What Every Husband Wants His Wife to Know
When it comes to marriage I’ll be the first to say I’ve botched things significantly. It wasn’t that I didn’t prepare; I did. But there are some things I had to learn by taking a gigantic leap into the unknown.
And leap I did.
It was a rather long journey across that threshold. Once my feet went airborne I almost got sucked back down to earth by the weight of all my emotional baggage. Needless to say, I made it to the other side, only to realize I still had a lot left to learn about men and marriage.
And although I had a double dose of counseling, my revelations came from another source. I was trained by one of life’s greatest teachers: failure.
Habitual failure has left me with a life size accumulation of marriage wisdom. From finances to sex, I could serve up nuggets of knowledge like a 5 course meal. In all my failings what I’ve discovered is there is one area that trumps all others when it comes to men: respect.
Unfortunately, I only had a textbook understanding of the word when I got married. Although, I grew up hearing the Bible’s admonishment for wives, “Respect your husband,” it wasn’t enough to make me a respectful wife.
And this heart transformation begins long before we engage in a dating relationship, get the ring, or say “I do”. Respect begins with our fathers. We learn to respect our husbands by respecting our daddies first.
Which can be a little problematic if we grew up in a household where he was physically or emotionally absent, or seemingly unworthy of respect. Make no mistake, if we have daddy issues at the onset of our marriage, eventually, if they remain undealt with, we will project those same issues onto our husbands in varying degrees.
This is how H. Norman Wright says it in his book “Always Daddy’s Girl“.
Your relationship with your father was your critical interaction with the masculine gender. He was the first man whose attention you wanted to gain. He was the first man you flirted with, the first man to cuddle you and kiss you the first man to prize you as a very special girl among all other girls. All of these experiences with your father were vital to him and all other men: your femininity. The fawning attention of a father for his daughter prepares her for her uniquely feminine role as a girlfriend, fiance and wife.
And it is not just the interaction with our fathers that a girl should learn from. We also learn from our mother’s interactions with him. In her we see the personification of respect. How she looks, speaks, and communicates with him are all learned behaviors that can either catapult us towards a healthy marriage or push us further away from it.
These aspects of respect may be foreign if we were raised in a single parent household. I was. Which explains why I discovered my lack of respect after I had already jumped the broom.
I wouldn’t recommend this.
If a woman is disrespectful, whether unintentionally or on purpose, her husband will detect it. He will sense it in her mannerisms, tone, sexual rejection and her overall actions. Then he will shut down.
Despite this reality, a lack of respect is seemingly becoming more and more pervasive among women. On more than one occasion I have observed women divulge the status of their heart with little to no regard for their husbands. Whether in person, in small groups, or online I’ve witnessed women expose the growing angst in their hearts.
“I married a man I didn’t respect,” she said as a chorus of mm-hmms and uh huhs followed. This woman was on a panel, at a Christian conference streamed on the internet. To my amazement no one on the panel or in the audience challenged her perspective.
I get it.
It is difficult to love a man when he is unloving, rude, unkind, impatient, insensitive, or whatever you can fill in the blank with. But respect is not conditional and Ephesians 5: 33 (NIV) provides no caveat for the woman or the man.
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
We are instructed by God to respect our husbands unconditionally. Primarily because there is a lot riding on our marriage relationship: our kids, the family unit and the perpetuation of a godly legacy to name a few. (In saying that, if you are in an physically or verbally abusive situation seek professional help immediately.)
Respecting your husband does not mean ignoring abuse.
If we, as wives, are going to respect our husbands we must surrender to God in prayer. Unconditional respect requires the wisdom and power of God. In surrendering to God He breaks our stubborn will: enabling us to do what we think we cannot.
Yielding to God in this area has the greatest potential to change the hearts of our husbands. This is why it says in 1 Peter 3: 1 (NIV)
“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,”
Our gentleness is like water slowly eroding a rock: making our heart posture a powerful tool in the hands of an almighty God. If this is not the sentiment of our heart we must allow God to transform our perspective on our knees. In her book, “The Power of a Praying Wife”, Stormie Omartin, offered women a prayer to pray.
“Lord, I confess I do not esteem my husband the way your Word says to. There is a wall in my heart that I know was erected as a protection against being hurt. But I am ready to let it come down so that my heart can heal. I confess the times I have shown a lack of respect for him. I confess my disrespectful attitude and words as sin against You. Show me how to dismantle this barrier over my emotions that keeps me from having the unconditional love You want me to have. Tear down the wall of hardness around my heart and show me how to respect my husband the way You want me to. Give me Your heart for him, Lord, and help me to see him the way You see him.”
Be encourage and know that God will strengthen you where you are weak. And if you struggle to respect your husband because you didn’t learn to respect your father first, know that God is capable of healing your heart and teaching what you did not learn growing up.