What are my top 5 ways to respect your husband?
I have had a number of questions lately that let me know getting back to the basics is helpful.
I can tell you what respect IS, and what it’s NOT – and my guess is you will have some thoughts about it too, so I can’t wait to hear! If you like this post, you may want to sign up in the sidebar for the TIPS! articles to help with the nitty gritty of respect, dealing with conflict in marriage, and most importantly, following Jesus Christ.
Both men and women are called to respect each other in marriage. The verse for the wives is Ephesians 5:33, which I’m sharing below. The verses for men are here and 1 Peter 3:7. I’m not going to deal with that today, as my audience is women. I know for some of you, it will be hurtful to read what God says your husband is to do – because it’s not happening in your marriage. It hurts, and there are things you can do to help with that, but you first need to establish your own pattern of behavior. If the majority of people in my life didn’t view me as a respectful person, I shouldn’t be espousing respect, right? And for the record, I don’t claim to be perfect at this. But I just love the Amplified Bible version, as it adds words which serve to clarify without having to go to a Strong’s or Young’s Concordance. Here it is:
and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].
If you notice the “delights, notices, prefers, treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear” part is pretty specific. How that plays out in the day-to-day is going to look a little different, depending on the relationship.
We had a question in one of my classes – I often give the advice to “Ask your husband if he has time to talk for a few minutes, touch him on the shoulder, make eye contact,” with the intention that we’d get his full attention before speaking to him – so he hears all. The wife did this, but she was meaning later... which as you can imagine, wasn’t uber-helpful to him.
We did a survey a few years back where I asked men what they thought of the phrase, “We need to talk,” and the response was crazy negative.
“What did I do now?”
“Uh OH WHAT NOW?”
Those were the most common responses.
So communicating in a way that doesn’t cause dread might be respectful, right? Especially if it’s not going to happen right away.
But what was also interesting, was the MANY responses that said something to the effect of either, “She never says that,” or, “I wouldn’t think anything other than she wanted to talk with me.”
I think those men and women have an atmosphere of mutual respect in their homes – there’s no way for me to test that hypothesis, but you do see an absence of negative ascription, which is indicative of critical and defensive relationships, two of Dr. John Gottman’s “horsemen of the Apocalypse,” leading to the demise of the marriage.
So I also checked Google, and here’s what it said:
When the Bible tells us to respect our husband, it means to treat him as though you had deep admiration for him, that you hold him in high esteem, that you have a high opinion of him.
The opposite would be ascribing negative motives to him… to say, “you never,” or “he always…”
Simply put, respect is thinking the best about someone, instead of the worst, and the behaviors that follow suit.
So, keeping that in mind, here are my “Top 5 Ways to Respect Your Husband” for today:
- Pay attention when he is speaking – listen well. Ask questions, make eye contact. While we’re at it, don’t interrupt. Men view interruption as a power play – an attempt to take control and dominate in conversation.
- Ask his advice about things – we do this with people we admire, right? Ask his advice, then do #1.
- Point out what he is doing right – when he is doing it. Thank him for the work he does professionally and around the house. This lets him know he’s appreciated and you notice him.
- To quote Dale Carnegie, “Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.” Criticism is judgment. Sin. Condemnation is blaming and fault-finding and ascribing motives. Also sin. Complaining? Also sin. Need verses for all these? Google them or let me know – I assure you, there’s a ton in the Bible about these three.
- Don’t gossip about him to others. Getting advice from a wise friend is one thing, but “venting” is gossip unless your intention is to get advice – and it better be from someone who is WISE, otherwise you are sinning. So speak well of him to others.
I love Philippians 4:8, which reads,
8 Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. AMP
One more BIG thing: if you do not respect yourself, your respect for others is worth NOTHING. So if you demean yourself or allow others to do so, or react defensively to them when they do, your respect means little to nothing to them.
If we focused on the strengths of those around us, we’d spend less time miserable and more time joyful.
What I’ve found interesting in my walk with God is this… The more I come to know and love Jesus Christ, the more compassionately I see my husband. Here’s why: I know how my Father sees him.
If you had a house guest, maybe even a complete stranger to you, but was a dear, close, really important person to your best friend, or your parents (assuming you had a good relationship with them), you’d treat this person with respect. Regardless of his or her behavior, you’d be kind, considerate, compassionate, etc., right? So get this – the more you know Jesus Christ, the more you know how He cares for your husband. And the more you know Him, the more of Him that is in YOU. 🙂 So you can deal with things that you wouldn’t otherwise.
You’d give the benefit of the doubt more often.
Over the years, I’ve had the great privilege of working with a ton of people I respect and admire. CEO’s of large companies, pastors, etc. What’s cool is that in public speaking training, you do things that are uncomfortable for the class members. They don’t grow if you don’t. When I get the privilege of taking a riding lesson, my trainer challenges me – to the point that I’ve actually cried. Not kidding. Thought about wanting to quit.
Sometimes marriage is like that.
Sometimes God pushes us outside our comfort zones, don’t you think?
The verse for Daughters of Sarah (our course for wives) and The Respect Dare: 40 days to a deeper relationship with God & your husband (Nelson 2012), is 1 Peter 3:6…
6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham [following him and having regard for him as head of their house], calling him lord. And you have become her daughters if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear [that is, being respectful toward your husband but not giving in to intimidation, nor allowing yourself to be led into sin, nor to be harmed].
In our ministry work, I deal with wives who are at various points in their journey. But they are brave, doing their best to do what is right. Sometimes that looks like…
- Choosing rest instead of making others happy – especially when run down
- Giving the benefit of the doubt, even though she “thinks she knows” what his motives are
- Treating him like Christ would, with truth and grace, kindly, gently
- Apologizing when wrong – and we need to pay attention – we’re often wrong – as is he, but we aren’t responsible for his behavior
- Having boundaries that prevent her from giving in to intimidation or being harmed
- Having boundaries that keep her from following him into sin
- Giving him adoration and honor when she’s starving for it
- Being concerned about him, even if he isn’t concerned about her
- Confronting (gently) his sin against her – and the greatest of these is often unlovingly behavior, not porn, not an affair, not addiction, like too many will tell you
Some of these acts of courage are difficult. Painful. Nearly impossible.
But the more we know Jesus, the more we SEE the way He does.
Dare you to think deeply about respect today. Do a little check-in with yourself and where you are at with GOD. Not with your husband, but the Lord. Because at the core of all of our marriage issues in Christian marriages is usually this: selfishness instead of worshiping the King.
Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments! 🙂 (and if you liked the article today, consider yourself invited to join us by signing up in the sidebar for the marriage tips articles – don’t worry, I won’t flood your email, and I promise not to share it with anyone else)
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Here’s a few more posts you might find useful:
Struggling with Life Balance? (aka, “How’d we get in THIS mess?”) *If you are chauffeuring kids everywhere all the times, you’ll want to check this out!
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Love to you,