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