Does This My Spouse Deserve Respect?
The word, “respect” means admirations felt or shown for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities. It is politeness, honour and care shown towards someone or something that is considered important.
The number of marriages that have been broken because of simple lack of respect is uncountable. The truth is that respect in marriage is not a luxury. It is a necessity, Both husband and wife are bound to respect each other if their marriage is to last.
What constitutes respect could vary for a husband and a wife depending on their cultural backgrounds and upbringing. If for instance, a wife who as a spinster, was the chief decision maker and spokesperson in her parent’s home, gets married to a husband who hails from a culture where they believe that a woman has no opinion or right to speak in any crucial matter, what constitutes respect and disrespect will vary for this couple and there is bound to be conflict if those orientations are not thrown away for God’s standards to rule.
Why should a husband respect his wife? “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, SO THAT YOUR PRAYERS MAY NOT BE HINDERED” (1st Peter 3:7).
If a husband does not respect his wife, prayers may be hindered. However, it is difficult for a man to respect a wife he does not love. This is why the word of God gave this command in Ephesians 5.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” (Ephesians 5:21-29 KJV)
So, husband, you must love your wife. If you love her, you will automatically respect her. How do we know whether or not you love your wife? The evidence is the level of respect you give to her. Why should a wife and a husband respect each other? The word of God instructs so.
“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).
When you are asked to respect your spouse, what it means is that you should love your spouse. This will make it easier for you to respect him or her. Besides, when you respect your spouse, you respect yourself because you both are one. When you insult your spouse publicly and call him or her all sorts of uncomplimentary names, you are simply insulting yourself. Whatever name you call him or her, you are addressing yourself because you both are one.
“Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Your spouse is you and you are your spouse. If you do not see marriage that way, you are a stranger in the marital institution and you are not in marriage. If you are still single and intend to get married, you must see marriage this way after the wedding if you desire a happy married life.
So, as a wife, each time you fight and quarrel in public or the marketplace, you are disgracing your spouse. As a husband, each time you get drunk and fall inside a gutter to the mockery of people around, you are disrespecting your wife.
Love and respect in marriage are not supposed to be a struggle but there are a number of factors that could make it a struggle. If you are merely struggling to respect your spouse and your spouse is struggling to respect you, look out for the following motivating factors.
1. FOUNDATIONAL ERROR: If in your life, you never imagined or planned that you would ever marry someone like your partner but got married just because a pregnancy or child outside wedlock had gotten involved in the relationship, you may find it difficult to respect this person that you have come to see as a mistake and an obstruction to your life dreams.
If you were forced by your parents or someone superior, to marry your partner, respect for someone that was not originally your heart desire could be a struggle.
If you were deceived or lied to by your partner to marry him or her, respect could be difficult. If you had married your spouse out of mere pity of coming into his or her life at a crisis point (like sickness, unemployment, business challenge, etc), and eventually married the person with the aim of playing the messiah in his or her life and family, you could get a disappointment in terms of character balancing. Then, you could lose and struggle with respect for the person. If the marriage was class-driven in the sense that it was your rich parents that arranged your marriage to this stranger, respect could be difficult.
Foundational error here also means that the appropriate procedures for marriage according to scriptures, were not followed. It equally means that the marriage could have been for the wrong reasons. Therefore, the relationship was built on a sandy soil instead of on Christ, the solid rock. Does your marriage have any of the mentioned foundational errors? Invite Christ to come in and fix it.
“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1st Corinthians 3:11).
2. CONFIRMED ADULTEROUS LIFESTYLE: If you have once been caught by your spouse in an adulterous act or you are actually living an adulterous lifestyle, this is a breach of the trust that brought you together and respect for him or her could become a struggle. Now, you need a lot of hard labour to restore the trust. There cannot be respect without trust. That is actually punishment for your sin of unfaithfulness. The solution is to obtain grace to embrace Christ’s kind of love which loved deeply, even those who breached his trust for them.
3. SELFISHNESS: You can only respect someone who you care about. If all you care about is “Me, I and myself,” you can hardly respect your spouse. When you walk in the flesh or live in carnality, there is bound to be pride of life. You will love yourself more than God and when that occurs, respect for the next person will be difficult. You will be so self-centred and desire that everybody around you, including your spouse, worships you like God. You cannot respect your spouse with such frame of mind.
If you are in a marriage where you are finding it difficult to respect your spouse, it is time to face the reality of life. This is your legally married spouse. First, know and believe that it is possible for you to respect your spouse. If it is your spouse that is struggling with respect for you, it is possible for you to win his or her respect by beginning to offer a different dimension of respect. To achieve the appropriate level of respect you should give your spouse, you can do the following.
1. WATCH YOUR SPEECH: Give more compliments than criticism to your spouse. Research shows that in some marriages beyond one year, one of the couple tends to form the habit of seeing only the negatives in a partner and becomes a habitual critic. Try ‘one compliment per day exercise’ if you have not been saying complimentary words to him or her.
When there is need for correction, correct in love. Do not kill self esteem and confidence with your words and insults in the name of correction. When you try to remove pimples from your face, you do not destroy your face in the process. In the same vein, when you correct your spouse, seek to remove the unwanted character. Don’t destroy the personality in the process.
2. SUPPORTING ROLES: Encourage your spouse by supporting him or her in meeting up with family responsibilities. It shows the person that the relationship is not a master-servant relationship. This will breed respect. For instance, husband can help wife with domestic chores sometimes. Wife could help to cover up holes in husband’s financial obligations sometimes. This is a show of appreciation of the other person’s efforts. It makes the person respect you. Avoid master-servant feeling by the other party.
3. ACCORD YOUR HUSBAND A CONTROLLING POSITION: Husband is the head of the home in the eyes of God. No matter how intelligent, rich or smart you are as a wife, never usurp this position of leadership, especially in decision-making. Allow your husband play the chief decision maker, even in cases where he is not. Give him confidence that he is indeed, leader of the family. For instance, do not interrupt or argue when he is issuing an instruction in the home. Do not speak on behalf of the family in public without his permission. You know that even your boss in the office would not tolerate your outing on behalf of the company without a permission. Your husband is more important to your life than your boss. Respect him.
4. CONSIDER YOUR SPOUSE’S OPINION: Do not discard your wife’s suggestions on crucial family issues simply because she is a wife. She has also got brains. You know? You may or may not eventually adopt her position. But you must seek her advice when necessary and consider it. You have to consider also, your wife’s emotions. If you toil with her emotions or try to show her that she has got no opinion to offer on issues, she may never respect you. Do not be selfish regarding sexual needs and satisfaction. It can make your spouse lose respect for you. Check your general life and you would discover and appreciate the fact that it is easier for you to respect those who respect you and your worth than those who don’t. This is natural.
Naturally, familiarity breeds contempt. There are cases of fruitless efforts to earn respect. If your spouse does not show or confirm that he or she feels respected by your actions, then, you are not respecting your spouse enough irrespective of the efforts you think you are putting into the relationship to earn the respect. Respect is in the eyes of the beholder. You must identify what he or she perceives as respect before seeking to achieve his or her satisfaction.
For instance, do not assume that your transferring money to the account of your wife regularly alone is enough to sustain your relationship. This is the impression that the social media and society has created in recent years but it is not so for every wife. Every woman is not the same in everything just like men are different in character. The error of generalization is among the topmost marriage killers. Sexual satisfaction is compulsory in marriage but do not assume that sex alone is enough to sustain your husband’s respect for you. Find out his life desires and help to satisfy them. That’s why you are there.
If your husband is not the communicating type or is the traditional type that shields critical family-related information from you, find out the persuasive way of getting him to respect you enough to chat with you, share information with you. Being quarrelsome will only kill the little existing respect he has for you.
Above all, invite Jesus Christ to take over rulership of your marriage. You need a possession of you and your marriage by the love of Christ. You need patience and you need grace for a joyful marriage. Your marriage shall be a blessing and a testimony in Jesus name.
FOR QUESTIONS, PRAYERS, COUNSEL, CONTACT
Pastor Albinus Chiedu