In one of the old I Love Lucy episodes Lucy says,
“Boy, since we said ‘I do,’ there are so many things that we don’t!”
She was referring to activities she and Ricky used to do. But if we’re honest, there are lots of other things that happened in courtship that find a hard time making their way into marriage.
Last Sunday my husband preached about two of those things – love and respect. Let me share a woman’s perspective on this respect issue. What does it look like and why is it so important to our marriage?
When a young woman is engaged, she believes her fiance’ can do anything and she tells him so! “You’re the best ball player on the church league!” “You’re the hardest working employee on your job; they’ll be glad they hired you!” “No one plays tennis like you do!” “You’re so smart” “You make lifting that heavy equipment look like it doesn’t weigh anything!” Those comments are all statements of respect – the thing that every man longs for in a relationship more than anything else. He needs to hear those things by his fiance’, but then he needs to continue to hear those things for all they years he is married. That man marries that gal because he knows she believes in him,and is standing behind him to encourage him in every endeavor and at every turn.
However, once Married bliss has turned to the Married blues, many wives have a hard time saying respectful things to their husband. All they see are their spouse’s failures (overlooking their own) and they ask, “how can I respect this man considering all his goof-ups I’ve had to deal with?” Those “goof-ups” may be uncertainties about how to be a spiritual leader, a bad financial decision that hurt the family, or even a moral failure. While those are all things that require God’s grace, they are not excuses for us as wives not to obey the command to “reverence your husband.” We are not responsible for their actions, but we are responsible for our own. No one – even our husband – can make us sin. If we disrespect him, it is our choice. We can’t point an accusing finger his direction and think that the Lord will overlook our sin because of his.
But wives also have a tendency, not only to keep from saying respectful things, but to saying crushing, ego-stabbing comments that pierce the ego that the Lord put within him to make him stand like a man. She begins to knit-pick at his driving, his eating, his sleeping, his work hours, his involvement at church or lack thereof. Proverbs 19:13b calls these contentions a “continual dripping.” All through our married lives it’s drip, drip, drip as the ugly, disrespectful words plunk down on the roof of our marriage drowning out the love songs that once graced our homes. Oh, it may stop for a while, but then, drip, drip, drip – she gets aggravated and… it’s back.
Perhaps you just caught yourself sighing. You know the cycle all too well. You disrespect, then he gives you the cold shoulder. That’s the crazy cycle that my husband described and this is why our respect is so important. Love is our greatest need as a woman. We want to feel our husband’s love for us. We want to see and hear his love demonstrated. A hug, a flower, an “I love you” spoken. We long for that…just like our husband longs to be respected. Someone has to stop the cycle. That someone can be us, ladies.
Ask the Lord to show you how to speak respectful words and demonstrate respect to your husband. Start with little things. Thank him for going to work to provide for your family. Tell him you respect him for being a provider. Ask the Lord to put a watch over the door of your lips when you want to criticize. If there’s an area of his life that is a hindrance, PRAY about it. When God convicts him of it, his decision will stick! Be your husband’s greatest cheerleader! Make it easy for him to rejoice with the wife of his youth.
While we don’t respect our husband with a motive, a wonderful thing will happen in time…he will love you for respecting him, and the crazy cycle will stop. Oh, and you know what else? You may even get back to doing all the fun things you did before you said, “I do!”
Because I care,