My wife’s blog, The Peacefulwife Blog, has provided a great place for women to explore God’s design for marriage. She has been able to talk with many women about how to make their marriage blossom by providing the key ingredient most husbands need most. Over time, she has had a fair amount of men that are in marriages on the brink that have found her site and would give anything for their wives to try some of the Peacefulwife principles she talks about. So she has worked on explaining the process that a wife must go through to become respectful of her husband. It is possible for you to lead your wife in doing this but she has to be willing to want to improve your marriage. You also must be willing to make decisions that show that you are looking out for the family above yourself, provide a safe environment for her that she absolutely knows she can trust you to take care of her, and show the patience to let her work through learning this new language.
Here is the Peacefulwife process for a wife to start respecting her husband.
To me – the FIRST step for a wife is to realize that her definition of respect is VASTLY different from her husband’s. Most wives think that disrespect means – screaming, throwing things, hitting, threatening divorce – extreme things. Most wives under 50 years of age have grown up in a culture where the concept of respect for God-given authority has been erased from our collective memory. Most wives have NEVER witnessed a respectful and submissive wife. Most wives had controlling, disrespectful and dominant mothers. The culture is so disrespectful that fairly major disrespect is “normal.” So she may look at herself and compare herself to other women or the media and think she is doing a great job with respect. So – the FIRST thing that will open her eyes is to see that husbands need respect to the same degree and level that wives need love – and that is how God made men and women. Most wives think men need love – thanks to feminism proclaiming that men and women are “equal” and “the same.” We are of equal value – of course, but God made men and women EXTREMELY different in spiritual/emotional/mental/physical make-up. Women think that more love will fix the problem in their marriage – but it doesn’t. And they try harder and harder but they don’t understand that love isn’t the issue. Most husbands have a HUGE, all-encompasing definition of what is respectful and disrespectful that involves MANY, MANY more intricate details than women would ever have imagined. Most wives are not being disrespectful on purpose. I wasn’t! I had NO idea I was disrespectful. My parents NEVER told me I was disrespectful – but I was. And my husband NEVER ONCE said I was disrespectful. He never even thought of that word. He thought I was arrogant and prideful -and I WAS. But he never told me that either. That was no favor to him, me or our marriage for him not to confront me about my sin. My sin got worse and worse, not better.
Once a wife sees what disrespect means – and this will usually completely floor most women and shock the daylights out of them – the light begins to dawn that they have been extremely disrespectful and have done a pretty awful job obeying God’s Word to them as a wife. And they begin to see the magnitude of damage they have caused to their husbands and to their relationship with God as well as other relationships where they were disrespectful and controlling. At this stage – most wives have “the scales of disrespect” fall from their eyes, as Dr. Eggerichs describes it in the book “Love and Respect.” That is the book that showed me my sin and made me realize in horror what a terrible wife I had been. I thought I deserved an A as a wife, but I actually had only gotten about a D-. I was DEVASTATED, mortified, confused, lost and had ZERO clue what to do next.
At the time, I had no idea what respect meant. And my husband couldn’t verbalize what respect was. So I was really in the dark. That is why I write this blog – to offer support and help and practical suggestions as well as biblical guidance to women as they begin this painful, difficult, life-changing journey.
A godly husband CAN teach his wife these things himself -if she is open to hearing him. But sometimes she hears this stuff better from other people.
The SECOND step for a wife is to have some GOOD things to replace her bad habits with. She can’t just be told all the many things she is doing wrong and be left hanging there. She needs to know what real respect means. And I know that it is different for each husband to some degree. But I have a post by a 35 year old Christian husband and dad of 5 children called “101 Ways to Show Respect to Your Husband” that has some REALLY simple, useful, effective and practical ways for a wife to start showing respect. I have MANY articles about respect. But this one is one of the easiest to begin to work on and implement in my view. And, ideally, a husband would be able to go through the list of disrespectful things and respectful things with his wife and talk about how he feels about each of the items so that she can do what is best for him.
Then – I show wives how much idolatry most of us have in our hearts that makes us feel that extreme fear that we MUST control things ourselves. We tend to have very wimpy pictures of God and huge pictures of ourselves as if we are sovereign and God is not. We put ourselves, control, our desires, our husbands, our marriages, our children and MANY things up as idols in our hearts and don’t even realize it. We are committing idolatry – the very worst of all sins -and we don’t see it at all. We also, as controlling and disrespectful wives – tend to be quite prideful, but we don’t see it. We think we are RIGHT about EVERYTHING. We make little decisions more important than the intimacy in our marriage and more important than our intimacy with Christ. And we don’t see it. We see our husbands’ sins and gladly point that out to them. But we don’t see our own mountains of pride, contempt, disrespect, control and rebellion against God’s Word. We look down on our husbands as if we are so spiritually superior – partly because we don’t tend to struggle with visual temptation like our husbands do. We often literally think we are “better” than our husbands and we have self-righteous pride that repels our husbands and God.
It takes a HUGE humbling of ourselves before God and going through each idol and tearing it out and replacing it with truth from God’s Word. It takes examining all of our beliefs about marriage, being a wife, femininity, masculinity, and our faith in Christ and throwing out most of it and clinging only to the foundation of Christ and rebuilding completely on His Word alone.
This is a LONG journey. It is an overwhelming amount of information for wives to absorb at first. They need a great deal of hand-holding and godly direction either from their husbands or a wise, godly wife who can help them especially at first. Because even when they realize their sin and realize their disobedience and long to do things God’s way – it takes time to break all the old habits and to repent of all those many sins. And it takes A LOT of concentration, effort, prayer and the power of God’s SPirit for a wife to learn God’s way. What He asks us to do is extremely counter-intuitive to wives, and counter-cultural and SCARY. But it works!
After repenting, a wife will begin to learn to submit first to Christ. So respect, reverence and submission start there. It has to start there. Most of these wives have almost no ability to trust God or have faith in Him or their husbands. They are terrified to relinquish control and fear that the world will fall apart if they were to let go. But with practice, prayer, training and time – they learn to let go and trust God. And they learn to begin to trust that God is actually big enough to lead them through their sinful husbands. This is a wife’s greatest test of faith in my opinion. They must study the sovereignty of God and learn how HUGE He is and how small they are. They must learn to trust the wisdom of God as MUCH SUPERIOR to their own. They must learn to trust their husbands’ wisdom as being at least equal to their own, and realize that husbands have important ideas and perspectives and that God will lead and speak to us through our husbands when we are obeying and trusting Him (unless the husband is asking his wife to sin).
Husbands have to be EXTREMELY patient with their wives in the first weeks and months because they will start to do better, then revert to the old mindset or allow Satan to plant doubts and accusations and believe him instead of clinging to Christ. But over time, they learn this new language of respect and submission and after many, many months, and usually years -they become fluent in it.