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The Respect Knob


I have talked about “the respect knob” in past posts long ago, specifically referring to the idea that we don’t want to turn up the “volume” of our showing respect too high for men to whom we are not married. I want to elaborate a bit more on this idea. Bear with me, because I am still working through this analogy. Maybe y’all can help me clarify it and develop it more thoroughly. πŸ™‚

When we learn about the powerful concept of respect and what a need this is in every masculine heart – we must use this information wisely and in ways that honor Christ and our brothers, as well as unbelieving men. We must not play with men’s hearts, manipulate men with our knowledge, or use the things we have learned about respect to see if we can snag a man’s attention who is not available to us legitimately. This knowledge about what men most need is a precious treasure God is entrusting to us. Let’s be faithful stewards of that trust – and let’s be careful not to use this feminine power carelessly or to purposely cause pain.

  • Let’s only use our understanding of men and their needs to bless others, and especially let’s use it to bless our husbands.

The highest setting on our respect knob in our hearts and minds is reserved for God alone. That is the ultimate level of reverence, awe, and worship that we can possibly give of ourselves. Only God is worthy of this setting.

Then, coming down many, many steps – we have the respect setting for our husbands. I think of my internal level of respect in my heart as being separate from the level of respect I demonstrate externally. I hope that makes sense. I keep my internal respect knob set on “high” for my husband and for my brothers and sisters in Christ. (But not anywhere near as high as my setting for Jesus.)

I could personally turn my external “volume” of respect (the way I express respect) up much higher than it currently is in our marriage. Meaning – I could do many more things than I am currently doing to show respect for Greg in tangible ways. But Greg doesn’t like the volume up “too high.” He doesn’t like for me to do lots of things for him or make a big fuss over him. He is a pretty mellow guy, and mostly just appreciates me being at peace, being joyful, taking care of the house and children to whatever degree I think is best, spending time cuddling in the evenings, being receptive to him, and being his friend. I used to get frustrated earlier in this journey because I wanted to show him respect by doing a lot more things for him. But he likes my external respect volume to be at a relatively low level. He doesn’t need tons of praise, hours of attention per day, gourmet meals, or a spotless house – in fact, it stresses him out when I become a cleaning freak. Β  Actually, anything that stresses me out really bothers him. He mostly just likes me to be at peace, happy, joyful, and relaxed. Somehow, my spiritual/emotional/physical wellbeing really does something wonderful for his masculine soul.

Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17

I very consciously seek to treat all people with respect and honor and to have a high level of respect (and love) in my heart for everyone – to please God.Β ThenΒ there is a kind of respect that we use with people in positions of God-given authorityΒ – the government, church leaders, our bosses, parents (for young children), and husbands for wives. We submit to them andΒ respectΒ themΒ out of reverence for and submission to Christ (unless they ask us to clearly sin or condone sin).

My point with “keeping the external respect volume turned down a bit lower” for other men is not that I don’t respect other people or other men as much as I respect my husband, necessarily. But I don’t demonstrate as much tangible respect in my words, my expressions, and my behavior. I treat my husband with greater displays of respect than I use with men who are not my husband. And I focus on nurturing the respect in my soul for my husband specifically (in waysΒ thatΒ I don’t do for others) because this is a command of God for me as a wife.

I think this is similar to our “love knob.” The highest setting would be the love we have for God. Then way below that would be the love we have for our spouses and families. We are commanded to love all people with the love of God. But we would demonstrate love to non-spouses and non-family members in appropriate and different ways from how we would demonstrate love to our spouse.

We are to love and honor all people. Respecting people is part of godly love in I Corinthians 13:4-8a.

  • We respect that they are made in the image of God.
  • We respect that they are human beings who are precious to Christ.
  • We respect the position they have in our lives.
  • We acknowledge that God loves each one of them dearly.
  • We honor them and treat them well.
  • We show God’s love to those in the body of Christ – men, women, and children.
  • We show God’s love to unbelievers.

The caution we are to exercise around men who are not our husbands – is because if we lavish respect, praise, admiration, affirmation, and attention on other men, it is possible that we could create romantic attraction, or we may give the appearance to other people or the other men that we are romantically attracted to them. Or we may incite our husbands to jealousy. I want to see us treat all people, including other men with respect, but I want us to be careful to guard our hearts and marriages and Β not put a stumbling block in front of our brothers, our husband, or ourselves. I believe God calls us to love and respect others – while we are humbly aware that we are not above temptation into adultery and that we must guard our hearts and marriages from potential inappropriate interactions with other men.

Some simple things I do to guard my heart as well as to show proper respect for God, myself, my husband, my marriage, and other men:

  • dress modestly
  • avoid being alone with other men or having private messages/conversations with other men whenever possible
  • be aware of any sense that I am feeling tempted and talk to God, my husband, and/or accountability partners immediately
  • watch my motives for purity around other men
  • back way off from a man if I detect any “chemistry” or interest on his part or my part
  • copy my husband on correspondence with other men
  • pray only in groups if there are men present, not one-on-one
  • don’t go overboard with compliments, praise, affirmation, encouragement, or acts of service for other men

Some ways we can show respect to all of our brothers (and sisters) in Christ:

  • seek to honor them
  • be interested in their ideas
  • praise the good we see – when appropriate
  • pray for them
  • encourage them
  • smile
  • be friendly in appropriate, pure ways
  • avoid gossiping about them
  • assume the best about them
  • speak highly of them
  • stand up for them
  • encourage other women to respect them
  • encourage other women to seek to understand them
  • encourage other women to seek to bless them
  • listen to them
  • seek to understand their concerns and their perspective
  • extend kindness, grace, mercy, and compassion
  • teach younger women to be godly women and wives
  • pray for God’s Spirit of unity in the Body, in families and in marriages.

We can treat other men as brothers with total purity. We can guard our hearts. And we can be a blessing to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as our husbands, by allowing God’s love, His heart, and His truth to flow through us to others.


What Is Respect in Marriage?

Posts about Respect

Posts about Disrespect

45 thoughts on “The Respect Knob

  1. this could not have come at a better time in my life…. wow…. Thank you God for speaking to me through this blog.


  2. Not to dissect the point to far, but I kind of think of the upper levels of respect as having large amounts of admiration mixed in.

    I think that respect mixed with admiration is where things can start to get into the risk area.

    Actually, to think about it further, some people fall into romantic attraction with men they admire, but do not respect (the typical jerk-boyfriend, or the guy who dates the hot, bad woman).

    I’ll have to ponder this further – there is an element of emotion involved with admiration, whereas I think that respect could be emotion-neutral, in fact, it would be possible to respect someone you despise, such as an enemy nation, or a bad person at work who causes problems.

    Maybe it’s one of those four-squares:

    Respect with admiration
    Respect without admiration
    Admiration without respect
    Neither admiration nor respect

    This would be great – I could make little cards with that matrix on it, and check off one of the boxes “you are HERE” and hand it out to people…

    That ought to make me popular.

    1. Jack,

      That is definitely interesting to think about – how admiration and respect may relate – and where things begin to get risky. Thank you very much for sharing, my brother!

      I do need to develop this thought further. I also wonder – does admiration from a woman feel different to a man than her respect would feel? Or, could they both look similar? It seems to me that there could be a good bit of overlap between admiration and respect.

      You have given me a lot to think about. πŸ™‚

      1. Words, of course, tend to mean different things, especially such broad terms.

        I think respect is basically non-emotional, or at least low emotion.

        However… since a lot of people probably see a lot of overlap between these words, they also probably experience overlap as well.

        This is why you – showing respect – to male commenters or emailers may be mis-interpreted by them as admiration. Or, they may be so devoid of respect in their lives that even a smidge of respect feels like admiration. Hey, if I was starving, a bag of chips might taste like real meal.

        I have experienced – in my profession – very respectful treatment from very attractive women who are new to the business and seek my guidance. I have never mistaken this for attraction.

        Once in a while, however, you get someone who seems to have morphed respect into a emotion, in which case you can tell there is attraction.

        Best I can describe it is that admiration seems to be like respect, but also involves having some sort of affinity for that person.

        I deeply respect Margaret Thatcher, for instance, but was not especially attracted to her, for instance. I would also say I admire her, but I cannot say I was attracted physically.

        Okay, okay, let’s try this for a working model:

        Respect can be for someone you like or do not like (e.g. a boss who does a great job, but is unpleasant in personality).

        Admiration is positive-only respect. It is respect plus affinity for who they are as a person as well.

        Attraction is totally separate. You can be massively attracted to someone you know to be a real creep (male or female).

        Here’s the complicating factor – men know that they are judged by their accomplishments and “who they are” to a great degree. So, when a woman shows respect (which they may not experience often), it gives them a jolt of something they need, and at the same time appears to be an “attraction signal”.

        1. Jack,

          This is really helpful. Thank you for expounding on your thoughts on this topic.

          There is a difference between respect, admiration, and attraction. Although there certainly can be overlap. And I agree, that a man who is starving for respect at home may be attracted to a woman’s respect – even if she does not intend to attract him. Another issue is that I think friendliness can also be misinterpreted. I also know that if a woman focuses on what she respects about a man, and develops a positive relationship with him that is relatively close – where there is a lot of verbal or especially emotional sharing – she can often more easily develop feelings for him over time. It can be difficult for a woman to identify exactly when the attraction begins – because it may start out very unnoticeably and then grow. But when a man bares his heart and soul to a woman, that can draw her to him and become attractive even if she may not have thought of him as being attractive before. I hope that makes sense.

          This is awesome –

          Yes, I agree that respect can be for someone whether you agree with them or whether you particularly like them or not. I can respect the man who is currently president because he is in the position of God-given leader over our nation – whether I agree with him or not. And I can respect him without being attracted, absolutely.

          I like your definition of admiration.

          Attraction can be separate from respect or admiration. Yes, I also agree with that. A woman could feel that there is some chemistry or a man is attractive – whom she wouldn’t date because of her character and whom she didn’t respect.

          But, it seems to me, that when a woman’s respect/admiration/attraction all begin to swirl together for a man – that can be a particularly powerful combination.

          I know – after many discussions – on Peaceful Single Girl with a number of single men… that it can be really difficult for men to tell when a woman is attracted to them. And it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what triggers a woman to feel attracted to a particular man. That seems to be one of the most complicated issues in many ways.

          But I think that we as women do need to be cautious with demonstrating a lot of friendliness/respect/admiration for men who are unavailable to us – because I think that combination could be confusing or misleading for men – and we could also open the door to temptation for ourselves if we are not careful. I am not saying that we should frown at men who are not our husbands,that we should ignore them, or that we should be mean to them. I think we can treat them with honor, appropriate friendliness, encouragement, and respect. But I want us to be aware of how this can become a slippery slope.

          I would love to hear any ideas for ways we can show respect and honor to our brothers in Christ without coming across in misleading ways.

          Thank you for working with me on this important topic, my brother!

        2. HI Jack:
          Great stuff that you have written here. From my own personal opinion…when I verbally tell someone how much respect I have for them or choose words that mean the same thing… I do not use any type of any emotion-type tone (flirt or high pitch) in my voice. I make it pretty serious.
          I believe that since I show respect for myself and remain poised and sincere when I give out the compliment, these men do understand that it is not meant for the beginning of something like admiration. It is to feel APPRECIATED AND HONORED.

          It is meant to be said from me because I feel it and I sense it and I “honor” that person. I think that is what is missing …respect to me almost means “honor” just not as high up as the word sounds.

          If you use a sense of class when you are paying a compliment, I think it makes the other person feel good but I would hope they know it was meant as sincere and nothing more. I have yet to run into a problem. But I can see you have some wonderful comments and points!

          1. Jennifer,

            Great point about being careful not to come across as flirting. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and how you seek to show honor and respect, not attraction. πŸ™‚

            1. April, it would be great to see you do a video on this topic πŸ™‚ I think so many times men may mistake friendliness for flirting or attraction. Like Jennifer said, even a change in one’s voice can illustrate this. It would be great to have a visual to see how we can differentiate between friendliness and love for our brothers in Christ vs. flirting and attraction.

              1. Mrs. G.,

                That may be a good idea for a video! I think something that can be frustrating is that different women may act in similar ways but have different intentions. And different men may see the same behavior and interpret it differently. But – this is something we may be able to talk more about. πŸ™‚

                And yes, our non-verbal body language, expressions, tone of voice, and intentions are all part of whether we are flirting or just showing appropriate friendliness and the love of God. I think that the best way to differentiate would be to think about how we would treat our real life brothers in our family – and that would be similar to how we would treat our brothers in Christ.

              2. Haha – A “Do THIS, Don’t do THIS” video.


                “how to show respect to a guy without getting asked out after”.

  3. oh, I LOVE this! There is so much truth and solid stuff in this post. Honoring God first, how much respect to give, not to use respect/femininity as a manipulative tool or as a weapon, how to show respect. Man, I would love a series on these things (not suggesting you do, just thinking out loud). SO much good stuff!!

    I also love what Jack wrote. Very interesting to think about. There are folks I admire but don’t respect. I admire what they have accomplished, but not necessarily respect how they accomplished it. I might respect my boss, but not admire them. hmmm. The respect/admiration combination is something great to think about. I think he is really on to something. Thanks, Jack!

    Man, this is one of my absolute favorite posts!! (I say that a lot, but I get excited when wheels start turning).

    SO much good stuff here!

    1. Lee Ann,

      I’m so glad this blessed you. Yes, we could do a series on all of these topics. You know, I think “respect” has so many facets, similar to “love.” It would be neat to tease out all the different fibers and define them more precisely.

      Thank you for sharing, my sweet friend. If you think of any ways to clarify things, I am all ears. πŸ™‚

  4. Good morning
    I am so glad I found your blogs. I must say your blogs and videos have helped me so much in my new marriage..after being a single mother so long I lost a lot of myself. Which made my new marriage rocky at first. It took time for me to get it back in my head that my husband was the head of the family. I find every time I have a ill thought in my head or showing direspectful actions I watch one of your videos and pray.. Thank you so much..

    1. Melissa,

      I’m so thankful to God that He is using these posts and videos to bless you and your marriage. May God continue the good work He has begun in you, my sister! πŸ™‚

  5. I am new to this journey of respect and submission. I just want to lay down and cry over the way that I have treated my husband… and most of it was not intentional or not even realized until I began to examine myself. I love this man with all of my heart and he has shut me out…. due to my lack of respect, controlling, and being demanding. I cannot change the past but with the help of our Almighty God, I can make a new future for us. I am just so afraid its too late. He won’t touch me very often and at times will not look at me. I am praying nonstop but I am having to check my motives. I know i have made him and idol and its so hard to tear that out. I find myself still expecting certain things from him and getting disappointed when I don’t get what i am expecting.
    How do I change my motives? How do I get to the place where I am doing this for God and to bless my husband to but feel at peace if things never change?? Sometimes I truly feel at peace and then something happens – my demon pops up telling me its never going to change and that it is hopeless. Please pray for me and for my precious husband.

    1. The only thing we can do when we are up against a hopeless situation is to remember that we gave up our own lives at the Cross, along with Christ.

      Christ lives in us – when we can’t get we want, we can at least use that time to give the Lord what He wants. If I can’t be happy now, perhaps I can make God happy.

      Certainly, He deserves to be pleased more than I do…


      My best advice is not to go overboard trying to “correct” the situation. This can become nothing more than a different kind of fear/control.

      Correct yourself (rather than the situation), submit to the Lord, and treat your husband in a Godly manner.

      Don’t worry if he does not respond right away. Some men see sudden kindness as suspicious – just another control tactic. But be kind without expecting results. Be kind and respectful because it is right to do those things.

      In time, God will remind him that he must respond, and he must forgive.

      The battle is the Lord’s.
      Act in faith, and leave the rest to Him.
      It will all be okay.

      1. Thank you, Jack. I really needed that. I am really trying to give up everything and submit to the Lord! And thank you Peaceful Wife for sharing your journey.

    2. Trying to Get It,

      I relate so much to your pain! I had no idea how much I hurt Greg and how disrespectful and controlling I had been for over 14 years and didn’t see it at all until God suddenly opened my eyes tonall of my sin in December of 2008. I was mortified! I had never had to really face the fact that I wasn’t just a sinner, but I was a WRETCHED sinner. I wanted to go live in a cave by myself for the rest of my life. I realized that every motive in my heart and almost every thought in my head was sinful. I didn’t know how to stop the disrespect and control and I had no idea what it meant to respect and honor my husband.

      I think you are in the right place, my precious sister. πŸ™‚

      I have many posts here about all of these issues. When I began this journey, Greg would hardly look at me, listen to me, or touch me. He was totally shut down. I didn’t know if he would change or not. I begged God to give me time to try to make things right and be the wife He wanted me to be and that Greg needed. It took 3.5 years before Greg felt safe with me again. He stayed shut down for a long time, not sure that the changes in me were real. I had to learn to ask God to change me just to please Him and bless Greg, even if Greg never changed.

      It is heart breaking to finally see the pain our husbands have experienced from us. Most of us don’t realize what we are doing and it is a total shock when we find out how much we have wounded our husbands that we dearly love.

      You can check out the posts at the top of my home page as a good place to start. You can also search my home page for:

      – respect
      – disrespect
      – control
      – fear
      – bitterness
      – idol
      – idolatry
      – security

      I am always glad to hear from you! I am praying for healing for you, your husband, and your marriage!!!

      Much love and the biggest hug!

  6. This respect thing among men and husbands is a matter of disrespect and respect.
    Husbands can be dealt with a balance of respect from their wives and men who are not your husband is a matter of not being blatantly disrespectful.

    Unbalanced, a husband is ignored for his wisdom, criticized frequently and physical needs are treated with indifference.
    unbalanced, this same wife listens to wisdom from a man who is not her husband and treats him appropriately for his status and she makes comparisons between both men. (ow!)
    I want to not forget that women have needs too and the man needs to be put in his place when acting unloving or cruel. How this balance is done without a war…I have no idea.

  7. I treat my husband with great respect. I have an issue where we met at 50 and married. He has female friends who call, text, and stop by when I am at work. I get upset, he does not understand. These are his “buddies” he hung with for years. We argued and I just want peace. I pray and have put it in God’s hands, asking for a marriage God would bless.

    1. sundaze1113,

      I can understand why you would be upset about that. What does he say about your concerns? Is he willing to compromise and only get together with them when you are there, or copy you on any texts?

      How is your walk with Christ going?

      Is he a believer?

      My heart aches for you. I am praying for you, my dear sister!

  8. I totally get the point you are making here and wholeheartedly agree with it, as well as the comments agreeing to it. Here’s a different thought I had, though, regarding what you said about your husband’s need for respect and your knob being not fully turned up.
    I think the fact that your husband is able to communicate to you what his desire of honor and respect are to him, and the fact that your goal is to meet that desire perfectly would indicate that your knob is turned up to the highest level. The story in the Bible (Leviticus 10) of Nadab and Abihu comes to mind. These two men, along with a few others, had just heard the Lord communicate exactly how He wanted His people to worship/honor/respect Him. However, not long after, Nadab and Abihu chose to worship/honor/respect God differently than what they had just heard. The Bible describes it as “a strange way”. As a result, the fire came out from the Lord and it devoured them!
    The Bible is God’s beautiful love story and marriage covenant to His people, similar to the vows we, as wives made to our husbands on our wedding day. How important/imperative it is to know and understand exactly what our Lord and husbands are communicating and then that we would crank our “knobs” up to full blast!

  9. This is a great post! I really enjoy treating Christian men with some sisterly affection and pouring praise, encouragement, and respect over them, but I’m 50 now and I’ve been married for a long time. That dynamic is a bit different from what it may have been 20 years ago. I’m always in a group with men, too, not alone. It’s not that I don’t trust them, it’s just that I don’t wish to make them uncomfortable or give them the wrong idea.

    There are also some men who are not very nice and no, I do not submit to them. In fact, I have to watch myself and not get too fierce about it. Women are not to be in submission to all men at all times. On the other hand, even broken or hostile men are entitled to some degree of civility and being in Christ does call me to refrain from tossing tea cups at their heads. πŸ˜‰

    My husband does get all of me, there are things that I will allow him to decide or do because he does have my respect, because I trust him. I like what you said about the knob, because my husband doesn’t like me cleaning like mad or being distressed trying to please him, either. He’s very sweet, he usually just likes me to be peaceful and happy and to act as if I appreciate him and enjoy his company.

    1. insanitybytes22,

      Thank you so much for sharing your insights! Love this!

      Thankfully, we are only called as believers to submit to the government, our bosses, church leaders, our parents when we are underaged children, and as wives – to our husbands. And, of course, if someone is asking us to go against God’s Word, “we are to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:28-29 So – we don’t have to, nor should we, submit to other men. But we can treat others with decency, respect, propriety, and especially – a lack of disrespect.

      Thanks for sharing about your husband. I love hearing about your story. πŸ™‚

  10. A qualifier piece like this is surely very productive for a lot of reasons. πŸ™‚

    The times I thought women were attracted to me (and turned out to be right) was indeed a lot of over-the-top of what you might call “respect and admiration.” I’m not sure I’d put it that way–it’s definitely a tricky thing to qualify black and white.

    I tend to think of it more in terms of being kind of “absorbed” in me if that makes sense–very active in trying to get to know me and it was really obvious that things in their personal behaviors changed in response to what they found out about me (though I didn’t tell them to do anything). I felt quite a bit in their sights and that they were trying to get “close” in a very particular way.

    And hey, sometimes commonplace misunderstandings happen all the time. For all the stories of men mistakenly thinking a woman was into them, other times men can be oblivious when a woman IS into them.

    The other way I look at it, though, in most other cases, some interactions will be a certain way simply because a man is a man and a woman is a woman and are just behaving as they are. I tend to feel different interactions as different types of love, respect, or honor–though of course, you’re saying that too. πŸ™‚

    One thing is for sure: a lot of loving, feminine women are definitely an “antidote” to the hostility that many/most of us are feeling from some women in the post-feminist world. In recent years I’ve developed better and better sensors to real subtle feelings of contention and disrespect from women certain places, understanding what was going on, because of the contrast I’ve been afforded by such wonderful counter-examples.

    Femininity can just bless any social atmosphere too, giving it safety and “lubrication,” that sensitivity for details in other people, the social awareness.

    There is definitely a lot of inappropriateness out there and so much sickness. I pray that God helps all of us “get it right.”

    Thanks for another message of love and well-meaning to all people. πŸ™‚ I am greatly moved.

    Everything that you are saying here about how to honor men (and women) should be obvious just from the way you always speak to men and women on your blog. I think it is also great that you took a bit of a detour to “counterbalance” other messages as you tend to do (you’ve had to do for people in various areas).

  11. How about this for an aphorism?

    “Dignity is a gift you give yourself. Respect is someone graciously wrapping it for you”.

    1. I gotta hand it to ya Jack. That is awesome! Did you just make that up or did you find that somewhere? You have quite the way with your words. Congratulations! .

        1. Jack,

          I would be interested to hear your take on today’s post, if you are interested. I have a feeling you may be able to shed some light on this topic for us. I always appreciate your perspective on these topics that can be tough for us as women to wrap our minds around.


  12. I had a thought that I forgot to post earlier when I was thinking about it.

    I’ve noted a LOT of women (online) who have said they have respect for their husbands and advocate “biblical submission” and so on, and then they treat other men with a ton of disrespect–contentious, bossy and moralistic in a self-righteous (judgmental) way with men in particular. I’m sure they would say “but other men aren’t my husband,” but then I think, if they love their husbands, how do they feel about the idea that their own husbands are being disrespected by other women also? I tend to wonder that, as well as things like supporting pastors who speak abusively and without love to men (such as their husbands) from the pulpit.

    1. JC,

      I think that it is pretty obvious from God’s definition of agape love in I Corinthians 13:4-8 that none of us as believers get a free pass to be rude, disrespectful, hateful, self-righteous, contentious, or sinful in any other way toward anyone on the planet.

  13. I expounding on your motivation and i respect you thought. If you respect someone then you must get back respect from someone. Its happens from god. And if our god be happy with us then sure happiness come.

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