"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33 (NIV 1984)
I have a confession to make: when my husband J.J. and I got married over 18 years ago, I took out the words "honor and obey" from my wedding vows. That line about submitting to my husband wasn't in there either. Instead, I vowed to "submit my ideas and dreams" to J.J. and trust God's leadership in our marriage.
Yes, I had some serious issues going into marriage. As a young Christian, I was afraid of the "S" word, and wanted to make sure God and my witnesses didn't catch me in a lie.
Like many women, I was terrified if I submitted to my husband I'd become a doormat and lose myself somewhere in the middle of letting my husband lead.
Regretfully, I remember the time J.J. told me it was easier to let me lead because it wasn't worth the argument to him.
You'd think that's what I wanted - to get my way - but it wasn't because my husband became apathetic. Eventually I lost respect for J.J., and it was mostly my fault. I wanted him to lead, but when he tried I'd often criticize how he led. It was a mess!
I had been praying God would change J.J. and make him more decisive, more confident, more protective and well, just more what I wanted him to be. One day, God strongly impressed on my heart that my criticism wasn't getting me any closer to my desired result. In fact, my frustration with J.J. only contributed to his own doubt as a man trying to follow God and lead his family.
The Holy Spirit also showed me I was fueling Satan's flaming darts of condemnation aimed at my husband's heart; joining efforts with the one who wanted to take J.J. out as the leader of our home. Through prayer, I realized my husband needed me to be his greatest cheerleader and his biggest supporter verbally, emotionally and spiritually.
God challenged me to keep my mouth closed when J.J. did something I didn't like or led in a way I didn't want to follow. He encouraged me to tell my husband when I saw things I appreciated and use the power of my words to build up and not tear down my man.
I started doing what God showed me, looking for and finding things in my husband that I'd never noticed. I got intentional about noticing things I respected and letting God take care of things I didn't. I made many choices to honor him in big and small ways. And you know what? I discovered countless things about my husband that were worthy of respect.
We've been through so much together over the years. I have learned to follow God as I trusted many of my husband's decisions that scared me: job changes I didn't want him to make; financial investments that seemed too risky; parenting issues that were hard. It hasn't been easy, but I am thankful my husband has become the leader of our family. And I've become more comfortable following his leadership than I ever thought I'd be!
Dear Lord, I want to respect my husband and build him up with my words. Help me to measure my thoughts carefully and come to You with my complaints. I want to become my husband's biggest cheerleader and watch You do Your thing in His life. I know this is possible as I depend on You to live Your life through me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
• Ask God to show you ways to respect your husband.
• Say "I'm sorry" and mean it when you dishonor him.
• Say "I forgive you" and mean it when he dishonors or hurts you.
• Let him overhear you telling someone one thing you appreciate about him.
• Praise him when his decisions turn out well and encourage him when they don't.
• Tell your husband one thing you are thankful for - about his character, his work ethic, his provision, his humor or something he adds to your family.
* Some of these ideas are from What A Husband Needs from His Wife © 2006 by Melanie Chitwood.
What do I value and respect about my husband? How often do I criticize or encourage him?
1 Peter 3:15, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (NIV 1984)
1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (NIV 1984)
Proverbs 17:9, "He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." (NIV 1984)
© 2011 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105