Late for an appointment, Jim and I sped down the freeway in the fast lane. Seeing our exit coming up, I wondered if I should mention it to him. Normally, I wouldn’t have paused, but I’d been reading a book that stated very clearly that respecting your husband meant NOT correcting his driving. I knew he’d be angry if we were late, but I wanted to honor God…so I just simply asked him, “Baby, if I were to tell you that is our exit, would you consider that disrespe—” Before I could get the rest out, he crossed three lanes of traffic, pulled up to the red light, stopped and looked at me and inquired, “What are you reading NOW?” I told him my dilemma and he replied, “If you had said, ‘You IDIOT, you’re going to miss our exit!!’ I would have found that disrespectful – but for you not to tell me – well, that’s not being my friend, either. I rely on you to be my friend.”
So what I learned from that simple exchange was this: respect is spoken in marriage most effectively when we wives ask questions and try to get it right with our own spouse. I’ve had many women over the years ask me for advice, and I have often replied, “I’m not married to your husband. How about you ask HIM what he thinks or feels about that?”
God knew what He was doing when He commanded husbands to love their wives – they don’t come by loving us unconditionally naturally. God feels so strongly about men loving us well that He tells them their prayers will be hindered if they don’t. In the same way, we wives don’t naturally unconditionally respect our husbands, so God specifically tells us to do so. Ephesians 5:33 is pretty specific to both parties, and rightfully so. Regardless of the “respect must be earned” culture that we live in.
Our choice as godly wives is simple: 1) wait for our husbands to magically earn our respect, or 2) unconditionally respect them. We’ve seen marriages and families dramatically and permanently changed through the wife’s application of respect.