Respect First

Happy / Angry

What really makes my heart soar, is when my husband speaks about my strengths, especially in front of others.  One time during a talk, he hijacked my audience with a ten minute speech about how neat he thought I was. And presented me with a bracelet.  In front of about 80 people.  I’m still floating from that one!

There was another time, however, when all I felt was disappointment, sadness, discouragement, and overworked.  These feelings manifested as ANGER.  He felt frustration, confusion, and discouragement – which coincidently, also showed up as ANGER.

At War with the Lies

On the surface, it seemed as if we we warring with each other. But the truth is we were at war with the lies we believed that this culture sells every day:

  • marriage will make us happy
  • he should “just know” how to love me
  • I will always feel loved
  • he will always feel respected
  • he will be sensitive to my feelings naturally
  • I will always “be in the mood,” but he is perverse and disgusting if he “wants it too often,” but “manly men” are desired and pursued (doesn’t the culture do tons with conflicting lies here?)
  • he’ll always look the way he does the day I married him, and so will I (because that’s how the moms and dads on TV look…svelt, in shape, made-up, hair done, etc.)
  • working while having a family is easy – for both husband and wife
  • houses are easy to keep organized, life balance is easy, children are always delightful (and easy to raise) and family relationships are easy to create and maintain

From Lies to Destruction

After 26 years, we’ve overcome most of these lies – through tons of prayer, work, and hand-holding by the Father.  Unfortunately the majority of marriages don’t.

A while back, three of my friends shared their grief over Christian women who were filing for divorce.

The durations of these marriages ranged from 5 to 35 years.

When I asked each of my friends why these divorces were occuring, they all said the same thing.  “The wife says she’s had enough.”

Enough of what?  Enough of…

  • being the “only one” working on the relationship?
  •  him being unloving?
  • feeling alone, when one of the big lies is that a husband and wife will be closer than any other sister, friend or mother?
  • waiting on him to “show her some love” so she can “show him some respect?”

Myths that Destroy Marriages

Myth #1:  “Respect is to be earned and I’ll give that to him when he shows me love.”  Myth #2:  “it takes tons of hard work, in which the wife has to martyr herself, become degraded, and be tread upon like a doormat.

Truth About Marriage – Respect First

A husband who submits to Christ, will love his wife enough to lay down his life for her.  A  wife who freely gives her husband authority will also treat him with respect.  (Ephesians 5:22-33)

This can only be attained if BOTH members of the couple are consistently working on the marriage.  However… in Titus 2 wiser (older) women are advised to encourage younger women to FIRST show reverence to their husbands.

Women have to start the process…and the process begins with respecting their husbands.

I want to suggest this to you: As a woman, you are the relationship architect in your marriage.

Reality (and current research), shows us that men are NOT the ones who 1) know that problems exist in their relationship, nor 2) seek counseling to do something about it.

Women are doing both of those things.

Love and Respect – It’s not a Cause/Effect Relationship

There are a few things we know about marriage relationships and gender.  The most common complaints in marriage are, “He doesn’t make me feel loved,” and “She doesn’t respect me.”  Ladies, there are only a few sentences in the Bible in which God addresses marriage. He specifically commands husbands to love their wives and He tells the wife to submit to and respect her husband. 

Our culture, however, teaches that respect first should be earned. Culture also  dictates that men should be “in touch with their feminine side.” This assumes they have a feminine side.  Brain and psychological research and basic male/female physiology demonstrates clearly that generally speaking, women are more in touch with their feelings, more relational, and more communicative than men are.

God wired men to naturally treat each other with respect, and they do. Men inherently know, as 11 year-olds on the ball field or grown-ups in the board room, how to help or derail each other, through the language of respect.  God tells men to unconditionally love their wives because they don’t naturally do this well.

BUT, women are, generally speaking, more relationally-oriented. Through the release of oxytocin, we experience “bonding” with other humans on a physiological level.  Women are practically swimming in this stuff, while men, conversely, produce a very small amount.  To complicate matters, meant also have fewer receptors than women. So even when men DO produce this “relationship hormone” (interestingly enough, primarily during physical intimacy) they STILL wouldn’t be able to do as much with it as we do.

And that’s the way God made us. On purpose.

Where this lands a married couple is simple (not easy, but simple):

Wives need to (a)  study respect first and implement it, and then (b) teach her husband how she experiences love.

That doesn’t sound fair, does it?  But yes, I am suggesting that the woman take responsibility for the state of their relationship and DO something about it.  Again, think “relationship architect.” 

Women are wired by God to be better equipped to deal with relationship things. So why not let the husband do the things he is naturally wired to do, and YOU do the things God created you to do best?

The church sort-of teaches this concept, but what “do something about it” typically dissolves into is “become a martyr in your own home and let the guy you married walk all over you because he is the head.”

“Submission” and “Respect” aren’t intended by God to create a bunch of doormat Christian wives.  But since we don’t have good role models in the ever-present media from which to learn how to do this, we end up being negatively influenced by lies.

Culture’s REALLY Big Lies Designed to Destroy Families:

Big Lie #1.  Ladies, you can DO it all (corporate ladder rising career AND excell at motherhood AND have an amazing house/social life/friends/whatever – do the math, there just aren’t enough hours in the day),

Big Lie #2.  Ladies, you can HAVE it all (nice cars, vacations, house, brand of purse, shoes, the “right” jewelry, the “right clothes” for you AND your kids, private schools, tutors, music lessons etc.),

Big Lie #3.  Ladies, you can BE it all (glamorous, fit, great skin, amazing hair, great friend, organized, laundry done, care for a family that adores you and never has conflict, all while you help with homework, get the dishes put away from the home-cooked meal you prepared, help your teen with a friend problem, and schedule the dog at the groomer, etc. – again, do the math on the hours)

Big Lie #4.  AND, Ladies, while you are at it, never be tired, maintain a size 8, always have it “together.” Don’t forget that you should be happy all the time.

No wonder these women have “had enough.” 

They’ve been believing lies.

The internal pressure of believing a lie while living in reality will fertilize frustration enough to become ANGER.



  1. Understand WHY you are angry – in other words, what unmet expectations based on lies do you have of marriage versus what God created marriage for in the first place, which is to respresent Christ and the church…
  2. Choose to DO something about it (something healthy that positively impacts your marriage) and embrace your God-designed relationship gifts and become the relationship architect in your marriage

Looking Forward

Later this week, I’ll get specific with what this might look like, based on what we’ve seen other women successfully doing in their marriages.    Because women are wired by God to be the more relationship-oriented of the two in a marriage, because women are the ones who are unhappy, because wives file for 2/3rds of the divorces in America, because we are female, that “something to do about it” is how to teach your husband how to love you by speaking his language of respect.

Some of you are going to be a bit ANGRY at me for suggesting this.

Bear in mind, I’m just the messenger – God sent the message. You can check His Word and His creation for the proof of that.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.           Ephesians 5:33

Before you attempt to start teaching your husband how to love you, learn how show him unconditional respect first.

Communicate soo much respect that if you were to ask him, “Do you feel respected by me?” Without missing a beat or telling a lie, he’d respond with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”  Or if a friend asks if he feels respected by his wife he would answer, “Yes!”

I don’t believe we have earned the right to teach others things we don’t understand and enact.  So…learn how to “speak the language of respect first” to your husband. Then you have the right (and, I also believe, the skills and the obligation) to teach him how best to communicate love to you – in the language he already speaks.

Love to you,



See how to overcome the culture’s parenting lies









Peek into the respect-learning-journey of 6 wives who have had “ENOUGH.”









Feeling curious about leading other wives in this journey?

titus 2 women leadership

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