This blog will be most relatable for wives who tend to be strong willed/in charge whose husbands are passive.
If your husband is controlling or you are more passive – many things I talk about will still apply (God’s Word always applies)- but you may have to approach some of the practical issues from a different angle. This blog may not be as helpful for you. It is possible to be TOO respectful/TOO submissive. If your husband is actually extremely controlling or abusive, some wives seem to over correct in a dangerous way in the wrong direction when they read about respect.
If your husband tends to be more dominating, check out Nina Roesner’s eCourse, “Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity.” If you or your children are not safe, please seek local, experienced help ASAP!
I only write for wives – I don’t write for husbands. A husband cannot force his wife to respect him and submit to him. Submission, by its very definition in Scripture, is something a person decides to do. She must do this willingly and voluntarily out of her love and respect and obedience to Christ. (Here is a balanced view of husbands and wives responsibilities.)
All Christians are called to live a life of submission to Christ as Lord and to the authorities God institutes in our lives.
Just like wives need primarily need love, husbands primarily need respect. (Although husbands and wives both need to give and receive love and respect in a healthy marriage.) God’s design for marriage is laid out here in Ephesians 5, and His purpose goes WAY beyond the scope of the health of our individual marriages – although if we follow His design, we will have much healthier marriages. God’s highest purpose in marriage is to showcase the intimate relationship between Christ and His people. We are acting out a living parable where husbands represent Christ and wives represent the church to bring glory to God and to help our children and others around us grasp what God is like in a more concrete way.
Ephesians 5:22-33 = God’s design for marriage
When a man feels disrespected, he feels unloved!
Every man has his own list of what feels disrespectful and respectful to him. Some things are almost universally one way or the other to almost all men (and to other people, too). Some things are particular to your husband.
So – what matters more than this list is what is respectful and disrespectful to YOUR man. That’s why it is important to ask him about his preferences and what bothers him and what speaks respect to him. When things are not tense – you could ask him about some of the things on this list and get his take on the different items (if he is open to this idea). You’ll need to custom-tailor your respect to your husband!
Ultimately, we are really seeking to please Christ, not our husbands. He is our final Judge and Audience.
Ladies – we have so much power to destroy our husbands or to build them up. How I pray God will convict us and open our eyes and that we might learn to be respectful, cooperative wives who value our husbands’ leadership and who honor Christ with every thought, attitude, word and action!
SUMMARY OF WHAT IS DISRESPECTFUL TO MEN (FOR MORE DETAIL, PLEASE READ BELOW). Keep in mind that even barely hinting at these things can often feel VERY disrespectful to men :
- Implying he is not intelligent/capable/competent
- Implying he is not enough for you sexually
- Implying he is not providing enough for you financially
- Implying that you are superior to him morally/spiritually
- Displaying contempt for who he is as a man – not accepting him as he is (I am not saying you must respect sin, but that you respect him as a person and as your husband)
- Telling him what to do/bossing him
- Questioning him a lot.
- Criticizing his family.
- Taking control of the marriage/family and not allowing him to fulfill his God-given leadership position
- Making fun of him, putting him down, insulting him, criticizing him, belittling him especially to others
- Body language that communicates contempt/hatred/judgment
- Implying that you respect another man more than you respect him
- Implying he is not a good father
- Undermining his authority as a father
Some husbands, like mine, feel stressed if their wives try “too hard” to be good wives and would really just like their wives to relax and enjoy life more. For more about husbands for whom “less is more” when it comes to respect, please read here.
A wife shares what she has learned about what makes her husband feel respected here.
The only way we can be godly wives is to be filled with God’s Spirit and to allow Him to radically transform us to be more and more like Christ.
The Peaceful Wife book
I share how God opened my eyes to how disrespectful I had been for over 14 years without even realizing it. It took me YEARS of struggling, studying, praying, and journalling to figure out how to honor and respect my husband. I share the baby steps in this book so you can connect the dots way faster than I did and hopefully it will be a smoother process for you.
The Answer to All of Your Marriage Problems!
Do You have to Lose Yourself or Be Fake to Be a Godly Wife?
Here are some things that feel disrespectful to many husbands – thanks to the husbands who contributed to this list (Each man has his own list – what matters most is what your husband thinks and allowing God to transform you to be the wife He desires you to be):
- Asking him to do something, then doing it yourself before he has a chance
- Body language – especially frowning while you talk
- Lack of attention/appreciation
- Too much help/mothering/smothering
- Critical spirit toward him
- Interrupting him often
- Not really listening
- Asking “Why…?” when paired with “Why would you do it like that?” and rolling the eyes.. or “Why would you go that way when it’s easier to go this way?”
- Asking a question starting with WHY is automatically saying, “What you did is wrong and it should be done like this! How can you not see that?”
- Always putting yourself first and having the family fit into your plans/schedule
- Second guessing him/lack of confidence
- Being too busy to spend time with him
- Speaking negatively of him to others or in front of others
- Answering for him
- Telling him what to do
- Undermining his authority as a father – telling the children they don’t have to do what he asked them to do
- Disagreeing with his parenting in front of the children
- Insinuating – even slightly – that he doesn’t make enough money
- Not accepting his answer – continuing to question him
- Withholding sex from him out of spite or manipulation
- Cussing/yelling/name calling
- Lack of acknowledgement of hard work/providing for the family
- Speaking poorly about me, even in a “joking” way to others
- Correcting him when he is telling stories
- Making light of something that he thinks is important
- “The look”
- Refusing, avoiding, or qualifying your apology when the husband calls you on any of these disrespectful behaviors. It doesn’t take very many times of hearing “I’m sorry I said that in front of the kids, but you [reiteration of the original complaint/criticism and/or addition of another].”
- Keeping “your” finances separate from the “family’s” finances if your husband would like them to be joint.
- Blaming your husband for economic circumstances beyond his control
- Giving him your input (which he solicited) for an important decision — choice of a church, choice of a house, etc. — and then rejecting all the choices he comes up with, even if they meet all your stated criteria and nothing else does
- If marriage counseling is necessary, communicating (or simply believing, which will be communicated one way or another) that he is the problem
- Live in fear because you can’t trust God to take care of you through your husband or, if necessary, in spite of your husband
- Attach catastrophic significance to every personal and parenting choice out of fear
- Generally treat sex with him as a chore or an imposition
- Joking with another woman at his expense in front of him
- Making him feel that he is less of a man because he doesn’t look as attractive as he did years ago
- Making comments about his lack of ability to remember
- Doubting what he says until it’s affirmed by someone else
- Lying to him
- Treating him like he is a child, and can’t take care of himself
- Taking credit for things he did
- Changing the channel when he is watching something
- Ordering him around like he is her personal assistant
A lot of these things would feel pretty disrespectful to anyone – a husband, wife, child, parent, boss, friend, coworker, or almost anyone else.