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, reading my blog may cause you to try to over correct in a dangerous way in the wrong direction. 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.
Just like wives need love, husbands need respect. 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 for best results!
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
Here are some things that feel disrespectful to many husbands – thanks to the husbands who contributed to this list:
- 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 – too into your tv show to listen to him
- speaking negatively of him to others or in front of others
- body language – arms crossed, a look of condemnation
- 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
- putting him down to other people
- Being irrationally afraid, as if I can’t protect her from a spider in the next room. A lion? I understand, but I have a gun for that
- Being critical of my driving (actual safe driving with mounds of proof)
- Automatically assuming we were going to call someone for a repair. Let me decide and let me handle it.
- Asking me if i remembered to pack something.
- 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!)
- In short, only question me once, especially if its something you know no nothing about.
- withholding sex from him out of spite or manipulation
- cussing/yelling/name calling
- Arguing with me when I make a family decision
- Remaining silent in front of the children rather than supporting me when a discipline decision is made
- Lack of acknowledgement of hard work/providing for the family
- Failure to say “You’re a good dad.”
- Failure to say thank you in general
- Failure to support a decision I’ve made in my absence
- Speaking poorly about me, even in a “joking” way to others
- Correcting me when I am telling stories
- Making light of or “poo-pooing” 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.
- Obviously, the eye-roll, the sigh, the huff, the pursed lips, the crossed arms, the tapping foot, the hands thrown in the air, etc. These are all distinct from “the look.”
- The comment to the kids that’s actually directed at dad, frequently while leaving the room with the child after getting dad’s input and not being satisfied with it.
- Any disagreement with or disapproval of the dad in front of the kids is exponentially more crushing (and, probably for most men, infuriating — anger being the emotion that immediately follows hurt).
- 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].” Why seek an apology if it’s only going to net another insult?
- 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.
- Holding a grudge against your husband for economic circumstances that were within his control but turned out differently than he expected.
- Complaining about an offense that he committed, usually unintentionally, and then not letting him fix it, or even attempt to.
- 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. Bonus points for holding a grudge if he goes ahead and picks one of those choices, whether it works out ok or not.
- Remaining silent when one of the kids complains that dad won’t listen or doesn’t care, rather than actively attempting to defend dad, when dad has in fact tried to take the child’s wants/needs into account but has made a decision that the child doesn’t like.
- Expecting your husband to meet your need for security in a way that requires perfection or omniscience. Of course he shouldn’t knowingly do things that undermine your security, but the reality is that his ability to keep or make you secure is very limited.
- Implicitly or explicitly letting him know that, once your early days of poverty are behind you (those days when you told him that as long as you had each other, you had enough), you are going to be very unhappy about any prospect of being back there again, for whatever reason.
- If marriage counseling is necessary, communicating (or simply believing, which will be communicated one way or another) that he is the problem. Bonus points for firing the counselor (or simply not going back) if the counselor puts too much pressure on you to change something. TEST: What would your reaction be if your husband fired a counselor or refused to go back because the counselor was putting too much pressure on him?
- When your disrespect for your husband has become too manifest to ignore, and your husband makes the rather obvious deduction that perhaps it’s time for the two of you to seek outside advice in a particular area (from a pastor, marriage counselor, financial counselor, etc.), reject the outside advice if it is in line with what your husband was doing or recommending. Put him in a can’t win situation so that there’s no authority you’ll submit to and there’s no one whose endorsement of your husband will have any meaning to you.
- If there are theological non-essentials on which you disagree (Calvinism vs. Arminianism (or just 4-point Calvinism vs. 5-point Calvinism), mode of baptism, music, determining the will of God in a decision, etc.), behave as if his view is dangerous.
- Insist that your standards for acceptable family entertainment be the governing standards, and let it be known every time your husband’s choices stray from your standards. Bonus points if you can criticize him, preferably in front of the kids, when a protective measure he has attempted to use (a language filter, fast forwarding, etc.) isn’t 100% effective at eliminating the content he was trying to avoid.
- 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. [Bonus points if you can, with a straight face, agree that God doesn't behave that way but arrive at the same level of fear anyway because "actions have consequences."]
- When put on the spot to compliment your husband on something, focus on his skill at his job and not anything about his performance as a husband or father.
- Write him flowery compliments four times a year (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, and his birthday) and then live the rest of the year as described above. It will take him years to figure out that you didn’t really mean any of those nice things you wrote — at least not when times get tough.
- Generally treat sex with him as a chore or an imposition (when you’re not ignoring it altogether). Bonus points if you can occasionally (twice a year may be sufficient) behave as if you actually want to have sex with him. You’ll have him thoroughly confused pretty much right up until the time you ambush him with the divorce.
- Deriding me in public.
- 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.
- Taping notes to the refrigerator or cabinet telling me what to do, and how to do it.
- Taking credit for things I did.
- Changing the channel when I’m watching something.
- Ordering me around like I’m her personal assistant.
- Griping me out when I get something wrong that she should have done herself.