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Respect Doesn’t Work on My Husband

1363174_99728195We are looking at some FAQs that I receive in this series.

  • 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.  
  • Respect doesn’t work on my husband.
  • But I’m right!
  • I’m so scared to give up control!  Everything will fall apart if I don’t take charge!
  • 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?

7. My husband isn’t changing at all.  

Let me share some secrets with you that will help to reframe our thinking:

  • It’s going to be extremely important that we don’t make “changing our husbands” our goal.  We are not God’s Spirit.  We are humans.  We don’t change people.  Only God changes people.  We can INFLUENCE people – but we must wait on God to change people.  God commands us to love and respect our husbands as they are right now.
  • Seeking to become the godly wife Jesus wants me to be, seeking to please Him, honor Him and bless my husband have to be my goals.  I will have to constantly check my motives and re-set my eyes on Christ when I start to feel discouraged.  I need to focus on asking God to change ME.
  • Disappointment and frustration are usually signals to me that I am putting something before Christ in my heart and that I need to check my priorities and motives – especially to see if I am putting something above Christ in my heart.
  • It’s actually a blessing that husbands don’t change quickly in this process.  If they did – we would continue with our idols of wanting to “feel loved,” romance, trying to be in control and trying to change our husbands ourselves – as if that is our place.    We would also find our contentment in our idols instead of in Christ.  God is not going to let me find contentment, peace and joy in anything but Himself.  The fact that it usually takes husbands many months or even years to change gives us a chance to refine our motives and learn to keep our eyes on Jesus no matter what our husbands do or do not do.
  • Husbands are “slow responders” to change many times.  That is a great thing because they tend to be more steady and stable emotionally than we sometimes are as women.  Some husbands don’t like change – even “good” changes.  They like consistency usually and like things to be predictable.  It is a strength for a leader to be consistent and not easily swayed and moved by feelings or rash and hasty decisions.  It is also a great strength of a leader not to be swayed by someone’s emotional plea.  If your husband has not allowed you to control him or change him – PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!!!  That is because he is a strong leader and he wants to do what is right and not allow himself to be coerced into something that he doesn’t agree with.  It means he has a backbone.  It means he stands for his convictions.  These are GOOD things.  I have heard it said,

“The only thing worse than a husband you can’t change is a husband you can change.”

  • When God starts to change you – it is probably going to freak your husband out a bit.  He is going to be really confused.    He won’t know what is going on.  And most likely, he will not say a word to you about it.  Give him time.  He needs to see that this is not a phase, it is not a fad, it is the new you in Christ.  As he sees that this is for real and it is a permanent thing (not that you are perfect, but that you generally actually respect him and that you cooperate with and honor his leadership) – he will begin to eventually feel safe and start to let down his guard.  The more wounded he has been by your disrespect and control, the longer it will take him to begin to trust you.  But usually it is many months  or a year or longer.  There are occasionally husbands who never change.  That is more rare.  You can still experience God’s peace and joy and be a godly wife even if your husband never changes.  And, God is able to lead us through our husbands, even if they aren’t believers.  If our husbands aren’t asking us to clearly violate God’s Word, God may be leading us through them.
  • Even if your husband never does change, it is important to accept him as he is and to learn to love him with God’s love and find things to respect about him.  It’s good and healthy, in my view, to assume he is not going to change and just to love him, accept him and honor him right now for the man he is today.
  • Respect is how we as disciples of Christ should treat everyone.   Respect comes out of MY character.  It has very little to do with the other person and very much to do with my character and my heart.  I respect others out of reverence for Christ.  I especially am careful to respect those who are in positions of God-given authority over me – my husband, my church leaders, government leaders, police officers, my boss/supervisors/managers, etc.  By God’s power living in me… I use manners.  I am not selfish.  I am kind.  I am not rude.  I am not arrogant or prideful.  I am self-controlled.  I am polite.  I behave more like Audrey Hepburn and less like guests on Jerry Springer.  I don’t yell and scream at others.  I don’t bully them.  I don’t cuss.  I don’t gossip.  I don’t bash people verbally in public.  I don’t use sarcasm to hurt people.  I don’t make other people the butt of a joke.   I don’t humiliate them.  I don’t seek to insult them and call them awful names.  This is part of being full of God’s Spirit.  I find the good to appreciate and focus on.  I have a thankful spirit.  I use wholesome words that bless others.  I learn to look at people with the love of God and with His perspective. (I Corinthians 13:4-8, Philippians 4:8)  I don’t use my words to destroy others.  I use my words to give life, to heal and to build up.
  • At first, I will have to hold in all my negative thoughts and comments and it will feel like trying to hold back an ocean of negative emotions.  But, as God helps me to take each thought captive and to replace my sinful thinking with godly and biblically sound thinking – eventually, I won’t even think the sinful, disrespecting, prideful, idolatrous and controlling thoughts – and can kick any tempting sinful thoughts to the curb immediately.
  • God will reward your obedience to Him in heaven no matter what your husband does here.  Jesus counts the way you treat your husband (and other people) as if you are doing those things for Him.  (Matt 25:31-46)  My level of respect and biblical submission to my husband are an outward indicator of the level of reverence and submission I have for Jesus.  Jesus says, “Anyone who loves Me will obey My commands… Anyone who does not love Me will not obey My commands.” (John 14:21,23)  

Some reminders – God’s commands for me as a wife are to (this list is not exhaustive):

– respect my husband (Eph. 5:33 – note that there are no qualifications.  God’s Word simply says “Wives must respect their husbands” it doesn’t say IF they deserve it or WHEN they love us the way we want them to.  God holds us accountable to obey what He commands to us no matter what our husbands do or do not do just like He will hold husbands accountable to love us as Christ loved the church no matter what we do or do not do.)

submit to my husband/honor his leadership as I honor God’s leadership so that the gospel of Christ might not be maligned (Eph. 5:22, Titus 2:5) (Spiritual Authority)

– affectionately love him (Titus 2:3 – phileo love)

– have self control, be kind, live a pure life (Titus 2:3-5)

– not use words about spiritual things to try to drag a wayward husband to God, but to live out real respect for him with my attitude and behavior (I Peter 3:1-6)

– have a gentle, peaceful spirit that does what is right and does not give way to hysterical fear (I Peter 3:1-6)

– be giving and generous of myself with my husband sexually, not withholding sex from him. (I Corinthians 7:1-5)

– do him good and not evil all the days of my life (Prov. 31)

– all the commands about how I am to love others, forgive others, repay evil with good, bless those who curse me, pray for those who mistreat me – all apply to how I treat my husband, too.

8. Respect “doesn’t work” on my husband.

God designed men to need respect.  Unless there are SERIOUS sin issues, abuse issues, mental disorders or addictions going on – most men DO respond to respect in time – meaning, respect is a deep masculine need in every man’s heart.  Most men, when they know they are genuinely respected and honored by others, respond by wanting to serve and protect.  In marriage, a wife’s respect can inspire her husband’s love.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Sometimes a wife hasn’t fully understood all the ways she has been showing disrespect to her husband.  She may think she is being totally respectful, but if he still feels disrespected by her body language, her tone of voice, her rolling her eyes, her sighing, her dictating things to him, her undermining his authority as a dad, her over-involvement in his family’s drama, her lack of support as he handles a contentious ex-wife … or whatever it may be – there is still a problem she needs to address.  ALL of the intentional and unintentional disrespect has to go.
  • Sometimes a wife tries to respect her husband for a day or two – and she doesn’t see any changes, so she declares that “respect doesn’t work” on her husband.  This is not something we do for a day or a week or a month.  This is something we do until the day we die because it is a command of God to us as wives.
  • Sometimes a wife thinks that her respect will fix her husband’s serious pornography addiction, alcoholism, drug addiction, PTSD, ADD, Asperger’s, severe depression or some other serious sin issue, mental health problem or spiritual problem in his life.  A wife’s respect can be very healing.  But we can’t change people.  We can’t heal people.  If our husbands have these kinds of issues, they need a lot more help than we as wives can give by ourselves.  They may need medical help.  They may need godly counsel from a godly male mentor.  Our respect doesn’t fix every issue in a man’s heart.  Our respect does meet their deep masculine needs – but there are things that are beyond the reach of our respect.
  • Sometimes a wife has the motive “I’m going to change my husband.”  Husbands can see through that.  Fake respect doesn’t count with men.  It has to be real.
  • Some wives try to be respectFUL but don’t really respect their husbands.  I did this for awhile.  It doesn’t work.  I have to ACTUALLY find things I really respect about my husband for him to feel respected – just like we as wives want our husbands to genuinely love us for who we are, not just be loving.
  • Some wives try to respect their husbands but they don’t show respect for themselves as women, that is not going to work. If that is you, please check out this post and this eCourse by Nina Roesner, Strength and Dignity. The goal is to respect God, our husbands, and ourselves (properly) all at the same time.

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A FEW MORE OBSERVATIONS ABOUT RESPECT :

– Your respect will not turn your husband into a woman – THANKFULLY!  He will still think and act like a man.  He is not going to suddenly think like a woman and want to sit face to face and talk about feelings automatically.

– Your respect will probably  make him feel loved and relaxed. THAT IS GOOD!

– Your respect may well increase his sexual appetite for you because he feels so loved. That is a good thing. To a lot of husbands, sex = love in marriage.

– Your respect will not make him be a mind reader! It is necessary and important to respectfully share your needs, feelings and desires.

And YES!

We do need to lay down our expectations that “if I respect him, he will love me the way I want him to.” This is ultimately about pleasing God, obeying God and blessing our men.

Here is my youtube video on this topic.

Respect Doesn’t Work on My Husband

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