This article is directed towards women in relationships free from emotional, physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. If you are in an abusive relationship, talk to us. We’re here to listen.
With downcast eyes, Kathryn confided, “I have a hard time respecting my husband. I want to be obedient to God’s command, but I don’t want to be dishonest to my feelings.”
God doesn’t command a wife to feel respectful toward her husband. She is to be respectful. Her responsibility is to obey God, not her feelings.
A man needs his wife's respect and admiration. He thrives and grows toward godliness when this need is fulfilled. Maybe that’s why the Apostle Paul says, “The wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
Easier said than done, especially in the heat of an argument. So what are some ways you can obey this command, and show respect for your husband?
1. Pray for him
Something happens to us when we pray for people. Our hearts soften, our compassion and empathy increase, and we gain spiritual insight as to what the other person is going through. So pray for your husband. Ask God to give him wisdom, protection, guidance, knowledge, spiritual maturity, success, purity, and courage. Thank the Lord for how He has worked within your family, and for giving you this man. Pray for your attitude to change; rather than looking for your husband’s flaws, ask God to reveal his strengths. And then seek God’s answers to your prayers. Because He is listening!
2. Make a list of your husband’s good qualities
When routine takes over, we need to remind ourselves every once in a while why we fell in love in the first place. Reflect on your spouse’s character. What are his strengths? What do you admire about him? Review and add to your list regularly.
3. Tell your husband what you appreciate about him
It’s really nice to hear the words “thank you”; it’s even better hearing a number of specific things someone admires about you. By telling your husband what you appreciate about him, you communicate your love and respect and gratitude.
4. Listen to him
When your husband wants to talk, give him your full attention. Put down the phone or computer or remote, and listen. It’s also an important thing to remember when you’re the one who seeks him out! When you ask him a question, wait for his answer. And when he does talk, try not to shut him down right away. Actually listen to what he’s saying, and take his opinion into account.
5. Don’t put down your husband in front of others
Especially your children. You and your husband are on the same team. You’re partners, supporters, and cheerleaders for each other. So when you are constantly criticizing him, it’s like you’ve abandoned his team. This doesn’t mean you can’t be open with your friends about your relationship; sometimes you really need to talk about what is going on, and an outside perspective can help. But if you find yourself endlessly putting him down: stop. This isn’t helpful to anyone. Instead, try and find something good to say about him, and even brag about him a little.
6. Put a positive spin on things that annoy you
If you find it boring when he spends time telling you about his bad day, remember that at least he is talking to you, spending time with you, sharing his concerns with you, bringing you into his confidence, and giving you the chance to be supportive.
7. Make love
By responding to his advances — and initiating advances of your own — you are communicating your loyalty to him, your selfless love for him, and your attraction to him. Plus, it’s pretty fun, too.
8. Involve him in your life
When you’ve been married for a while, it’s easy to go through life on autopilot. You each have your own routines, your own hobbies, your own friends. So make it a habit to include him in your activities, to talk about what is going on, to enjoy his company amidst the mundane. By including him in your everyday, you show him how much his presence brightens your life.
9. Talk in “I” statements
If you have a problem about a decision your husband has made, or if you’re in the midst of an argument, accepting responsibility for your feelings is crucial to communicating effectively. This invites conversation rather than defense. Say: “I’m confused about _____. Can you explain it to me?” Or, “Can we talk about _____? I feel uncomfortable about _____.” Don’t say: “Why would you ever do it that way?” Or ask “Why?” in a way that implies he’s foolish.
10. Believe your husband has good intentions
If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about your husband, stop and choose to think of something else, especially things from your positive quality list. As Emerson Eggerichs says in his book Love and Respect, a key to making your relationship feel safe and secure is to believe your spouse has good intentions. Even when your partner messes up, you can still believe he didn’t mean to.
Remember, God is working on you and your husband. You can both learn from your failures as well as your successes. Give God the freedom to teach your husband through failure. In the same way, allow God to teach you to trust Him through your — and your husband’s — failure.