Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

How to Express the True Meaning of Respect

How to Express the True Meaning of Respect

The word “respect” in the context of Christian marriage has been misused and misunderstood. Respect by some has been taken to the extreme to justify the notion that being a good respectful wife you are a doormat, opinionless, or inferior. These ideas are far from the Biblical truth this word represents! The definition of respect, when used as a verb, is to deeply admire someone.

When talking about our marriages, isn’t that exactly how we are supposed to feel about each other? How then do we find a way to show our husbands that we deeply admire or respect their abilities? Let’s talk through some of the ways we can live out admiration, without even using words.

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1. Be quick to listen

1. Be quick to listen

At our house we have James 1:19 posted everywhere! Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.  Why do we need this simple verse all over our house? Because we forget to take this posture so frequently in our conversations. My default approach to almost every conversation is to first think about me.  While my spouse is talking, I am plotting our my case as to why my way is better. How is this showing admiration for my husbands abilities?

If I want to be a person who shows the one I love respect, then I have to be willing to hear him out.  I have to stop the never ending self-focused monoloque of my head and actually consider his point-of-view. He could be wrong but doesn’t he at least deserve a quiet careful ear to help him find his way from wrong to right? Gentle leadership is so much more effective than pushy antics. Listening before speaking is essential if we want to be kind and gentle leaders in our homes. 

There is this concept of the “Amish Pause” in which they take long breaks in the midst of a conversation. They stop and think before immediately doling out the first response that barely pops into their heads. While taking long pauses in conversation may feel uncomfortable in our modern and fast paced lives, the concept has a lot of merit. Why not take a full 30 seconds to really consider your response before speaking when having important conversations with your spouse? I imagine your husband will be baffled at first but once he understands that you are going out of your way to really listen he will feel more loved than ever. 

2. Don’t forget about physical touch

Remember way back to the beginning when holding hands was natural? When walking without your man by your side and your arm tucked around his would have been a crime? It’s time to bring some of that tenderness back into your marriage. Flirtatious touch tells your husband that he is on your mind. He wants to know that you see him even when other concerns press at you from all angles. 

At the end of the day when you reunite, truly be willing to stop what you are doing and embrace. Even if you don’t have time to truly share all the details of your day, a good hug or sweet kiss can show him that he is still a priority in your day. Holding hands or couch snuggles are some of the best ways to keep the affection for one another alive in your marriage. 

If this feels unnatural maybe pick a time of day to go out of your way to connect physically.  Some ideas would be a kiss before you leave the house in the morning, a long hug when you both get home before dinner, before bedtime snuggling on the couch, or everytime you walk in a store making a point to hold hands.  Don’t underestimate how much power that being in close contact during the day can have on how your husband perceives you.  Tender touch is an essential part in showing admiration to your spouse.   

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3. Talk less and pray more

3. Talk less and pray more

Over the course of a lifetime together there are inevitably going to be many instances in which you are going to disagree. Disagreement is one of the best opportunities we have to show true love and respect for our spouse!  It’s also one of the easiest ways the devil can start a love-killing fire in our relationships. How can we approach disagreement while still showing respect for our spouse? We pray first before we speak. 

Ephesians 6:18 encourages us to pray on all occasions. God gives us this simple advice because He knows that prayer changes our hearts and lives. When we take a moment to seek God before trying to fight our way to the top of an argument, God’s gentle spirit gives us the strength we need to set aside our pride and approach our husbands with consideration. 

We also are able to remember that our lives and marriages are first under the control of the Lord and it’s not our job to micromanage the details. If we give God the room to work in our relationships, He will be faithful to work out our situations for our good. 

4.  Let your husband do his part

Have you ever asked your spouse to “do you a favor” and then hopped right to the task and did it yourself because he wasn’t moving quick enough for your taste? I am so guilty of this! There are so many times I ask for help and then become grumpy because my husband takes too long or doesn’t do it my (the obvious right) way. 

If a grumble and a sigh is the thanks he gets for attempting to be helpful, it’s no wonder that his normal posture is a passive one. When we don’t give our husbands room to lead they stop leading. It’s not that they can’t lead or don’t want to lead, it’s just that they are tired of fighting for a place in your home.

The truth about women is that we come into this world with a lot of plans. Having a two year old daughter after raising two boys has only confirmed this suspicion. The girl knows what she wants. My boys require a lot more direction. Most of us women are naturally connecting the dots for the day, we live proactively, and generally trust our intuition. 

A lot of times guys see things a little differently, which is the beauty of being a pair! We are designed to complement one another. One side was not made better than the other, but we were made differently

In order to make sure our husbands know that their half of the whole is appreciated we need to consciously make room for them to do their parts. My mantras, (especially as we’ve worked at raising kids together) have been: different isn’t wrong and taking your time is not the same thing as ignoring the task. I confess though that my “can do” nature still often gets in the way of my marriage working as a team but reciting these truths have helped us come a long way. 

The honest truth is that my unwillingness to share the load with my husband and let go of the control nearly sent our marriage and my mental health into the grave. Ladies, we have to make room for the men in our lives.  Repeat after me: Different is not wrong and taking your time is not ignoring the task.

5. Invest in his interests

One of God’s great works of beauty is in the way He so uniquely has designed each and every human being.  There is no two people with the same stories, skills, interests, or thoughts. This is important to keep in mind when approaching our marriages. Our husbands are exciting mysteries that we have the privilege to unpack. We will not understand the “why’s” of each other their interests and hobbies. What we can do is see their world as one filled with wonder and express genuine interest in learning about the things that make them excited. 

Nothing shows admiration better than giving our undivided attention.  We don’t have to love what our spouses love but we should love that they love it.  Respect that they have passions by giving them the room to explore them.  A bonus to investing in their interests is that it also will give you new conversation topics and your willingness to support your husbands fascinations is sure to put a smile on his face! 

Let’s reclaim the idea of respect as one that is full of beauty and truth. Let’s not let it be a “bad word” that puts strong woman in their places; but instead, an invitation to truly love our husbands well. It’s our job to show them the love of Christ each and every day. We can do that best if we remember to show our spouse that they are valued. 

Amanda Idleman is a wife, homeschooling Momma to three amazing kids and is passionate about encouraging others to live joyfully. Amanda also loves to write as a freelance writer and on her blog (when she finds a spare moment for it). You can find out more about Amanda at her blog rvahouseofjoy.wordpress.comor follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Lucas Lenzi