This is a foundational question to my blog. My primary purpose is to teach women God’s design for femininity, marriage and being a godly wife. I base my views on scripture:
Wives, submit (rank yourself under one in authority) to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (except for sin). Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of His body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33
(other passages include Genesis 3, Titus 2, I Corinthians 11, I Peter 3)
It is my understanding that women and men BOTH need love and respect. But women tend to need love and give love most – and tend to be weaker in the respect department. Men tend to need respect and give respect – and tend to be weaker in the love department. BOTH men and women must stretch and grow beyond their own perspective to become more holy in romantic relationships and marriage.
It is my goal to focus on the God-given roles and commands for wives in marriage to help prepare women for a godly marriage. Books could also be written about a husband’s godly role in marriage – but because I am a wife, not a husband, I only address women in my blog. So, yes, my blog is one-sided. Most women want to focus on their man and what HE needs to change. But when we look at our relationships like that – we become powerless victims. Our power as women is to focus on repenting of our own sin and discovering God’s commands for us and how we can obey God. That is how we can revolutionize our relationships to honor God and find the intimacy we long for most!
For men who are interested in reading about a husband’s role and responsibilities, you may check out my husband’s blog www.respectedhusband.wordpress.com or you can look at the top of my www.peacefulwife.com site and click on the CMBA member link and find links to many marriage bloggers, some of whom are husbands and write for men about this critical topic.
I hope to shine a light on what respect is in marriage and romantic relationships and also how to empower our husbands’ (or future husbands’) leadership. Our culture threw out respect many decades ago and most of us under about 50 years of age (men and women) have barely experienced what respect even means – so many of us are very blind to this concept, unfortunately. I believe that the Bible is the source of God’s truth for us and that obedience to God’s Word will lead to peace, joy, hope and abundant life.
This message is VERY counter culture and counter intuitive for women. It is not politically correct. It will probably make some women feel angry. I totally get that. But I did things my own way before (our culture’s way) – and my results were horrible. I have been doing things God’s way for about 4 years now – and I have real peace, joy, contentment, purpose, direction and intimacy in my life now both with God and my husband that I NEVER remotely experienced before. That is what I desire every woman to find! God’s will, His way and His gifts in your soul and in your relationships.
I did NOT understand these principles for the first 15 years of our marriage. And our intimacy, unity and oneness suffered greatly. All I saw was that my husband was very distant, unloving, unplugged and seemed not to care about me anymore. I thought I was the best wife in the world! But I felt the weight of the family solely on my shoulders. I was anxious and upset a lot. I worried daily. I was negative, overwhelmed, lonely and miserable many times. I had no idea that I was contributing pain to our marriage. My husband NEVER told me I was disrespectful. He never told me to be respectful. He just backed away and shut down. I was desperate to connect with him and have emotional and spiritual intimacy with him again.
My definition of respect used to be, “I don’t yell much, don’t cuss at my husband, don’t call him names, don’t threaten divorce, don’t throw things at him and don’t hit him.” So I thought I was doing great at respecting my husband. And while those things definitely SHOULD be part of the definition of respect, there was so much more that I didn’t see at all. My ignorance of my husband’s masculine needs created a great deal of pain in our marriage for many years. It’s my hope and prayer that God might use me somehow to spare other women and marriages that pain!
Every man will have his own unique definition of what disrespect is to him. But in general, for most men, disrespect includes:
- a spirit of constant criticism against him
- bossing him around, telling him what to do
- belittling him, verbally emasculating him, berating him, condemning his opinions, decisions, values, spirituality and masculinity
- looking down on him
- showing contempt for who he is as a man
- not accepting him, wanting to change him and make him be who you want him to be
- using a scolding tone of voice like an angry mother at him
- continuing to try to explain your point of view to force him to agree that you are “right” even when he has made up his mind about something
- undermining his authority as a father
- pouting, whining, crying or manipulating to try to get your way
- taking control of the relationship and trying to force him to say, feel and do things that he isn’t ready to do
- having a frequent scowl and look of disapproval on your face
- talking to him like he is an incompetent, incapable, immature child
- focusing on his weaknesses, seeing the worst in him, assuming the worst
- wanting him to think and feel like a woman
Every man will also have his own unique definition of respect and his own preferences – just like different women have different things that speak love to them most deeply. I am offering some suggestions of what respect can be to give us a place to start from. You can certainly ask your man what feels respectful to him. The problem here is that respect for men/husbands/almost all God-given authority was thrown out of our culture in the 1960s. So many men today don’t have the concept of respect on their radar, or they think it is arrogant to want to be respected. Or they have never felt respected and aren’t even sure what would be respectful. That’s why I want to give women a place to start from. Most men feel respected when they see their woman:
- admire them and look up to them
- see the good in them and talk about that and praise them
- not focus on their weaknesses much (yes, sin does have to be confronted at times, but a respectful woman focuses on the good and doesn’t constantly harp on the bad.)
- speak without sarcasm, anger, resentment, yelling
- think of them as being competent, capable, intelligent and responsible
- trust them (of course, we can only trust what is trustworthy – there are times we can’t trust a man who has proven himself unworthy of trust)
- have friendly body language, facial expressions and tone of voice
- use our words to build them up not tear them down
- cooperate with their leadership (if you do not trust a man to lead you – please do not date him or pursue marriage with him!)