What is Unconditional Respect?

At the Respected Husband blog, I went through and wrote several posts based on topics covered in For Men Only by Jeff Feldhahn. For a little background, the Peacefulwife had asked me about purchasing For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn. If you know me, I am a flea market junkie and when it comes to purchasing books, Amazon is a lot like a flea market for books. So as I started studying all of the possibilities for purchasing the book, I had choices for new, used, paperback, hardback, kindle, and audio recording. The Peacefulwife likes to write all over the sides of all of her books and underline and star all of the important stuff, so I needed to get one with real paper. As I was going through the choices, I noticed that the Feldhahn’s also had a title called For Couples Only for only $4 more that was a boxed set that included both the For Women Only and For Men Only. I didn’t know if I would be that interested in reading For Men Only or not, but that seemed like a deal to me and I could probably buy some street cred with the Peacefulwife by ordering it.


Once the books came in, she went to town on it and knocked it out in a couple of days. So, the natural thing for her to do was to take For Men Only and read through it. I obviously had not started to think about getting around to reading the book at this point, but the Peacefulwife told me a few days later, “Oh yeah, by the way, I read For Men Only and I decided to tell you exactly how each part relates to me and how I think about each section. I wrote down my thoughts in the margins and where I underlined.” I read it sometime shortly after that and having the Peacefulwife’s thoughts there as I was reading was extremely helpful. It was also very helpful when I decided to do the series on it in the Respected Husband Blog. To be able to say what she was thinking on any of the points I covered made it very easy and personal. So, I thought it might be a good idea for me to go through For Women Only and give you some of my thoughts along the way.

If you aren’t familiar with For Women Only, the basic premise of the book is that Shaunti Feldhahn was writing a Christian fiction book and wanted to get some real insight into the way men and women think so she conducted a lot of surveys of groups where she spoke and traveled. She used the findings of the survey to help her write her book and it didn’t turn out to be a big seller. She then started going over some of the findings she had discovered in the surveys and people were fascinated. She collected this information and put it all together in this book which has been a huge seller. We are going to start out with a fair bit of discussion on Respect.


Shaunti uses an example of going to a Relationship Retreat shortly after college and the leader split the men and women on different sides of the room. The leader then asked the question “Would you rather feel alone and unloved in the world or would you rather feel inadequate and disrespected by everyone?” Shaunti thought that this wasn’t really a choice, “Who would ever choose to feel unloved?” The leader then turned to the men and said “Who here would rather feel alone and unloved?” To Shaunti’s astonishment a large majority of the men raised their hands. This is when it first occurred to her that respect and affirmation is so important to men that they would rather feel unloved than disrespected or inadequate. This was one of the actual questions that Shaunti used on her survey. She later found out that many men had a hard time answering this particular question because they felt the choices were basically the same.

The basic truth here is that if a man doesn’t feel respected he cannot feel loved. Your husband needs to know that he is respected for who he is by you to be able to accept your love. Guys aren’t big on words and they aren’t big on expressing their feelings and this can be really frustrating to women. Showing a lack of respect can be things that you do not intend at all. It can even be gestures that you think are helping. In fact, the “helping” is often times what is the disrespectful part. It often comes across as “I do not feel that you are adequate enough to accomplish the goal” or “you aren’t doing it the right way so I will just do it myself.”


Let’s look at how a man handles being disrespected. He is probably going to handle being disrespected by getting angry. He isn’t going to say “You are disrespecting me!” during a conflict. He will just shut down and has a hard time expressing his feelings. You can pretty well assume that a man is feeling disrespected if he is angry. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs has stated that, “In a relationship conflict, crying is often a woman’s response to feeling unloved, and anger is often a man’s response to feeling disrespected.”


Every woman would like to be loved unconditionally by their man. If a man could learn to pour out a little more love when their wife was particularly unlovable he could take care of a lot of his wife’s emotional needs.

A man on the other hand needs his wife to give him unconditional respect. Unconditional respect means that you are able to accept a man for who he is and keep that separate from what he does. That is a pretty hard-to-understand definition. A wife can show her husband unconditional respect in three ways: believing in him, liking him, and trusting him. If a man’s wife gives him confidence in those three things he will serve his wife with his all.


The Bible is pretty clear in Ephesians 5 when love and respect is explained: A husband is told to love his wife and a wife is told to respect her husband. The passage does not mix the two roles to say that the husband should respect his wife or the wife should love her husband.

It is important to understand that the husband feels respected by feeling that his wife chooses to trust and honor him. He will put out his best effort to meet his wife’s needs above his own when he feels this.


Respect is a choice. A wife chooses whether or not to demonstrate respect to her husband. Likewise, men can choose to demonstrate love toward his wife. Respect is something a man needs to feel. This is very much how a woman feels when she doesn’t hear her husband tell her he loves her. It is not that a wife doesn’t respect her husband or that he doesn’t love his wife as much as they need to be able to feel it.

When the Peacefulwife first started learning about Love and Respect, she would often say that she never considered that she really was not submitting to me. When she read the verses in Ephesians 5, she would say, “Yep.  I’m sure I do that.”and check the box.

Now would be a good time for you to consider how you are doing with God’s design for your role as a wife. It is very easy for a wife to take control of the home and family, but are you following God’s design or have you made him and your husband very small? For me, it was very easy to let the Peacefulwife have control, she did a good job most of the time and it was then her responsibility. Respect is a choice. How are you doing?

In the next post, we will explore what ways a wife can help meet her husband’s needs for respect.

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24 Comments on “What is Unconditional Respect?”

  1. Sis
    April 17, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Respect is confusing, does it mean don’t argue? listen to him? have sex with him? praise him? don’t boss him around maybe. Very vague word.

    • peacefulwife
      April 18, 2012 at 6:46 am #

      Awesome question!! And it can mean some or all of those things to some guys.

      When I (Peacefulwife) first realized that I had NOT been coming across respectfully to the Respected Husband – I was completely floored. It was as if there was a whole new language, mindset and worldview I had to learn and I was clueless. I had been doing so many things that spoke disrespect to my husband without my even being aware of it. That is one of the reasons I started this blog. I write A LOT about what respect is to men and how to begin really showing it to them in a way that speaks to the deepest needs of their masculine souls.
      Honestly, it took me a good year or more of researching and studying books about biblical respect and submissiono as well as asking my own husband hundreds of questions (over time) to feel like I began to understand what respect meant to him and how to properly show it in our marriage.
      I have a lot of articles about respect here. And the books that really helped me were “Love and Respect” by Dr. Eggerichs, “The Surrendered Wife” by Laura Doyle (not Christian but VERY practical – kind of a Rosetta Stone for learning about respect, true femininity and how to change my controlling, dominating mindset), “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn (VERY helpful to let me really get inside the mind of many men and better understand their mindset and way of looking at the world and how vastly different it is from my own!), “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger also helped me understand respect and a husband’s unique perspective much better.
      I’ll repost one of my original articles on respect today for you. But you can also look under the categories of “respect” and “respecting your husband.”
      Great question!!!

  2. stephenedwards425
    April 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Thank you for this post and a like on my blog. I’ll be back to comment some more…pressed for time…and I’m sure you know how that is.

    Be encouraged!

  3. waterthecamels
    April 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    It is easy to think respect means simply not saying something mean, hurtful or disrespectful… There is so much more to it than the above. Thank you for the challenge to evaluate every aspect of my life and interaction with my husband!!!

    • peacefulwife
      April 22, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

      There was a time that I thought my husband just wanted me to smile and never talk. I thought that might be what respect meant – and I knew I couldn’t do that!
      It has been such a wonderful experience to learn about respect and apply it and to see all that God can do when I obey Him and honor my husband! I pray for God’s great blessings on your marriage, too!

      • waterthecamels
        April 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

        I appreciate your words of wisdom and your prayers of blessing!

  4. Bird
    April 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    I’m kind of floored by this. I wrote something similar on my site today, though not specifically about respecting my husband, but about how I’m in a world of crap because of my need to control everything in my husband’s life. I kind of feel like God just threw me a bone with this article. Thanks!

    • peacefulwife
      April 24, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      Isn’t it amazing how specifically God speaks to us right when we need it? LOVE THAT!!!!! You may want to check out my article on the Idol of Control. I was a control freak and a dominant wife until 3.5 years ago and my husband was very passive. That did NOT work!!!! I was overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and very lonely. God changed all that when I began seeking to obey His Word about respecting my husband and following his leadership! Lord, I lift up Bird’s marriage to You! Show her the light for each baby step on Your path. empower her to learn Your ways that are so much higher than our own! Let her become the woman of Your dreams! Let her respect, admiration, praise and encouragement emerged her husband to become the man of Your dreams, too! Make their marriage a glorious example of the mystery of Christ and the church and let them shine brightly for You!

  5. Bird
    April 24, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Amen! I will go read it. Unlike your situation, my husband has his own mental issues from trauma in the Vietnam war, and mine is from child abuse. Still, it seemed like we had carved out this balance in our relationship these last 21 years, with different areas of control… I’m more passive aggressive and he’s loud and blunt and straightforward. I was surprised to see just how much I was in control until all this stuff started happening. I guess because he was so outwardly aggressive and masculine, that I was convinced he was the leader of our home. Instead, I’d just gotten good at letting him think that he was leading us, when in reality, I’d been manipulating him all along. I hate to admit it, but there it is… Embarrassing.
    Well, I am going to study this respect thing. I think that I wrongfully assumed that respect was just letting him feel like the boss, or telling him how awesome he was. It never occurred to me that I’d never even looked up the definition for respect…Thank you so much for this..It at least gives me a direction to head in while I wait for this to all be over… :-)

    • peacefulwife
      April 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

      You definitely hae some factors that complicate things from a human perspective. I spent a year and a half studying respect and also biblical submission. It took me that long before I began to feel like I had a clue! At first, my husband didn’t even know what felt repectful or disrespectful to him. Our culture is SOOO lacking in respect that many of us don’t even know what it is anymore! I focused completely on what I needed to do in the marriage and left my husband’s side up to him and God.
      I needed a lot of very concrete examples of respect and disrespect because I was so totally clueless. Then I was able to ask my husband about different things to see if that spoke respect to him or not. Sometimes it would take him days to decide if something was respectful or not. I was patient for the first time ever. I just waited. If he didn’t lead, I just stayed still instead of running ahead with my own plan. I know God will show you each step of the way. And this topic could keep you busy for awhile! When i felt lonely, I would read about respect and try to absorb everything i could and understanding my husband a little better always made me feel closer to him. Not everything you read will apply to you or to him, but many things will! I pray for a more intimate walk with God for you right now than ever! I pray for Satan to be banished from your home and marriage and for God’s power to be free to work full strength in both of you!
      I am sure there will be pride, bitterness, anger, resentment, unforgiveness and a host of issues for yu today with on your end if you are at all like me!!
      You are going to a beautiful place with God… Sometimes the most scenic view requires a rocky and difficult climb to get there!

      With the love of Jesus, dear sister,

  6. Bird
    April 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    Thank you so much for your counsel, April. I have survived a lot in my life..I will survive this, too, and frankly Chef is worth it. Even with the myriad of garbage marching through my home right now, he is still my favorite human being. And I am dealing with all those bitter emotions that pop up the second they try to take up residence in my heart..I repent, and then I uproot those seeds immediately. I have, periodically, tattled on Chef to God, but I think God understands …

    I lose my cookies occasionally from the pure stress of this trial, but I’m determined to be obedient to the Lord, and I will trust Him…He has a good track record with me.

    And I know what is going on here spiritually, and Chef wasn’t dressed for the occasion..lol. He doesn’t understand putting on the armor of God, and he certainly is having a hard time fighting something he can’t see and only vaguely understands. But he’ll get it..He has the best Teacher involved in his training right now.

    Thank you again for your prayers and encouragement!

    — Bird

    • peacefulwife
      April 26, 2012 at 11:32 am #

      I really love your perspective and your beautiful faith! And I love your example of standing by your man. Be encouraged and strengthened today by God’s power, dear sister!!!!! I can see Him working in you and your hubby!

      • Bird
        April 26, 2012 at 11:38 am #

        I blew it again yesterday morning…I don’t know why I can’t just keep my big mouth closed sometimes!! Anyways, it all blew up and I had to go running back to God again. I ended up reading Job 38 and it settled my spirit down immensely. The peace of it all is still with me this morning, and I even noticed a difference in Chef as well..Thank God He is in control and not me!! I bite at this!! Thanks for the encouragement!!

  7. I Do. Me 2.
    April 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    This will be a great topic for discussion. I mentioned one of the statements regarding the choice of respect vs. love and was surprised by my daughter’s take on this issue. Thank you for this! DrMJ

  8. houseoflisa
    April 27, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    Respect and Love are each two-way streets. Flawed as we all are, we tend to want to receive both and actually expect to without noticing if we are giving both equally. What is most important is to strive to love AND respect EACH OTHER. This message seems intended but does not clearly come across in this post. However, I completely agree that men are oftentimes not shown as much respect these days as they very much deserve. Perhaps as women the greatest respect we can show is to acknowledge the things our men do for us on a daily basis. They will, hopefully, do the same in return and peace may finally be observed ina married home. :-)

    • peacefulwife
      April 27, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      I do wholeheartedly agree that men also do need love, although possibly not as desperately as they need respect and that women need respect, but if they had to choose only one most women would choose love. The thing is, women are made to love. Most husbands know their wives love them. Women give love and want love and can easily be blind to a man’s need for respect. Men live and operate primarily in the realm of respect, and can be blind to a woman’s needs for love. Men give respect and expect to receive respect. The problem is that many times what would be the respectful thing to do for a guy feels unloving to a wife. And what would be the loving thing to do for a woman can feel disrespectful to a husband. We both have to learn to give not only what we know well, but also what does not come naturally to us. Great comment! Thanks for bringing it up!

  9. Kirsten
    April 28, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    I love Shauntis book For Women Only. Another good read is Make It Amazing by Scott Drummond. It’s on Amazon. Great blog!

    • peacefulwife
      April 29, 2012 at 6:47 am #

      Thanks for the additional resource! I’ll definitely check it out!

  10. Liz Cowen Furman
    May 1, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    I think I need to read this article every morning, I read those books a long time ago. May be time to pull them out again. Thanks!

    • respectedhusband
      May 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      Thanks, Liz. It is a topic that isn’t often discussed, but worth everyone’s time to see if they can apply it to their marriage. You might also like Respected Husband: When She Surrendered, Respected Husband: It Started in a Coffee Shop, or Like Nails on a Blackboard. Thanks for visiting.

  11. Heather B
    June 14, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    Thank you for what you have to say about unconditional respect. It’s a tough topic and tough to live out, but so important. I just finished reading a brand new book by Erin, Greg and Gary Smalley called “The Wholehearted Wife: 10 Keys to a More Loving Relationship.” They emphasize one of the greatest influences on our marriages is working on our own attitude and commitment, which goes right along with what you’re saying. I love this quote from the book about honoring, “Honoring what we deeply value and cherish is one of the most vital principles in marriage.” I highly recommend this book. It’s inspirational and affirming. http://www.tyndale.com/The-Wholehearted-Wife/9781624051463#.U50Tx14Q7wJ

    • peacefulwife
      June 15, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

      Thank you so much for sharing!!’ :)

  12. HappyWife
    January 6, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    Read this again today – and I think the section: “Unconditional respect means that you are able to accept a man for who he is and keep that separate from what he does. That is a pretty hard-to-understand definition. A wife can show her husband unconditional respect in three ways: believing in him, liking him, and trusting him…” is so powerful an should be given to every young woman pursuing marriage – even before they meet the man!! It should be stapled to our mirrors so we soak it in daily before walking down any aisle! I don’t think its natural to think like that and women make so many weird and crazy mistakes – not because we are mean or bad but because we are confused! Because we are taught only to love – mainly because we learn from our mothers and the TV lololol. We don’t get it – thank God for people like you and April who share the truth and help our journeys.

    Separating a person for who he is and keeping that separate from WHAT he does -Wow!

    It is so much the way God loves us – separating us for who we are and loving us on that basis rather than on the basis of what we do, which always falls short of His glory. My pastor this weekend said “God is faithful even when we are faith-less” – so powerful. It helps me to see that if that’s how God loves me where He pursues me inspite of myself and my deeds I can learn to love that way too.

    Thanks to you both for what you do through your blogs!

    • Peacefulwife
      January 7, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

      You are most welcome, HappyWife! Much love to you, my beautiful sister!

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