Respect in A Godly Marriage

In the 1970’s, Aretha Franklin topped the charts with the song RESPECT.  The popular lyrics, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me” were popularly sung all throughout the country.  According to Wikipedia, this song was used for the feminist movement demanding respect from men.  The original author of this song, Otis Redding, did not intend this song to be used for the feminist movement, but instead was a plea to a woman (hopefully his wife), to give  him respect.  Check out the original lyrics:

What you want baby I got / What you need you know I got it / All I’m askin’ is for a little respect  /  Then you come home Baby when you come home / Respect
I’m out to give you all my money / But all I’m askin in return honey / Is to give me my proper respect

In a survey done with men, the question was asked:  “Would you rather feel alone and unloved or inadequate and disrespected?”  74% said they would rather feel alone and unloved while 26% said they would rather feel inadequate and disrespected.*  3 out of 4 men desire to be respected by their wives.  This should not astound us as we look at Scripture.  After all, wives are instructed by Paul to respect their husbands Eph 5:22-24, 33.  But in such studies, we begin to understand why such instructions were given; because men strongly desire the respect of their wives (often this is given willingly through submission).

So what does it mean to respect your husbands?  To understand this, we need to again look at the greater marriage between the bride (the church) and bridegroom (Christ).  How does the bride show honor and reverence to Christ?

1) The Bride gives praise to the bridegroom:  Ladies, your husbands desire your praise (for you to lift him up).  So often, words spoken to husbands are words of correction (correcting what he does wrong to how you want it done), criticism, and carelessness, often with the intent on creating him into the image of how you want him to be.  The Bride cannot change the Bridegroom.  You can influence him to act, but you cannot change him. Tell him that you are proud of him and in the man that he has become and is becoming.  You can give praise to him in private and in front of the kids and in public.  Don’t be shy about it.

2)  The Bride believes in the Bridegroom:  Though our belief in Christ is for salvation from our sins, believing in your husbands is having faith in him…faith that he will do the right thing, do a good job, make the right decisions, etc. and then following them (this is the submission part).  Now your husband may make some poor decisions, however, your faith in him shows that you are with him no matter what.  It is demonstrating confidence in him and in being a team and it is this confidence in him that means just as much as his love does to you.  Do not argue with his decisions or question his knowledge.  You may gently influence and bring in a few things worth considering, but arguing and trying to get him to do what you want demonstrates that you do not believe in him….thus, disrespect.

3) The Bride communicates with the Bridegroom in honor:  When we speak to Christ, we generally do so with respect and honor, considering who He is and what he has done for us.  Similarly, as you communicate to your husbands, be mindful of bitterness, tones, words expressed, etc.  Don’t just expect your husbands to know what you want as he is not all-knowing as God.  Even though Christ knows what you need, he still requests us to ask for what you need.  Unlike Christ, however, your husband may not know what you need.  Please ask him anyway.  If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.  One thing that is important to communicate is thanksgiving.  Thanking him for his hard work, for doing what he can to provide for the family, for fixing things, for whatever he does for you and for the family.  Giving thanks is a form of giving honor and respect.

Respect goes a long way in a man.  If you wish to motivate him, to touch his heart, to impact him significantly, it is in the form of respect.  Think about all the ways that you honor Christ and go, honor your husband in similar ways and see what happens.  Paul does not instruct wives to give respect only when they are getting love, he instructs respect to be given. Period.  It is not conditional as to how or if  he loves you (as the husbands command to love is not based on whether respect id given or not).  No matter if your marriage is great or struggling, you won’t regret committing to giving respect your husband.

This portion was taken from the Marriage Seminar: Building a Godly Marriage.  For more information about this seminar from Foundations Christian Counseling Services, please call Fred Jacoby at 570-402-5088.

*Survey found in For Women Only, by Shaunti Feldhahn (p. 22-23).  Another helpful resource is Love & Respect by Dr. Eggerichs

Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us together…today…

These past two Sundays I had the pleasure of speaking at Cornerstone Church on marriage.  As I was planning it, I was so tempted to open with “Mawage.  Mawage is what bwings us together today,” the line made famous by the Princess Bride.  Unfortunately, there are some who might not have appreciated my impersonation of the priest in a classic movie.

Among the many issues facing marriage today, there is an issue that is greater than all the other issues combined.  It is the issue that brings all of the other issues to the surface.  Unless it is addressed, marriages will struggle significantly.  No, it is not stinky feet or bad morning breath, it is simply this: the love of self.  I want what I want and you need to give it to me.  If you don’t, I will let you know by complaining, nagging, making side comments, sarcasm, yelling, or various forms of punishment.  Sounds kinda childish, yes, but it is how we are, thanks to our sinful natures.

We would not see it as childish, because our wants are much more….well, adult.  Our wants have now matured to the adult things, like love, acceptance, value/worth, and respect.  So, it’s OK to complain, nag, be sarcastic, yell or punish when we don’t get our way…..because these things really matter whereas childish wants (like toys, gumballs and candy) are insignificant.  Right?

Well, these adult things are important (love, respect, value/worth, etc.), but like in children, they have been moved from the important category to the must have category, or the must have NOW! category and you must give it to me.   Too often we hope to find our worth, security, and value in our spouses and when they do or say something that threatens our expectation of them, then there’s punishment.  We are, like the song says, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.”

Well, it’s really not a bad thing to look for love from our spouses, after all, shouldn’t spouses love each other?  The problems come when that love (or respect) defines who I am.  My worth.  My identity.  When it gets to that level, it becomes an idol that addresses our insecurity.  Other people’s emotions or thoughts of us should never give us worth as individuals.  Only God can do that.

Well, instead of love, maybe the demands are for other things…like peace, rest, sex, respect, etc.  None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but when they become idols in our hearts (a desire turns into a demand), then the focus is on me getting what I want, and others needing to give it to us.  Basically, other people become our servants who are supposed to do our bidding.  Not a good idea for marriage.  For husbands being obedient to Scripture, God (through Paul) calls us (Eph 5) to be servants, not to look for servants in our spouses (and children).  For wives being obedient to Scripture, He calls them (also Eph 5) to be respectful in submission as unto the Lord.  Notice that in both of these statements, Paul does not tell the wives to be sure to get your husbands to love you…make sure they do or else you are free to disrespect, complain, nag, criticize, or divorce them.   Notice that Paul does not tell husbands to withhold love from their wives if they are not respecting them or to try to get them to respect you by working more, being the strong silent type or by flexing your vocal cords in unloving ways.

No, Paul is addressing each spouse as to where their focus must be.  Not on the “me” – regarding the things that would make you happy and full, but on the “me” (as to what I must do & not on what I must get) and about the other’s relational needs.  This often leads to the other person responding in excellent ways.

Though mawage is what bwings us together, love of self is what can tear us apart.  So, let us be secure through Christ, so that we may be free to give love and respect without demanding anything in return…Though we must consider our own interest, let us not focus on what we don’t have, but what we are called to do.  Love God.  Love others.