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The Respect Dare, Day 21 – What Does it Mean to “Respect” My Husband?

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Greg and me on the steps of the church right after our wedding ceremony – May 28, 1994

And the wife must respect her husband.  Ephesians 5:33

Here’s a little secret about my journey towards becoming the wife God desires me to be:

When God first showed me my HUGE mountain of sin (it was WAY more than just a “plank” in my eye) – and I saw for the first time that I had been a very controlling and disrespectful wife – I had NO CLUE what to do and where to start.

I always thought I had been respectful.  I mean, I didn’t scream at my husband, call him names, threaten divorce, cuss at him, assassinate his character, hit him, destroy his possessions, throw things at him (except for that ONE time our first summer when I threw a clean pair of panties at him from across the room.  But they did NOT hit him!).

I didn’t even trash him on Facebook!

(Of course, we were married before the internet existed.)

Suddenly, I knew that I had NOT been respectful.  I read in Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs that men need respect the same way in marriage that women need love.  I was extremely convicted.  Love and Respect gave me six areas to focus on respecting in my husband’s life.  But I needed WAY MORE DETAIL than that book had to offer.

I needed “Respect 101”  or “Respect for Dummies.”

Seriously!  Yes.  I was that bad.

I asked Greg what was respectful and what was disrespectful to him – but at that time – he was still so shut down and had been feeling disrespected for so long (and never said one word about it) – he wasn’t sure and couldn’t verbalize what was respectful and what was disrespectful to him.

And I obviously had no idea.  After my 14.5 years of disrespect and control  and my total blindness to all of it.

I was so frustrated, feeling like I was walking blindfolded through a field of land mines – never knowing if what I was about to say or what I had said or what I had done or wanted to do would be respectful or not.

That is why I am so passionate about two posts where husbands have shared with us

If you haven’t read them – definitely check them out!

HE DOESN’T DESERVE MY RESPECT!

Many women feel this way.  And they are right!  He may not deserve their respect. But this is not about what he deserves.  In fact, respecting our husbands has NOTHING to do with our husbands and everything to do with our relationship with Jesus.  This is about my willingness to obey God’s command to me as a wives and about God’s Spirit being in control of me.

This is about what JESUS deserves.  He deserves my wholehearted obedience, reverence, awe, worship and devotion.

Husbands could just as rightly say, “But she doesn’t deserve my love!”  And they would be right, too.  We are ALL sinners.  We don’t deserve anything good from God or each other.  But this is God’s design for marriage – for husbands to focus on loving their wives the way Christ loves the church and for wives to focus on respecting their husbands and honoring the husband’s God-given leadership the way the church reverences and honors Christ.  That is what marriage is to be a picture of – the relationship between Christ and the church.  What a lofty and holy calling!  (Ephesians 5:22-33, I Corinthians 11:3, Titus 2:2-5)

HOW I WISH I HAD THOSE LISTS 19 YEARS AGO!!?!?!

There are some things that are clearly disrespectful and clearly respectful to almost all husbands regardless of culture or age or personality.  But then each man has his own definitions about some things.   Some men feel disrespected if their wives pack their suitcases for them.  Some men feel disrespected if their wives don’t pack their suitcases for them.

So, what is on the list is not as important as what is important to your particular husband.  But these lists give you a great place to start.

The lists in those two posts are long.  Why do they have to be so long???

Well…

When I was learning about disrespect and respect – I had a famine of information.  And there are so many husbands with differing views on what is disrespectful and what is respectful, that I wanted to include a number of things on each list because I think that extra information may be really helpful for some wives.  So many things that husbands feel disrespected by are things that most wives do all the time and have no idea that their husbands are wounded by their words and actions.  If you have not read these lists before, it can be pretty shocking at first.

RESPECT IS NOT INTUITIVE FOR WOMEN –

  • Disrespect for men and for husbands and almost any God-given authority has become “normal” and “mainstream.”  Many wives under 50 years of age have NEVER witnessed a wife respecting her husband well.  And many women grew up today with fiercely independent, controlling, disrespectful mothers.  (My mother actually wasn’t disrespectful.  But I was the dominant twin and learned to be controlling there).
  • We have also been bombarded in the culture and media with flagrant disrespect for men, husbands and fathers – and also teachers, police officers, government officials, pastors, bosses, etc..  Respect used to be part of the fiber of American culture – but it was thrown out decades ago.
  • We also have a sin nature – just like Eve.  God said – as He explained the consequences for Adam’s and Eve’s sin – that she would “desire” her husband but that he would “rule over her.”  The word for desire there is really a “desire to control.”  So in the sinful, fallen state – women  want to control their husbands and dominate them.  (There are also women who become passive, subservient, voiceless and opinionless – “doormats.”  Being a “doormat” does not honor God either and is not what it means to respect and submit to our husbands)  And in the sinful state, men tend to either dominate their wives harshly or unplug and become passive and do and say nothing – like Adam did as Eve was listening to Satan and decided to eat the fruit.
  • Also part of our sinful nature is to rebel against God Himself, God’s Word and all God-given authority.  Our sinful nature does not like submitting to Christ.  We want to do things OUR way.  We believe that we know much better than God.

So we are – in our sinful nature – hardwired to want to control our men and to disrespect them.

Learning to become a godly wife involves disconnecting all those old circuits and allowing God to remove our sinful heart and mind – nailing it to the cross with Christ.  Our sinful nature is now dead and buried with Jesus.  We are no longer slaves to sin anymore!  We can put on our  “new man in Christ.”  And now we can be “slaves of righteousness”  Romans 6.

THIS FEELS “WRONG”

At first, it will feel VERY awkward and foreign to stop saying all the negative, critical, disrespectful, rude, hateful, judgmental, scolding, bossy words that have been our native tongue for all our lives.  Even the sighs, the eye-rolls, the angry tone of voice  and the body language that drips with contempt has to go!This is part of “dying to self” as we follow Christ.  That old self and all those VERY DEEPLY INGRAINED HABITS have to die.  They don’t go down without a huge battle!

Some disrespectful things God showed me I needed to stop:

  • telling my husband what to do and how to do it
  • assuming I was always right
  • assuming I always knew better than my husband
  • berating my husband and criticizing him to others
  • undermining my husband’s authority as a father
  • looking down on him as if I was so much “more holy” than he was
  • assuming he wouldn’t/couldn’t lead and taking over myself
  • being impatient and expecting him to answer me within 10 seconds
  • judging my husband and condemning him
  • nagging him
  • trying to decide his priorities for him
  • complaining
  • arguing
  • insisting on and forcing my way
  • praying for God to change my husband and ignoring my own mountain of sin

At first, I realized that almost every word out of my mouth to my husband – and many times to other people – was sin.  So I got really quiet.

I didn’t have wisdom yet.  And when you don’t have wisdom – it is better to be silent than to say something hurtful, unkind and hateful!

Eventually – there will be a total heart change where our old thoughts are dead and gone and we have new hearts and minds that think and speak like Jesus as we pursue Him and seek Him and desire Him above everything and everyone else!

Then, I began to discover things to say and do that were positive and respectful:

  • thanking my husband for all that he does for me and our family
  • appreciating his every effort
  • seeing that God sees my husband and I on equal footing – both wretched sinners in desperate need of Christ.  Any good in us is from Him alone.
  • looking for the good in him and focusing on that – Philippians 4:8
  • praising the good in him
  • speaking highly of him to others
  • standing with him in unity and upholding his authority as a father
  • understanding that he didn’t have evil motives towards me – that he is a man and he is DIFFERENT from me.  He is not me.  He is not a woman.  He is different – but that doesn’t mean he is wrong.  And I can actually learn to appreciate the differences and savor them.
  • smiling a genuine smile of adoration at him
  • appreciating his masculine approach and wisdom
  • using a friendly, pleasant tone of voice and facial expressions
  • praying in private about him with an attitude of respect for my husband before God
  • waiting, stepping down and allowing him to lead.   Waiting.  Lots of waiting.   More waiting than I had ever done in my life.
  • being receptive and responsive and open to him spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically
  • placing myself under his protection and leadership

These things also felt awkward and foreign at first.  But, in time, with MUCH prayer, much seeking God, much dying to self, my learning to set all my faith in Christ not myself or my husband – and much practice – after about 2 years or so – I began to feel like I had a clue what it meant to respect my husband and not to disrespect him.

It is like learning a new language.  It takes time to become fluent.  That is ok!

GOD’S WAYS LEAD TO LIFE

I have discovered that when I obey God and completely yield myself to Him in total trust and faith – He blesses me with His supernatural peace and joy.  Even in the midst of trials and suffering.

DARE 21:

What is it that most makes your husband feel

1. Disrespected

2. Respected

You can try asking him to tell you 3 things for each – but if he wants to share more – that is great.

But this is about what he needs and his perception of feeling respected/disrespected by you.  If he shares – don’t turn on him and say, “Well, you do X, Y and Z to me!”   Don’t defend yourself or explain yourself.  Just listen.  Thank him and go pray about it.

If you do ask him – and he doesn’t want to answer.  Don’t push him!  That is fine.  He may not feel safe enough to answer these kinds of questions yet or he may not be sure what he thinks.  That is ok!  Check out those posts  about respect and disrespect and ask God to show you anything He wants you to change.

  • Commit to compliment him in front of other people briefly 2 times in the coming week!

YOUTUBE VIDEOS:

MY Husband Doesn’t Deserve My Respect!

Non-Verbal Disrespect is So Damaging to Our Husbands

How to Apologize for Disrespecting and Controlling Your Husband

Respect Doesn’t Work on My Husband

17 thoughts on “The Respect Dare, Day 21 – What Does it Mean to “Respect” My Husband?

  1. “respecting our husbands has NOTHING to do with our husbands and everything to do with our relationship with Jesus.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is the inspiration I need. I may need it every day or every hour. But thank you for making it so clear and unavoidable.

    And thank you for your lists – I do a lot of the ‘how not to’ and some of the ‘how to’ – I will work on it.

    Bless you for this amazing blog and your insight and clarity of thought. You are a wonderful, inspiring signpost to growing myself into a better and more godly wife.

    1. Considerer,

      I know that I personally had to read and study OFTEN to really “get” this stuff. It took reading some things over and over many times. Each time “washed” away more and more of my worldly mindset and rebuilt my understanding from scratch on Jesus.

      I am so glad that this is helping you. It is DEFINITELY the kind of thing I think would have been extremely helpful to me 4.5 years ago!

      I love what God is doing in you! It is beautiful!!!!

  2. April, your posts always have a way of knocking on my inbox when I am in much need of them. This topic goes quite deep for me; at times puts me in a rather challenging emotional tug of war with my hunny. I do pray for God’s guidance constantly, and for his will for all of us involved. Thnx.

    1. Joanna,

      That is why this topic is so important – the surface issue “showing respect for my husband” is actually a pretty accurate indicator of what is happening in the depths of my soul with my respect/reverence for Christ. It is impacted by my understanding of who God is, who I am, what it means to serve Christ as “Lord” and the basic definitions I have built my life upon: what is godly femininity, what is godly masculinity, what is a godly marriage, what does it mean to live for Christ?

      There are few topics that go deeper.

      That is why this is a LONG process of learning to be a godly wife. It is a total renovation of my soul, heart and mind by the power of God’s Spirit.

      It involves shoveling out all of the world’s ideas and definitions and poison until I get down to Christ and the rebuild from scratch completely on Him and His Word alone.

      It is the most radical change I have ever been through – learning to respect our husbands and learning to understand how God leads us through them. I think it is one of the ultimate tests of our faith as women of God.

      I am so excited about what God is doing in your heart!!!!! 🙂

  3. It’s so hard to believe that we are over half way through the Respect Dare. I started this as a last effort to save my second marriage of 11 years. I read a blog in June that said if you believe your marriage is dead and you are a believer give yourself 60 days praying for your marriage so that 10 years from now you can say before God that you did everything you could to save your marriage. So began my “Summer Discovery 2013”. 2 days later I found (God lead) me to your website with the Respect Dare starting the next day! What a journey it has been so far. My core belief in God has been challenged, I’ve had to look hard at my disrespect which I had justified because it was not outwardly apparent. Friends and family (my own children) told me I deserved better – someone who loved me and respected me. It became obvious that my heart was cold from early emotional abuse in our marriage, I felt hopeless, and I was just looking for a way out! Didn’t matter that my husband had made many, many changes – he didn’t deserve my respect for the way he had treated me and my now young adult children. Not a lot was changing in me as the dares went on but God must be working under the surface. Your comments on both Day 20 and 21 have deeply touched me. Thank you for your insight and honesty. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me. I am trusting that God will fill me with his power, peace, and joy. …Cathy

    1. Cathy,

      It is SO painful to look at ourselves and allow God to take all that yuck out of us. But I am SO excited about what God is doing in your heart and life! I know you will never regret it! I pray you can stand before Jesus one day and hear Him commend you for being faithful in your marriage – even when it looked impossible in worldly terms. Thankfully – with God, all things are possible! And, our God is particularly awesome at raising dead things to life. 🙂

      Thank you for the comment!

      This is the kind of stuff you may have to re-read through every day for months to really get it solidified in your heart and mind. It is a total transformation of your soul. It has to be a God thing!

      Much love!

      1. Tears…. I started this with four specific prayers. 1) prayer for truth. 2) prayer for a softening of my heart. 3) prayer for hope. 4) prayer for the right people to come around me. You are an answer to prayer. Thank you❤❤.

  4. I’m in desperate need of prayer at this time. I’ve suffered from depression and had been very disrespectful to my husband. At this time we are separated – states away. He’s debating what to do {divorce} or not. I really love him and am praying for a second chance. Please pray with me!

  5. April
    Why Is my husband always demanding respect from me, sometimes I won’t even disrespect him,and he will say like you need to respect me, follow me, I am leader. Don’t treat me like a 7 year old. But honestly I am at the bottom of his list of priorities! He never seems like he Cares or loves me doesn’t give me enough attention even after I ask for it,I told him on the way home after I feel like e ignored me too much at our friends house tonight that he doesn’t care and he said I was talking bull sh** and now he’s gonna treat me like he doesn’t care for me for a week so I will appreciate the stuff he does do? That seems so mean to me, where is my loving relationship,?

    1. Tammy,

      Have you ever read “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs?

      Husbands need respect the same way that wives need love.

      Husbands do this sometimes (other times they just totally shut down and unplug – which is what my husband did) because they don’t feel loved if they feel disrespected. It is very similar to a wife demanding that her husband love her because she feels so hurt, lonely and unloved. It is probably not an effective way for anyone to motivate anyone – but that is why he is doing it.

      If even just one of you begins to live for Christ and obey His commands to you for marriage, things will improve dramatically. I would like to encourage you to read the posts at the top of my home page to get started.

      Let me know how you’re doing! 🙂

      Much love!
      April

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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