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A Husband Shares His Perspective on the Importance of Respect

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Here is a fresh perspective from a husband about the concepts of respect and disrespect.  I am extremely thankful for his willingness to take the time to lay out his thoughts so carefully.  I believe that his thoughts on these topics represent many other husband’s ideas, too.

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First a little explanation: for me, words have meaning; genuine power.

You choose your words carefully and then wield them in such a way that allows you to get you point across effectively and succinctly; much the way a blacksmith deliberately chooses the right tool to make and then hones the instrument that he is crafting. As a self-professed political wonk, I know that the definition of those words can be as important as the words themselves. Any perusal of the newspapers of today will show you what I mean. After all, how many times have you gotten into a disagreement with someone over a misunderstanding of a phrase or word? Having said that, I will take it that your definition of the word “respect” is the standard accepted definition (think dictionary :-)).
Respect, Trust, Submission.

I think that these three things go hand-in-hand with one another with the most important being respect.

“Why?” you ask:

You cannot trust someone that you do not respect and you will never submit yourself to someone that you don’t respect. It is possible to submit to the position (in this case the role of the husband and all that it entails) and not to the man. You see this all the time in Politics. A person will submit themselves to the office of the president, even if the person holding that office will never earn the individuals respect. This cannot work in a marriage.

You must respect the position (husband) and the man (your mate). Without either one, your husband will know it and take it VERY personally.

(From Peacefulwife – I can attest to this being true!  When I was first learning respect, I tried to just be respectful-  without actually respecting my husband as a man – it did NOT work. My husband definitely knew that I really didn’t respect him and he was deeply wounded.  I had to find REAL things that I actually and sincerely did respect about him – and once I began to find a few, more and more wonderful qualities began to appear in my field of vision.  Those things were there all the time – I had just been choosing not to see them and to focus on a few flaws I thought I saw in him.  My husband needed my genuine respect for the good in him as he was even if he never changed.)

So how can a wife show respect for her husband?

  • For me, no man wants to give his opinion and have it ignored.

Nothing is more insulting than asking for someone’s opinion, and then doing the exact opposite. Granted, you can listen to that opinion, state your disagreements and then listen to rebuttals; but in the end, if you ask for your husbands opinion, be prepared to follow at least part of it. Remember, we are hard-wired to be fixers; if you come to us asked for our opinion to a problem, we make the assumption that you don’t have a complete answer and are asking for one. No man likes to be in a group where their opinion doesn’t matter, and it holds true in marriages as well. If you don’t follow his opinion, or ignore it, you may find you have a husband that will simply parrot back to you your solution since he has come to the understanding that you don’t care about his opinion and he is just looking to get you off his back.

  • In relation to this: (and this is hard) present a united front to your kids and the world (within reason).

In other words, if he gives an opinion and a stand on something, stand with him on it, even if you don’t agree with it. (now I must add this caveat-If he is doing something that goes against God’s Word or will harm the family, I’d make an exception). By presenting a united front, you are respecting him in the rest of the world and to everyone around you. This is especially true in the social media world. We know our way around a computer too, and we can see when our wives undercut us.

(From Peacefulwife – this does not mean you have to agree with him at all.  It does mean that you sometimes “take one for the team” and support his decision, even when you would have done things differently.  This is the time when you tell him privately what you want and how you feel, but if he disagrees, you support his leadership and decision joyfully – trusting God’s sovereignty to work things out for your ultimate good and for His glory.  It is one of the greatest tests of our faith as Christian women, in my view!)

  • Build, Build, Build him up.

Contrary to popular belief, men’s egos are more fragile than Waterford Crystal. We are consistently trying to impress you. Even though we are married, that stage of doing things bigger and grander never really goes away. Sometimes this manifests itself in working too long at work in order to bring home a bigger paycheck, or pouring ourselves into some crazy home improvement project to show you that we really are Bob Villa.

Also, build him up to your friends and family. Do not let insults to him slide or even be laughed at.

If you aren’t willing to respect and defend him in public, he’s going to make the assumption you won’t do it in private.

If he stops trying to impress you, there is usually a good reason why; either you have criticized him for it, or you have ignored it all together. Both of these things can lead him to stop trying and eventually he will seek that praise from another person or peer group, leaving you out in the cold.

  • Respect his physical needs.

Imagine you have this great idea to a problem that you have had all month long and up until now you haven’t found a solution to it. Suddenly, out of the blue, this idea hits you and it is seemingly the perfect solution to this problem. You can’t wait to tell your husband about this truly eureka moment, but he doesn’t get home from work till the end of the day and he can’t be reached by phone. So, you wait…And wait. Finally, he walks in the door; you run over to him and excitedly tell him about this idea that you have and he looks at you, rolls his eyes, and sits down and turns on the t.v.

That gut-wrenching feeling of crushing disappointment that you feel? That’s the same feeling we have when our wives tell us that they simply aren’t in the mood, or they don’t want to be touched right now.

For most guys, physical intimacy is our primary mode of emotional connection, and to turn that away, turns us away. It is not simply a physical rejection; it is personal.

So respect his physical needs, and if you simply don’t (or can’t) show him that you love him but you simply can’t do anything right now. Think of it like this:if you really wanted to talk to your husband about something and he were to explain to you in the most perfect way possible that he loves you but he simply cannot talk right now, what words would he use? Use those. 

  • Understand how you say something can be just as devastating (or encouraging) as what you say.

We have done something for you that we have done for no one else – we have made ourselves fully vulnerable to your and your comments. Keep that in mind when you statements. We are not trained to make ourselves vulnerable for or to anyone and doing so takes a tremendous amount of trust. If you abuse that trust, you will that your husband will slip into a shell that you simply will not be able to penetrate. We have a tendency to overcompensate :o)

In Short
1. His opinion-very important, follow it, don’t disrespect it.

2. Build him up. Build up his importance in the family, his career, and as your husband. Want him to hate you? Tear him down in front of your friends, family or worst of all, your kids. He will HATE you if you do that. Your kids see him as Superman. You attempt to tear him down in front of your kids, you become the enemy. 

3. Respect him Physically – Understand how important his needs are and don’t discount them simply because they are not that important to you. Remember; talking is not that important to guys. 

4. Finally; watch your words and how you say them. We may not act like what you just said hurt us, but since we have made ourselves vulnerable to you; we will get mad at ourselves for letting us be open to you. Then we will harden our heart toward you. Also, know that your praises (when genuine) mean more to us than anything our bosses, our co-workers, or anyone else we know could possibly mean. 

22 thoughts on “A Husband Shares His Perspective on the Importance of Respect

  1. “Your praises (when genuine) mean more to us than anything our bosses, our co-workers, or anyone else we know could possibly mean”. I LOVE THAT!

  2. Wow, this is a great post! Sooo helpful. The timing is perfect too, because it is helping me understand a situation I was facing with my husband just last night. Thank you for continually showing your readers the man’s perspective, April. It is priceless, because men really do think and process much differently than we do. The more we understand that, the better wives we can be, and that is a gift! 🙂

  3. AWESOME, awesome!! You know, I think we women, deep down, do know this. But it’s something that we need to learn and re-learn and then re-learn again. I believe if we lived in a different time or different culture where the respect of men and husbands was more predominant (say in commercials, music, movies, even our own families, etc) then it would be easier for us to grow into it.

  4. Good stuff. I second everything here, including the importance of the united front to the kids. My ex-wife did many frustrating things, but the most damaging to our relationship was her willingness to run me down to the kids (both in my presence and behind my back). That’s pushing a major button.

    One clarification I’d suggest is to this caveat in the main post: “In other words, if he gives an opinion and a stand on something, stand with him on it, even if you don’t agree with it. (Now I must add this caveat-If he is doing something that goes against God’s Word or will harm the family, I’d make an exception).” If we’re talking about physical harm, I agree completely. But non-physical harm is more difficult. My ex would take the exception for something that “will harm the family” and make it large enough to drive a truck through, because to her way of thinking any course of action that wasn’t her course of action was going to harm the family in some way. Relocating, where to go to church, financial decisions, entertainment choices, etc. — if we disagreed, my choice would “harm the family.” The wife’s trust in the sovereignty of God is critical, so that she can believe that following her husband (other than in sinful choices), even if she thinks he’s making a poor decision, will not result in any ultimate/eternal harm to her family because God is taking care of them.

    1. David J,
      I agree it can get dicey about “causing harm” because when a wife is convinced she is always “right” she may have extreme fears about doing things in any way other than her way – even though the fears may not be totally justified.

      To me, if the husband is not asking her to sin or asking her to condone sin (but even then, some wives may think certain things are sinful that might not be) – I’d like to see wives attempt to support their husbands. I’d like to see them say what they want and express their feelings and fears and then trust God to lead them through their husbands if the husband is of sound mind and not addicted to drugs or alcohol/physically abusive, etc.

  5. Yikes, my wife does all those things. The worst for me has been tearing me down in front of our children and in public. I am slowly learning a lesson here, God has a plan, it’s hard for me to understand why I’m seperated from my wife and kids being kid, but my faith is finally being tested. I don’t know if my wife will be there for me in the end, but I sure hope so.

    I am a employeer, I have started with nothing and trusted in God, and built a business.

    All I ever wanted was my wifes praise. Instead she tears me down, says she hates who I have become, wouldn’t have married me if she knew I would have this business. The irony is she comes to me with others requests for free services. That really hurts me.

    My wife makes comments while having sex, “or we done yet”, hurry up, get this over with, you last to long. She is also one sided were I will please her, and she will then go to sleep and leave me hanging.

  6. I do want to mention something in general to husbands in a very tough situation – where the wife experiences great pain upon vaginal intercourse. If a wife complains about pain every time – there is very likely a physical problem. It could be as simple as using lubricant or going slower and taking more time for her to be ready, so she isn’t so tense. But there are many medical problems that can cause painful intercourse for women. My advice as a pharmacist who has seen this many times – is to encourage your wife to see her OB/GYN and talk with them about it. Some women have pain that is so severe that they can’t even use tampons or tolerate a speculum at the OB/GYN’s. Sometimes it is because of pelvic muscles that are in spasm. Sometimes it is because of very sensitive nerve endings. Sometimes there may be an infection. There are MANY causes of painful intercourse in women – and lots of them are treatable medically.

    I hate to see any marriage suffer because of something like this – and pray that those who are suffering with feelings of sexual rejection because of a wife’s severe pain might seek medical help.

  7. I just want to reiterate that physical intimacy DOES NOT always mean sex! A good massage or rubdown is a lot more relaxing and calming after a rough day! My fiancee and I are waiting until after our wedding to have sex but I do appreciate it when she tries to kill me with a hug. She really can’t squeeze to hard but I do appreciate her giving it her all 🙂

    Check out this article (http://blog.womenshealthmag.com/scoop/the-hormone-that-keeps-him-faithful/)

    From the article:
    “Simply thinking about you can release oxytocin, even in the absence of physical contact, according to a review of oxytocin studies published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. While you’re both at work, text him about the sexy dream or fantasy you’ve had, or (to keep it more PG) that you’re psyched to see him later.”

  8. The opinions one is the biggest issue for me.

    I’m learning more and more that unless it’s a serious situation, even voicing a concern or posing a question usually comes off as disrespectful–especially if it’s a “manly” type of thing in question. I get a look that says, “are you kidding?” and he seems injured that I don’t trust his approach to things more entirely. Even worse, when I ask for his opinion and then don’t follow the advice, oh man. He starts to say, “Why do you ask? Should I tell you the answer I wouldn’t do?” Mostly he is kidding around, but it bugs him sooooo much.

    So now I am more careful. I ask about which shoe looks better and random things I don’t want to take the responsibility for. And I always take his advice. Even with the shoes. lol

    It’s a work in progress. For an issue that seems so benign (we all have our opinions, right?) it’s actually a pretty big irritant. In our situation at least.

    1. Stephanie,

      Yes, sometimes it is better not to ask his opinion, than to ask and then not listen to him. 🙂

      There are ways to voice a concern that are respectful. Saying things like:
      – Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me. I wonder if you would be able to tell me a little bit more about X – I want to make sure I understand.
      – I trust you and thank you for sharing your perspective here. I was thinking about doing things this way, what do you think?
      – Would you mind going into more detail about this, please?
      – I like your idea – I can definitely see where that might work. I am feeling a little afraid/nervous about this part – if you would be able to talk more about it with me, I would appreciate it very much.

      Some men feel disrespected if we use the question “why?” at all. So just avoiding that word can be very helpful.

      Yes, we all have opinions! And it is usually fine to say, “I want this. I don’t want that.” But if you are directly asking him what he thinks you should do – and then go against it – that is where things can get dicey.

      It may be better to say, “I want to do X. Would that be alright with you?” or even just “I want to do X” and let him think about it.

      I hope that might help a bit! Yes – we are all works in progress! 🙂

  9. Respect: (Dictionary.com)
    verb (used with object)
    9.to hold in esteem or honor: I cannot respect a cheat.
    10. to show regard or consideration for: to respect someone’s rights.
    11. to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with: to respect a person’s privacy.
    12. to relate or have reference to.

    Synonyms: adore, appreciate, attend, be awed by, be kind to, comply with, defer to, esteem, follow, have good opinion of, have high opinion, heed, honor, look up to, note, notice, observe of, regard, revere, reverence, show consideration, show courtesy, take into account, think highly of, uphold, value, venerate

    We all want to be respected, and it is proper to assume our mate would esteem us more highly than any other. Is respect not the basic principle of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Or stated another way, treat others the way you would want to be treated. There is nothing unique in the post about respecting husbands that would not apply equally to wives. If our own sense of justice would be infringed upon by a particular treatment, it’s safe to assume that treating another in that way would violate the Golden Rule by which we are to live. It really is simple.

  10. Sooooo many good things here! And yes, I totally agree–respectfully holding my tongue in front of the kids is SO HARD but it’s so good to hear from another guy just how critical this is!! Thank you for these much needed reminders!

  11. My husband has not been paid his salary literally since late 2011. Every time we talk about our financial worries, he would promise me a deadline and tell me that he is going to resign if he doesn’t get his salary on this “deadline.”

    I have been supportive. I encouraged him, prayed with him, prayed for him, listened to his frustrations and gave suggestions. On the other side, I worked overtime if I can to earn extra income, I set-up up a sideline business, scrimped and managed our accounts so we can still pay our bills and insurance plans on time and have an emergency fund.

    I am always praying but I’m at the end of my rope. I believe that hard work should come from men, while grace comes from God. But my husband is just praying and not doing anything to improve our situation or look for ways to get out from it.

    I have advised him in looking for other employment while waiting for his salary. But he believes he will get his salary “soon” and says I pressure and nag him. And he has not yet resigned.

    So I keep quiet and just observe, but this 2013, I have started to become resentful and disrespectful. I lash out at him, openly criticize and insult him for failing to provide security, and not empathize with him anymore. It’s like he’s shrinking in front of my eyes.

    What should I do?

    1. Disappointed wife,

      YIKES!!!!

      What a horrible situation.

      I am sure your husband must be afraid if he leaves, he will probably forfeit all of that pay that is due him. Of course, if he stays, he may still never get paid. Ugh.

      This has been going on a really long time.

      Are you both followers of Christ?

      I have so many questions!

      Are there other employees?
      Are they getting paid?
      I assume the company is in severe financial distress?
      He many hours per week is he working?
      Is he working for family or friends?

      This has got to be an extremely stressful situation for your husband. He must feel like he is in a no-win situation.

      Is he willing to go to a Christian financial counselor or godly mentor at church? Or does he have a mentor?

      I can definitely understand the great frustration on both of your parts.

      I pray God will give you and your husband His wisdom and direction. I assume your husband knows you want him to leave his job. But you can’t make him leave. And he feels like he would lose a year and a half of salary if he leaves.

      Would you allow me to ask my prayer team to pray for you?

      1. We are both Christians but we don’t have a mentor from church.

        There are other employees but their pay is more prioritized since they get less. My husband is the manager and sacrifices his pay for his staff. The company finances were not handled well by their boss so it’s suffering right now. His boss is his uncle.

        We are actually living in different cities now. He moved to last August because the other branch is supposedly doing better financially. But I have yet to see proof. We both agreed for me to stay here until end of June and get my bonus upon finishing the contract. For the meantime, he flies back once a month to visit.

        I am moving soon to be with him and it might take time before I can find employment. I have been submitting my CVs left and right but haven’t gotten any replies yet. I feel so hopeless and worse, I can’t feel sympathy for my husband anymore.

        Anyway, yes please, please help us pray.

        1. Disappointedwife,

          I was afraid that he may be working for family. 🙁
          That makes it much more complicated, I am sure.

          How is your relationship with Christ?

          What is it that you believe you need to be content?

          Is it possible that you may be cherishing resentment and bitterness in your heart that may be grieving God’s Spirit?

          Is there a godly older wife who might be willing to mentor you?

          Can you tell me about the things you DO respect about your husband?

          It sounds to me like he has an incredible work ethic and that he protects his employees even at harm to himself – which is an admirable trait of good leadership.

          Who is in charge of the final decisions in your marriage?

          What happens when you disagree? What kinds of things does he say? What do you say?

          What does your husband want you to do in this situation right now?

          Let’s talk through this and hash through it and pray through it together and seek God’s greatest glory!

          Much love!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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