your husband. It’s interesting how satan brings the doormat lie, though. And before I get into the answer here, please know this approach probably won’t work with an abusive and controlling husband. That takes stronger intervention because his lack of help is merely a symptom of a deeper issue. If you are abused, please check into the resources discussed here. […]

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