For Wives: The Power of Respect in Marriage

I have a marriage confession. When I was a young wife I didn’t respect my husband. I fell into the trap that is the norm in our culture and even in our churches much of the time. I am a more dominant get things done personality, and he is a more mild sit back and watch personality; so I quickly decided that he needed me to tell him what to do and when to do it. I didn’t even really mean to be disrespectful. I was just sure that I knew how to manage things better.

Respect in marriage

I wanted to “help” him by making a schedule for him. I needed to help him with his wardrobe. After all, his looking nice is a reflection on me, right? I gently reminded him to pick up his clothes and to put up the dirty dishes he was using. All of these things were for his own good. And because he didn’t seem to take any initiative to do things on his on sometimes, I figured I was just helping him out.

Even when it came to spiritual matters, I decided I needed to take the initiative. He wasn’t planning a quiet time for us to do as a couple, so I just needed to plan it and then “let him” lead it. If he watched a television show I didn’t think was good, I’d fill him in on why he shouldn’t watch it.

Needless to say, this pattern began to be pretty destructive to our marriage. My pattern became one of constantly nagging and constantly being dissatisfied when he wouldn’t do things right. His pattern became one of digging in his heels and being passive aggressive in his refusal to do what I was nagging about.

Respect in marriage

Thankfully, God led me to read some good books and to listen to some wise women, and I was convicted about my lack of respect for my husband. Our culture tells us that men are dumb and incapable and that they need women who are more informed to guide them. The biblical truth is that God created men to be leaders. They aren’t “better than” women, and they aren’t supposed to be heavy-handed controllers who put women down. But they are created specially to be the heads of their households and spiritual leaders in the family. God put them in that role.

When we, as women, step in and start taking over we create a problem. We cause our men to either be angry and push back for control or we contribute to an attitude of “Why should I even bother because you’re taking over anyway?”. Either way, when we choose not to respect our husbands as the leaders that God made them to be, we are damaging our relationships.

Here’s what I’ve learned instead. I’ve learned that when I encourage him and pray for him, my husband can be an awesome leader. I’ve learned that he knows way more than me about lots of things. I’ve learned that what he wears and when he cuts the grass doesn’t matter at all. Is he perfect? No, he’s human. He chooses to do the wrong thing sometimes. He chooses not to do the things he should. And I’m not perfect either. I still don’t always show respect to him in the way I should. I still sometimes nag or choose to focus on what he isn’t doing, not on what he is.

But I can tell you from experience that respect for our husbands is powerful in marriage. It frees us to love them and encourage them to be the men God intends for them to be. It frees us from being continually dissatisfied with what they aren’t doing and frees us to continually support and encourage them in the great things they are doing as family leaders. Respect is powerful, and it can strengthen our marriages and our families.

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