Love and Respect

A recent discussion (on my online unschooling group) about troubling marriage, not to mention a few local friends going through separation and divorces, has made me stop and think hard about my relationship with my husband.

I vowed to cherish and love my husband over 12 years ago. Have I kept up with my covenance? Men equate respect with love and if we don't give them respect, they feel unloved. Am I really treating my husband respectfully? Or, am I speaking in an ill way of him to others. Is his character marred by my words (which might have been said in the heat of the moment or on a PMS day? Have I been self-less and put his needs ahead of my own? Have I ever made my husband feel foolish? Few of the thoughts really pierced my heart. It made me wonder whether my husband is confident that he is my hero. Do I make him feel like he is my hero? Have I given out personal information about him that may lead to gossip in the family or other places?

In Ephesians 5:22-33, they tell me the wife is to submit to the authority of her husband and the husband is to love his wife as his own body. Oh gosh, this has been a challenge for me to follow at all times. Sure, I say "I submit as much as I can". My husband says, "I submit when I want to". Sounds a lot different than what this scripture teaches. My understanding of the verses does not mean that a man may misuse his authority because, if he loves his wife, he would sacrifice for her as Christ did for the church. It does mean, however, he is the head of the family. As such, he also bears the first responsibility. He may provide the needed leadership only if his wife respects and submits to his authority.

One of the difficulties in my marriage is showing respect to my husband. I hear repeatedly how I talk to him and disrespect him, in an extent even belittle him to others! If I want a healthy marriage, I must set aside selfishness and live for him. Do I always feel like sacrificing for him?

Here are a few key pointers that spoke to me from today's Scriptures in I Corinthians 13:
1. Not to provoke--not to respond in irritation, but self-control, realizing God will not give more then I can bear
2. Not to take into account a wrong suffered--not to bring up past failures, instead, forgive and forget as Christ has forgiven me
3. Not to rejoice in unrighteousness but in truth--not to entice my husband to sin but "stimulate to love and good deeds"
4. To bear all things--to sacrifice myself and commit to my husband
5. To believe all things--believe the best and hold to God's promise "that all things work together for good..."
6. To hope all things--having firm hope in God and trust "all things" to the hand of God including my husband and marriage and
7. To endure all things--see trials truly as opportunities to become more like Christ. These things do not come naturally; instead, I must diligently work at "putting on love" in my life.

Here are what I, the wife, am being called to that touch my heart:
1. The wife is responsible for taking action. Some people subtly criticize the command to submission by wrongly interpreting it to mean to lose motivation and sense of purpose. It is the other way around. I am to be full of attention and action. I am alert respecting my husband. At the end of the age, I will be asked whether or not I respected my husband. Responsibility means accountability. My husband will be responsible for how the home went because he is the head. But I will be responsible for how I respected my husband.
2. I might seem surprised at my prime focus to fear or respect my husband. I might wonder how a great marriage be built on a command to fear my husband. Part of the confusion is what fear really means. Part of it is what the world nonstop keeps saying. There are two words for fear in Chinese--one stands for afraid and the other in awe of. The latter seems much more proper. I need to realize no matter how foolish my husband is and how much he focuses on fulfilling his own lusts, he is still my head. Marriage defines the context in which men and women grow. Since I am doing poorly here, I have trouble with things in other areas.

I fear I would call myself respectful, but, if my husband were asked to honestly answer, he would have to deny my reverence. Perhaps I am submissive but not reverent or respectful. Even a child can obey because he/she knows the consequences of disobedience but show by attitudes and actions that it was not from a heart of love. Do I submit begrudgingly or do I lovingly submit showing respect and honor for the position God has given my husband as head of the home?

I am to see to it that she respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33) I should be a helper suitable (Genesis 2:20) offering helpful suggestions instead of "put-downs." Scripture gives numerous examples of wives showing disrepect to their husband. Job's wife told him to curse God and die! (Job 2:9) instead of supporting him in his time of trial. When she saw King David dancing for joy, his wife, Michal, made fun of David instead of rejoicing with him that the ark was being returned to Jerusalem. Scripture also gave me some positive examples of those who showed respect to their husbands. Bathsheba "bowed with her face to the ground, and prostrated herself before the king and said, "May my lord King David live forever." (I Kings 1:31) Queen Esther approached King Ahasuerus with respect saying "...if it please the petition and my request is if I have found favor in the King's sight..." (Esther 5:4) Sarah is commended in I Peter 3:6 for she "obeyed Abraham, calling him lord." We are told in this same passage that we can be like the holy women of old by practicing this same attitude. Ephesians 5:33 says "...let the wife see to it that she respects her husband." It doesn't matter that this goes completely contrary to what is being taught by the world today. This is what God requires of us.

Here are five Biblical Principles for Respecting our Husbands:
1. The wife is to respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
2. The wife is to respect his position. I Corinthians 11:3
3. The wife is to act in a respectful manner. Proverbs 31:23
4. The wife is to reprove her husband respectfully. Colossians 4:6
5. The wife who is disrespectful may experience severe consequences. Galatians 6:1

What is your tone of voice you answer your husband in? Just listen to how you talk about your husband to others. Listen to the words and your body language you use responding to his questions. Are we showing true reverence for our husbands or deceiving ourselves? How do others evaluate the relationship they see between you and your husband?

Can we repair the damage done by our disrespectful attitudes in the past? What are some practical things we can do to show our husbands respect? There is always a chance we can save our marriage. Every marriage has challenges. There is no such a thing as the perfect marriage or people who don’t have issues in their marriages.

Both of us have to work together and want to work together. Communication is the key. Learn to talk to each other and open up. Together we must identify the issues and agree to work on them. No matter what the issues are in our marriage, there is always a chance to fix them if both of us have the desire to overcome them. It is important to communicate a lot in our marriage so at least the issues are out on the table. Both of us should pick a time and a day just to go over what’s on the table. Respect one another’s opinions and ideas about our relationship. Be honest! Let our children know that mom and dad are working out some issues. Answer their questions if they have any. Children can sense when things are not OKAY and they will wonder what is happening; which may add to the already stressful marriage.

For me, one important step I will take this morning is to let my husband know that I care about him and his feelings. A soft and gentle “I love you” does a lot even when things are not perfect in a marriage.

I hope we will all honestly search our hearts and see if we are obeying God's command to respect our husbands. Things to think on...

2 encouragements:

Stephanie said...

In troubled marriages I can see how hard it would be for a wife to respect her husband when she doesn't feel loved.

Marriage takes two, you didn't write about the husbands *duties*
I believe that we love and respect each other and probably submit to one another but it has to be equal. My marriage is awesome, we joke about me, but I am not gonna roll over and play dead. I speak up, I act on my thoughts and feelings once in a while I do keep quiet. My husband loves me and respects me, I love and respect him, it's mutual.

Radical Unschoolers Live in FREEDOM said...

I too joke around with dh and share often many common interests (basically anything relating to his business and fitness/health.) We have great relationship except lately he is crunched for developing his business and feel extremely stressed. I won't try to present his view in my blog because it'd be from my subjective view.

As for the word RESPECT, I realize it means so differently in each of us that I must reevaluate frequently to keep myself in check as well as being conscious of such. I don't want to get COMFORTABLE in our relationship. I don't want to take him for granted and EXPECT what he does for me. I love to go on...but, hubby is rushing me to go swimming with the family! Have a great day, Stepanie. See you soon.

True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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