A little while ago I read a very helpful book, Love That Lasts: Where Marriage Meets Grace by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. In her chapter, "Walking in Wisdom: The Role of the Wife", Betsy gives considerable attention to respect: a vital attribute of any biblically wise and loving wife. She writes:
Early in our marriage we may find it fairly easy to respect our husbands. We marry Sir Romance-A-Lot, convinced he is our knight in shining armour...
But within a few years or months or hours, the armour begins to creak and tarnish. We begin to notice sin and weakness. Before long, we may see even the qualities we most admire in him in a less flattering light.
If your disappointment, fear, or pride sometimes makes it difficult for you to think about or behave toward your husband with respect, don't despair...To position ourselves to receive God's grace in this area, we must begin by facing reality. The Bible doesn't mince words on this topic. Ephesians 5:33 says, "let the wife see that she respects her husband." This command is given without qualification or ambiguity.Betsy goes on:
We are commanded to demonstrate respect. Let's ask ourselves some questions:Some of these questions no doubt resound a clanging bell in many ears, as they do mine. But how do we address this issue and what do we do about it? Betsy continues:
- Am I more aware of my husband's deficiencies or his strengths?
- Am I more inclined to criticise my husband (whether verbally or in my heart) or commend him?
- Have I failed to express respect for my husband because I'm so concerned about a particular area of sin in his life?
- Have I ever thought, If I encourage him in one area, will he think I'm condoning everything else he does that's wrong?
My respect and gratitude - or lack thereof - speaks volumes about my view of God. I can only be truly grateful for the efforts of an imperfect husband if I'm truly grateful to God for the undeserved favour of he extended to me in my salvation and continues to extend each day. despite my overwhelming imperfections. God's ongoing grace and kindness to me - when all I deserve is judgement for my sin - allow me to extend grace, gratitude, and respect....To extend these things to my husband is to honour the God who is at work through my husband.And so there is clearly a theological aspect to our loving and respecting our husbands. Are we appreciative for the grace God extends to us, and are we willing to extend that godly quality to our husbands? But let's get practical for a moment. In what ways can I show respect? Betsy mentions three ways: In the way we think, in what we say and in what we do. She continues:
1. Respectful Thoughts
Develop a habit of directing your thoughts about your husband in biblical, God-glorifying directions. Dwell thankfully on his strengths rather than resentfully on his weaknesses. Thank God for the gift he is to you. Start making a written list of things about your husband and your relationship with him for which you are grateful.
2. Respectful Words
- What thoughts spring to mind when I think of my husband?
- Do these thoughts honour my husband?
Commend and encourage your husband wherever you can. Withholding respect or encouragement from my husband has never produced good fruit...We may not realise it, but when we withhold respect, what we're really thinking is, When they're worthy, then I'll express respect.
3. Respectful Deeds
- How do I speak to my husband when we are alone?
- How do I speak to him in public?
- How do I speak of Him to others?
When a husband and wife are together, a wife's entire posture toward her husband says a great deal about whether she is carrying in her heart an attitude of respect for him.
- Do I show respect to my husband through my actions? How so?
- Do I freely display affection fr him through appropriate physical contact?
- Do I listen intently when he is speaking, whether in private or in public?
- Or do my deeds communicate a lack of respect, inattentiveness or even indifference....like interrupting him, looking elsewhere when he's talking, or forgetting to get to things he's asked me to do?
Can I suggest a few things. Why not take time to sit down and think about your husband's godly qualities. Write down what you respect, admire and appreciate about him. Reread and consider more fully the bulleted questions above. Perhaps even discuss with your husband how you are loving him in this area and whether he feels respected.
As Catriona mentioned a few weeks ago, we need to make big efforts to love our husbands, and respecting them in the way we think, speak and act is one practical way of learning to love them.