I will respect the men in my life and not belittle or degrade them.
So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
1 Timothy 5:1
Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers.
God, thank you for providing us with even the simplest of instructions regarding relationships. You don’t leave us to figure it out on our own, although that’s what we often choose to do. Please forgive us for neglecting your truth and in turn, causing ourselves and others harm.
Lord, it can be so hard to speak and act respectfully towards the men in our lives, especially if we have not been treated in a way that is respectable.
God, help us find healing and the power to forgive, while we boldly strive to abide by your instructions.
Lord, please motivate us to honor biblical marriage. For those of us who are wives, I pray you give us the desire to understand what respecting our husbands looks like from your perspective. For those of us who are moms, please enable us to communicate respect to our sons and teach our daughters how to follow suit.
Give us a sensitivity in our spirits, so that our words and actions communicate a respect rooted in the fact that the men in our lives are made in your image.
Open our ears to hear what disrespect sounds like. Open our eyes to see the impact of our disrespectful treatment of the men in our lives. Guard our tongues against speaking in disrespectful ways. All for your glory, God.
In the Strong Name of Jesus, Amen.
How would you respond if your mother-in-law handed you a book entitled, Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands? Yes, that was my experience, and as you might imagine, it was hard to not feel judged!
Was I not doing a good job at being a godly wife to my husband?
By the time I got through chapter one, I shockingly discovered the answer to that question for myself.
I was sabotaging my marriage because of the way I was disrespectfully treating my husband.
I was nagging, critical, controlling, and condescending, but I had no idea until I saw myself in the stories in that book! I was completely unaware how the culturally pervasive attitude that “all men are stupid” oozed through the tone in my voice. From a biblical perspective, you could easily categorize me as “that quarrelsome wife” consumed by worldly standards (Proverbs 21:9). I treated my husband more like a son, mothering him in every aspect of our life together.
But by the grace of God, He opened my eyes to see the implications of my behavior. Through the teachings of Dr. Emmerson Eggerich, in his book and video series Love and Respect, I came to see how my tone of my voice and choice of words were utterly disrespectful and crushing to my husband. The first step was for me to apologize to my husband, and the second was to learn a new way of communicating not only with my husband but also with my son. Yes, both need to hear respect!
Together, my husband and I spent an entire summer working through the Love & Respect video teaching series, which I’m convinced is what God used to save our marriage. I discovered not only my husband’s need for respect, but also my need for love, and the way our choice of words and actions will either nurture intimacy and connection or drive us apart.
A lack of respect is how a marriage begins to crumble. But wouldn’t you agree that most of us think that a lack of love is the problem? It’s actually not the root issue. The breakdown in respect manifests into what we eventually see in emotional affairs, adultery, addictions, pornography, and financial discord, and more.
Respect has nothing at all to do with what we feel is deserved and earned. It’s what we give in obedience and submission to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:11-21 describes the daunting responsibilities for a husband to follow the example of Christ in caring for his bride, so one might naturally think respect is earned. But that’s not the command Paul gives. He simply says, “and the wife must respect her husband.” He doesn’t say, “must respect her husband if . . .”.
So how do we, as women, demonstrate respect to our husbands and the men in our lives?
Respect begins with tone and humility as we treat the men in our lives in light of the truth that they are made in the image of God. We need to be quick to ask: “Did that offend you? Did I disrespect you by what I just said? I’m sorry.” And we need to be equally guarded against sarcastic, sexists, and groupist comments. Yes, we women can be guilty of “all men are” accusations, feeding into the mentality that women are smarter, better, and “more than” the men in our lives. It’s also about making a place for the men in our lives to be men — and mamas, that starts when they are boys.*
It’s not about whether men deserve respect. It’s about giving respect as we yield to the Word and submit to the call put on us by God.
In what ways have you not been respectful to the men in your life? What will you do to change that from this point forward?
*I’m grateful to the Lord for the timing of this Brave Manifesto principle and stumbling upon Focus On the Family podcast episode with Dr. Emerson Eggerich after drafting this post. It is such an important topic for us as women, especially as wives and for moms of boys. I’ve been practicing the Eggerich’s techniques for the last decade with my husband and son, as well as teaching our daughters, and we see the fruit. I hope you do too!