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Should a wife respect her husband even when he doesn't deserve it?

Updated on January 27, 2013

Love and Respect

© May 2012

Give respect to someone who hasn't earned it - Doesn't that sound stupid?

I thought so, when my husband and I first started this fourteen week course, with a small group at church, that was entitled "Love and Respect". The morning after that first session, I headed immediately over to my close friend's cubicle at work to tell her about this concept they had that women needed love and men needed respect. I was very skeptical about it.

She agreed with me. Don't respect him. He doesn't deserve it.

I should probably explain at this point, that my husband and I were separated, had been for about eight months, and that although I did miss the companionship some, I was content living on my own without him. I liked not having to cook if I didn't want to, not having to answer or live up to anyone's expectations other than my own, getting to watch what I wanted on television, and being able to stay on the computer until I was ready to get off it. Although I was lonely sometimes, not having any demands made my life pretty peaceful.

But well, my husband asked if he could go to church with me. How could I say no to that?

God wouldn't want me to say no, so I called the church and asked if they had a small group that met on Wednesday nights that would be good for a couple to attend together that was separated. I told the lady that I wasn't looking to get back together with him, but that he wanted to go to church with me. She said they had a class that was just about to start in a couple weeks that would be perfect for us. So that's how we ended up in the "Love and Respect" class. We were the only couple there that was separated, but we weren't the only ones spinning on the so called "crazy cycle" as Emerson Eggerichs, the author of the series, describes it.

The second week, I left class with a sense of hope and a different attitude than I'd had following the first one. I was beginning to realize that God made man and woman with different needs. I knew that women needed love, but I hadn't had a clue before that men needed respect in the same way women need love.

Our society teaches women to demand respect - not to give it unconditionally. But God's commandment to wives is to respect their husbands. There were no conditions attached. He didn't say respect them if they deserve it. Respect them if they're loving, decent and kind. No, he said respect them, period. Emerson explained that respect is due to them not based on their performance but because of who they are in Christ. I couldn't argue with that. Christ definitely is worthy of my respect.

My husband and I continued going to the classes and we began to change. He started asking me things he normally wouldn't, like "Do you want me to advise you, or are you just needing me to listen?" Of course the answer to that question for any woman is "Just listen", but guys, well they are problem solvers, so their instinct when you tell them a problem is to tell you what you need to do to solve it. He apologizes now which he didn't do before.

I started making an effort to show him respect regardless of how he was acting. I won't kid you this is very hard, and I am not always successful with it. Sometimes he hits all the right (or should I say wrong) buttons, I get angry, he already is, and off we go again on that crazy cycle.

Him: "I don't feel like you love me anymore."

Me: "Love isn't a feeling."

Him: "Sometimes it is."

Me: "No, it's a choice - like forgiveness."

Who's right in a situation like this?

There's a song I love by Radney Foster, "Nobody Wins". The words are touching, insightful and true "Cause nobody wins, we both lose, hearts get broken and love gets bruised, when we light that same old fuse again and again..." This song's lyrics accurately depict what it's been like in my marriage. I can identify with "slamming doors" and feeling like "somethings going to break if we don't bend."

My husband and I are back together again. We continue to struggle, him with love, me with respect, but we are working things out and the crazy cycle is happening less frequently now than it used to. I thank God for His divine intervention and for teaching us how to love and respect based not on performance but in obedience to Him.


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    • PoeticApparatus profile image

      Marie Allred 

      2 years ago from Missouri City

      This is a beautiful and insightful story, it's good to know and be able to apply in my own relationships. I'm glad to hear that you and your husband were able to reconcile and agree to work at the relationship. I am a firm believer that love is a choice.


    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      You should be leading a national ministry. Notice I did NOT say just a ladies ministry. What a refreshing hub.

      This was one fantastic read! Loved every word. I voted Up + all of the choices. Your graphics usage was superb. I like hubs like this. I urge you to keep up the great work and may you have a world of success on HubPages.


      Kenneth Avery

      Your Friend for Life

    • Rusti Mccollum profile image

      Ruth McCollum 

      8 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

      You should always respect your partner, even when you don't like their behaviours and actions. I have been married 30 years, renewing our vows on a cruise soon. yes I always respect my husband. even when i don't want to.

    • yssubramanyam profile image


      8 years ago from india, nellore. andhrapradesh

      if the integrity/honesty is at risk , the respect and relation will get apart progressively. good hub to learn.

    • stars439 profile image


      8 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Very nice hub. Being respected is almost a gift the first time. It definitely should be earned if it is lost. God Bless You Dear Heart.

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      Jusbeth16, I agree definitely that respect as love does need to go both ways. It seems though that when one slips up and the other takes the mature path and offers respect or love not based on the other's performance, but because of the honor that is due them because of who God created them to be, it brings about a heart transformation that just can't happen otherwise.

      Barbbe, thank you for sharing your view on love and respect. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to do things differently than we used to, and the results are always better than they were when we were doing things our own way.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Respect is always something good to have in any relation, but just like love it can't go just one way.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Respect of one's husband is a choice but what are the other choices. 1. tell him why he does not deserve it and he will resent you for trying to change him. 2. Resent him for not being worthy of your respect. Do you really want resentment to take root? Why not be thankful that God has seen fit to make you a help mate for this man and ask God for the proper attitude toward him in this given situation. When I find myself having to choose a response when my husband is being negative, I picture myself at a crossroad. Jesus is there. He is smiling at me and I smile back at Him because we both know I choose respect, not bitterness. Oh, it was not always this way. When I wanted to be my husbands conscience and do a makeover on him, I did not realize I was redefining marriage. That is a sure way to quench the Spirit of God in one's life.

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you Ashley Bunn for sharing your point of view. I appreciate your insights and hear wisdom in your voice.

    • ashleybunn profile image


      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Quite the thought-provoking hub, Cathleena. I visited it per your suggestion to skim it with the intention of coming back later to finish, but instead I read the whole thing. I'm very glad that you and your husband were able to work out your problems and get along much better than before. Hopefully the two of you will continue to grow & know each other - I wish you many happy years together :)

      Here's my two cents on the matter: Most certainly everyone needs love and respect in their relationships, but I believe that respect should be earned, not freely given. I also believe that a man and a woman are on equal ground in a relationship - a wife owes her husband nothing that her husband does not owe her in return.

      Though it seems we disagree on many of the deeper matters, we certainly agree on a very important point - love is a choice. One does not choose who they fall in love with, but they must actively make the choice to nurture that love. I think many people make the mistake of expecting loving someone to be easy and to never become an uphill battle.

      I really enjoyed reading your point of view on this issue and can see where you're coming from completely. I apologize for the long-winded comment but, like I said, it really was a thought provoking hub! Voted up & across the board!

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you Peggy. cashmere, yssubramanyam and iefox5 for your feedback. I agree that marriage is hard work at times. I guess God didn't intend for it to be smooth and easy all the time. After all He made us with different needs, but He also gave us the ability to love and cherish one another even though we don't quite see things eye to eye.

    • iefox5 profile image


      8 years ago

      This depends. Respect is something mutual. A wife should respect her husband if her husband respects her, but it is not necessary if the husband doesn't.

    • yssubramanyam profile image


      8 years ago from india, nellore. andhrapradesh

      we got to adjust and understand each other. there is no perfect alike minded person, life has got only one chance, and let us make best use of it. i really admire at your articulation. good hub.

    • cashmere profile image


      8 years ago from India

      Any marriage that does not have issues is a sham. With two different people coming together there has to be some set of differences in opinions and attitudes that come into play. What's important is not how many times you get mad at each other, but how quickly you get back to normal after the incident.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Congratulations to you and your husband for learning more about each other because of this class. Marriages are hard work but well worth it in the end. Hope that you both continue to love and respect one another and grow old together enjoying one another's company. Voted up, useful and sharing.

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you yssubramanyam for the compliment. You've made my day!

    • yssubramanyam profile image


      8 years ago from india, nellore. andhrapradesh

      the bargain of respect never arises, it is based on how much tru to their conscious, many act in society and hide their real faces, it is good hub where i came across many opinions. you are great hub maker.

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you Sandra Busby, Jlava73, and Angela Brummer for your words of encouragement and well wishes.

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      8 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      It was important to hear what gods point of view on this matter was. Thanks so much for the eye opener.

      shared via hubbers alert, on twitter, facebook, hub following, stumble upone, twitter.

    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 

      8 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      I'm glad that this is working for you, I hope it continues. I don't feel that anything is hopeless if we want it bad enough and of course are doing it for the right reasons.

      I wish you both the best and continued success in your relationship and life.

    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 

      8 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Respect can mean letting the person accept the responsibility for the choices they make so that they can learn their own lessons. Respect can be not "jumping in to save them."

      Good hub. Thanks for SHARING.

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you Yssubramanyam and Vinaya - I agree that it is important for both partners to love and respect each other. It is easier to do that when we realize our differences and that our partners needs may not be exactly the same as our own, and this is okay.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      8 years ago from Nepal

      My straight answer is NO.

      In my country many women are berated, suppressed, tortured by husbands. However, they continue to respect their hubbies. A chauvinist man does not deserve a woman's respect and love.

    • yssubramanyam profile image


      8 years ago from india, nellore. andhrapradesh

      as long as self respect is in limits, hot exchanges and cool compromises are common in healthy relation. lovely hub, i love it and my wife too.

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      A big thank you goes to all of you for your responses. I appreciate your kind words, views and insights regarding my question about whether respect should be given to your spouse even when you feel they don't deserve it.

    • michememe profile image

      Miche Wro 

      8 years ago

      You two are working at it and that's the important part. My thoughts are, it's easy to walk away and give up. Wars, basketball games aren't won by giving up. There wonby staying in and fighting.

    • nightsun profile image


      8 years ago from northern california

      Real love is an overwhelming feeling straight from the heart that is uncontrollable....You can't make yourself love someone..

      I wish you all the best...But life is to short to live a life of drama everyday. If you truly and deeply love , can you change for that person..? Do you want to be someone else to make him happy? Is your marriage worth giving up who you are? Can you wipe the slate clean?

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 

      8 years ago from Southern Clime

      Yes, this lesson can be hard when a man has dished out tons of disrespect toward his wife. If the wife cannot show respect in spite of her husband's behavior, she has positive proof that she, also, has a problem. Now, I do believe that in some isolated cases, a woman can have a ruthless nut that is nearly impossible to respect. Life is certainly full of lessos to be learned.

      I appreciate this article. It is certainly useful and interesting. I voted up. Thanks for sharing.

    • petenali profile image


      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I personally know a couple in our church who used this book and completely turned their marriage around by employing the principles of love and respect. There has been a day and night change in their lives.

      I see too many marriage partners seeking a 50-50 setup, especially wives hoping their man will put as much into the relationship as they do. I believe that God requires us to give 100-0 into our marriage, giving without seeking anything back. That is the love He demonstrated to us through Jesus. As a husband I am told to love my wife in the same way that Jesus loved the church. That's 100%, unconditionally. If all partners gave the 100% the love and respect would flow in the natural way it was intended to.

      Great hub based on a great book.

    • carriethomson profile image


      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      it was really very nice topic to make aware us about respect and love....and it is true that women want love and men want respect....

    • TENKAY profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines

      It's so difficult to give respect to a person who fell short of your expectations. Respect is earned.

      Interesting hub. voted up.

    • JessicaSmetz profile image

      Just Ask Jess 

      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Great hub! I have gone through hard times with my husband, and I always said I m not gunna treat you nice cuz you don't deserve it. Its hard to show respect when you don't get it in the first place.

    • tammyswallow profile image


      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Very interesting hub. That sounds like a great program. I really love the Love Dare series also. I hope things work out for you both. Well done!

    • MsLofton profile image


      8 years ago from IL

      Hi Although I am not married, I can feel your emotions through your writing! I do know that we should respect people no matter how they treat us. As a survivor of Domestic Violence(mostly emotional abuse). I know that we all deserve to be happy and treated with respect. I pray that God continues to bless you and your family.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      8 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I am not married so my perspective is different. I believe we should treat everyone with this same respect. God created every life on this planet and that life is deserving of respect for that very reason. The covenant intimate relationship of husband and wife is even more deserving. Men really do have an innate desire for respect and can change into the person God created them to be when they have it. And that is also love which is the most powerful source in the universe. After all, Jesus died because He loved us so much. This is a great article and would make a lovely devotional.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      God will see us through every storm. He is with you.Blessings

    • steffsings profile image


      9 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Welcome to hubpages. I agree that love is a choice... Much like respect and even hope. It's a bit stoic, but the more we agree to view our God given power to decide, the easier it becomes. Thanks for a great read.

    • glassvisage profile image


      9 years ago from Northern California

      This is a great perspective on this matter on the minds of many. I appreciated reading your words. I think that love can be both a feeling and something that you can think through.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      9 years ago from California

      What an encouraging hub. I will like it to my marriage advice hub

    • WillStarr profile image


      9 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Great Hub, and an even greater point. Here's a lighthearted, look at the differences:

      We play far different and genetic roles for a reason, and we have far different needs. Yes, women need love and men need respect.

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      9 years ago from Tennessee

      To: Arlene V. Poma - I removed your earlier comment per your request. :o)

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 

      9 years ago

      Okay. So you asked the question, but I didn't know you had a hub. I have to admit the way your question worded was confusing. Strike my response to your question

    • thewhispers profile image


      9 years ago from Southen California

      Very interesting Cathleena as I read your story, I'm reminded of my journey of excavating my authentic self. Sounds similar as I stayed in my last 14 year relationship 1) because I truly loved and was in love with him and 2) because everything was familiar, you know, the same towels, the same cups and dishes in the cupboard.

      The old familiarities that cause us to stay but don't know why, and then I realized that it was all a bundle of his; his needs, his wants, his clothes, his dinner, his friends - you get the picture.

      Well I came to realize that I was a descendant of the Queen of Sheba and I was a Queen and he needed to love me more than he loved himself. But alas that was not the case, so I slowly left, it took me another 3 years to leave, but I did it.

      Now I know that Love is an emotion, sometimes it's a choice, not like the love you have for your children (there is no other love like that, unless you become a Grandparent) it was sometime after, I looked at two pictures of myself side by side.

      One picture I was 9 years old and the other picture I was 36 years old, and it was at that moment that I realized that I had a warriors heart, had I only know that when I was 9.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      9 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hi Cathleena, Wishing you and your husband good luck as you rebuild your relationship. Enjoy the moment :) Welcome to Hubpages! Voted UP!

    • CrazyGata profile image

      Mara Clemente 

      9 years ago from Borinken, Loíza

      well, is not a matter of respecting him, but respecting you...

      if one does it out of spite, shame on us...

      if one does it because our heart took us there, shame on him for not tending that heart...

    • GracieLake profile image


      9 years ago from Arizona

      You raise some very important questions: respect vs. love. As a divorce refugee, I can tell you that I ceased to respect my first husband because he ceased to respect me. He claimed to have loved me, but all that yelling, throwing and berating convinced me otherwise. Took me 20+ years to throw in the towel (see? I tried!), but if respect had been a part of the equation from the beginning we might have made it. Best of luck to you - it looks like you can make it!

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      9 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you for your responses.

      Arlene, I agree with you to a point, though not about respecting their choices if bad ones are being made.

      Troyangeluk, thank you for your insightful supportive comment. I appreciate this very much.

    • Troyangeluk profile image


      9 years ago from UK

      Fantastic hub, I think there is a limit to respecting a person, when they cross the line the string of respect is broken and not easily fixed. Thanks for sharing, enjoyed reading :)


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