4 Ways to Show Respect (and 2 Ways Not To)

4 Ways to Show Respect

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.
Proverbs 14:1

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.
Proverbs 16:24

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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  • Suzanne R.

    Thank you, for sharing this! I forget that I, often, behave quite “un-loveably” and how quickly I see all of his failings… what a beautiful reminder!

  • Deanna

    Yes, respect is very much needed and commanded, but I disagree with your advice to tell NO ONE of your husband’s failings, character flaws. I think a younger woman would be helped and given perspective by talking with a godly older woman in confidence about hubby’s overspending, or yelling, or pornography use, or many other things.
    A wife can assume that “all men do that” if she keeps all of this to herself, and if her husband tells her that her concern about such habits are what “all guys do”. And what about serious physical or emotional abuse?
    On the other hand, a wife can be freaked out about something hubby is doing, and by talking it out with a wise woman she can see that she is overreacting.
    We need some kind of counsel and objective perspective when we face repeated problematic behavior.

  • La Sheonda S

    I appreciate this post. I have often felt like I am being told to respect my husband, but never told how or what it looks like. For me, it often comes out in the ways that I would want for him to LOVE me. It is good to have specific tools, so that it can be received well by my husband. I am also married to an unbeliever, so I appreciate the final comments immensely. I married a hard working, funny, moral man, but he is not in a relationship with Jesus. I pray for him daily, but need to be reminded that even when things are dark, that God will lead him, and that it’s not my job. Thank you!

  • Elizabeth

    I think you are spot on in this. I do have one question though. I am a stay at home empty nester. I have severe fibromyalgia and am not able to do much due to pain and chronic fatigue. How can I serve my husband when most days it’s hard to do anything? Further complicating things, I have insomnia. For example I got no sleep at all last night. I’m really having a hard time coping with all of this.

  • TeaJae

    I used to enjoy watching a TV show called King Of Queens with the couple Doug and Carrie Heffernan. I mean each week every episode I would laugh so hard at what was going on. Doug was such a lovable food loving immature buffoon at times while Carrie was the sharp sassy brassy NYC paralegal who would have to tell Doug what to do and lay down the law. One day watching in an episode that I had seen many times it struck me, she isn’t nice to her husband. Not that I had not noticed before it struck me differently. Is that the mindset I want to have? By laughing at these antics am I agreeing with them, being apart of them? We often think that well it’s just TV it isn’t real but that is where the Wicked One has his snare. It is real and it can weave it’s way into your everyday life. 1 Cor. 15:33 warns us not to be mislead bad associations spoil useful habits. TV is association believe it or not. One episode the couple accidentally recorded themselves having a argument and played back to see how they really behave toward each other. It was shocking even for them. After a while I ceased watching my favorite show it just wasn’t right for me any longer. I’m not a wife yet however I’m preparing my heart and mind, soul and body to be one. I’m teaching myself how to care for the man GOD has in mind for me. This was a wonderful post with timely reminders. Thank You♥ 🙂

  • Becky

    Very good, thank you for this! I had to share some things with my pastors wife because I am being verbally abused. It has gotten so bad at times I have had to take the kids and leave to let him cool down, to return a few hours later. He has refused counseling but at times says he is willing. There is a lot going on and I want what is best for the kids as well. I grew up in a abusive home and do not have a healthy view of men because of that. I want my girls to have a strong leader as well as for myself. I am doing my best to show him honor and respect while praying for him, but anything spiritual always is started by me and he is easily swayed by the world. My heart hurts and I know it is difficult on my girls as well. He says he is sorry but always goes back to his old ways. I believe he is saved and I see God at work in both of us it is just so hard right now given our circumstances.

  • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    “Do you only want to be loved when you are being lovely?” – This is such a great point, and a reminder that we need to treat each other with love and grace at all times. All of this is much easier said than done, but it is excellent advice and necessary to cultivating and maintaining a healthy, blessed marriage. I wrote something similar yesterday, if you are interested. Thanks for the post!

  • Janelle @ The Smudge Curve

    Reading this post brought this verse to mind:

    “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

    An attitude I’m praying God will increase in me.

  • Sandy

    Thank you for this post, which I read after a friend shared it on Facebook. I am a 47-year-old woman who has been married for 17 years. My husband and I have 5 children (15-year old twin boys, 13 and 10-year old girls, and 8-year old boy). He is what you described as not a “respectable” kind of man. (I won’t give details, but trust me, you would agree.) My question is this: What does respecting him look like? How can I “salute the uniform” without expressing approval for his behavior? In your article you suggested looking back to what drew me to him in the first place. It made me want to cry. My marriage was one of the worst mistakes of my life. As a seriously backslidden woman who had turned her back completely on God, I married this atheist because I was pregnant and it was “the right thing to do.” (We lost that baby weeks before the wedding.) Now I am hopelessly trapped. Scripture says that if one spouse is a believer s/he must stay, and that’s me. I am miserable. I don’t think I ever truly loved this man, and there is so little about him that I can cheer or praise, it is like grasping at straws. I know I need to be an example for our children too, but how can I ignore their disappointment and hurt by telling them they are not allowed to speak negatively about their father either, but instead must respect him? Practically, how do I do this? How do I instruct my children to do it?

    • kat

      Sandy, just because you are a christian, does not mean you are trapped in a marriage if bad things are going down and your kids are being harmed either physically or emotionally!

      Just because you once made a mistake by marrying him, does not mean that you have to compound that mistake and make your children suffer also as a result.
      There are grounds in the bible allowing you to dissolve your marriage without blame.
      None of us know your circumstances so i will not presume.
      Some people are hardlined, legalistic christians (not accusing anyone here btw, the article had some great points, more relevant to some circumstances rather than others though) and think divorce is evil and never can happen, but you are also responsible for your children and keeping them out of harms way, and i believe you know in your heart what is the right thing to do for yourself.

      I have grown up in the church all my life, and the daughter of a pastor, so i know my stuff well, and although i don’t encourage divorce, theres not an “one fits all” andswer to these things.

      There are some relationships and circumstances completely out of the realm and understanding of some christian people, and there are some relationships so toxic that it is dangerous to advise people to “never say a word to anyone about your husband..”
      Alot of women get killed each year by their spouse or partner, along with their children….some times you need to shout from the rooftops and be heard…its not acceptable to suffer in silence and have a quiet pray instead, instead of picking up the phone and calling someone who can help.
      -yes…have a quiet pray,AND tell someone whats going on…

      All the best xxx

  • Susan

    I would like to say many thanks for the advice & reminders of scriptures in the bible regarding our roles as wives.

  • Jennifer

    Wow! This is a great read. I am guilty of being too critical of hubby’s ways and forgets to commend him when he does something good. Thanks for sharing. It’s hard not to know “how” to respect one’s husband in concrete ways. Sometimes all I know is how I want to be loved by him.

  • Theresa Petruska

    Ouch! ! ! Conviction hurts.
    Back to the basics. This article is a keeper. I’m printing and then placing it into a protective sleeve to reflect upon FREQUENTLY.
    Thanks for being true to The Word of God.

  • Priscilla

    THis is a great advice and something for me as a newly wed to work on. However there isn’t anywhere that I’ve found that says “# of ways you aren’t disrespecting your husband” my hubby deals with some insecurity, especially when I tell him “oh i’m going to go to the store” or “me and stacy are going to hang out on Saturday because I hadn’t seen her in a while”. He tells me that that’s disrespectful when I don’t “discuss” with him about everything. Do I need to be asking permission to do things?

    This is something I need help in and guidance as a newly wed, because I don’t want to feed into his insecurity. HELP!

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