By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
Being meek, mild, and submissive doesn’t come naturally to me. And for the longest time, neither did respect.
I was labeled confrontational, independent, determined, and tough as a kid. And when I got married, I was known by my friends and family to be even more powerful, domineering, self-confident, decisive, willful (Any eights on the enneagram feel me?)
My new husband was congratulated with the same comment over and over again. “Congrats. You’ve got your hands full with that one.”
After all my motto was, “You don’t get respect, you earn it.” And boy did Chris have his hands full.
It wasn’t until fifteen years into our marriage, I understood what respect was because I needed it too. So what is respect?
The definition of respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. It is also a regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.
What Does the Bible Say about Respecting Your Husband?
The Biblical definition of respect falls into the line of the above definition but Peter takes it one step further in his first epistle. “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
He wrote that not only do we respect our spouse, we respect everyone, other Christians, God, and those in authority over us. The Greek word being used here is timēsate, meaning “honor or value.”
It literally means “to place a great value or high price on something.” On the flip side of this, Paul exhorts men in Ephesians 5:25-29 to show love to their wives and respect her feelings and opinions.
He sends another message to the Colossians (verses 3:18-19) reminding them to be considerate “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…”
From these passages we see respect is valuable for both husband and wife. However, women tend to value love over respect. Men on the other hand will choose to live in a loveless marriage because they need respect like we need air to breathe.
Author Shaunti Fedhahn of the book, For Women Only wrote, “Just as you need the man in your life to love you unconditionally, even when you’re not particularly lovable, your man needs you to demonstrate your respect for him regardless of whether he’s meeting your expectations at the moment.”
Without respect, our men feel demoralized and discouraged.
What Respecting Your Husband Cultivates
Now that we know men need respect like the air we breathe, let’s talk about the benefits of showing your guy respect.
- Respect creates trust.
Respect expresses to him that you trust him. Trust is the bedrock of marriage.
- Respect cultivates leadership.
Respect acknowledges his ability to lead. I truly believe passive men would cease to exist if we as women were able to take a step back and trust the men in our lives are the true leaders God created them to be.
- Respect ignites courage.
Respect provides encouragement and awakens a man’s courage. When we don’t listen to our men, they feel defeated and incapable of doing what we want or need. They begin to think, “What’s the point? She will do it her way anyway.”
- Your respect models respect for your children and the next generation.
Showing respect teaches our daughters and sons what a respected and respectable man looks like and what they are capable of. In this “me too” movement, the pendulum swung so far to the left, the men of this generation are becoming less protective and more passive than ever before.
It’s becoming far too rare to encounter superheroes, loving husbands, and good fathers like the courageous men of the past because the toxic culture is telling our young boys not be men.
And by being a man, we mean the kind who seek justice, love mercy, and walk with their God in all they do. If you aren't sure what that looks like, look at Joshua of the Old Testament.
Tim Wright, the author of Raising Sons in a Me Too World wrote: As Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker (Spider-Man) in the Toby McGuire series: With great power comes great responsibility. When the power of sex is respected and experienced accordingly, there are few things more earth-shaking. But when that power is not respected and is misused, there are few things more earth-shattering...
“This is your son. He is a gift given to you for the sacred purpose of molding and shaping him into the man you know he can be and the man the world needs him to be.”
Respect His Abilities
Respect his abilities, his ability to provide, his ability to parent, and his ability to love you.
Today more women than men have entered the workforce. While I do thank the women before me who have given us the ability to work outside the home, this has caused men to struggle to earn a good wage and some have become passive about providing because of course we can tie our hair up in ponytails and get the job done.
But where does this leave our men? Not only do we respect his ability to earn a paycheck, no matter if he’s a mechanic or a CEO, we also need to respect the way he parents and the way he loves you.
You may be reading this and wonder, “Great, I get what respect means. But how do you respect your husband without being a doormat? How do you respect your husband when he makes poor decisions?”
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Desiree Fawn
How to Respect Your Man without Being a Doormat
Now some of you may be married to a man who doesn’t truly know God.
Your husband may be a jerk. Maybe he talks down to you or criticizes you. Maybe he gets angry more than he should or values his Xbox more than family time. Maybe he watches porn (which is never okay) and makes poor decisions.
He could also be forgetful, passive, rude, and you just can’t trust him. You may need nodding your head to every description. So let me be very clear: if your husband is emotionally or physically abusive, you are not a doormat, you are in an abusive situation that requires outside help.
Whether it is law enforcement, counseling, separation or leaving him; God doesn’t condone his behavior and you do need to seek help. Please remember you don’t deserve this and it's not your fault.
Now that we’ve established a baseline, if your man is consistently a jerk or cold to you, then don’t expect that he will change much or if at all unless there is a major intervention. Once again this includes professional help such as counseling with a good Biblical counselor.
So what is a disrespectful husband? He isn’t concerned about your feelings, he doesn't value your time, he speaks badly of you or to you.
He lets his family disrespect you and he seems to have little to no concern of your quality of life. It is possible the reason he treats you poorly is because he may feel rejected.
These feelings of rejection may have grown into a major thorn in your marriage. It’s also possible this was the behavior modeled to him as a child and doesn’t realize he is doing it.
There could be several factors: Environmental influences, attitudes about marriage, stress from work, and other outside influences. So how do we navigate this kind of behavior?
You teach others how to treat you.
If your husband happens to treat you like a doormat, chances are you devalue yourself too. The thing is you teach people how to treat you. To change this behavior, it starts with you. Yes YOU.
God created you to be loved and respected unconditionally. Perhaps it’s time to sit down and be radically honest with yourself. Give yourself the credit you deserve for who you are as God’s daughter and for your achievements.
This doesn’t mean it is your fault you are being disrespected or that you deserve it—it just means that you have the control to change it.
Things won’t change in your marriage unless you set clear boundaries for his actions and comments. Henry Cloud once said, “And things don’t change in a marriage until the spouse who is taking responsibility for a problem that is not hers decides to say or do something about it.”
A boundary is a line or limit which partners set to protect themselves from exploitation and manipulation. This allows each of you to take responsibility.
Boundaries include positive communication, not allowing rude tones or yelling, honesty at all times and being open.
10 Practical Ways to Show Respect to Your Husband
1. Speak well of your husband.
2. Focus on what he does well.
3. Remember you married an imperfect human being.
4. Think before you speak.
5. Consider using, “I feel” statements.
6. Consider your tone of voice before you speak and what you will say.
7. Show that you trust him.
8. Build him up with your words. Tell him what you admire about him. Affirm his ideas.
9. Consider him in all your decisions.
10. Pray for him and pray over him.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/SeventyFour
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.