Respecting Our Husbands as Fathers – Part 1

My husband and children at Legoland in historic Cypress Gardens
My husband and children at Legoland in historic Cypress Gardens 2012

Here is one Christian husband’s response to this post earlier in the week:

Thank you for this post. Your advice is spot on!

The thing that I want from my wife is input and cooperation, not demands, domination, manipulation or deception.

The former draw me to her, the latter drive me away from her.

I want to reiterate what you say about wives not undermining or overruling their husbands with the children.

The scripture is pretty clear that children are to obey their parents. When my wife overrules or undermines a decision I have made or a command that I have given, she teaches our kids that I should be ignored. 

The long term effect this has had is that my children stop listening to me. They just tune me out. I become more and more disengaged and leave the parenting duties to her. 

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I don’t think most wives realize the long term consequences of undermining our husbands’ spiritual authority in the family. I know I didn’t until God opened my eyes to all of my disrespect, pride, control, self-righteousness, etc… in Dec 2008.

My husband had become very unplugged with me and our children. I was constantly asking (or demanding) for him to do more with us.

I had NO CLUE why he had unplugged. I thought he was just unloving.

Now I know, of course, that I had disrespected him and taken over control. Now I know that I wouldn’t listen to him and wouldn’t support his parenting and thought I always “knew best” since I had read more books about parenting. :( It’s heartbreaking to me now to realize how destructive my attitudes, words and actions were at times back then. In front of the TV, he was safe. With me, he was not very safe at times.

When I began to learn about respect and biblical submission. I seriously felt like I was trying to learn some VERY foreign language – without a teacher. That is how little it all made sense to me at first.  It took me over 2 years of constant study, prayer and journaling (for hours a day almost every day) to BEGIN to feel like I remotely had a clue what I was doing.

Soon into my journey into being a godly wife, I began to talk to our children (our son was 7 and our daughter was 2) and say things all throughout the day like:

– God made husbands/dads to be the leaders in the family.

– I was wrong to try to be in charge of things before.  I am so sorry.  I hurt you and I hurt Daddy by the way I treated Daddy.  I don’t want to do that anymore.

– Daddy is in charge now the way God’s Word says he is supposed to be. We will all treat him with respect.

– Please use a respectful tone of voice to Daddy and to me.  That wasn’t a respectful tone of voice.  Please try saying that again respectfully.

– That was a disrespectful attitude.  Please apologize for talking to Daddy/me like that.

– Obey Daddy and Mama because God commands you to obey your parents so that you can please God and you can have a long life.

– If one of us says no to something, don’t ask the other parent. It will be “no” from both of us.

– Your Daddy asked you not to jump on the couch. I know he’s not here right now – but we are going to honor him and obey him whether he is here or not.

– (If a child is slow to obey my husband) You heard what Daddy said. Please obey Daddy now.

– That decision is up to Daddy (for bigger decisions). We will honor whatever he decides. You  may ask for what you want respectfully, just one time, and then please accept whatever he decides is best.

We will continue this discussion in Part 2 tomorrow! 🙂

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

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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.
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
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.
RELATED:
What is Respect in Marriage? – a number of husbands share what is respectful to them

“Your Blog Made Me SO Angry!”

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An email I received from a dear wife.  LOVE this.  I receive a lot of emails in this same vein.  Many wives say things like, “I hated you and I loved you.”  The stuff I share is HARD to hear.  We aren’t used to being confronted with our sin as women.  That is PAINFUL.  And we aren’t used to obeying God’s commands for us as wives many times.  It doesn’t make sense to our sinful nature or our logic to do what God says to do.  In fact, His commands are counter-intuitive, counter-cultural and totally un-politically correct.  And yet, God’s way works.  His wisdom is infinitely higher than our own.  Thank you to this precious sister in Christ for allowing me to share:

I was looking for something totally unrelated to your blog and ran across it-I really don’t know why I am contacting you, but hear me out. This is not a negative email, but it may look that way at first.

I am a Christian wife and mom.

Now, I have read Laura Doyle’s “The Surrendered Wife” book – incidentally it was actually stolen along with my little red prayer book from my workbag one night when I’d left the van unlocked. Someone must really have been in need.  Anyway, I digress.

A few years ago I read her book and also did a challenge for 30 days.  At the end of all the encouraging emails and texts and effort I put in with my husband that month (I felt quite proud of myself and was certain he would also), all he said was

“You did all that because someone in a book told ya to?”

I was livid – plus hurt and betrayed and at that moment I was DONE with all the surrendering. Let’s just say I reverted big time.  

I had been arguing and fussing and nasty to my husband and being a holiday coming up, my disrespectful behavior was out in full force. Everything that didn’t go my way seemed to be my hubby’s fault, why couldn’t he just see that?

Monday I stumbled upon and read your blog, and

I read as far as I could stand it. My initial feelings were revulsion and disbelief.  

  • I couldn’t believe this just popped up when I wasn’t even looking for it, and who cares about this “Peaceful” wife and her playing the doormat for her husband?

I set my tablet aside in disgust and refused to read anymore.

Wednesday was bad and Thursday was worse.  I complained and fussed and was generally unbearable most of the holiday morning.  I can see this clearly now for some reason. I even called my mom to complain, she was Christian and loving enough to correct me right then and there.  After speaking with my mom, I felt bad – but not like condemned bad.

I felt convicted.  

I didn’t rehash everything with my husband, but I went to him and apologized.  I told him I was totally ashamed at my behavior and I would work on it.  He graciously and lovingly held me and whispered that everything was alright.

We ended up having a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.  That night,  I started to analyze events over the past week.  For some reason, I picked up my tablet again and read more of the blog.

I began to see that this wasn’t me and my hubby as much as it was me and God.  About my inability to trust God.  

If anyone asked me, I would say God gave me my husband, made just for me.

  • So did I or did I not believe God?
  • Was I really so prideful that I couldn’t see any other way but my way?
  • Just what was I so afraid of that I try to control everything to save my feelings and what I thought was right?

I began to see that when I was anxious and complaining and afraid things wouldn’t turn out like I wanted, I wasn’t trusting God.  Wow.  Just like that. So I was being prideful, willful, arrogant. I hadn’t realized I was behaving in opposition to the way the Lord wanted me to.  I hadn’t before grasped the seriousness of that thought.  I thought I was being a great Christian and quite frankly, my husband was the one who should be working to get right.  When I read this line in the about section of your blog “Apparently, I was extremely spoiled, selfish and spiritually immature but I didn’t know I was“, I felt as if that was written about me!

  • How could I not have known?

It wasn’t revealed to me until that moment, when I unconsciously had cried out to God that I wasn’t happy, He showed me why I was unhappy and gave me the means to start anew.

So my initial feelings did turn into shame, but morphed into resolve.

I began to see that I didn’t go about surrendering before for the right reasons. Then I wanted pats on the back, I wanted to feel like a “superior being” endeavoring to be good to my inferior husband because I was so “good” and he was “so beneath me,” really.

Now I want to be the wife God wants me to be since he gave me this husband just for me.  I just wanted to tell you how I almost cannot put into words the feeling for God this revelation gives me. How He loves me enough to give me the understanding about this.  The wisdom He has I cannot fathom but me coming across your blog written in a way that I can identify with at just the right moment feels so awesome.  It feels how “right” feels. I know this was a long email but I felt like I had to tell someone and I felt like you would understand.  I am on the right path now, I think and just wanted to let you know how God used your blog to help me when I needed it.

Thanks so much for listening (reading).

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

PRAISE GOD!

What an incredible answer to my prayers to see God change women’s hearts, bring them to conviction and true repentance and then see them set out on God’s narrow path that leads to life!  WOOHOO!  It just doesn’t get any better than this! 

Respecting Our Husbands as Fathers

My husband and children at Legoland in historic Cypress Gardens
My husband and children at Legoland in historic Cypress Gardens

Here is one husband’s response to this post earlier in the week:

Thank you for this post. Your advice is spot on!

The thing that I want from my wife is input and cooperation, not demands, domination, manipulation or deception.

The former draw me to her, the latter drive me away from her.

I want to reiterate what you say about wives not undermining or overruling their husbands with the children.

The scripture is pretty clear that children are to obey their parents. When my wife overrules or undermines a decision I have made or a command that I have given, she teaches our kids that I am not a competent father and that I should be ignored. Rather than bringing peace and unity to our home, it creates conflict and strife. When I react to her lack of respect, then she goes into attack mode condemning me for my reaction to her sin.

The long term effect this has had is that my children stop listening to me. They just tune me out. I become more and more disengaged and leave the parenting duties to her. Then, when a child is not listening to her, she demands that I support her with the child so that she can regain control with her. My response to my wife is, ‘Why should I do for you, what you never do for me?’ This just invites attack and condemnation.

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I don’t think most wives realize the long term consequences of undermining our husbands’ spiritual authority in the family. I know I didn’t until God opened my eyes to all of my disrespect, pride, idolatry of self and being in control, self-righteousness, etc… about 5 years ago.

My husband had become very unplugged with me and our children. I was constantly asking him to do more with us.

I had NO CLUE why he had unplugged. I thought he was just unloving.

Now I know, of course, that I had disrespected him and taken over control. Now I know I wouldn’t listen to him and wouldn’t support his parenting and thought I always “knew best” since I had read more books about parenting. :( It’s heartbreaking to me now to realize how destructive my attitudes, words and actions were at times back then.

When I began to learn about respect and biblical submission. I seriously felt like I was trying to learn Chinese or some VERY foreign language – without a teacher. That is how little it all made sense to me at first.  It took me over 2 years of constant study, prayer and journaling to BEGIN to feel like I remotely had a clue what I was doing.

Soon into my journey into being a godly wife, I began to talk to our children (our son was 7 and our daughter was 2) and say things all throughout the day like:

– God made husbands/dads to be the leaders in the family.

– I was wrong to try to be in charge of things before.  I am so sorry.  I hurt you and I hurt Daddy by the way I treated Daddy.  I don’t want to do that anymore.

– Daddy is in charge now the way God’s Word says he is supposed to be. We will all treat him with respect.

– Please use a respectful tone of voice to Daddy and to me.  That wasn’t a respectful tone of voice.  Please try saying that again respectfully.

– That was a disrespectful attitude.  Please apologize for talking to Daddy/me like that.

– Obey Daddy and Mama because God commands you to obey your parents so that you can please God and you can have a long life.

– If one of us says no to something, don’t ask the other parent. It will be “no” from both of us.

– Your Daddy asked you not to jump on the couch. I know he’s not here right now – but we are going to honor him and obey him whether he is here or not.

– (If a child is slow to obey my husband) You heard what Daddy said. Please obey Daddy now.

– That decision is up to Daddy (for bigger decisions). We will honor whatever he decides. You  may ask for what you want respectfully, just one time, and then please accept whatever he decides is best.

CHILDREN LEARN SUBMISSION TO GOD-GIVEN AUTHORITY FROM THE WAY THEIR MOTHERS TREAT THEIR FATHERS

I was shocked. Our children IMMEDIATELY began to be so much more respectful to both of us. It scared me. I finally saw that they imitate my submission to Greg – my words, my tone of voice, my attitude – all of it. That is how they will treat any God-given authority. I am teaching them to either respect and submit to God-given authority or to disrespect and rebel against God-given authority now and in the future by my level of respect and submission to my husband. YIKES!

Eventually, Greg started backing me up, too. Our children obeyed SO MUCH MORE READILY! The respect level went up even more. My husband began to correct our children if they were disrespectful to me. It has been THE BEST THING EVER!!! We are truly a team now. We are united. It has DRASTICALLY impacted our children’s attitudes and behavior. AND – my husband slowly began to plug back into the family. Now – he is such a godly leader and loving dad and husband. He had all of that in him all those first 14+ years of our marriage – I just didn’t understand that I was sabotaging him and our marriage.

“BUT I’M RIGHT!”

What I believe we as wives are doing in situations like this – is I believe we are focusing on the little issue. We believe passionately that we are “right” about whatever this particular little decision is. And we inadvertently make the decision more important than the big picture. We focus so much on the outcome and wanting to do what we believe is best – that we don’t notice how we are sabotaging our marriages, sabotaging our children’s understanding of spiritual authority, wounding our husbands with disrespect.  (Submission is not about the husband always  being “right”)

Many wives today have never seen a wife respect her husband and honor his leadership – even in the church.

Disrespect for husbands, men and fathers is mainstream today.  Respect and biblical submission do not come intuitively to women, especially because we have been so poisoned by the worldly culture around us.  We are also all daughters of Eve.  We want control.  We think we know better than our husbands, and, ultimately – we think we know better than God.

WHAT IF I DISAGREE WITH MY HUSBAND?

Whenever possible, speak to him respectfully in private.  It is wise generally not to contradict him in front of the children unless a child is in extreme danger.  As much as possible, bring up your concerns VERY respectfully away from the children.

Then, unless he is sinning against them or actually  seriously endangering them – please try to support his decision.

Please keep in mind that fathers are often more strict and sometimes a bit more harsh than moms.  That does not usually mean you need to interfere.  One thing that helps me is to remember this story from someone in my extended family:

A dad told his elementary school sons to keep treading water in the pool.  He had them treading water for a long time.  Their mom asked him to let them rest after a few minutes.  The two boys were getting really tired.  The dad refused and kept making them tread water.  The mom did not agree, but she did not interfere after that.  

The next week, the family was at a river and an undercurrent took these same two boys down the river.  They had to tread water for 15 minutes before someone could rescue them.

I love this story – because it reminds me that God may inspire my husband to do things that I may not understand at the time.  It is important for me to humbly pray for God to give my husband wisdom to lead us all.

THE MILITARY MODEL (by a Christian man)

The Captain/First Officer model speaks well to this. A good First Officer will always voice her opinions, suggestions and advice to the Captain, so long as it is appropriate and there is time. If he acts on them, great. Otherwise, she obeys and carries out his commands. But unless there is a reason not to voice her opinion, a First Officer should generally offer it in a respectful manner. The key is to be respectful.

I should probably point out that most serious discussions should be held away from children if possible, to maintain harmony. That is how the model works best in the military, and should work in marriage. Likewise, the Captain (husband) shouldn’t dress down his First Officer (wife) in front of their children, and she should never disrespect him or his authority in front of the children either.

Oh, and the same rules that apply to children apply to others outside the family/ship, like extended family or friends.

CHILDREN LEARN WHAT GOD IS LIKE PRIMARILY FROM THEIR FATHER

We as wives dramatically shape our children’s perception, understanding and love and respect for their fathers. AND – how children perceive their fathers POWERFULLY impacts their ability to love, respect and trust God. A child’s view of God is formed in the likeness of his dad.

We as women have INCREDIBLE power to either bless our husbands and children or to destroy our husbands, our marriages and our children’s future relationships in marriage, with their teachers, with government and police authorities, with church leaders, with their bosses, and with God.

WOW!!!!!!!!!

With this great power comes immense responsibility. I pray we will use our influence wisely!

PS:

If there are extreme circumstances – if your husband is actually abusing your children – please seek godly counsel.  If your husband is addicted to drugs/alcohol, has an uncontrolled mental health disorder or is physically violent and causes injury to you or your children, please seek godly help ASAP.  Extreme situations like this go beyond the scope of my blog.

RESOURCE:

Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas has a beautiful example of a wife handling a situation where her husband was too harsh in a very respectful and powerful way.

To Tell… or Not to Tell?

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Deciding whether or not to tell your husband about what God is teaching you about respect, biblical submission and becoming a godly wife is an important, and sometimes tricky, decision.

My prayer is that you will hear God’s voice and obey Him.  I also pray that every word I share might be in total alignment with God’s Word  – but I ask you to always compare anything I say or anything anyone else says with the Bible before you accept it.  If you see me say something that does not line up with God’s Word, please call me out on it.  I only want to exalt Christ – I don’t ever want to detract from His wisdom and His Word.

WHAT FITS BEST WILL DEPEND ON YOUR SITUATION, YOUR MARRIAGE and YOUR HUSBAND:

  1. If your husband is far from God, then I Peter 3:1-6 is your primary directive from God about how to handle this situation.

3 Wives, in the same way (as all believers are to submit to government authorities and believing slaves are to submit to their masters in Peter 2) submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wiveswhen they see the purity and reverence of your lives.Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet (stilled or peaceful) spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

If your husband “does not believe the Word” or “is disobedient to the Word” then

God tells you very plainly –

WORDS about spiritual things won’t work on your husband right now.

Avoid talking about spiritual things to your husband because that is NOT the way to influence him for Christ.  Husbands who are far from God don’t need our lecturing, nagging, preaching and verbal beating over the head – in fact, the more we try to verbally drag them and force them towards God and towards us, the more they will run the other way!

Our husbands need to see our behavior, our attitude, our respect and the way we live holy lives in front of them constantly in the power of God’s Spirit.  The thing that will most profoundly draw a husband to Jesus is his wife’s cooperative attitude with his God-given authority (if he is not asking her to blatantly sin), her genuine respect for him as a man (of anything that is good in him), and the power of the fruit of the Spirit in her life.

I have seen many wives decide to tell their unbelieving husband about doing The Respect Dare or about what they are learning – but the problem is that an unsaved husband doesn’t have spiritual wisdom to discern the things of God.  He will not understand what you are doing or why.  It may even turn him off to God.

An unsaved husband cannot understand the concepts of dying to self, picking up our cross daily to kill our own pride and sinful nature and to live in the new self in Christ.  That is foolishness to an unbelieving man.  (These things also apply to extended family members.  Other people may not support what you are doing, that is going to have to be ok.  Some of them may even think you have joined a “cult” because you want to respect your husband and allow him to lead you and you aren’t doing what they want you to do anymore.  It can be tough! But you have a covenant with your husband, not with your parents, siblings or friends.  Do Not Expect Outside Support.)

What WILL impact him is when his wife:

  • forgives freely
  • extends grace and mercy that is completely undeserved by him
  • believes in him and sees the best in him
  • desires to trust him or to learn to trust him
  • has supernatural peace instead of being freaked out and anxious all the time
  • has faith in the sovereignty of God to lead her through her husband, though he is a sinner
  • repays evil with good
  • approaches him with respect
  • sees and focuses on the good things that are in him
  • loves him with a I Corinthians, unconditional agape love and respects him just because he is her husband and she wants to honor God
  • is vulnerable, clearly asking for what she needs and clearly saying how she feels and what she wants without any manipulation
  • seeks to respect him and honor him only to please God NOT to change him or control him (SUPER IMPORTANT POINT!)
  • appreciates the things he does for her
  • learns to understand his masculine heart and needs
  • is able to empathize with him
  • acts like she is on his team instead of like she (and God) are his enemies
  • builds him up with her words and actions
  • is joyfully available to him sexually (unless he is involved in infidelity or something equally significant and is unrepentant)
  • understands he may need time to think about his decisions – doesn’t pressure or rush him
  • assumes he has good motives towards her, not evil motives

SOME HUSBANDS EXPECT TOO MUCH:

Sometimes, when a wife shares all that she is learning – a husband will suddenly hold her to perfection in the whole respect and biblical submission thing.   Respect is a concept that comes easily to most men, and they don’t understand the spiritual and emotional contortion that is involved in unlearning decades of “the wrong way of thinking, speaking and acting” and learning all of God’s ways.  Most husbands do not realize all that is involved in tearing out the sinful nature, dying to self, recognizing and repenting of all idols, pride and sin, and what is involved in God completely renovating our hearts and regenerating our spirits.  It is not usually an instant thing.  This is the process of sanctification.  Some husbands get really upset once their wives begin to learn about respect and biblical submission and talk about it – and then mess up.  In fact, sometimes they get MORE upset about disrespect and controlling behavior once their wives have repented and said they want to be respectful than they did before.

The thing is, especially at first, you will stumble sometimes.  You will fall and then you have to get back up, repent to God and your husband, learn what you can from your mistake and keep going towards the goal of becoming the woman God wants you to be.  Ideally, a husband would offer plenty of grace and encouragement to his wife as she struggles to grow and learn.  But not all husbands are at that place spiritually to be able to extend mercy and grace yet.

SOME WIVES WANT AFFIRMATION THAT THEIR HUSBANDS CANNOT GIVE THEM

It is REALLY hard not to want your husband to notice all you are doing.  You will want him to tell you that you are doing so much better when you don’t ream him out for something that you usually would have given him a lot of grief about.

Keep in mind you are seeking to please Christ.  That is THE GOAL.  You are not trying to change your husband or make him love you more or feel more loved yourself.  This is a hard thing to let go of  – wanting our husband to notice what we are doing and praise us.  But it is something we have to let go during this process of dying to self.

I have a post about it linked at the bottom of this post.

IN THE BEGINNING, WE MUST USE  GREAT CAUTION IN WHAT WE SAY – we may still not have a handle on what is disrespectful/respectful yet.

It is VERY possible, maybe even probable, that in the beginning of this journey, a wife might inadvertently explain what she is learning in a way that is disrespectful!  A wife who is just learning about respect and disrespect, is prone to say things like:

  • So, I’m learning that I have to respect you even though you don’t deserve it at all.
  • God wants me to follow you as the leader in this marriage even though you make a lot of really bad decisions.
  • I’m supposed to not say anything when I think you are doing something really stupid.
  • I actually don’t respect you, but I want you to love me more, so I am going to try to act like I respect you from now on, but it is going to be really hard for me to do that.

I hope that you are able to see that these kinds of comments are HUGE, HUGE disrespect and that if a wife says something like this, she just caused MASSIVE damage to her intimacy with her husband and the unity of the marriage.  I really don’t want to see that happen!

IF YOU AREN’T SURE IF WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SAY/WRITE IS RESPECTFUL, CHECK WITH ME IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO!   Leave me a comment.  I will be glad to look at what you want to say and do my best to check it for inadvertent disrespect or control.  Ultimately, what matters most is not my opinion – but God’s wisdom.

2. If your husband is very close to Christ – you may have more freedom to share details of this journey.

  • The closer your husband is to God, the more his godly leadership can help you on this road
  • The closer your husband is to God, the more you can probably tell him and he may be able to help guide you through some of these difficult areas

WHAT DID I PERSONALLY DO?

I apologized for my disrespect as soon as I was aware of it in December of 2008.  And as I learned more and more things I had done that were controlling and disrespectful, I apologized.  But I did not go into detail about all the horrible things I used to think about my husband and how hard it was to learn to drop the criticizing, negativity, lecturing, bossing, insulting, etc…  I also did not talk about how foreign and awkward it felt to try to say positive things.  I didn’t talk about all the negative things I wanted to say as I was learning to stop the disrespect.  I apologized when I messed up.  I got back up and sought God with all my heart.   Much later, I talked with my husband about what was happening and what God was teaching me – as I began to teach other women – at his request.

But my husband only saw the changes on the outside – he didn’t know what was happening on the inside.  For his perspective, check out this post – When She Surrendered.

RELATED:

The Frustrating Quiet Phase

I Want Some Affirmation from My Husband!

Taking the First Brave Step Toward Peace

Peacefulwife Videos on Youtube

God Understands Why Men Don’t Respond to Words

The Respect Dare, Day 22 – Refining My Motives about Housework

Mongolian Gold being refined to 99.99% purity.   http://www.mgs.mn/refining.html
Mongolian Gold being refined to 99.99% purity. http://www.mgs.mn/refining.html
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for The Lord rather than for men, knowing that from The Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.    Colossians 3:23-24
 

REMEMBER

When Greg and I first met, I was just 15 – and not old enough to date yet.  So, Greg used to come over to my house every Saturday.  I would clean the entire house every Saturday morning before he came over.  And I made supper for him and my family (My parents, my twin sister, our brother and my grandmother).  I was excited to learn domestic skills and to show him that I could make delicious food.  I wanted him to see that I could keep house well and that life with me would be wonderful.

I can recall how I could NOT WAIT to get to be Greg’s wife.  I looked forward to ALL of it.

  • I wanted to make a beautiful home for him.
  • I wanted to be the one who got to wash and iron his clothes.
  • I wanted to be the one who got to cook for him.
  • I wanted to do the dishes for him.

I wanted to serve him and imagined that it would be the most amazing thing EVER to get to share my life with him, share my home with him, share my body with him, and care for him and our home.

Can you still remember those thoughts? 🙂

WHAT HAPPENED?

All those things are novel for awhile.  But then, the dailiness of life and the stress of reality and pressure of jobs, responsibilities, financial setbacks, disagreements, unmet expectations, lack of sleep, illness, injuries, etc… can quench the joy we once had in serving our men.

I guess this is why that saying is so popular “familiarity breeds contempt.”

Eventually, we  often lose our joy in doing chores and housework for our husbands – and we begin to want them to do “their fair share.”  Especially if we are working outside the home, too.  That is understandable that if both husband and wife are working full time, the wife may need some help around the house.  Still, working women tend to feel the weight of the responsibility for the housework no matter how much we work outside the home.  That can be pretty overwhelming.  Especially when there are also children in the family.

WHAT ABOUT MARRIAGE BEING 50/50?

One of my favorite Bible teachers, Rev. Harold Weaver, at our church – said that in his 45 years or so of counseling married couples – one of the most destructive things he has seen in marriage is when a couple tries to measure everything and split it exactly 50/50.   The problem is that each person has his/her own skewed scale of measuring contributions.   The husband counts going to work as 1000 points towards the marriage each day.  The wife counts him going to work as 20 points.  The wife counts every chore she does as 100 points, but the husband only counts all the chores together as 50 points.

We do not judge fairly!  That is probably why God instructs us not to judge others.  We can sound like bickering children saying, “I took out the trash 3 times last month, you owe me!”  And “I changed 13 poopy diapers last week and you only changed 1.”  But we ignore what the other person does many times that we don’t do.  I am a very unequitable judge of what exactly is 50/50 – it turns out!

Do you see what we are doing?  We are turning marriage into a competition of “who has it worse.”  Rev. Weaver said this attitude is extremely destructive.  It destroys unity in the marriage.  It destroys the concept of being a team.  It creates huge resentment – which is toxic to relationships.  It is “every man for himself.”  When marriage is a competition – we both lose, our children lose, we malign the gospel and we grieve the heart of God. 🙁

A BETTER WAY

When I stop keeping score by my own biased standard and stop judging and condemning my husband, and begin to seek only to serve and honor Jesus Christ in my life and marriage – that is the way to peace, joy, unity and the vibrant, beautiful intimacy I so long for with Jesus and also probably with my husband.

It is not about giving 50/50 in the marriage. That does not work.  It is a sure recipe for failure.

It is all about me giving 100% of myself to Jesus all the time and desiring to honor, please and obey Him in my marriage.

Ideally, my husband would do the same thing.  That is REALLY BEAUTIFUL.  But you know what?  Even if he doesn’t change at all, or do “his part”  that is ok.  This is ultimately about my relationship with Jesus Christ, not about my husband.  I trust God to work in my husband, and I seek only for God to change ME!

(Obviously if there are severe issues in the marriage, there can be times a wife may have to separate from her husband if there is physical abuse, unrepentant infidelity, uncontrolled mental disorders, substance abuse, etc.  And there may have to be a rebuilding of trust and healthy boundaries erected until trust is re-established. Those issues go way beyond the scope of my blog – but they are not beyond the arm of God or the power of His Word.  Please seek godly, experienced help if you are in such a situation!)

Marriage will not be a group grade!

If you have seen “American Idol” on tv – remember the group competitions?  The people had to learn to work together and sing together and have unity – but they were judged individually no matter what the other people did in the group.

It will be a similar thing when God judges us.  If I have Jesus as my Savior and live for Him as LORD of my life – I will not be condemned because His blood washes away my sins.  But God will judge the quality of the work I have done in my life and grade it and reward me accordingly in front of all of heaven.

What I do in my marriage and how I treat my husband and others in my life is between God and me.  He counts everything I think, do and say to others as if I do it to Him. (Matthew 25:31-46)

My husband is responsible to God for his life, his obedience, his sin, his behavior, his attitudes and his motives.  He will also be held accountable for leading the family and for the decisions that were made in the family.  God will judge him individually when he stands before Him in heaven.  What he does or does not do is between him and God.

God uses my marriage and my husband to refine, mature, prune and teach me.  He uses my marriage to train me in godliness.  And He is watching how I respond.  It is all a heavenly test.  God is paying close attention.

  • My actions toward my husband matter to Him
  • My words toward my husband matter to God
  • My attitudes and body language towards my husband matter to God
  • My hidden motives about why I am doing and saying what I do and say matter to God and are laid bare before Him every moment.

GODLY MOTIVES

The two main things God wants us to do on this earth are:

1. love God with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our souls and with all our strength

2. love others with the love of God

These are the motives that honor God.  Doing things because I love God and want to please/honor Him and because I love others and want what is best for them in God’s sight.

GODLY MOTIVES AND CHORES????

Over time, many wives begin to resent housework.  It is easy to fume about our husband creating more work for us and to think really hateful thoughts while we angrily do his dishes, wash his clothes, iron his clothes, clean up his mess in the bathroom, vacuum and scrub his muddy foot prints… etc.

I know I resented chores and childcare many times.  Resentment is particularly easy when we are exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed, sick, hormonal, in pain, etc.

Thankfully, blessing, peace and even JOY can be ours when we do our chores and work for God’s praise and when we do it to bless others and don’t expect appreciation, help, validation or reward from others.  If we get it, that is awesome!  But if we don’t – we can be unshaken because we are serving our Audience of One.

DAY 22 DARE:

Nina Roesner challenges us in The Respect Dare today to evaluate our deepest motives and our expectations.   She encourages us to pray that God might help us to desire a deeper connection with Him and to seek His praise instead of desiring human praise and approval – yes, even about doing the dishes, the laundry, getting up with the baby, changing diapers, cleaning bathrooms and all of those “menial” tasks that need to be done.

My goal is to find contentment in Jesus Christ alone!

PS –

IF YOU ARE WAY TOO OVERWHELMED

I would to encourage you  to say something to your husband like, “Honey, I want to be the best wife, mom and homemaker I can be.  I want to have energy to give to you and our children.  I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed about trying to do all of the housework, my job and having time with the children and energy to give to you at night.  I don’t want to give you the worst part of the, just the leftovers.  What do you see that I could take off my plate?  Or do you have suggestions how we could do things differently so that I am less stressed?”

He may need time, that is ok!  If he does give suggestions, listen and thank him for his wisdom.  Don’t defend yourself or criticize.  See if his ideas might be what God desires you to do and pray about it, seeking God’s will.

By the way – as your husband feels increasingly respected and trusted by you – over time – he will probably start to care a lot more about your feelings.  That is not to be the motive for respecting him – but sometimes it is a result.

Sometimes we do need to ask for help.  But we need to be ok if our husband says yes or no.  We can’t force them to help us.  But we can ask in a more appealing way!  IF our motives are right.

Asking your husband for things so he WANTS to say “yes” – Youtube video

What is Respect in Marriage?

half man's face

There is a whole masculine WORLD of respect that I was completely unaware of until 4 years ago.  Men have their own unwritten and unspoken methods of communication and expectations – and because so many women are oblivious to the customs and norms of how men think, feel, process and see life – many of us come across very disrespectfully without even realizing or intending to.

When I first began to study showing respect for my husband as a form of obedience to God’s command for me as a wife – I was SO CLUELESS!  I read the book Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  That is the book that opened my eyes to my sin and my husband’s legitimate masculine needs that I was unaware of.

Eggerichs has this amazing little diagram about marriage:

040312_0217_SheSaidHeS1.png

For the first time ever, I understood why God gave the commands He did for each spouse in marriage and that what God was doing was commanding each spouse to meet the other’s God-given legitimate need.

When a husband shows love for his wife >> that motivates her respect.

When a wife shows respect for her husband >> that motivates his love.

Usually!

This is a principle of marriage that is generally true across religious backgrounds and cultures.  Of course, there are some exceptions where one spouse is not good-willed towards the other, or where one or both are so wounded, that it takes a VERY long time to rebuild the trust.  But in general, MOST spouses are good-willed towards each other and want to please one another.  We are just built SO differently, that we often misunderstand and misinterpret the messages the other is sending.  Men tend to think in the realm of respect (blue – says Eggerichs).  Women tend to think in the realm of love (pink).  Unfortunately – what men often do to be respectful, can feel unloving to their wives.  And what wives often do to be loving, can feel disrespectful to their husbands.  By learning to stretch and reach our spouse and meet his/her needs, we achieve God’s glory (royal purple).

We are responsible to God to obey His commands for us as wives regardless of what our husbands do or do not do and regardless of the “results” we can see when we respect our husbands and cooperate with their God-given leadership.  Our priorities must be to honor God and to obey Him – and we leave the results and timing in His hands.

MY PARTICULAR HUSBAND’S FAVORITE WAYS FOR ME TO SHOW RESPECT TO HIM:

My husband explained  to me that what he really wants in marriage is pretty simple. For him, it is not a big to-do list. It is not about me being “the perfect wife.” He likes things like for me:
– to genuinely smile and be happy
– to be truly peaceful and not stressed (because if I am stressed, he is stressed)
– to be his friend
– to be a safe, welcoming place for him
– to treat him like a grown adult and equal
– to just sit with him in the evenings, cuddle with him, and enjoy being with him while he watches TV
– not to “try too hard”
– not to ask what I can do for him
– not to ask how I can improve
– to appreciate the many things he does to show his love for me
– to give him time to think and process with decisions
– to honor his parenting
– to use a respectful, friendly tone of voice and friendly facial expression
– to make changes for the family slowly rather than to make sweeping changes all at once (he doesn’t like change very much)
A LIST OF POSSIBLE WAYS TO SHOW RESPECT TO YOUR MAN

I think having a list of specific, concrete things that men find to be respectful and disrespectful is SO important for wives who are just beginning to learn to be godly wives and to obey Ephesians 5:22-33.

Some things are disrespectful to all husbands across the board.  And some things are respectful to just about all husbands.  But each husband is unique and there will be some things that would drive one husband crazy but would make another husband feel super respected.  My suggestion to wives is to read the list, and think about implementing some of the ideas.  But if you aren’t sure about one, ask your husband sometime if he would find that behavior or attitude to be respectful or disrespectful.  Then go with what he thinks!  His opinion is what matters most here!

Some of my readers helped me with this new list – it is not exhaustive.  THANK YOU to all who contributed!

  • listen without interrupting
  • don’t think for me.
  • don’t use your “dumb guy” voice when repeating what I’ve said that you don’t agree with/think is stupid
  • refrain from explaining how to handle the children
  • do not correct my handling of the children or anything else in front of anyone, ever
  • talk me up in front of your family/my family
  • support my decisions, and if you disagree, do so in private
  • be my friend
  • tell me what kind of physical intimacy you like – it makes me feel more at ease and more purposeful in pleasing you
  • don’t over-talk things — try to use short sentence and direct words (I’m not dim, but I’m a guy … we don’t do big conversation)
  • let me know I’m enough, more than enough if you can — financially, emotionally, physically, mentally
  • When a big decision comes up and the husband says he needs time to think about it let him think about it. If you tell him, “Don’t bother. I’ll just do it my way,” then what’s the point of asking in the first place?
  • When you tell your husband not now or not tonight how about tomorrow (about any topic) then keep your word and re-arrange whatever you are doing to make sure you keep your word.
  • Find out what your husband takes as his most important responsibility and praise him for it.. (being a great father, being a great provider, being a great husband, etc).
  • Find out what his love language is and surprise him with something spontaneous that’s just for him.
  • Flirt with him in public, at a party, where other people (especially his friends/co-workers) can see it.
  • Offer up a back rub. Even if physical touch is not his love language most men carry a large burden (physically, spiritually, emotionally) on their shoulders and to offer up a back rub without being prompted is a wonderful release.
  • If your husband comes to talk to you (about anything) put down the phone/tablet/computer with facebook/texting and give him your full attention. It’s no different than when you want him to pause/turn off the TV when you want to talk to him.
  • Let him know when he does things that make you happy. Most husbands biggest goal in marriage is to make their wife happy.
  • She never ever speaks “bad” about me to anyone – not a best friend or a family member
  • She yields to me when I am at home when it comes to our children’s discipline
  • My wife also seeks me out if there is a “big” decision to be made about the home, children or finances, even if it is something she knows I trust her with and don’t have an opinion either way, she realizes that I may see things from a different angle and wants to affirm the decision.
  • She respects me by involving me.
  • Most of all, she allows me to be me.
  • I have a passion for the out of doors and she has come along side me in these endeavors. She may not always think it is “fun” to hike when it’s muddy and cold but she goes along for the ride
  • She also encourages me to have time with the children one on one and also have time just by myself or with a friend standing in a river fly-fishing.
  • She realizes that I am ultimately responsible to God for the family she also knows that I trust her to make great decisions and that I support her doing so.
  • Put me, your husband, first and NOT the children.
  • Do not compare me with a pastor, a elder, another husband or a woman’s advice. I’ve already prayed and gone over it in my mind, it’s my decision I don’t want it to be someone else’s.
  • Try to have 100% faith in me! Try to build me up – with work, Bible study, my involvement with church. I believe God put you in my life to be a helpmate, not a tear down. I really don’t need you telling me to get a better job, or that I’m way off on my when I share a insight that I’ve had with scripture.
  • Anticipate my needs, wants and desire. In the bedroom and out of the bedroom.
  • Don’t yell and argue with me in front of the children.
  • Just remember I love you , chose you, I know you have feelings, as hard as you think I am, I have deep feelings also.
  • Put me above your friends and extended family and ministry to others outside of our family.
  • Care about things that matter to me.
  • When I ask you to do something, show me you really do respect me by making it a priority for your to-do list.
  • Listen to my advice sometimes.  I actually have some important wisdom and a different perspective to share that just might make your life better and less stressful!
  • Keep emails BRIEF and to the point.  We hear your message more clearly with less words and a lower intensity of negative emotions.  Too many words and emotions makes us feel like we are drowning – it is too much to process all at once sometimes.
  • If I’m driving, let me drive in peace (don’t tell me what lane to take or what road to take or ask me why I’m going the way I am going because your way is 30 seconds faster).  If I ask for help, then you can help me.  Having your trust and faith in my ability to drive around town is much more valuable to me than saving a few seconds or minutes in traffic.
  • Men don’t offer unsolicited advice or help to other men.  Show me that you trust me by allowing me to figure things out without feeling like you have to rescue me or do things for me.
  • Smile at me a lot – I love that!
  • Make sure that you have close friends who are godly wives, who show respect for their husbands and who will show respect for me as your husband.  Don’t let your girlfriends’ advice tear down our marriage.  Notice what kind of marriage your friend has before assuming she has wisdom to share about marriage.  Make my opinions and feelings much more important in your life than the opinions and feelings of your friends.  You are in a covenant with me, not them.
  • Talk to me with a friendly tone of voice when possible.  I usually know for sure that you love me.  But sometimes I wonder if you actually still like me or not.
  • Enjoy being with me.
  • Realize that I may take longer to process ideas, decisions, emotions and feelings.  If I do not have answers for you in 30 seconds, that does not mean you need to take over or that I won’t lead.  I just means I operate on a slower time table and need a little understanding and patience from you.  If you are able to wait patiently and be supportive, I am plenty capable of leading and making wise decisions.  (If there is physical violence, and untreated mental disorder, a drug/alcohol addiction – please find godly, experienced help ASAP!)
  • I may not show love with words as much as you would like, but stop and notice all the things I DO to show you my love for you.  To me, my actions speak much more loudly than my words.  And to me, your actions speak much more loudly than your words, too.
  • Don’t verbally push God, the Bible and church on me.  Nagging, preaching and lecturing make me want to run away just because of your approach.  It is your ability to be silent about the things of God  coupled with your gentle, peaceful, respectful spirit that is not anxious and worried that will help me better hear God’s voice.  I need to SEE you live out your faith, not hear about it.  Words don’t impact men the way they do women.
  • Realize that I am not a woman.  Make sure that it is safe for me to be a man – that I am not punished for being masculine.  I am different from you. I think and feel differently – but that doesn’t mean I am wrong.
  • Dress nicely and fix your hair and makeup the way I like it sometimes.  That actually makes me feel like  you respect yourself and like you respect me.
  • Flirt with me and no one else!
  • Act like you are happy to see me when I get home!
  • Give me that adoring look that says you trust me and have faith in me.  That means more to me than any words.
  • Tell me when you like what I am doing.
  • Tell me that you are proud of me.
  • Accept that I am human.  Accept that you are human, too.  Have grace for me when I make mistakes.  Your ability to forgive me and see the best in me can sometimes make the difference between me becoming paralyzed or between me learning and moving forward as a better man.
  • Look at me as an equal in God’s sight.  Realize that we are both sinners in need of Jesus.  Don’t look down on me.

Additional resources:

Why It May Be Wise to Keep This Respect Thing a Secret from Your Husband

Respect 101

What Does Respect Look Like to Husbands?

Could My Disrespect Contribute to My Husband’s Depression?

Husbands Share What is Disrespectful to Them (AWESOME  and EYE- OPENING LIST!)

Hear a Disrespected Husband’s Heart

One Husband’s Wish List

How Do I Respect My Husband if He Won’t Go to Church/Isn’t a Christian?

Respecting My Husband’s Parenting

My Husband Doesn’t Deserve MY Respect! (Peacefulwife Youtube video 7 minutes)

Avoiding Nonverbal Disrespect is VERY Important! (Peacefulwife Youtube video 7 minutes)

Ways Husbands Can Be Unloving to Their Wives  – on my husband’s site

You Cannot Go on Feelings

 

From my dear friend and fellow traveler on this road of submitting completely to God and learning to respect and submit to our husbands. BEAUTIFUL post!

From www.hisworkofheart.wordpress.com