A guest post by my wife, April. You can find her at www.peacefulwife.com or her Youtube channel, “April Cassidy.”: It is always tricky on the blogs when we have a female on the husband’s blog or a male on the wife’s blog. A lot of times the comments tend to move the discussion backward instead of leading the topic forward. I think this is a big topic for men and I have asked April to write a couple of more posts that I think would be helpful to husbands that only a wife could explain. I think the most important advice in this post is that respect can only be voluntary. So, printing this out and handing it to your wife and saying I demand you to be a Godly wife wouldn’t be real helpful.
I used to be a controlling, disrespectful wife myself – until God woke me up and radically changed me over the past 6 years. I have communicated with thousands of women on my blogs about learning to respect and honor our husbands (over 4 million hits so far between my two blogs). My calling is to write for women (Titus 2:3-5). It is not my intention to “teach” men or to tell them what to do. However, I have heard from so many men who use my posts to “reverse engineer” their marriages and to better understand their wives that I decided to write something to maybe help shed some light on what is going on in many wives’ hearts and minds. These are some general observations of mine. They may not all apply to every woman. I pray for God to give each of you His wisdom, His Spirit, His heart, His mind, His love, and His power to bless and bring healing to your marriage for God’s greatest glory.
The primary issue, of course, with any sin is that we are all sinners apart from the regenerating power of God’s Spirit as we fully submit to Christ as Lord.
If you are a bottom-line kind of guy, you may prefer to just read the bullet points in bold. 🙂
- Most women today – even women who profess Christ – do not have the concept of respect for men/husbands on their radar.
Respect for men/husbands/God-given authority was thrown out in our culture decades ago. Disrespect for men is mainstream now. It is everywhere in the media, in our families, among our friends, in our businesses, and in our churches. Many women under 50 years old have never had an example of a woman treating her husband with genuine respect. We have not been taught the language of respect for men and we have not been taught that men NEED respect the way that women need love. Lots of women don’t even know what is respectful and what is disrespectful in general.
- Many women have bought the worldly idea that “respect must be earned” into marriage. Of course, we don’t want to have to “earn” our husbands’ love, but many women don’t yet see the double standard.
God commands husbands to love and honor their wives unconditionally. He also commands wives to biblically submit to and respect their husbands. The respect is to be unconditional. The biblical submission is conditional – providing that the husband isn’t asking his wife to sin or condone sin – a wife is to submit to her husband “as to the Lord.” God’s authority ranks higher than the husband’s authority. Husbands and wives are ultimately accountable to Him. Husbands don’t have absolute authority over their wives. They do not have the right to demand or ask that their wives do something that goes against God’s Word (Please see Spiritual Authority by Rev. H. A. Weaver for more about this as well as Ephesians 5:22-33, I Peter 3:1-7, I Corinthians 13:4-8, Galatians 5:22-23). Respect is part of godly love. This important key in marriage – a wife’s respect for her husband and honor for his God-given leadership – is getting left out today.
- Those women who do have some idea of what respect is may only think of the really BIG things that are disrespectful and avoid those things – screaming, cussing, threatening divorce, hitting, physically abusing their husband, throwing things, etc… and think they ARE being respectful if they don’t do those terrible things.
Lots of wives don’t know about all of the dozens of things that may seem very small and inconsequential to them that actually seem very big to their husbands. I have a post where a number of husbands shared what is disrespectful to them. Many wives are completely floored and in shock about how many things look disrespectful to husbands that wives would never have imagined would be a problem. In fact, most women are totally overwhelmed when they see all the things that can be seen as disrespectful to husbands and assume it would be “impossible” to really respect their husbands. Thankfully, in Christ, genuine respect for our husbands IS entirely possible!
- Many women have developed extremely unrealistic expectations about men, marriage, and romance from romantic movies, books, other women, and the media.
– Wives may think that men should automatically know what they need and how they feel.
– They may expect their husbands to always have just the right words at the right time.
– They may expect their husbands to be perfect or to be who they want them to be.
– They may think men love words and talking about emotions and feelings just like women do.
– They may think men don’t need time to process their feelings before talking about them because a lot of women don’t need this.
– They may think that real life men should think, feel, and speak like the male romantic leads in movies and novels – whose lines were probably written by women.
– They may expect men to want emotional and spiritual connection more than sexual intimacy.
These expectations collide dramatically with reality many times and leave women feeling resentful and discontent with their real life men.
- The way we treat people is a reflection of our love and respect for and our submission to Christ. If a wife is disrespectful and/or controlling, it reveals that she is probably disrespectful and controlling toward Christ, too. The way a husband treats his wife reveals the way He treats God. The way a believer treats others is mostly about his/her relationship with Christ.
I treat my husband the way I do because of the character in my soul. If my sinful self is in charge, I will respond to him with bitterness, resentment, pride, self-righteousness, gossip, unforgiveness, disloyalty, disrespect, control, etc…(Galatians 5:18-21) If God’s Spirit is in control of my heart, mind, and soul, I will have the fruit of the Spirit no matter how my husband is acting at the time. I will have God’s supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-26) This is true for all believers. “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me…. Whatever you do not do for the least of these, you do not do for Me.” (Matt 25:40,45)
- Husbands can make it easier or more difficult for wives to respect them just like wives can make it easier or more difficult for their husbands to love them.
It is extremely challenging for a wife to respect her husband unconditionally if he is involved in unrepentant sin of any kind just like it is extremely challenging for a husband to love his wife unconditionally when she is involved in unrepentant sin against him. Yes, God does call us as wives to respect our husbands unconditionally (Ephesians 5:22-33) just like He calls husbands to love their wives unconditionally. However, when one spouse is walking in obedience to God, it is much easier for the other spouse to obey God, as well. Gary Thomas says, “We are most tempted to sin when we are sinned against” in Sacred Marriage.
Some things wives tend to have the most difficulty with – a husband’s porn use (that feels just like adultery to wives), harshness, uncontrolled anger, selfishness, passivity, lack of integrity, lying, flirting with other women, lusting after other women, not taking time to emotionally connect with his wife, abuse/addiction to drugs or alcohol/infidelity.
I so greatly appreciate that my own husband makes it as easy as possible for me to honor, respect, and biblically submit to him. He never mistreats me. He doesn’t yell or scream at me. Ever. He is kind, thoughtful, responsible, and loving toward me. I know he looks out for my best interests and is not being selfish when he makes decisions. He seeks to live for God. I can trust him in every way. He doesn’t tear down my trust. I know I am safe with him. Greg and I do not condone any acts of violence or any sin against anyone – husbands or wives.
- A husband’s godly, selfless, Spirit-filled, Christlike love for his wife and his fervent prayers for her are the best motivators I know of for a wife to desire to become more godly herself.
Ephesians 5:22-33, I Peter 3:7, I Corinthians 13:4-8, Galatians 5:22-26
I have seen God wake up wives first sometimes and heal marriages. I have also seen God wake up husbands first sometimes and heal marriages.
The Power of a Husband’s Prayer – a real life story of a husband who trusted God to change his wife and God answered his prayers!
- A wife’s genuine respect and biblical submission have to be voluntary on her part.
A husband cannot change his wife or force her to do what he wants her to do just like a wife cannot force her husband to love her or to be romantic. He can inspire her, pray for her, and encourage her. He can gently, lovingly teach her about God’s Word. He can set a godly example for her. He can seek to lead her in a godly, humble, selfless, Christ-honoring way. He can ask her to cooperate with his God-given leadership. He can love her with God’s love. He can allow God to empower him to be the husband God desires him to be no matter what his wife is doing at the time. But he is not God, he is not the Holy Spirit, and he cannot make her understand or be convicted. It may take years for some wives to “wake up.” A husband cannot force or abuse his wife into being a godly wife and a wife cannot force or abuse her husband into being a godly husband. We are each responsible for our own choices. This is a decision a wife must make on her own because of her love for, obedience to, and reverence for Christ.
- Until a wife is in right relationship with Christ, she doesn’t have the power and resources to be a godly wife who is full of God’s peace, who is gentle, respectful, cooperative, willing to honor her husband’s leadership, who does what is right and does not give way to fear.
- A wife’s disrespect for her husband and her desire to control him are often rooted in childhood fears, ungodly examples in her life, and warped ideas from childhood about God, herself, and others. And, her desire to control her husband is part of the curse in Genesis 3 – it is a result of sin entering into the marriage relationship.
Many times, a woman does not really trust God. She may actually be trusting self and depending on self to be sovereign to make everything turn out right instead of trusting God. She may not understand God’s sovereignty. This lack of understanding may be why she tries to take on responsibilities that belong to God alone. When we put SELF on the throne of our lives instead of Christ (which is idolatry of self), we become anxious, afraid, depressed, discontent, lonely, upset, and frustrated. If we are trying to carry the weight that belongs to God, it is extremely heavy and exhausting.
- If a wife has self on the throne of her life, she may subconsciously expect everyone else to submit to her.
(Many men do this, too, unfortunately). If a wife really only trusts self (not God), and she has self as the most important consideration in her life, she may feel it is her responsibility, right, and duty to try to make others do what she thinks is best. She may believe that she is the only one who can see what is best and who knows the “right” thing to do. She may make the little issues bigger than her walk with Christ, her obedience to God’s Word, her marriage, or her husband, without even realizing what she is doing. Some other idols that are very big for a lot of women are things like: husbands, marriage, romance, feeling loved, emotional connection, children, beauty, money, happiness, etc… What I mean is, sometimes women expect these things to meet the deepest needs of their souls that only Jesus can truly meet. Idolatry always creates misery. God will not allow us to find true contentment, peace, and joy apart from Himself.
- Many wives seriously don’t see their own sin.
I didn’t. I couldn’t see all of my pride, self-righteousness, control, disrespect, bitterness, unforgiveness, gossip, resentment, etc… for almost 15 years. Thankfully, God opened my eyes 6 years ago when I read “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. How thankful I am that God didn’t leave me in my sin! If someone is spiritually blind and deceived, you can explain and explain something to her, but she cannot see until God opens her eyes. This is the Holy Spirit’s job. A husband can lovingly, gently, firmly share with his wife when she is sinning (Matthew 7:1-5, Matthew 18:15-17). I believe that husbands have a responsibility to lovingly, gently, humbly confront their wives if they see sin in their lives – we all have this responsibility as believers. It is not a gift to allow another believer to continue on in sin and to say nothing. But only God can convict her of sin. There may be quite a lot of unconditional love, prayer, and waiting involved. (When My Spouse Is Wrong) Sometimes there may have to be godly, wise, loving, boundaries set in place.
- We are not hearing the truth of God’s Word about marriage and being godly women and wives in most of our churches.
Many pastors do not dare attempt to teach wives about respecting their husbands or biblical submission. It is not a popular topic today. But because women don’t hear the truth of God’s Word and they don’t see godly examples, the only influence that is left is usually the ungodly influence of our culture. This is not good!
- Some wives can’t hear about respect and biblical submission from their own husbands. For some wives, they need to hear about it from a neutral third party.
Sometimes, reading a book, or hearing another husband or wife talk about these issues can help things “click” for a wife when she can’t hear from her own husband. Ultimately, it takes God’s Spirit to convict and open a person’s eyes to his/her sin. I want to see husbands sharing their concerns, needs, pain, and desires with their wives. But sometimes husbands can explain over and over but wives don’t understand. As Emerson Eggerichs says in “Love and Respect” – God has to cause the “scales of disrespect to fall from a wife’s eyes.”
- Most of the time, wives do not realize what they are doing when they disrespect their husbands. Wives are usually not purposely trying to destroy their husbands and marriages.
Most wives really do love their husbands. Most wives want their husbands to be happy and want to be good wives. Most wives spend a LOT of time, almost every waking moment, thinking about their husbands and marriages and most Christian wives are willing to pour tons of time, energy and resources into having a stronger, more godly marriage. If they knew what they were doing, the wouldn’t disrespect their men. Many women have no idea how destructive their disrespect is. They are usually crying out for love from their husbands because they feel unloved. They are not usually trying to destroy their husbands and marriages. If they knew how to treat their husbands well, they would! Most of the time, there is just so much misunderstanding about what men need and what masculinity is today, women just don’t know the things they really need to know about their men.
- Sometimes wives do purposely try to hurt their men, but even then, ironically, they are usually not trying to destroy their marriages.
This is usually because a woman feels very unloved and she mistakenly thinks that if she can get her husband “to hurt as much as she does,” he will understand her pain and begin to love her more again. Many times, these wives believe they do love their husbands. Often these women do not predict that what they are doing will destroy their marriage. Of course, destruction is all that happens when she tries to purposely hurt her man.
- Many women think men are invincible in every way.
They are so big and strong on the outside, and they don’t seem to be very emotional. “So, maybe men don’t have feelings like women do. Maybe men can take all kinds of emotional battering and it really doesn’t hurt them like it would hurt us.” Of course, that is not true! But many women do not know that men have feelings because men do not emote and verbalize their feelings the same way that women do. They don’t realize that when a man feels disrespected, he responds to that pain by either shutting down or getting angry.
- Most women completely misunderstand how men think, how they feel, how they talk, what they need, what they don’t need, what disrespect is, and what respect is.
This is a big problem! A fantastic resource is Shaunti Feldhahn’s “For Women Only.” There is also a companion book “For Husbands Only” by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn that is extremely helpful to bridge the chasm between men and women in marriage. Also, “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is a great place to start. That is the book God used to open my eyes to my disrespect.
- This journey to become a godly wife takes a LONG, LONG, LONG time.
It took me over 2.5 YEARS to begin to feel like I had any clue what respect and disrespect were. It took another year before my husband felt safe with me again and it was around that time that being respectful and biblically submitting to my husband began to feel “normal” and “natural.” This process was like learning Chinese without a teacher for me. It was VERY difficult. I am a pharmacist. I made all As in school. I had a full scholarship to pharmacy school. I have a pretty high IQ. But I spent literally hours studying, praying, and begging God to change me and teach me almost every day for well over 2.5 years before I even started to feel like I was coming anywhere close to understanding men (or my husband) at all. Now, I am 6 years into my journey. I have done a good bit of reading about how men think. I have corresponded with hundreds of husbands on my blog. And I still feel like I have a very long way to go in completely understanding men. I want to know and absorb all I can. But this is a long, slow process. Here is a post about the Stages of This Journey.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Women do not generally see respect for men or for husbands in our culture today. Disrespect is mainstream and normal. Many women didn’t have godly examples of a wife showing honor, respect, and biblical submission in their families. Many women had mothers who were controlling and disrespectful to their fathers. That seems “normal” now to them. A woman has to swim against the current of our culture, the examples she had in her family, the media, probably all of her friends, her own intuition, and against her sinful flesh to learn to be a godly wife. This is a raging battle. It is intense spiritual warfare.
This journey to becoming a godly wife is the process of sanctification. It involves a woman allowing God to tear out everything she thought she knew about masculinity, femininity, God, self, and marriage and rebuilding on Christ and His Word. It is a complete transformation of the heart, mind, and soul. There is not a simple switch to flip and suddenly a woman is the most godly wife ever in a day or a week or a month. This process often takes years.
Spiritual Authority – a Firm Foundation – by Rev. H. A. Weaver
A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage – by Rev. H. A. Weaver
Things Husbands Do that Make Their Wives Feel Unloved – by Peacefulwife
When My Spouse Is Wrong – by Nathan Trevett
Why I Don’t Address Women with Abusive Husbands – the first part of this post is about wives who think they are being abused but in reality, the husband is just trying to lead her in a godly way. The rest of the post deals with wives who are truly being mistreated by their husbands. – by Peacefulwife
Do I Condone Marital Rape or Abuse? – I don’t condone any kind of sin by anyone! – by Peacefulwife