Have you noticed that in many of our television shows the husband is portrayed as inept if not an outright fool? From The Flintstones, to Married with Children, to The Simpsons, to Home Improvement, to Phineas and Ferb and Jonny Test one could draw the conclusion that the least respectable and capable person in any home is the husband or father.
The idea of respecting authority, let alone one’s husband, seems very Victorian. We don’t respect authority, we undermine it. We don’t listen, we speak our minds. But Paul is emphatic on this issue (1 Peter 3:2), and calls for wives specifically to “respect their husbands.”
What is this respect? To respect your husband means holding him in high esteem because of his position and character, and consequently honoring him in private and public.
Paul emphasizes the need to show respect because men have a built in need for it and women are often slow in giving it. It is not only a command, but a ministry that God has given to us. This means that we should show respect to our husbands even when he fails. Think about it, a husband is called to love his wife whether she is being godly or difficult. Nancy Wilson asks the question, “Do you only want to be loved when you are being lovely?” I am positive we would all say “no”.
What does respect look like?
Things NOT To Do
1. Don’t Go Off in Public
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.
While you may not physically tear down your house, you can tear your home apart with your tongue, even when you are not at home. Do not share your husband’s shortcomings, failings, or poor decision making with anyone (and don’t try to sneak it into a prayer request). This public form of disrespect will only encourage others to think less of him, and maybe even less of you as well. If you need to vent, do it to God. He listens better than anyone else and he completely understands the situation.
2. Don’t Go Off in Private
Don’t talk to your husband in a rude, condescending, or mean tone of voice. No one is perfect, not you and not him. We all fail, and while we need to address failure, there is a big difference between heckling and helping.
Remember that we are called to be self-controlled with our words and with our tone.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Things To Do
1. Praise Him
In private and public, wherever he succeeds. Men need this. For example, if he held onto his temper during a particularly trying moment, let him know that you noticed and that it was great. Let him know that his hard work at his job is noticed by his family. Do you see him read his Bible? Let me know that that is an encouragement to you.
2. Pray for him
How do you feel when someone tells you that they have been praying for you? Good, right? Pray for your man and let him know. Send him an e-mail or call him just to tell him that you prayed for him and his day.
3. Encourage him
God has given you the most influential position in the life of your husband. This means you need to speak up to help him see what he might be missing. But, to do this effectively requires a “voice” that he can hear. You have to use the proper tone of voice, wisdom in your timing, and know what is the best way to approach your husband. If you point out his failure the second it happens with a harsh, holier-than-thou attitude, I guarantee you the conversation won’t go well.
4. Work hard
Be a hard worker. A lazy woman disrespects her husband by virtue of remaining idle. Stay at home moms especially need to make sure that their husbands can go to work and not have to worry about what may or may not be going on at home. He has full confidence in her abilities to manage finances in a godly way, to care for the family, her time and the home (Prov. 31:11-12) .
What if he is not a “respectable” kind of man? What if he is lazy, ignoring the kids and his wife? What if he does not work hard at his job? What if he is worldly minded instead of spiritually minded?
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
1 Peter 3:1-2
You should still respect your husband. It will be harder. Douglas Wilson says that in some cases it basically means you are “saluting the uniform”. You may not be able to respect his character, but you still need to respect his position because he is still the head of your home and will be held accountable to God for his leadership. You may have to look twice as hard to find things to respect, but what drew you to him in the first place? Pray for him continually, expecting God to work in mighty ways. You cannot change him, but God can.
May God give us the grace to live as he has called us, that we might help our husbands.
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