As a husband of 42 years, let me give you my thoughts on why this is and how to repair that tension!
1. Don’t wait until he is “spiritual enough” to respect him.
- Peter wrote to first-century Christian wives that “even if your husband does not obey the word they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wife when they behold your RESPECTFUL behavior…” (1 Pet. 3:1-2).
- Respect for a husband, according to that verse, is based not upon his “performance” but his “position.” God made him to be head and leader of his family whether he knows it or not. Treat him that way, regardless of his faults, flaws, and failures, and you have a real chance of winning him to Christ.
2. Respect for your husband does not make you his “doormat.”
- I encourage wives to respectfully decline to follow their husband into anything that is illegal, immoral, or unscriptural. If he is violent, immoral, or addicted, you must by all means protect yourself and your family. You can still love him, honor him, and pray for his freedom even as the consequences of his lifestyle fall upon his head.
3. Realize the power of your words in his mind.
- When a wife demeans her husband and treats him disrespectfully, he has two reactions: anger and despair. He wants to quit. He wants to leave. He wants to foolishly look for a woman who will treat him respectfully.
- Build him up. Encourage him. Notice his efforts, even if they don’t measure up to your standards! Respect his job. Respect his salary. Get a picture in your mind of what you want him to be and tell him that you believe in his potential to get there.
- An office is often a perfect place for others to berate your husband. Perhaps your family is continually negative and critical of his provision and character. Don’t swim in the cesspool!
- Be loyal. Remind yourself of the qualities he has that attracted you to him in the beginning. Speak those qualities over him and commend progress.
5. Focus on your inner beauty to keep him attracted.
- Peter went on to say that the gentle, quiet spirit of a wife attracts her husband (1 Pet. 3:4). In this pornographic age of continual temptation barraging your husband, let your inner beauty and spirituality far outshine any competing lovers!
- Stay full of joy, life, and health. Enjoy your home, meals, and children. Make your home a haven of rest and refreshing. I like the bumper sticker I once read on a man’s pickup truck: “I like what I have at HOME, my feet don’t need to ROAM!”
Try “respect.” It has amazing power to change your husband into the man God destined him to be.
Larry was Senior Pastor at Bethany Church in Baton Rouge for 30 years. He now travels around the world speaking to ministry leaders. Larry is currently the Executive Director of Surge Project, a worldwide church-planting movement that has planted over 25,000 new churches since it started in 2000.