Does Your Husband Have To Earn Your Respect?

Couple Holding Hands

You’ve heard that men live on respect. But when do you give respect? Do you wait until he does something to earn your respect?

“He’s been in the same stupid job for 10 years. When he comes home he just sits in front of the TV and complains. How can I respect him? He hasn’t done anything to deserve my respect.”

I’ve heard variations on that theme over and over from so many wives. You’re frustrated because you can’t find anything in your husband worthy of your respect. So you don’t respect him. And he continues to disappoint you.

And your marriage is in a rut. Or worse.

You’ve heard the advice to respect your husband. It’s even Biblical: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) God knew that respect, as Emerson Eggerichs puts it, “most powerfully motivates a man.”

For you wives who struggle with this, let me turn things around. You want your husband to love you. The Scripture quoted above even commands husbands to love their wives. If you don’t feel loved by your husband, you feel your marriage is in real trouble.

Here’s the question: do you have to earn your husband’s love?

Ouch! “NO!” you scream. “Love is supposed to be unconditional, offered freely. If I have to earn it, it’s not real love!”

And I agree with you. While you have real responsibilities in your marriage, God asks your husband to love you – just because. That’s the way God loves us, and it’s the way husbands are directed to love their wives.

Now back to the idea of respect. Here’s what one husband wrote: “I feel like the more I do, the more she wants. I feel like I’m dealing with a bottomless pit. Nothing will satisfy her!” Can you feel his frustration?

God asks wives to respect their husbands – not in response to anything they do, but just because. He asks them to respect their husbands in the same way he asks husbands to love their wives.

Respect is a gift you offer your husband, not payment for something he has done.      Tweet that.

So how do you do that?

Here are a few tips.

  1. Look to God first as your Source. Although your husband “should” do a lot to provide for you and try to make you happy, that’s not where you need to be looking. God is and always will be your primary Source of love, intimacy, provision, protection, joy, and every other good thing. When you experience God that way first, you won’t be as likely to look to your husband for what he is not able to provide.
  2. Focus on what IS good in your husband. Unless your husband is truly evil, I can almost guarantee he will respond to your affirmation of any good things in his behavior or character. Look for and verbalize the positive: “You spoke up for me when my friend criticized me. Thank you!” Or, “You really care about our children learning to be polite. I appreciate that.” Or, “I know you didn’t want to make that phone call, but you did it anyway. I’m proud of you for doing that.” Most men will do more of what they are truly appreciated for.
  3. Be his Helper, not his Trainer. Your role in your marriage is not Junior Holy Spirit, Mother, Judge, Teacher, or Coach. You’re not grading him as you would a paper, or training him as you would a child. Your role is Helper – a very important role that God ascribes to Himself. The same Hebrew word Helper in Gen 2:18 is used of God Himself in places such as Psalm 54:4: “Behold, God is my Helper.” So you are to be the same kind of help to your husband as God is to you, to stand beside him, support him, and encourage him.
  4. Don’t belittle him. Nothing shuts most men down faster than harsh criticism or cutting put-downs. If he constantly gets the message that he can’t win with you, that nothing he does is good enough, he’ll quit trying. Most men won’t continue in a direction they don’t sense they can win. If you do need to point out a problem he needs to correct, do so privately, calmly, briefly, and with respect.
  5. Follow his lead when possible. When he expresses an opinion, makes a decision, or chooses a direction to go, make your default position to agree with him. That doesn’t mean you follow him blindly: engage with him, ask questions, value his opinion, honestly listen to his point of view. Demonstrate that you care about his thoughts, feelings, opinions, and experience.

Sure, some men are lazy, unthinking, one-sided, aggressive, or selfish. It’s not those characteristics you are showing respect for.

But if you choose to offer the gift of respect to your husband wherever you can, I can promise you your marriage will be stronger. And both you and your husband will be happier.

Your Turn: Does your husband have to earn your respect? Or can you offer give the gift of respect to your husband? Leave a comment below.

Tweetables: why not share this post?

  • Does your husband have to earn your respect?                     Tweet that.
  • Do you have to earn your husband’s love? Then why does he have to earn your respect?    Tweet that.

Learning to Love Well in Marriage is a Challenge!

I’d love to send you weekly resources on healthy relationships from a Christian perspective.