If this is how you feel about God’s concept of respecting your husband – YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! You know, probably just about every wife on the planet feels this way at some point in her marriage (or every day in some cases!) And it’s a legitimate statement that husbands don’t always deserve respect from their wives. There is no perfect man on earth. I won’t argue with that one lick! Husbands struggle just as much with the command of God to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. They also think, “You don’t know MY wife! No man on earth could love HER! She’s impossible to please! She’s impossible to understand! She HATES me and doesn’t respect me as a man.” And husbands are absolutely right, too! There is no wife who always deserves love. There is no perfect woman on earth either.
So we are at a terrible stalemate. It kind of sounds like marriage is a recipe for total disaster and torture. Husbands don’t always deserve respect. Wives don’t always deserve love. Men really aren’t made to give selfless love naturally. And women aren’t really designed to give respect naturally. We are all miserably sinful people. When two sinners are married, they will deeply wound one another, misunderstand each other, think the worst of one another, and may eventually declare an all out war on each other – destroying themselves and their children, but not knowing what else to do.
THE SHOCKING TRUTH:
Husbands don’t deserve respect – but THEY NEED IT DESPERATELY!
Wives don’t deserve love – but THEY NEED IT DESPERATELY!
Sometimes when we as women least deserve our husbands’ love is when we most need it. Sometimes when men least deserve our respect as their wives is when it is most critical for us to give it.
IT ONLY WORKS GOD’S WAY
God designed marriage. God gave us commands in marriage – and they aren’t random or extraneous. The commands God gave us are THE ONLY WAY that marriage works!
- Sex is only for inside the marriage relationship – there is NEVER, EVER an exception.
- A husband and wife must forsake every other relationship, including their parents, and cling to each other.
- A husband must love his wife selflessly, putting her needs and interests ahead of his own.
- A husband IS the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church.
- A wife must respect her husband.
- A wife must acknowledge her husband’s God-given authority and headship (leadership) in the marriage and family and cooperate voluntarily with his leadership (unless he asks her to do something wrong).
If we insist on going our own way, we will destroy our marriages and families with our own hands and words. We have much power in our marriages to build each other up and make our spouse’s life heaven, or to devastate and kill our relationship and experience spiritual/emotional/sexual death at our own hands. Doing things by our wisdom and what we or the world think is best or think is right is a guaranteed ticket to pain, loneliness, anger, bitterness, resentment, hatred and suffering for all involved.
If we follow all of these patterns in the way that God prescribes, we will experience marriage to the fullest sexually, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It is a process. It won’t happen overnight, necessarily. God’s way is narrow and hard to accept. His way is VERY UNPOPULAR. But God’s narrow, difficult path leads us to holiness and to the most joyful, peaceful, blessed marriage relationship possible between every husband and wife! IT DOESN’T WORK ANY OTHER WAY! God’s way is the only way that leads to real intimacy and a healthy, thriving, beautiful marriage. And His way is the only way that produces godly children and prepares our children for healthy marriages, themselves.
First we have to die to ourselves, our desires, our plans, our thoughts, our wisdom. We need the power of God’s Spirit at work in us. We must humble ourselves before God and seek His face, acknowledging that He knows much better than we do. I must be willing to examine MY OWN contribution to the marriage and I must be willing to repent of every sin on my end. I have to stop looking at my husband’s laundry list of sins and only look at mine. I have to give up my MASSIVE pride and thinking I know best. I must become a diligent student of God’s Word and of what God says my husband needs and not focus on my own needs. I can look to God to meet my needs, and trust Him that He is going to take me and my marriage somewhere beautiful beyond description if I will commit to yielding myself to Him. EVEN IF MY HUSBAND CHANGES NOTHING ABOUT HIMSELF – God will change me, my husband and our marriage and family even if I am the only one who starts out on the path of obedience to God’s Word. Our God is a God of miracles and wonders! He is the loving, all-knowing Creator of the Universe and Designer of marriage. He alone holds the keys to abundant life in marriage.
God is concerned much more with using marriage to make me holy and more Christ-like than He is about my happiness. This is not a popular message in our culture of wanting everything instantly and where our own happiness is ultimate goal. I must be willing to lay down every idol that I have put before God in my life: my pride, my dreams, my goals, my happiness, my wants, my feelings, my money, my career, my health, my resentment, my anger, my bitterness, my grudge-holding, my refusal to forgive, my critical spirit. I must be willing to give up all of that and stop cherishing those things in my heart. And I must be willing to FORGIVE my husband LAVISHLY just as in Christ, God forgave me – or I will not be forgiven myself! I must be willing to embrace humility. I must be willing to give up MY rights. I must be willing to look out for the best for my husband instead of only looking out for myself. I must be willing to be the more spiritually mature one. I must be willing to live out the example of Christ’s love for my husband WITHOUT NAGGING OR PREACHING AT HIM! As I Peter 3 says, I can win my husband “without a word” by the reverence and purity and behavior of my life.
WITHOUT A WORD:
To a woman, there is no more difficult command than NOT TO TALK to our husbands about our faith, God and the Bible when we think our husbands aren’t right with God. (Our insight into our husband’s exact location in his faith can be very faulty, by the way!) The amazing thing is – our behavior is MUCH MORE POWERFUL than our words to our men! Our words, lectures, sermons, preaching, nagging, etc… just push our men away from us AND from God! If my husband believes that I hold contempt for him as a man and don’t respect him spiritually at all, my attitude will likely force him away from God, never to return again. But when my husband sees me serving him and God joyfully without mentioning his faults at all, and he sees me cheerfully accepting his decisions even when I strongly disagree with him, and he sees me putting all my trust in God and in him to work things out for my best… he is going to be DUMBFOUNDED. He will be confused. He will be intrigued. He will marvel at the Holy Spirit working in me to empower me to be pleasant, smiling, friendly, kind, and to admire him in spite of his faults. His own faults will be clearer and clearer to him without my constant rambling about it. Eventually, and it may take many years, he will want what I have! God can use the godly, Spirit-filled, respectful, peaceful, joyful character of a wife to draw a man to Himself. But our silence is pretty important! Our words about God/faith/the Bible must die and leave a respectful, quiet space for our men to hear themselves think and to be able to hear God’s still, small voice.
Precious wife, I know the struggle and the terror of realizing that I was not obeying God about respecting and submitting to my husband. I hurt our marriage deeply with my lack of respect (that I didn’t even notice!) and by me taking over and controlling things that were not rightfully mine to control. I am not speaking from some platform of perfection. But the GREAT NEWS that I want to share with you is that if you are willing to move in faith to obey God in spite of your fears, God can take you to the same beautiful place He has brought me! YOU can be a joyful, peaceful woman with a gentle and quiet spirit that does not give way to fear. YOU can learn to respect your husband – no matter who he is! REALLY!! You can learn to follow your husband and trust God to lead you and your family through this imperfect, sinful man.
God does not ask us to follow our men into sin. He does not ask us to respect what is sinful or unworthy of respect in our men. He does not leave us alone to learn to follow our husbands – this is about my trust in MY BIG GOD. I am ultimately not trusting my husband to lead me, I am trusting God to lead me through the spiritual authority of my husband over me. I believe this is my biggest test of faith as a woman of God! Do I trust God enough to allow Him to lead me through my husband?
Look for things in your husband that you can respect. Talk about those things. Build him up with your words. Give up the criticism, nagging, complaining, whining, correcting, instructing and overwhelming avalanche of negativity – which looks like hatred and contempt to your guy. Smile at your man. Praise him whenever you see him doing something you admire. Look at him with real adoration in your eyes again. Step back and follow his leadership even if and especially when you don’t agree. See what happens. He’ll start taking his decision-making much more seriously. He’ll feel all the weight of responsibility on him, and he will likely seek your opinion. Watch him stand taller as he becomes more confident in his leadership abilities. Watch what God does with his career and with his abilities as a dad and as a husband. God intends to use our respect and admiration to shape our husbands into the godly men God wants them to be! WOW! See if God doesn’t do some MIND BLOWING MIRACLES in your marriage like He has in mine!
Help us to be willing to surrender to Your wisdom and Your plan. Help us to commit to obey You even when we don’t agree, can’t understand and are terrified. Give us the faith to live the way You want to. Cleanse us of our own hideous sin and make us godly wives who can bless, build up, encourage and bring joy to our husbands! Let us model godly femininity for our children. Let us model a godly marriage for our children. Empower us by Your Spirit! Let us find the grace, mercy and strength we need at the foot of the cross of Jesus to become the women of Your dreams! Use us to change our homes, our husbands and our nations to honor You and to restore stability, joy, peace and strength to marriages in our homes and in Your church across America and around the world! Let these precious women discover Your adventure for them. Give them courage to step out and follow You in faith! Use them to shine brightly for Christ and to change the world for Your glory – starting with each of our own marriages.