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.
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)
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.