Love Him Less, Respect Him More – by a Fellow Wife

A Guest Post by a Fellow Wife who began her journey to become a godly wife in October of 2012:
The very title of this sounds bad, doesn’t it?  But I think I am on to something.
So I have been aware that respect is very important to men.  I have learned that they would rather have respect than love, if they had to make a choice between the two, which is still completely shocking to me, even hearing it for the hundredth time!  I also know that giving respect is the way men NEED our love.  But I never really thought that I needed to scale back on the love.
I do not mean to stop loving my husband as much as I do.  I could not do that.  I do love him.  He has my heart.  And we SHOULD absolutely love our husbands. BUT, what if we pushed that love we feel to the backburner… and pulled the respect we have on simmer up to the front burner and turned the temp up on it?  (I have a slight love of analogies, ladies.  My apologies.)
I have been reading some of the archives on this blog and I am so thankful there is such a wealth of information for us to learn from.  I want to share something April wrote in her post on 2/5/12 in the post, “Before and After Pictures of My Soul.”
“Giving him more love didn’t seem to help, if anything, I think it made things worse.” 
That is kind of where I am going with this.  It is not that giving our husbands love is wrong.  They need our love.  But they need our respect much, much more.  After all, respect equals love in their book.  Our brand of love isn’t theirs.
And here is another thought to think on…. when we love, love and love some more, it can be so easily to love ourselves right into a situation of idolizing our husbands.  I know that is what I did.  And then I was in a vicious, ugly mess of sin that it took me a long time to dig out from.  No, let’s be a little more honest than that.  I didn’t just have to dig out, I had to claw my way out from under that idol and I still have to be constantly on guard for it.  It has been difficult.  I do not want to fall in that pit again.  And all because I allowed myself to love, love, love into an idolatry situation.
We certainly want to love our husbands, ladies.  It would be unwise to try to stop loving them.  But where should our  focus be?  It is so, so easy to naturally focus on the love that comes as naturally to us as breathing and give respect only sporadically and awkwardly, much as if we were trying to write with the wrong hand.  I have to shift my focus.  I need to keep my love on simmer but turn the heat up on the respect dial.  ( I know, more analogies!  I have a bit of a fixation on them!)
And here is one more analogy I thought about while processing all of this in my mind.  Let’s say love is apple juice and respect is water to our husband.  Apple juice is good.  It has some great nutrients.  But what he really needs, at least what he needs the most of on a daily basis, is water.  All apple juice would really leave him unbalanced.  He needs more of the water!  And I can make sure he is fully hydrated by giving him the respect he needs.  (Are you still with me?  We are going somewhere here).
I certainly do not want to stop giving him love but I need to let that love be the FUEL for giving him respect.  This may not be revolutionary to most of you.  However, what is revolutionary- to me, at least- is the thought of pushing love to the back and pulling the respect to the front.  Turning down the heat on the love burner and cranking it up on the respect.  I got that I needed to work on respect.  But I didn’t really get that I needed to turn down the love.  Just a notch.  Not turn it off completely.
I have spent a lot of time reading up on God’s instructions for wives in the bible.  From what I have found, I have only located one bible verse that instructs wives to love their husbands.  That is in Titus 2.  But there are many, MANY bible verses that stress the importance of giving our husbands respect, submitting, being in subjection to them and other similar terms. For starters, you can search out:
-Ephesians 5:22
-Ephesians 5:33
-Titus 2:5 (the very next verse following the lone bible verse that tells us to love our husbands)
-Colossians 3:18
-1 Peter 3:1, 5-6
This thought came to me and I want to share it with you….. WHY did God give us so many more instructions about respecting and submitting to our husbands?  There HAS to be significance behind that.
These are the reasons I feel like God showed me for having many more instructions about respect and submission toward our husbands versus love:
-God knows RESPECT is what our men need most.  He is telling us something by stressing this so many times in His Word.
-It is a very serious commandment.  God wanted to get the message to us loud and clear that this is expected of us.
-RESPECT is what we are weak – it goes against our natural inclination as women.  There is a lot of dying to self here.  Picking up our cross- putting our husband and his needs (not the need we want to transpose onto him) before our self and the need we WISH he had.  God knows we are weak in this and we need the extra reminders to respect our husband.
Should we still love our husbands?  Yes.
But should we *shift* that love to the backburner?  I believe so.  Our love for our husbands is usually strong.  It does not need the extra time and attention that our respect for them does.  Our respect, at least mine, is sometimes weak and needs the extra time and effort I put into it.  I speak love fluently.  Respect is foreign to me but with God’s help and the instruction of this blog and several godly books I have been blessed with, I am learning.  I am still awkward at it but I am learning.  With time and practice, it can become a second language to me.
Respecting our husbands is serious business with God.  I want to leave you with one last thought.  I have observed that I fully understand the need to give others respect, such as my employer or the authorities in government like policemen.  I know that not respecting them will result in serious consequences, especially if it occurred repeatedly.  There are also consequences of disrespecting your husband.  We are sinning when we are disrespecting.  God is displeased and we lose intimacy with Him as well as our husband.  Those consequences should be motivating enough to me that I understand the seriousness of the need to give respect to my husband.
God does command us as wives to love our husbands – to affectionately love them (Titus 2:3-5) with the friendly love of “phileo.”
And God does command all believers to love all people with the God-kind of love, “agape” – which we can study about in I Corinthians 13:4-8.  THAT is the kind of love we are to have for them.  Sometimes our definition of love doesn’t match up with God’s.  Respect is part of agape love – “love is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it keeps no record of wrongs suffered….”
But I do love the picture of us as wives bringing respect more to the forefront and focusing on that because God did give us several commands to respect our husbands.  That doesn’t mean we must respect sin!  But as we meet our husbands’ deepest masculine needs and love them in the ways that most speak to them – we will bless and strengthen our marriages by the power of God as we walk in obedience to Him and in the power of His Spirit.
What is Respect in Marriage? – a number of husbands share what is respectful to them