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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

37 thoughts on “Love Him Less, Respect Him More – by a Fellow Wife

  1. A woman can love a small child. But they don’t have the kind of “respect” for the child that would be shown toward a grown man, because that small child has not matured yet.

    This does not imply disrespect, it only implies that a small child is not expected to be a mature adult with character and accomplishments worthy of admiration.

    But a woman can still love that child. When a woman loves her husband but does not respect him, she may regard him the way she regards a small child: Helpless, immature, in need of mothering. A woman can guide, teach, and discipline her child, and this is not showing disrespect. But to do the same to her husband is showing disrespect.

    Many men might no be able to articulate this, but they still instinctively realize that being on the receiving end of a woman’s familial love is not that great of an accomplishment.

    And men receive familial love from their moms, grandmothers, daughters, and other female relatives and even friends.

    What men instinctively realize though, is that a woman’s eros – passionate love – is much harder to earn, and that if a woman does not respect you, she won’t desire you.

    This is why it is more important for women to learn to truly respect their husbands. Because even outward displays of respectful behavior do not always indicate that she really respects and admires him.

    So should she “fake” respect even if she isn’t feeling respectful? Yes, because there is still value in the effort.

    Two things work together to aid the process of helping women respect their husbands:

    1) Learn to take a balanced view of gender differences. Feminism has taught many women that when there are differences, it is because men are wrong and bad. So, learning that the female view is not the automatic “right” position will help remove some of the contempt women have for men.

    2) Learn to be more aware of their own faults, and do not keep a scorecard of flaws and failings, unless they are willing to start with a long list of their own flaws and failings.

    A woman will never desire a man with passionate love if she does not admire him. And she cannot admire him if she does not respect him.

    A woman’s passionate love – freely given, not from duty – is the missing element in many mens’ lives. A missing emotional nutrient that many men have learned to survive without.

      1. Jack, really appreciate the wisdom you share. The #1 and # 2 in particular. Have learned a lot about the gender differences and that is really helpful. My boss has a saying on his wall that says “Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different” How true it is that we woman tend to think our view is “right”.
        In regards to #2, I really need to be praying on that one. I wrap up respect with his behavior and when a bad habit is bugging me I super struggle to respect. It seems that I still want to think respect = what I consider respectful behavior.

    1. Thank you for this post, A Fellow Wife.

      Jack, thank you for your added perspective. Perhaps you or another man can enlighten me on this further as it would apply in my situation.

      My husband has a chronic illness that gives him good and bad days as it relates to suffering. I find myself having an inner struggle as to nurturing him on his bad days, but not mothering. It’s not that he complains about my doing it wrong, but I do sense at times that there’s a fine line here. I just don’t have a great grasp on where that line is drawn.

      Any suggestions?

      1. Julie, I wish I had more wisdom on this but I am sure some other wives with more experience and wisdom will weigh in and help you with this.

        But one thing that did come to me was perhaps you can ask him at a good time how you can best support him when he is feeling badly? Ask how you can be respectful of him at those times? What does he want and need from you then?

        I know with MY husband, when he is feeling badly, he appreciates me bringing him things and ‘nursing’ him in that way. Other than that, he prefers to be left alone. But each man is different.

        I am praying for you to find the right balance there.

        1. Thank you, A Fellow Wife. I will have a talk with him. Sometimes he has a hard time knowing how he feels about these types of topics. It literally takes a couple of years(!) or more before he’ll know what he was feeling at the time something happened. So different than how my brain works. lol.

    2. Jack,

      Thank you for your wise introspection here. It is eye opening to a woman.

      I do agree with you that there is some value in faking respect- in the context of “Fake it till you make it”. Because when women are first learning about respect- speaking from experience here- it feels so foreign and fake. I know that I had to kind of GROW into respecting my husband. And the more I practiced respecting him, the more I truly DID respect him. Over time, the balancing of faking shrinks and the balance of real and true respect grows. It is as if the scale begins to tip in the right direction over time. As we practice giving respect, we become more and more comfortable in that. At least that is my personal experience.

    3. Many men might no be able to articulate this, but they still instinctively realize that being on the receiving end of a
      woman’s familial love is not that great of an accomplishment.

      And men receive familial love from their moms, grandmothers, daughters, and other female relatives and even friends.

      What men instinctively realize though, is that a woman’s eros – passionate love – is much harder to earn, and that if a woman does not respect you, she won’t desire you.

      I think the reason it is difficult for us to articulate this ia that it invites a recitation of all the reasons we don’t deserve respect, which we are all too well aware of.

      For most of us, the world does a pretty good job of exposing our failings and weaknesses. Hopefully, we have a functioning conscience that will also chime in.

      Do we need occasional correction for our wives? Sure.

      Is this the primary thing we want or need from them? I suspect very rarely.

  2. With regard to the husband with medical issues.

    It’s probably an individual thing, depending on your relationship. Try to follow his lead on this (to the extent he expresses one).

    Avoid, as best you can, feeling pity. Pity is incompatible with admiration. Be cautious with complimenting him on how well he “handles” infirmity. If I had to take an educated guess, I would say that the best course is to help him only to the extent needed, and not to bring any attention to that help.

    If he wants to accomplish certain things on his own, don’t try to overrule him and insist on helping if he does not want it.
    Refrain from “instructing” him, or mothering.

    If he is taking unnecessary chances where it would be better if you were helping, then you could always approach it this way:

    “It makes me feel better to help you. Please let me do this for you, it matters to me.” or “I feel unneeded if you won’t let me help sometimes”.

    Men will do most anything for a woman they care about. And the truth is, it kind of IS about your needs. You want to be a help, and God bless you for that.

  3. A fellow wife, thank so much for this. There was an aha! moment when I read that “love” only appears once and then it is the friendly love of “phileo” and the “other instructions” over and over. God truly knows what we NEED to hear and hear again! I will truly be pondering and praying through that and the heart change needing to further happen in me. More transformation needed! Thank you Jesus!

  4. Jack has articulated so well a point that I have tried to express, many times, being the eros version of love. It is so true, that to me at least, erotic love is a measure of the respect my wife has for me.Not the only one, but a HUGE one.

  5. More needs to be thought through on admiration vs respect. Do they overlap? Is one hierarchial to the other?

    A quick thought:

    A woman might deeply respect a man without being attracted.

    However, I think admiration comes closer to eros love than respect does.

    Do women “respect” the celebrity men they find attractive? Probably not, since they don’t really know those men.

    Do they admire them? Obviously. Food for thought.

    1. It may be true that admiration is closer to eros love than respect, however I think there must be some level of respect, at least for their accomplishments in life in order for there to be admiration.So I think admiration is an acknowledgement of some trait they respect in a person.

  6. Jack, you have explained some things very well. I would like to ask for further explanation on something.

    As it relates to “instructing and mothering”. Sometimes my husband is in the position of doing something that I have had to do over and over and have found an efficient way to do. I am all about saving time, so in an attempt to be helpful to him in doing this task, I will offer my advice on how to do it or how it works best for me or something I would like done a certain way so that it doesn’t create more work for me later.

    He will try it his way, it doesn’t work, then he is mad it doesn’t work. I ask if he tried it this way or that way, or if he might try it xyz way next time. I am usually met with a huge sigh. I am not sure what to make of this. I am sure of one thing though-it definitely means he won’t do it that way and it feels like an “I told you so.”

    I have asked him before for a recipe for telling him things like this so he doesn’t feel like I am telling him he does everything wrong, but he can’t tell me. I don’t do this in everything, just things that I know he doesn’t know how to do or that he has little experience doing. How can I “teach him” things he doesn’t know without “instructing and mothering”?

    Let me give an example so its more concrete: He is primarily at home while I work. Many times over the years, I have completely cleaned the house on the weekend and had NO time to relax or recuperate after a long week at work and coming home to homeschool the kids. I suggested that if he give each child a couple of chores to do during the day and follow up with them in a couple minutes to make sure they are done, he could vacuum and sweep every day and the house would stay clean. Then on the weekend I could do a couple things and finish up instead of starting completely over after the toys have been left, books on the floor, dishes on the table, dishes in the sink, crumbs on the diningroom floor, living room full of blankets and toys and books all week.

    Suggestions are appreciated.

    1. With the humility of knowing that I am speaking out of turn, it sounds like you are attached to a certain outcome; i.e. the chores done your way.

      So, I’m afraid that answer to the question of how to get your husband to do things your way without making him feel bad is that you can’t. Adults, male or female, don’t like to be ordered around, and despite what our parents taught us about “please,” there aren’t any magic words that are going to change that.

      Practically speaking, I would prefer to be able to clean up my own mess than have my wife give out a giant sigh, clean it up for me, and tell me how I did it wrong. I’m not sure if that’s practical, but rather than swooping in and “saving” him from his mistakes, let him own the consequences of his choices. If those consequences are unacceptable, most guys will try something different next time.

      In short, instead of being “all about saving time,” try being all about respecting your husband.

      1. Johnmcg,

        Thank you for your response! I agree that wives in a situation like this will probably have to give up having control over how and when chores are done.

        A wife can say, “It would be awesome if y’all could work on X sometime this weekend. Thanks!” This should be in a cheerful voice and with a smile. If he does the chores, thank him. If he doesn’t – be gracious. The more pressured, criticized and lectured a man feels, the less likely he is to help.

        This is a great place for a wife to practice dying to self and giving up control. Respecting our husbands is a command if God for us. Having super clean floors is not. Sometimes things won’t be just as we want them to be – but we can learn to be joyful in Christ even when the house isn’t as clean as we would like.

  7. Hi A Fellow Wife! I love your analogies. I too am quite graphic,so the more analogies, the better I get it.:)

    Thanks too Jack for the manly wisdom. That was spot on.

    I guess respectful behavior (external) mimics true respect (internal). But, for it to really turn into the kind of respect the Lord wants of us wives, we have to allow God to transform our hearts. Though I believe that it sometimes works for us to “fake it till we make it”, we should only allow this for those early awkward times when we still have NO IDEA what this respect thing is all about… But in time, with God’s Grace, I hope the real RESPECT kicks in and the respectful behavior just becomes an outward manifestation of what we truly feel deep inside. 🙂 It really is all about what’s inside that truly matters. The Lord sees our hearts. 🙂

    God bless all of you here. It’s a wealth of knowledge yet again. 🙂

  8. Fellow wife, that gave me a very clear explanation, wow, I love the parables/analogies, Jesus used them all the time. I never heard one about respect and love, so I really am grateful for the breakdown, so needed in this season I’m in. Thank you Peaceful wife for the finishing, that was a great explanation to sum it all up.

    1. I am so glad it was helpful to you! It is something I still have to remind myself of daily. We are all a work-in-progress. 🙂

    2. Sharon,
      You are welcome! This is why I love to share lots of different wives’ stories. Each one has her own unique way of explaining how God changes her thinking and renews her mind. Each new analogy and each new insight helps all the other wives. 🙂

  9. Hi April, I am a single girl and have gotten to know a guy over the past couple of weeks who seems really nice. I know that he goes to church, and plays the drums during worship, comes from a christian home etc.
    However it isn’t clear to me whether or not he really is a person seeking God with all his heart.
    I kinda get the feeling that he just goes by habit?
    How could I ask these questions about his faith respectfully without seeming like I am interrogating him?

    1. Chloe,

      This is a great question! I don’t know that you ought to come straight out and ask him about that, but rather, as you talk with him and get to know him – observe him. Watch his life. Watch his priorities. Watch his character. Notice where he spends his time. Notice how he treats others. Watch his temper. Talk about things you are learning in the Word and invite him to share his insights. But, approach him as if you assume he IS growing and learning in his faith and that you are interested in getting to know his heart gradually over time. 🙂

  10. Hi, Am so trilled by all the responds women have sent via your blog, they are really educative, and for you………….you are really amazing……i have learnt to respect my husband more and to quit nagging and be the peaceful wife that God intends me to be, we communicate more now and have nice times together without arguments anymore, Thank you so much and keep blessing many homes with your stories.

    God bless you.

    1. Juan,
      It is wonderful to meet you! I praise God for what He is doing in your life and marriage. What an incredible answer to my prayers to hear your story. You blessed me greatly today! 🙂

  11. It is definitely easy for a woman, especially if she has been with her children all day, to transfer that kind of love and nurturing to her husband when he gets home. I used to wonder why my husband would get so irritated by my “mothering” him, which is what I perceived as love. Little comments such as “It’s cold outside, aren’t you going to wear a coat?”, “Don’t forget your lunch!”, and the most horrible, “Are you sure?” after he had already given me an answer, would drive him insane. I think this is a common mistake that a lot of wives make. I think that if you doubt if what you are saying could come across as mothering, it is best to not say anything at all. My husband is a grown man and knows what he is doing!

    1. Mrs. g.,

      So true, I don’t think most wives intend to sound disrespectful. We think we are being loving. But it is a blessing to our husbands when we treat them like men, not children. 🙂

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