These are some of my observations. I wish I had large scale statistics and all the resources of Shaunti Feldhahn – but I don’t!
This is a process for wives and it is a process for our husbands, as well.
- Forgiveness (if their wife repents to them) – most husbands are very forgiving, obviously some may not be eighth away
- Sometimes a husband will literally cry because for the first time, maybe, in his marriage, he feels understood and sees his feelings being validated.
- Some husbands will say nothing and act completely un-phased and seem to be totally unaffected – but they are watching VERY closely every moment to see what on earth is going on, praying that this will be a permanent change
- Sometimes a husband will react in anger because he has felt so misunderstood for so long and now he finally feels heard and he has a lot of pent up emotion to express
THE BEGINNING STAGES
- Sometimes there is a “honeymoon period” where things are AMAZING right away – but then if/when a wife messes up, her husband gets upset and thinks “she didn’t really change” and things sometimes get difficult again. The closer a husband is to God, the more grace, forgiveness and mercy he will have for his wife as she struggles to learn this new language.
- Skepticism – he wonders if this is some kind of temporary fad or what his wife’s motives are and “How is she trying to control me now?” He may completely refuse to cooperate or respond to the positive changes in her just to test her. The more deeply wounded a man is, the longer he has been feeling disrespected, the more severe the situation, the longer the skepticism last, generally.
- FEAR – BIG TIME FEAR. Most men hate change, even if it is good change. Many men are afraid of trying to lead, thinking they will just get shot down. If a man is used to being passive, he may not willingly want to take the reigns. (keep in mind that the farther your husband is from God, the LESS you will want to use words about what you are doing, that will probably make things worse for him. He wants to see REAL changes, not words.)
- Expression that he doesn’t want to lead and he wants things to stay the way they were – even if he was miserable. Why? Check out this post
- Frustration that his wife stumbles and can’t just always be perfect at respect. Some husbands get VERY angry about this. They don’t have any idea all that is involved in a wife learning to stop disrespect and control and how completely foreign respect and biblical submission is to our sinful nature, the examples we may have seen, and our culture. They don’t know that this goes down to the depths of a wife’s understanding of God, herself, masculinity, femininity, marriage and her faith in Christ. It is a total renovation of her heart, mind and soul. They think, “Why can’t she just respect me? Why can’t she just trust me?” It seems like it should be very easy to a man for his wife to flip a switch and respect him. But there is SO MUCH MORE TO IT than that.
- A very cautious watching and waiting (for many months or more). Many times, the husband is very quiet about what he thinks and feels during this time. That does not mean that “respect isn’t working” on him. He is paying careful attention. He just wants to be sure this is for real before he buys into it.
- Sometimes husbands will try to engage their wives in the old “dance” (as Laura Doyle calls it in The Surrendered Wife) and try to get her to take over, disrespect and control him again. Why? Because it is familiar. AND because if his wife is sinning against him, he can blame her for all the problems. But when his wife doesn’t sin against him, he has to come face to face with his own sin.
- CONFUSION – sometimes this looks like anger because husbands don’t believe their wives are serious when they say respectful things yet and when their wives trust them. Sometimes they think their wives are being sarcastic at first, but their wives are genuinely being trusting and respectful. Sometimes husbands don’t know what to think. They may not show how baffled they are. Sometimes you will catch them going totally silent or asking, “Did you hear my question right? I don’t think you heard what I said…” when you start to trust them.
- ANGER as God begins to convict them of their own sin. This part can get really bumpy. HANG IN THERE LADIES! Cling to Christ! Keep doing what is right and allow God to work in your husband.
- A gradual softening and relaxation around his wife.
- More smiling.
- New invitations to his wife to do things with him (go hunting, go fishing, ride to the store with him, sit and watch football with him, etc… THIS IS ROMANCE to him! Please accept his invitation and enjoy his company, ladies!)
- A gradual increase in intimacy on every level. Usually much more gradual than any wife would prefer. 🙂
- An increase interest in sexual intimacy (especially if he was not interested before because he was feeling disrespected, but some husbands who were very interested before become even more interested after feeling respected and honored by their wives.)
- A growing confidence in his decisions and leadership ability, a “standing taller” and courage to begin to take initiative and make decisions and say what he wants to do.
- Eventually, a glad acceptance of leadership in the family and marriage.
- An increase in showing love his way for his wife and children.
- A gradual “plugging back in” to the marriage and family as he finds that he is respected, accepted and honored.
- Many husbands eventually take all of their walls down in time (many months or years). Some don’t.
There are some husbands who stay in the cautious waiting and watching stage for decades, it is my understanding. A wife is not responsible for her husband’s response, only for her obedience to God, her sin, her attitudes, her behavior and her life.