**Please note before you read this that, again, I am speaking from my own experience. I only know that in my own marriage this has been a big issue at times and the offender has been myself. My desire is to encourage you to care enough about your marriage that you would be willing to consider what you may need to change.**
If I have learned anything in the last 15 years and few months of being married to my husband, its that he, and all men I will gamble to say, want one thing from their wives. Without it, an environment of lost tempers, hurt feelings, loss of intimacy and bitterness prevails. It has been said that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and for many others its through other various parts of the anatomy (yes, I went there). But, throughout time, the greatest need of any man in a relationship is respect. Respect is a lost art. It isn’t expected anymore, it isn’t given anymore and our culture is more concerned with degrading, selfish, I can do what I want and say what I want rights. I think we have gone so far away from general respect that when we witness it, its almost shocking. If there is anything in the world that emasculates our husbands and beats them into a position of lethargy, its our attitude of disrespect.
So what does that look like? I have seen, and done, many versions of it over the years. Eye rolling comes to mind. Pouting when we don’t get our way. Bad mouthing our husbands to our friends, or worse, to our friends and his while he’s standing right there. Scrubbing the counters pretending to listen when you are really just coming up with your next missile to shoot back. Turning down his advances – repeatedly. Usurping his discipline decision with the kids. Allowing the kids to run to you and “tell on” dad when he has told them no about something. Playing the “my day was harder than your day” card (I’m a pro at this one). Giving him the “are you an idiot?” expression when he has an idea. The list goes on and on and on….
So why is it so hard for us to show respect to the man we love and chose to spend the rest of our life with? Let me tell you right off the bat – its not usually because of him. Its a heart issue with you. How can I say that? Cause I know my own heart. For years, even in Christian circles, we have consistently avoided the dreaded “S” word. Accidentally letting it slip in the wrong circles can cause an uproar of massive proportions. You will be labeled as an old time fuddy duddy with ancient ideas by most if you propose it as an option. Submission. GASP! We don’t respect our husbands because we have a submission issue. Just as the men are told to “love their wives as Christ loves the church,” (and if you contemplate that command for a bit – you will see its a tall order) we are told to “submit to our husbands, as unto the Lord.” But God doesn’t really want me to do that right? I mean, we’ve come so far. Women’s lib and bra burning and executive positions – we could have had a woman president a few years ago if things had worked out differently! We’re supposed to be able to bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let them forget that they’re men, cause we’re women right?! How could a God who values me, created me, loves me and makes me who I am ask me to do such a thing? Won’t I be denying myself? Won’t I be laying down my life for the sake of someone else? Won’t I be….wait a minute…that concept sounds familiar…if I do those things, I will be doing what Jesus did. Light bulb!
Can I challenge you that if you have a respect/submission issue with your husband that you might have a trust issue with the Lord? I know I did, and still do at times. Instead of trusting that the Lord has His hand on me, I want to be the one in control. My husband, sadly, becomes the casualty. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have stepped over this boundary with my husband over the years. In the name of “being able to do it better” I have literally snatched hammers from his hand, babies from his arms, the driver’s seat of the car, paintbrushes, shovels, spatulas….Its embarrassing how long this list could be. I have talked over him, interrupted him, corrected him, insulted him and for what reason? Because I want him to be like me, think like me and do everything my way. I want to be in control. I want to be the leader…and the truth is – that’s not my job.
But what if my husband really is a screw up? He doesn’t deserve my respect. Well, hate to tell you, he’s still your husband and God doesn’t suggest we submit and honor them – He expects it. If that statement is hard to swallow, then again I challenge you to look at yourself and figure out who you are trusting with your future. Even if your husband does irresponsible things or screws up, you still owe him your respect – not because he deserves it – but because the Lord asks it of you. If you say you trust the Lord, than trust Him to bring you through. We honor the Lord when we choose to honor our husband. It is not always easy, but it is right. There are many times I have bit my tongue and not just figuratively. There are many times I have to tell myself to shut up. If your default mode is to always remind your husband of his screw ups and his failures, or to always fight for your way, you are headed down the wrong road. Your husband doesn’t need you to be his mother – he needs you to be his wife. Its taken me a long time to figure that one out and actually believe it.
Just as much as I need my husband to acknowledge what I do and affirm me, he needs me to be his biggest, most willing supporter and confidant. He needs my respect. He needs it even more when we disagree. Being respectful is a choice – a God honoring choice – and when given, yields an amazing amount of intimacy. When withheld, it yields and amazing amount of bitterness.
Wives…love (and respect) your husbands….please.