We continue our series this week into FAQs. If you have a question that I have not addressed, please let me know! 🙂
- This seems like more than I can handle (part 1)
- When do I get to the “peaceful” part? (part 1)
- I don’t want to lose my voice in my marriage. (part 2)
- I feel like I am losing myself. (part 2)
- I feel so lonely. (part 3)
- I don’t know how to say things respectfully to my husband, so I am just not saying anything at all. (part 3)
- My husband isn’t changing at all. (part 4)
- Respect doesn’t work on my husband. (part 4)
- But I’m right! (part 5)
- I’m so scared to give up control! I should be in charge. Everything will fall apart if I don’t take charge! (part 5)
- He doesn’t deserve my respect!
- My husband doesn’t love me and is not on board with this marriage.
- Why can’t HE change first? Why do I have to change when he’s the one who is so far from God and so unloving? (Part 7)
11. He Doesn’t Deserve My Respect
The world says, “Respect must be earned.”
There is a lot of truth to that statement. In business, at school, in the neighborhood and in the world, men and women do have to earn the respect of others.
But what about in marriage?
God gives specific commands to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22-33.
- He commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it.
- He commands wives to respect their husbands and to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.
These commands to husbands to love and to wives to respect are unconditional and completely independent of each other.
- God does not say, “Husbands, love your wives IF they are respectful or IF you think they deserve love.” It is just, “Husbands, each of you must love his wife as he loves himself…”
- God does not say, “Wives, respect your husbands IF they deserve respect in your opinion.” or “Respect your husbands when they are respectable.” It is simply, “the wife must respect her husband.”
- The submission command does have a caveat “in the Lord” – which Greg and I believe to mean that if a husband asks a wife to clearly violate God’s Word, she must obey God rather than her husband. (Spiritual Authority)
In marriage and as believers in Christ – we do not treat our spouse with love or respect because they “deserve” it. We treat people with love and respect because of the Spirit of Christ living in us and because JESUS CHRIST DESERVES it. Obeying Him is not optional. He is LORD.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25
Jesus goes on to say, “Whatever you did NOT do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did NOT do for me.” Jesus counts everything we do for other people, including our spouses, as if we were doing those things for HIM.
- This doesn’t mean we must respect sin or condone sin or follow our husbands into sin.
Check out this post about Spiritual Authority, Biblical Submission Does Not = the Husband is Always Right and When My Spouse is Wrong for more on these topics.
GOD COMMANDS US TO RESPECT OUR HUSBANDS NOT BECAUSE OUR HUSBANDS “DESERVE” OUR RESPECT EVERY MOMENT BUT BECAUSE:
- God deserves our respect, obedience, submission and reverence. He is our LORD. We do not look Jesus Who died for us in the face and say, “No, Lord. I refuse to obey You.”
- People in positions of God-given authority need respect from those they lead in order for them to be able to lead. God commands all believers to submit to and respect those in God-given authority over us in the government, at work, in church and in the home. Romans 13, I Peter 2
- God has wisdom. He designed marriage. He knows what makes it work.
- The same God who said wives need their husbands’ love also said husbands need their wives’ respect. I know we don’t want to throw out God’s commands for our husbands to love us! God understands what men and women need in marriage.
- Our husbands NEED our respect if they are ever going to be able to become the men God desires them to be. Our respect and willingness to follow their leadership are necessary ingredients for them to hear God’s voice and become godly men.
- Our disrespect and control could easily crush our husbands’ souls, paralyze them spiritually and stunt their spiritual growth. My disrespect and control certainly deeply wounded my husband in these ways.
- Our disrespect and control make it very difficult for our husbands to hear and obey the voice of God themselves. (I Peter 3:1-6) Then our husbands are focused on our voice and our sin instead of God’s voice.
- Our respect for our husbands and our willingness to honor their leadership are necessary for a healthy marriage according to God’s wisdom and His design. (Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5, I Corinthians 11:3, I Peter 3:1-6)
- Our respect for our husbands and biblical submission to them (unless they ask us to clearly sin) demonstrates to our children and the world what our relationship with Christ should look like, it is a witness for the gospel of Christ.
- Our disrespect of our husbands and our usurping their control maligns the gospel of Christ (Titus 2:5).
- God wants our children to respect their fathers and mothers and all of those in God-given authority over them. If we don’t respect their dad, they won’t respect him either – or anyone else in authority over them. (Spiritual Authority)
- God wants our children to have an accurate picture of God. Children receive their first understanding and primary experience of who God is through their fathers. If we as mothers destroy our children’s respect for their fathers, we also easily destroy their reverence for and respect for and understanding of God. (Spiritual Authority)
- God gives us people in positions of spiritual authority over us to bless us, protect us, provide for us and guide us into His will. (Spiritual Authority)
BUT MY HUSBAND IS SINNING
God does not call us to respect our husband’s pornography addiction, alcoholism, gambling, flirting with other women, greed, idolatry, unloving behavior, lust, affairs or sin.
I have seen wives attempt to respect their husbands when they brought home women off of the street took them to their bedroom while she was home. No! No! That is taking “respecting our husbands” WAY TOO FAR.
A wife in that position needs to do a lot of praying and probably needs to say something like, “This is not ok at all. You are breaking our marriage covenant. Adultery is wrong. I can’t stay here if you are going to do this.” She doesn’t have to scream and cuss at him to do this. And then she probably needs to leave or ask him to leave and they should be separated until the husband clearly repents, is willing to rebuild trust, be accountable and transparent and receive godly counsel. I personally vote to have him tested for STDs as well before a wife would even consider being intimate with him again. (Keep in mind that it takes 6 months after the last sexual encounter before HIV/AIDS would show up in a test – but he could be contagious way before the test would show positive.)
Now – let’s talk about less severe situations…
- We can respect our husbands for their position in the marriage even when their behavior is wrong.
This is similar to the way that people in the military are taught to “respect the uniform.” And it is similar to the way we as believers are to respect those in authority over us in the government and the church whether we agree with them or not and whether we voted for them or not. It is not right for us as believers to slander or disrespect our leaders. God commands us to show them proper respect.
- Then there is also the aspect that we purposely look for the good in our husbands that we can genuinely respect.
- We may need to respectfully, carefully, gently, prayerfully confront our husbands’ sin – just like members of a church may have to gently, prayerfully, respectfully confront a pastor who has fallen into sin.
We may have to say how much his sin hurts us. We may have to give boundaries and consequences for serious issues – always with an eye toward praying for eventual reconciliation for our husband with Christ and for our marriage if at all possible and for God’s will and His glory. (Some passages that deal with confronting a fellow believer’s sin are found in Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 18:14-16)
We will be called upon often in marriage to give overwhelming and undeserved grace, forgiveness and mercy. If trust has been broken – it must be rebuilt. There may need to be boundaries and consequences for certain sins – with prayer for our husbands to be reconciled to Christ and for healing so our marriage will glorify God.
Our husbands are still sinners – just like we are. None of us are “better than” anyone else. We are all on level ground at the foot of the cross. Our husbands need Jesus’ grace, mercy, blood and forgiveness just as much as all of us do. We can approach them as if we are on their team and to face and tackle the sin together with the power of God.
Our husbands WILL sin against God and against us at times – and we will sin against them and against God, too, at times. God can give us the power and strength of His Spirit for us not to respond to their sin with sin of our own. He may use us to gently restore our husbands into right relationship with Himself and with us.
- There are times when separation may be necessary if our husbands refuse to repent or get the godly counsel they need. Sometimes that is the only thing that might wake them up. Sometimes we may have to remove ourselves and our children from dangerous or very ungodly situations.
** If you are dealing with very serious issues in your marriage – please seek godly, wise counsel and get the appropriate help! If there is severe emotional/spiritual abuse or physical abuse, addictions, infidelity, uncontrolled mental health disorders, severe spiritual problems – please find godly counsel and the help you and your husband need.
- Nina Roesner’s eCourse Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity may be very helpful for wives in difficult marriages to find healing for themselves in Christ so that they can think rightly about themselves, the marriage, and their husbands. Then they will have the wisdom of God and His Spirit to help them discern how best to handle things.
- Celebrate Recovery – a Christian program for drug addiction
- AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)
- The Salvation Army – has Christ-centered programs to help people with drug/alcohol addictions and may have resources for abused wives
- There are women’s shelters, I know there is one in our area named Sister Care – for abused wives
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Al-Anon – for spouses of alcoholics
12. My husband doesn’t love me and is not on board with this marriage.
Sometimes we as wives THINK we know that our husbands feel like this. Some of us may be right. But – many of us who believe this is true – are actually wrong. I sure was!
I was convinced my husband didn’t love me and was far from God and didn’t care if I was there or not.
- I was wrong – about so many things!
I didn’t understand his heart. I assumed a lot of evil motives where there were no evil motives. I didn’t “get” how men think, feel and process emotions. I expected Greg to be exactly like me. He’s NOT! That is a good thing. 🙂 He did love me. But he shut down his heart to protect himself from my verbal attacks, disrespect and control. I interpreted that to mean he didn’t love me. He was actually just trying to protect himself from me.
Thankfully, even if your husband truly doesn’t love you and is not on board with working on the marriage – that is not a problem for God!
It only takes ONE spouse to have faith in God, to obey Him, to live in the power of His Spirit to open up the flood gates of heaven to pour in the healing power of God into the marriage and into the other spouse. I have seen God do MANY, MANY miracles in situations like these.
When God is your partner – nothing and no one can stop Him. Nothing can thwart His plans. Nothing can take you out of His sovereign hands. God is able to change people in ways we never could. God can bring your husband’s heart back to Himself and back to you. He may want to change you first – to get you out of His way so He can reach your husband. That’s ok! God can change people’s feelings. He can change their convictions. He holds your husband’s heart in his hand and can change his mind.
So – I am not really worried if your husband isn’t on board. If he is involved in serious sin – I would encourage you to find appropriate, godly help. But if he is shut down emotionally, seems far from God, doesn’t want to touch you or talk to you – that is not a big deal when God is involved. What I am most concerned about is if you are on board with God. He is the power source. If something is His will – that is the important thing!
God loves marriage. It is a picture of the profound mystery between Christ and the church. He intends to use our marriages to draw people to Himself. God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:10-16)
Seek God’s will and His glory with all your heart for your life and your marriage.
- More than seeking reconciliation for your marriage – seek to please and honor Christ in everything! If your husband is not a believer, seek to pray for his salvation even if the marriage does not recover.
It is my prayer that God might heal you, your husband and your marriage. But most of all I pray for God’s greatest glory in your lives.
What is Respect in Marriage – husbands share what is respectful to them
I have Youtube videos if you are interested: