How to Respect your Spouse

Recently I was asked to write out tips for a bride-to-be; ones that would ensure a solid start to marriage.  I reflected upon the lessons I have learned in 23 years of marriage: what seems most significant to my marriage was learning to respect my husband.  I learned this in 2001 when I was studying the words in Ephesians 5, with a bit of help from Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect and The Crazy Cycle.

I remember exactly where I was standing – in the kitchen next to the refrigerator – when I had an emotional meltdown.  It had happened before, but this was the “one too many times”.  I felt so lonely.  I remember God giving me the sense that I was not alone.  He was right there with me. He was my best friend.  I learned at that moment not to put that burden on my husband, because it was God’s rightful place.  God gently showed me how my anger over the circumstances were directed at my husband’s character and that I had been treating him without respect. Yikes! I had no clue until the Holy Spirit put a light on it.  Prior to this I covered it up with “I am so nice….etc.”  Yeah, well ‘I am nice until you make me mad.’

Oh, that was a very raw place!  I firmly believed that I did respect my husband. The truth was that I was disrespecting him for his behavior, rather than separating the man from the behavior.  I had made all the excuses, ‘but God, that is not fair, he did X…Y…..Z! and I do not deserve this treatment!’ ….still no sympathy from God.  He did not change his playbook just for this “one time” or “just for you” – no special favors.  God is God. He does not change or yield to anyone. [whew!].  No, He reminded me of the golden guidelines, “the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesian 5:33).  Guys, it is in there for you too with regard to your wife (1 Peter 3:7).

While he (husband) is responsible for his behavior, I am also equally responsible for my reactions.  God had a work to do to help me change old habit patterns that had been formed for ten years.  In reality it is now thirteen years later and I am still untangling the old reactions from the new, and better, way to respond to my husband: based on my values and respect of him VERSUS my ‘feelings’!  I have made much progress over time and our marriage is so much stronger, so much more joyful, as a result of our efforts.

The more I practice showing my husband respect, the more his actions are respect-worthy.  It is a beautiful thing! If only we would follow the perfect play book all the time: our relationships would be perfect all the time too.  Let us purpose today to R-E-S-P-E-C-T one another (can’t you just hear Aretha Franklin singing???) . 

Since God sees us with the “potential” we have, let us do the same for one another.

 How do you respect your spouse when his/her actions are not worthy?

I will truly appreciate your comments on the subject.  I trust this is an area where we can all help each other improve!

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