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