As I progressed through the years of my adolescence, I heard a lot of married couples talk about women submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives. This along with the model my parents’ marriage gave me (which was beautiful in its own way) did not fully reflect the importance of wives respecting their husbands.
I was raised with a pretty strong view of respect as necessary in my interactions with all people especially those older than me or in authority over me (parents, employers, husbands, etc.)
But no one taught me the role respect plays in marriage, so I never really knew what respect really looked like in real life.
One of the ways I have disrespected my husband in our marriage has really come out since we had children. Instead of consistently supporting him as the head of our home, I confess that I have often asserted myself in that role. There I go swooping in to the rescue so my children won’t be corrected by their daddy (which is part of his God-given role as father). By trying to protect my children’s emotional well-being I disrespect my husband’s voice as a father in our home.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
I’ve always had a high regard and respect for my husband, yet as we grew our family, our marriage hit a rocky patch. I lost myself in the throes of motherhood. I lost myself as a woman while my wifely role took a huge backseat.
Expressing respect to my husband ebbed and flowed worse than white water rapids. Before I knew it, darkness seemed to fall on my marriage. We both loved each other but try as I may I could not understand why my heart was telling me something was wrong in my marriage.
My darling husband’s flaws were staring me right in the face. I couldn’t ignore them. Negative thoughts full of hurt and frustration whirred through my mind. I was drowning in life pulling my marriage down with me.
I will never forget the one day I said the unthinkable.
I was triggering into anger again (something God was helping me work through and get healing for). We were all in the car and before I knew it my hubby and I were having a heated disagreement.
The result? I got out of the car at the next traffic light and began marching home. I may have morphed into a fire-breathing dragon I was so livid. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave it alone.
On my walk home, I told my husband via phone that I hated him. Yeah…..A huge NO!
Because it had been raining, I was soaked when I got home. There he was with our children keeping quiet. I went for a shower to warm up. Not once did my husband retaliate towards me from the moment I got home.
After my shower, I went and apologized to him with absolute remorse and repentance. I melted in his arms as his love and forgiveness washed over me. That day, he showed me respect even though I dishonored him.
It made me wonder, “What does respect really look like in my life? What does it mean? How can I get it?”
At first my respect towards him was in the form of an attitude adjustment. Slowly, my mental lights were moving from a dim setting to a brighter one. Still, God was not finished coaching me.
Respect is more than a kind word. It’s a heart action.
Respect is about having a high regard for someone else irrespective of their behavior or attitude.
Respect asks that we see what God sees each time we talk to a person.
What does God see? What are their strengths, qualities, and virtues?
Looking back, I realized that honor was my word for respect. Respect and honor are similar yet different. Respect focuses on behavior while honor is the motivator behind respect.
Because I see my husband’s value and worth (honor), I extend to him my unconditional respect by giving him the benefit of the doubt, affirming him, appreciating his efforts, and tending to his needs.
When it comes to marriage, the two go hand in hand.
I became sensitive to Sean’s feelings and needs. When he would come home from the office tired or frustrated, I would often find myself asking Jesus: What does Sean need today? What must I do? Yes, I had moments where I wanted to correct him or challenge him on some behavior I didn’t like, but I held my tongue. Respect was needed way more than correction.
I focused on leaving him love notes here or there, buying him the occasional chocolate, initiate some romance, and extend grace. Over time, our marriage moved out of that white water rapid state into a more tranquil steady river.
In the moments of stress and pressure thanks to life, we have found ourselves working more towards mature healthy communication and respect.
Where possible, I avoid assigning blame by taking ownership of my responsibilities in our family and marriage and by voicing my feelings.
Part of showing respect has been to learn to not use “You” statements, rather use “I”.
For example: “Hey love, I feel so frustrated with your long hours at the office. I understand you are dealing with a crisis at the office. I just miss you.”
I’ve found in the past couple of years, my marriage has become more solid.
Our love as a couple has deepened to an extent I didn’t know possible.
It’s a love that stands bold in the face of imperfection, mistakes, and flaws. It sees the truth of who we are and says “I love you anyway”. It says, “Out of all the people in the world I still choose you as mine.”
Respecting my husband has helped to encourage him during the tough times. It has been a form of ministry to his heart and soul. When he is struggling with his own insecurities and stress, respect brings a safety and security. With me, my husband can let down his guard and be himself.
Our heart connection with each other remains strong. Respect is as much a part of the heartbeat of a healthy marriage as love. The two are married to each other just as I am married to my husband. Love and respect. A great recipe for a happy, successful marriage.
Hi there, I’m a passionate lover of Jesus, wife, mom of three boys, and author of Pen Paper Paint (www.p3alive.com). I love to share my life and love for Jesus with others in the hopes of inspiring them towards a deeper relationship with him. I want to share the realities that Jesus is intricately involved in our everyday life. I love chocolate, drawing, music, and sushi. My goal in life is to love others wholeheartedly.
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