When I asked my husband to start pointing out to me when he felt I was being disrespectful, I was shocked at what he started pointing out. There were two things on his list of worst offenses: the way I speak to him or about him in front of others, and the way I constantly questioned him and his abilities.
I don’t think I was ever conscious of the way I spoke about my husband to others before. I would sometimes share embarrassing things he had done as a joke, not realizing I was actually putting him down in his eyes. There are also those “girl talk” times when I would tell a friend or family member about an issue or complaint with my husband. I began to realize that by sharing those things with others , especially before I spoke to my husband about it first, I was being very disrespectful.
I also have had to become conscious of the way I speak to him in public (and private!). Even jokes at his expense can be inappropriate in front of others, as it gives off the aura of disrespect. So the little stories of “you’ll never believe what he did the other day…” or “I’m so frustrated because he….” need to be taken into consideration. This is something I have to work on consciously all the time, and I doubt I’ll ever get to a point where I have it mastered. I have begun to realize that my job is to always lift by husband up, especially in front of others.
As for the second part of his worst disrespect offenses, the constant questioning seems to be second nature to many women. For example: “Honey will you call Geico about our car insurance renewal?” “yes, I’ll handle it”…. Two days pass “I thought you said you were going to call Geico and handle the renewal.” “I am going to handle it” “then why didn’t you do it yet?” Of course it doesn’t have to be about this topic. This conversation can happen a million different ways. Instead of kindly asking about the car insurance, the wife immediately becomes confrontational and sends 2 messages: 1) you are incapable, and 2) I don’t respect you.
Isn’t it amazing how quick we are to question our husbands about them not cleaning/fixing/doing/paying something they said he would? Isn’t it amazing how quickly our love turns into nagging, and how we start losing respect for our husbands’ ability to get things done?
Many women believe their husbands have to earn respect. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of irresponsible husbands out there. It is very frustrating when they don’t do something that way we want it done, or when something goes undone because we passed it into their court and they didn’t take care of it.
But Ephesians does not say husbands needs to earn their wives’ respect; it says wives are to respect their husbands. Period. End of story. No matter if you feel he deserves that respect or not, you owe him respect. This means respecting his abilities to do things without the nagging and without the confrontation. This means only saying things which lift up your husband, especially in front of others. No woman wants her husband’s love to be dependant upon her performance. Women want to be loved unconditionally, and in that same way men want to be respected unconditionally. I’m not saying things need to go undone or that you should never remind your husband when he has dropped the ball. What I’m saying is that there is a way to do such things, or create such systems which allow your husband to see your respect, and therefore your love.
I went to a church once where the pastor spoke on this very topic, and he said that women often do not give their husbands room to prove their abilities. We are so busy hovering over our husbands, waiting for their failures, that we don’t give them the room to succeed. What powerful words! I believe I am guilty of this, as I tend to take over tasks or oversee my husband as he completes something I ask him to do. I have found that letting go of that control has been very liberating for me, and allows him to have the ability to step up into the position of leadership which is already rightfully his.
I hope this has been helpful for you, as I know it has been a helpful thing for me to learn. I hope you will pass this information on, and read For Women Only. We can work together to counter the popular culture of tearing our husbands down.