This blog will be most relatable for wives who tend to be strong willed/in charge whose husbands are passive.
If your husband is controlling or you are more passive – many things I talk about will still apply (God’s Word always applies)- but you may have to approach some of the practical issues from a different angle. This blog may not be as helpful for you. It is possible to be TOO respectful/TOO submissive. If your husband is actually extremely controlling or abusive, some wives seem to over correct in a dangerous way in the wrong direction when they read about respect. Please seek godly help ASAP and be sure you are safe!
I only write for wives – I don’t write for husbands. A husband cannot force his wife to respect him and submit to him. She must do this willingly and voluntarily out of her love and respect and obedience to Christ. (Here is a balanced view of husbands and wives responsibilities.)
Just like wives need primarily need love, husbands primarily need respect. (Although husbands and wives both need to give and receive love and respect in a healthy marriage.) God’s design for marriage is laid out here in Ephesians 5, and His purpose goes WAY beyond the scope of the health of our individual marriages – although if we follow His design, we will have much healthier marriages. God’s highest purpose in marriage is to showcase the intimate relationship between Christ and His people. We are acting out a living parable where husbands represent Christ and wives represent the church to bring glory to God and to help our children and others around us grasp what God is like in a more concrete way.
Ephesians 5:22-33 = God’s design for marriage
When a man feels disrespected, he feels unloved!
Every man has his own list of what feels disrespectful and respectful to him. Some things are almost universally one way or the other to almost all men. Some things are particular to your husband. So – what matters most is what is respectful and disrespectful to YOUR man. That’s why it is important to ask him about his preferences and what bothers him and what speaks respect to him. When things are not tense – you could ask him about some of the things on this list and get his take on the different items (if he is open to this idea). You’ll need to custom-tailor your respect to your husband! Ultimately, we are really seeking to please Christ, not our husbands. He is our final Judge and Audience.
Ladies – we have so much power to destroy our husbands or to build them up. How I pray God will convict us and open our eyes and that we might learn to be respectful, cooperative wives who value our husbands’ leadership and who honor Christ with every thought, attitude, word and action!
SUMMARY OF WHAT IS DISRESPECTFUL TO MEN (FOR MORE DETAIL, PLEASE READ BELOW). Keep in mind that even barely hinting at these things can often feel VERY disrespectful to men :
- implying he is not intelligent/capable/competent
- implying he is not enough for you sexually
- implying he is not providing enough for you financially
- implying that you are superior to him morally/spiritually
- displaying contempt for who he is as a man – not accepting him as he is (I am not saying you must respect sin, but that you respect him as a person and as your husband)
- telling him what to do/bossing him
- taking control of the marriage/family and not allowing him to fulfill his God-given leadership position
- making fun of him, putting him down, criticizing him, belittling him especially to others
- body language that communicates contempt/hatred/judgment
- implying that you respect another man more than you respect him
- implying he is not a good father
- undermining his authority as a father
Some husbands, like mine, feel stressed if their wives try “too hard” to be good wives and would really just like their wives to relax and enjoy life more. For more about husbands for whom “less is more” when it comes to respect, please read here.
A wife shares what she has learned about what makes her husband feel respected here.
The only way we can be godly wives is to be filled with God’s Spirit and to allow Him to radically transform us to be more and more like Christ.
Here are some things that feel disrespectful to many husbands – thanks to the husbands who contributed to this list (Each man has his own list – what matters most is what your husband thinks and allowing God to transform you to be the wife He desires you to be):
- asking him to do something, then doing it myself before he has a chance
- body language – especially frowning while you talk
- lack of attention/appreciation
- too much help
- not really listening
- asking “Why…?” when paired with “Why would you do it like that?” and rolling the eyes.. or “Why would you go that way when it’s easier to go this way?”
- Asking a question starting with WHY is automatically saying, “What you did is wrong and it should be done like this! How can you not see that?”
- always putting herself first and having the family fit into her plans/schedule
- second guessing/lack of confidence
- being too busy to spend time with him
- speaking negatively of him to others or in front of others
- answering for him
- telling him what to do
- undermining his authority as a father – telling the children they don’t have to do what he asked them to do
- disagreeing with his parenting in front of the children
- insinuating – even slightly – that he doesn’t make enough money to satisfy you
- not accepting his answer – continuing to question him
- Automatically assuming we were going to call someone for a repair. Let me decide and let me handle it.
- Telling me to go speak to someone or tell someone goodbye at a social function.
- Asking “Are you sure? ” after I have already given a confident “yes” to “Do you know what you are doing?” (Peacefulwife here – Probably best not to say, “Do you know what you are doing?” ladies!)
- withholding sex from him out of spite or manipulation
- cussing/yelling/name calling
- Lack of acknowledgement of hard work/providing for the family
- Failure to say “You’re a good dad.”
- Speaking poorly about me, even in a “joking” way to others
- Correcting me when I am telling stories
- Making light of something that I think is important
- “The look.” It may vary from woman to woman, but you all have one. Used whenever you disapprove of whatever just happened, whatever was just said, or whatever idea the husband just floated. May be followed by verbal elaboration of the disapproval, but 100% effective without the elaboration. The longer the marriage, the less need for any verbal elaboration. It’s funny to talk about for everyone but the husband who receives it. Believe it or not, it’s soul-crushing — at least when it’s a frequent occurrence.
- Refusing, avoiding, or qualifying your apology when the husband calls you on any of these disrespectful behaviors. It doesn’t take very many times of hearing “I’m sorry I said that in front of the kids, but you [reiteration of the original complaint/criticism and/or addition of another].”
- Keeping “your” finances separate from the “family’s” finances.
- Blaming your husband for economic circumstances beyond his control — loss of a job, difficulty finding a job, diminished cash flow because customers are slow in paying, etc. NOTE: Complaining about the circumstances or wishing out loud for different circumstances feels like blame to your husband. Find a way to commiserate with him about the circumstances without complaining about them.
- Giving him your input (which he solicited) for an important decision — choice of a church, choice of a house, etc. — and then rejecting all the choices he comes up with, even if they meet all your stated criteria and nothing else does.
- If marriage counseling is necessary, communicating (or simply believing, which will be communicated one way or another) that he is the problem.
- Live in fear because you can’t trust God to take care of you through your husband or, if necessary, in spite of your husband.
- Attach catastrophic significance to every personal and parenting choice out of fear that if you and your husband do not “measure up,” God will punish you, including by allowing your children to become prodigals.
- Generally treat sex with him as a chore or an imposition.
- Joking with another woman at my expense in front of me.
- Making me feel that I’m less of man because I don’t look as attractive as I did years ago.
- Making comments about my lack of ability to remember.
- Doubting what I say until it’s affirmed by someone else.
- Thinking that I’m not smart enough to know when she’s lying to me.
- Treating me like I’m a child, and can’t take care of myself.
- Taking credit for things I did.
- Changing the channel when I’m watching something.
- Ordering me around like I’m her personal assistant.