Ok, I know I have focused a lot on respect. I think that a woman respecting her man and being willing to follow his godly leadership is HUGE!!!!! I doubt I can possibly emphasize these concepts enough. I know that is not what you are hearing from our culture. I know it’s not politically correct. We, being the sinful people we are, tend to overshoot God’s design – but a wife is not to be a slave/doormat, that doesn’t honor God. And she is not to be a controlling, dominating, steamroller over her man. That doesn’t honor God either! God’s beautiful design for marriage WORKS when it is done by His power in His way!
Of course, a husband also has the incredibly heavy responsibility of loving his wife as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her. He is to be a servant leader – he is not to be a tyrant and abusive. He is not to be passive and unplugged and uninvolved, leaving her to shoulder all the weight. He is to be gentle, loving, peaceful, strong, honest, trustworthy, responsible, generous, godly, faithful, reliable, good, kind, selfless and wise.
Both the guy and the girl in the relationship are going to need God’s Spirit to empower them in order to accomplish this beautiful, intricate, Christ-glorifying balance. When it is done properly in obedience to God’s Word and by His Spirit’s power – the relationship brings incredible glory to God and honor to the gospel of Christ. A marriage like this draws the children in the family to Christ and also draws others who see the dynamics in the marriage to Christ as well!
However – I do want to make a few things about respect a bit more clear…
RESPECTING YOUR MAN DOES NOT MEAN:
- ignoring his sin.
- calling sin “good” or trying to “respect” sin.
- never confronting sin.
- having no opinions or thoughts to offer to the relationship.
- being quiet all the time.
- putting on an act of being happy that is fake.
RESPECTING YOUR MAN DOES MEAN:
- Only bringing up his faults in a calm, peaceful, respectful way in private, not in front of other people, and not in a big storm of emotions, and only when it truly is something significant, not some little pet peeve or minor preference.
- Respectfully confronting sin when necessary by saying something like, “I’m really disappointed that you would do that. I know you are a better man than that. There isn’t room in my life for X.” or “It hurts me deeply when you do X.” And then leaving him alone to think about his priorities and what choices he wants to make. Let him get back in touch with you when he’s ready. If he doesn’t apologize, you can say something like, “I’m still upset about X.” And then you break communication until he apologizes and is willing to change if this is a deal breaker for you. Bob Grant says, “Men respond to pain and distance, not words.” This is SO true! Lecturing him is disrespectful. Telling him what to do is condescending and emasculating. Scolding him reduces him to feeling like a little boy with an angry mommy. Your words are not going to carry near the power that your distance and silence will if a man has sinned against you or disappointed you.
- You only praise things that you genuinely admire and respect about him. They must be real things that are true about him. This cannot be faked! A man will know if you are just being respectful-acting or putting on a show. He MUST know that you actually respect HIM as a MAN. Every man has some things that you can respect. Please only date guys you genuinely respect and only date guys who love Jesus above everything else and are showing active fruit of the Holy Spirit consistently!
- Your feelings, desires and ideas are very important to the relationship. A healthy, godly man wants your input and wants to know what you like and don’t like. He wants you to be happy. Shutting completely down and saying nothing is not healthy, does not honor God, does not honor yourself, does not bring glory to the gospel, and does not make for a balanced, vibrant, strong relationship. A woman MUST know who she is, what she thinks and how she feels or the relationship can get very out of balance and steer the guy toward being a selfish tyrant if a girl completely loses herself and her identity. But we can express our feelings and thoughts in pleasant, calm, respectful, peaceful ways without getting all out of control hysterical. That is how men can hear us best. “I feel sad.” “I feel lonely.” “I feel afraid.” “I miss you.” instead of, “You never spend enough time with me! So, I guess you don’t love me anymore, right!?!” Stating simple feelings without blame is MUCH easier for men to hear and address than if we begin assuming they have evil motives toward us and blaming them for our feelings. We can also simply state what we want or don’t want. “I want X.” “I don’t want Y.” Then our men don’t have to try to read our minds. They aren’t good at ESP! (These concepts are from Laura Doyle’s “The Surrendered Wife” and “The Surrendered Single.”)
- For a relationship to thrive, both people have to be authentic, vulnerable and real. This means there is great risk of being hurt. That is how close relationships are. If we keep our guard up or have some fake happy act going on, we can’t really be known and really be loved and we can’t really know or love our man, either.
I pray that You might empower us to understand and embrace Your beautiful design for marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33. Equip and prepare us to meet the needs of our men. Help us learn what respect means and what men need. Help us to understand godly femininity and Your design for masculinity. Open our hearts to absorb all that You want to teach us about relationships with each other and with You. Give us soft, pliable hearts that seek You first in everything!