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Wives' Number One Fear about Respect and Submission.


Today’s post is by my dear friend and prayer partner, Kayla, from  God has given her such a gift with words and a way of explaining things that is just SO relatable!  I know many of you will be richly blessed.  Thanks for sharing, Kayla!   This post is SO BEAUTIFUL!

I’m going to share with you today what I believe to be the number one fear of women when it comes to “respecting their husband and being submissive.”

There are LOTS of fears and reservations!!
– I’ll be a doormat!
– He doesn’t deserve it!
– I’ll never get what I want!
– I’ll have to pretend to be happy over things I’m not.
– I’ll lose my voice in the marriage.
– He’ll run us into debt!
– He’ll get to do whatever he wants whenever he wants!

Clearly this isn’t an exhaustive list, but you get the idea, and let’s be real… you already know what all your own reservations are or were!

I think at the end of the day though, one fear trumps them all and comes back around AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN – even while putting some new habits and actions in progress.

And this is what it is –

If I respect my husband, he’ll think he’s doing everything perfect and then he’ll never see that he needs to change as well.

Some times we say it in different forms, but it all comes back to the fear that we’re going to change and they aren’t going to mirror the actions.

First of all – what I’m going to say next IS HARD TO ACCEPT! I Love God with my whole heart, but I’m not going to pretend like it just comes easy in this fleshly body to follow scripture …. but the truth is, we don’t respect our husband’s because they deserve it. We respect our husbands because God calls us to do so as a godly wife. When we are surrendered to God’s will, we respect our husband’s out of love and submission to God and God alone – NOT because our husbands deserve it. Because they are sinners too, and they actually don’t deserve it. (But it is a two-way street – no matter how “respectful you usually are” you’re still a sinner too and you don’t automatically deserve the love he’s called to give you as a godly husband.)

Again, let me say, I agree that it isn’t easy to accept that they may not change and they will never magically deserve the respect we are called to give them. Scripture doesn’t paint a picture though for us of an easy life. That EASY part comes when we are reunited with the lover of our souls for all eternity. Heaven will be easy with no more sin or death (or fears, or frustrations, or struggles, or temptations, or wants, or needs, or any of the other limitations we face on earth!)

What I can promise you though with a 100% guarantee, is a closer relationship with the Lord through obedience in submission and respect of your husband, and THAT will give you a new vision.

Once your vision changes…. some of the tough stuff will fade. Even if your husband never changes. God’s power will be at work in you and your changes and fellowship with Him will fulfill some of those crazy needs that you’re so passionately expecting to come from your husband’s actions in a way you never realized was possible.

For the vast majority though…. your husband will change. You have to remember to be VERY patient! When most of us make these changes, they are so vastly different that our husband’s are in shock and don’t know what to do with it.

  • They might throw all kinds of “bait” (talked about in Laura Doyle’s book “The Surrendered Wife”) at you to get you to act like you normally would.
  • They might ignore the changes thinking they aren’t real.
  • They might jump on board and show more love, and then back off if you slip up a bit and wonder if the changes were really here to stay.
  • They might be really hurt and need a lot of time to heal from some of the major wounds of disrespect in the past.
  • They might be stuck thinking that there is no pleasing you, so they aren’t ready to try yet.

Whatever the case may be, KEEP PRESSING ON! For most of us, our changes happened literally OVER NIGHT!! It might have taken months to get everything practiced and in place… but the reality of our sin and the instant change in understanding happened in the snap of a finger. And because of that, we want that to happen to them too. It probably won’t.

Let me give you the two things you’re looking for:

1.) Validation.

He doesn’t deserve your respect. You are doing so much for him and he might not be doing much of anything to meet your needs right now. You’re doing awesome making changes, keep it up!

2.) Hope.

It is VERY unlikely that with time and practice that you won’t see a single change in your marriage. I’ll go so far as to say, unless you are in an abusive situation or your husband is completely immersed in an addictive and habitual sin (which you need to seek IMMEDIATE help) you won’t be able to go more than one full year without seeing SOME change in SOME area! Keep your eyes open, and remember to look for ways that HE is serving you, not necessarily a limited vision or check list of things that you think he HAS to do, or you won’t be happy.

Let me leave you with a thought.

If you have a best friend, and you one day receive a card in the mail that says “You’re so great. I couldn’t have gotten through this last year without your friendship. Thanks for your listening ear and advice. I’m so blessed to call you a friend.”

What will be your reaction? Will you think, “Well, I don’t need to change a thing. In fact, I can back off and stop even doing as much because clearly, I’m perfect and I’m the best friend in the whole world”? Or are you more likely to think, “Aww, that was SO sweet! I’m going to send her a card back or ask if she wants to go shopping this weekend. She’s an awesome friend.” ?

The same goes for our husbands. When we’re affirming areas where they are doing awesome, and giving them respect in areas where they are showing leadership, they aren’t going to think “hmm, I’m practically perfect in every way. I’m not even going to keep doing that stuff, I can just back off and do less.” He’s going to think, “Wow, that was easy to make her happy and that feels good to be respected” and he’ll be inspired to continue to serve and do more to get those loving and respectful reactions out of you!

Practical Application –

Find a friend (or comment to me, I’m happy to chat) if you need some refreshing hope that what you’re doing IS going to make a difference. Some men take longer to heal and be ready to risk taking a chance with the “new you” and that can be trying on your spirit and hard to keep pressing on. It’s OK to lean on a friend for support! That’s why we’re called to walk out life together! JUST MAKE SURE (and this is CRUCIAL!!!!!) that your friend is a respectful wife and submissive to her husband so she can encourage you and give you godly counsel. DO NOT GO TO AN UNSAVED PERSON or someone who opposes submission in marriage for support!

Keep pressing on!

From Peacefulwife:

If you are having questions, concerns, frustrations, let me know. 🙂

Much love to you, my precious sisters in Christ!


My husband says that it’s the fear that he won’t be “good enough” in her eyes.  And if he is already feeling disrespected, he is not going to try to work harder because in his mind, he knows he will just get more rejection and condemnation.

A husband needs to know that it is actually POSSIBLE to please his wife and to impress her and be able to meet her approval.  THEN he will try much more to please her.  But only when he sees that it is safe for him to try and that he has a chance of success.


Every Wife’s Journey is Unique

A Disrespected Husband Shares His Heart

It’s Scary for Husbands to Lead

36 thoughts on “Wives' Number One Fear about Respect and Submission.

  1. Thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts David!! You make some great points!

    The fear of not being in control and not being taken care of is HUGE!!!!!! You are so right!
    However, the reason I place that as a (VERY, VERY) close second is because if our husbands are loving and reciprocating change and meeting needs, then we automatically feel more safe, loved and provided for.

    However, a husband could be making all the best financial decisions, providing every need as we would or even better but if still isn’t loving toward us or meeting deep emotional needs, we’ll still be miserable.

    No one wants to be a doormat. And it’s more scary to feel unloved than anything else. Especially in a marriage.

    I am so glad you shared your story with us because it is a GREAT reminder to us women that apologizing is CRUCIAL for respect and forgiveness in marriage!

  2. The Amplified bible describes these verses more clearly:

    Ephesians 5:33 (AMP)
    33[However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [] [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and ] [that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. [I Pet. 3:2.] ]

    1 Peter 3:2 (AMP)
    2When they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your [] reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him—to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].

    This definitely describes a change of heart, not just fulfilling a list of duties without the right mindset and attitude of heart behind those actions.

  3. I feel like I’m jumping into a hornets nest, but just to share a couple thoughts in my heart after reading through…
    1-God does not treat us as our sins deserve. The definition of sin is missing the mark of Gods perfection, so treating each other (our spouses) as theirs sins deserve is also sin. To not respect because its not earned I believe would fall into this category.

    2-The heart is deceitful. I would equate this to operating based on feelings. Our feelings can very much deceive us. If we do not respect because we either feel disrespected or that someone else is not worthy of respect, well we need to bring truth to that.

    Women often feel their husbands not worthy of respect when they often have treated their husbands in a way that the expectation is so low that husbands may learn to operate in a way to only meet the low bar. If wives would respect, husbands tend to rise up.

    Which came first; the chicken or the egg? Someone has to break the cycle for it all to work…

    1. Emily,
      Thank you so much for sharing! This journey of learning to respect our husbands and submit to them to honor Christ forces us to do A LOT of thinking about these topics!

      I appreciate your insights and agree with your observations myself. My heart was SOOOO deceitful. I was astronomically prideful for so many decades and didn’t even see my disrespect, disobedience and pride. My feelings definitely deceived me. I saw so much sin in my husband and none in myself. But the truth was, I had way more sin than he did. Yet I had set myself up as his judge and I was so quick to condemn. That was a recipe for misery for us.

      Yes – someone definitely has to start meeting the other person’s needs even if they aren’t having their own met in order to break that awful crazy cycle that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs describes!

      Much love!!!

  4. The bible was written in a time when women didn’t even choose their husbands. If they could follow that command to respect their husbands then, how much easier should it be now, when women marry anyone they choose?

    Maybe the years change us and marriages get rough, but I think respect is like love. If you show it, you’ll feel it. A gift to yourself as well as the recipient.

    I’ve had all those worries listed in the article and I was wrong about all of them, happily.

    Great discussions going on 🙂

    1. “The bible was written in a time when women didn’t even choose their husbands. If they could follow that command to respect their husbands then, how much easier should it be now, when women marry anyone they choose?”

      I think that is a large part of the problem – Choice!
      People have far too many options available to them now, and it seems like whenever some women become “bored”, they’re already looking through facebook and eharmony for someone or something else that they think will make them happy.

      It may seem a bit off-topic, but I think that is how every man views the movie “Titanic.” Women think it is romantic how Jack “saved” Rose “in every way that a woman can be saved,” but men just see her use him as a disposable pill to hide the symptoms of her unhappy heart, then drop him into the depths of the ocean. She feels happy and he feels dead. Not too romantic for a guy!

      1. RG,

        You may want to check out the Peacefulwife Blog and Peaceful Single girl blog FB pages this week. We have been talking about how damaging romantic movies, books and love songs are and the false expectations they create and how women make idols out of romance and feeling in love.

  5. Emily C,

    Would you please explain your following comment. All I’ve ever experienced are women with extremely high expectations. What do you mean by “low expectations/low bar”? Thanks!

    “Women often feel their husbands not worthy of respect when they often have treated their husbands in a way that the expectation is so low that husbands may learn to operate in a way to only meet the low bar. If wives would respect, husbands tend to rise up.”


    How would the following comment impact the requirement many women feel they have to marry “someone they respect a lot” vs. choosing to respect who they marry? As a man, I’ve heard many people tell me “The bible says to love who you marry, not marry who you love.” I’m just wondering how this parallel might impact the way women view dating/marriage if they were more focused on respecting who they marry rather than marrying who they respect. Any thoughts would be appreciated! Thanks!

    “The bible was written in a time when women didn’t even choose their husbands. If they could follow that command to respect their husbands then, how much easier should it be now, when women marry anyone they choose?”

    1. RG- thanks for asking. And I think our thoughts actually go together some. Women do have extremely high expectations. But follow the cycle- high expectations=criticism for not meeting them = “she doesn’t think I can do anything right” – he stops trying because he feels nothing he does is good enough and will even meet, much less exceed, those expectations. So he stops trying; and then she believes he’s not capable, responsible, mature, good enough, etc so she treats him that way-like he’s irresponsible, immature etc…she expects little because she believes its all he’s capable of (bar =LOW) and he doesn’t do anything more because why bother.

      What I’ve learned and what I think works is when you can give respect in spite of the “he’s irresponsible and immature”, change your belief and treat him as if he IS responsible etc…then the cycle changes and he starts stepping up and then they start rebuilding each others tanks like a self fulfilling prophesy.

      Does that make sense?

      1. Thanks for answering. Yes, that makes complete sense. I was seeing “expectations” as her “demands” instead of her “anticipations” of his “capabilities”.

  6. Hello all.
    Something that’s been absent from this discussion, as far as I can tell, is the impact a lack of respect can have on children.

    In the home I grew up in, my Christian mother did not only not respect my non-Christian father (he left the church), she was frequently contemptuous of him in front of me and my brother. That really hurt every time she did it. Sometimes all she did was look at him and I knew she was thinking ill of him, like he was a loser or hopeless. The criticism and fights were never ending.

    When I got older, I even got dragged into it when she’d end an argument by declaring that I was exactly like my father and that was why we didn’t get along.

    I’m not saying be phony, but remember how you treat your husband can have a huge impact on your children. Even now, at times it’s hard to imagine my wife or anybody respecting me even though I know my wife does and people around me do.

    Just my thoughts.

    1. I actually do address this topic in a number of posts. A wife’s godly submission and respect teach children how to respect and submit to God-given authority. It is a VERY important part of the picture of our relationship as believers with Christ and our relationship with other human God-given authority – and also, of course, it is to be a godly example of what marriage is supposed to look like.

      I am SO sorry for the experiences you had with your parents. They definitely shape you and can affect you way into adulthood. I pray that God might heal your wounds from childhood and that your wife might be able to show you the respect you hadn’t received earlier in life. Thanks again for sharing.

      I wonder if you might allow me to anonymously use your comments in a post sometime, please?

      1. Hello,

        Feel free to use my comment. Thanks for listening. I have had therapy and have made a lot of progress. My parents no longer live together but are still married and live on the same street even. Of course it’s a complicated situation and there’s lots of history left out, but I don’t think I left out anything that was needed in my comment.

        1. Eric,

          If you want to add more, you are welcome to. But you make a powerful point in the comment you made. I appreciate your willingness to let me share this. I pray that God might use your perspective to help women understand the consequences of their actions on their children. God may use you to spare other children from a similar fate.

        2. Ok – I am going to put the comment on my Peacefulwife Blog FB page today. I may also use it later in a post on the blog, as well. This is such critical information! Thank you! And I welcome your comments any time.

    2. Here is what I added after your quote on FB-
      The wife represents the church in the relationship between the church and Christ. Husbands represent Christ. When a wife disrespects and tries to control her husband, her children learn that this is the way we are to treat God and other God-given authorities.

      The wife teaches by example how to respect Jesus, His Word, His authority, other earthly authorities and how to properly submit and respect.

      This is one huge reason why marriages and society is so messed up today!

      I was SHOCKED. WHen I first started learning to respect and submit to my husband, my daughter was 2 and my son was 7. Within minutes, their whole demeanor towards my husband changed. Their tone of voice immediately began to match my calm, respectful tone. They started using the words I used to talk to their Daddy. IT WAS TERRIFYING how much influence my example had! I talked a lot with them about how I had not been respecting Daddy properly and that God made him to be the leader in the marriage and family and that I was going to stop making all the decisions. They IMMEDIATELY picked up on that and started asking other married couples all kinds of things about why the husband wasn’t being the leader. Yikes!

      How I pray that we will be fully yielded to God so that He might be able to make us the women of His dreams – and He might be able to raise up a GODLY generation.

  7. Fear has been a huge hurdle for me trying to submit to my husband because he has a very controlling interfering mother and so every time i submit to him i fear that he will let her take over as she has done so many times. I had read a love & respect book just prior to our marriage but when i submitted i got treated like a doormat. That caused a lot of pain and so i then acted in rebellion against my husband and things got even worse. After our baby was born we had a separation, long story short he has stopped letting his mother interfere but there has been a lot of damage caused all round and so i still have fear inside but learning to trust the Lord and remember that i am submitting as to the Lord and that makes all the difference when i don’t necessarily ‘feel’ like doing it.

    1. You are welcome to email me if you want to talk about things more! Thank you for sharing your story. It is very difficult when one spouse doesn’t properly leave his/her parents. So painful!!!! I am excited to we what god desires to do in you and your marriage! Much love!

  8. I know this is an older discussion but I have been thinking on this subject from the wider angle of society at large. I think April is correct that the world`s definition of respect would be positive and admiring feelings you have towards someone based on positive responses and performance from them. That is the human kind of respect.

    But the kind of respect the bible asks for is reverence, linked to that word quoted by JD, phobitai which means fear. Its a different kind of fear than the slavish, drooling cowering fear we usually associate with that word. While psychiatry and psychology have used that word in modern times to describe unreasonable, rabid fear, such as when someone is afraid of heights or open spaces, in the bible it means nothing of the sort. It has to do with the fear of God. The reverence we are commanded to have towards our husband is actually based on our reverence for God. We don`t reverence him AS God, that would be idolatry. But we do reverence him because of God, because he is made in the image of God. And the interesting connection I see between that and society has to do with the loss of that knowledge, that we are all made in the image of God. As the awareness of God and our being made in His image has waned in our society, the devaluation of human beings and the toleration of sin, and the degrading of other human beings by dishonoring them has increased.

    Just this morning I noted on MSN a story about an actress that questioned whether her pregnancy was some kind of manipulative bid to save her marriage. It struck me afresh that this is slander and character assassination served up wholesale for public consumption. Its effect was to denigrate and disgrace this woman and it had its desired effect, to cause me to associate her name with shameful patheticness and insecurity, instead of seeing her as a valuable human being made in God`s image. This is cruel. Whether this woman has these insecurities or not is absolutely none of my business or anyone else`s, as far as publicly exposing this goes. Look at how leaders, even the president, are spoken about, lampooned, and mocked in public. As soon as a leader doesn`t do what one group or another wants, they attack his person and his character. I am not against pointing out for instance, that an act is corrupt. Paul opposed Peter to his face when he was in the wrong and had caved to pressure. But all was done above board and honorably and the matter discussed amongst the churches only because Peter`s actions, as an apostle, could have had the effect of misrepresenting the truth to new believers not yet established in their faith and bringing corruption to the gospel.

    Paul did not call Peter names, mock him or lampoon him or denigrate him as a person. I have a problem with how the lack of respect for God and for man made in His image, has entirely removed the restraint and mercy that would have been present even several decades ago. I find myself saying things that although I can justy them, still register somewhere in my being as less than the best, less than honor and mercy. So I think this issue of what is meant by respect has huge connections to God`s design and structure. As an aside, I don`t think that it follows, however, that reverence for one`s husband because of God means you have to go along with sin or tolerate abuse. King David was most definitely being abused by Saul, who was trying to kill him and was falsely accusing him. David reverenced Saul because of God and because he knew who the man had once been and could still be, but he did not ignore Saul’s sin or the man he was now being, nor put himself in Saul`s hands or revile him, nor take vengeance against him. And he did point out to Saul the proof that Saul`s behaviour was unjust and confront the mad kings sin.

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