Three Ways To Show Respect
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
The calling here for the wife is to be respectful to her husband. This can be done in three ways. Recognizing his role biblically, regard his work with words, and respond to his leadership with actions. In preparing for a recent sermon I preached, I asked Leslie, my wife of 18 wonderful years, to join me to help give some insight. Here are some of her insights intertwined with mine.
Recognize His Role
The scripture repeats and emphasizes that wives are to submit to their husbands. If it is repeated and emphasized it must be important. And when a wife does submit to her husband, she’s being obedient and submissive to the Lord.
When there is gridlock in the marriage, there is usually a problem within the roles and responsibilities department. In our marriage, we call it role resting. The wife will spend time in prayer and Bible study and in many discussions with her husband to best understand his roles and responsibilities in the marriage and family. A Godly wife will recognize her husband as the head of the home and respect him, support him as he seeks to provide and protect the marriage and family.
Regard His Work
The husband is called to follow Christ’s example as a servant leader by providing and protecting the family. If the wife recognizes this role, she is able to help him in this high calling. This is not an easy pathway. For one husband, it may be taking a tough job that’s hard but helpful in providing an income. He may not want to go to work, but he goes. He may not like it, but he doesn’t complain because he knows it’s paying the bills. While it’s better if we find jobs that are fulfilling, it’s not always possible.
When the wife recognizes her husband’s role as the main provider and protector this energizes him to fulfill his calling, and in turn, strengthens the marriage.
Men find a lot of identity in their work; one of their main roles is to be a provider. So it’s really important for the wife to affirm the husband in his work so he can feel respected and continue to fulfill his God-given calling as a provider.
One helpful tool to help is a book called “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. In the book, he talks about 5 love languages as 5 ways we receive love and respect. They are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and gifts. If your spouse’s love language is words of affirmation, it’s important to speak words of encouragement to him or her, not just in private but in public as well. It means a lot to the spouse and will help them to feel loved and or respected and maybe both!
Respond to His Leadership
There are times in the marriage where big decisions need to be made. Seldom in a good Christian marriage will the husband and wife will not be on the same page, if they are both pursuing oneness within their emotional, spiritual, and physical life. I can think back on times as a husband in which Leslie responded to my leadership. For example, when I told her we needed to move to Dallas so that I could get the seminary training I needed, she gladly supported me. Or when I told her we needed to go to Spain to explore planting a church, she (not as quickly but faithfully) walked with me on that journey and supported me.
She has always been my closest advisor and best friend. In coming to Phoenix, I told her we would need to leave all of our friends and family and she did it. In each of these situations, there were weeks and months of prayer and conversations had. Not one of those examples did I drag my wife into; she was never reluctant but responsive.
To respond to a husband’s leadership requires obedience to God’s word and trusting that God has a better plan. It also requires trust in your husband. Nothing will empower a husband more than when he has a helpmate in life to tackle the next mountain with. Lastly, it takes risk. So many times, a husband ventures out in a career or venture, and it doesn’t work out as he planned. There are always learning lessons. It’s critical in these times that the wife doesn’t scold him and say, “I knew it” or “I told you so,” but rather count the cost on the front end. If the plans don’t work, it’s not “his fault.” It was a mutual decision and mutual ownership. It’s important that with each decision that’s made that could negatively impact the family, there is much prayer, careful consideration, and coming to a mutual understanding and agreement so that the couple is working as a team.