Men thrive on respect. It’s right there at the top of a man’s emotional needs. If your wife does not respect you, you probably feels like a failure, at least at home.
God understands this need. He built it into a man’s heart. It’s why Paul wrote: “Let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
When a man feels respect from his wife, he feels like he can take on the world. When he doesn’t, he feels isolated, angry, frustrated, and powerless. And if such a man feels respect from someone other than his wife, it will be hard for him not to wander from his marriage.
If you’re a man who does not feel respect in his home, you probably already know that it’s not something you can authoritatively command. At best, trying to force respect leads to grudging words and passive aggressive behavior. At worst it leads to active resistance or running away.
So what’s a man to do? Here are 5 things you can and should do if this is you. (Remember, I’m only talking about what YOU can do. And don’t worry, ladies; I’m writing another post for you.)
- Believe that God sees you as being enough. A healthy relationship with your wife is very important for your sense of well-being. But no human being, not even your wife, can perfectly meet every need you have, even if she does want to. However she treats you, you can still hear God saying to you, “You are my son. I am pleased with you.” (Matthew 3:17) And remember God said that to Jesus before He had done one miracle. You don’t have to earn God’s love.
- Examine your own behavior. Try to imagine someone looking at you from outside your situation. Are you doing things that might cause your wife to disrespect you? Have you broken her trust in some way? Are you fulfilling YOUR part of the marriage relationship in caring for and loving her faithfully? You can’t change her, but you can make certain your own behavior is worth respecting.
- Tell your wife what you need. I’m assuming you and your wife are both people of good will, and want your marriage to work. If so, take the high road and initiate a loving calm conversation with her. Tell her what “respect” looks like to you, and how she can give you what you need. Ask her what you can do that would help her respect you. She may not be able to do it all, but you may well get more of what you need. (P.S. Listen to her also. She’ll be more likely to respond well if she feels heard.)
- Do the next right thing. As much as you want your wife’s respect, whether or not you can respect yourself is more important. Being mean may feel satisfying for a moment, but in the long run it will create a wound in your soul. Don’t do something that you will later have to apologize for. You will want to be able to look back at this time without regrets. Being both kind and strong is never a sign of weakness.
- Love your wife anyway. The first part of the verse above tells husbands, “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself.” (Ephesians 5:33) It’s not “love her IF she respects you.” God holds you accountable for loving your wife regardless of how she treats you. He respects you enough to give you the FIRST job: showing love to your wife. Lead in this way, and it’s possible she will follow.
If you feel your wife is not respecting you, don’t remain angry or powerless. Do something positive about it.
And I pray God gives you insight into how you can be the leader your marriage needs.
What does “respect” look like to you? Is there anything you can do to help your wife show you the respect you need it? Leave a comment below.
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