If you’ve read many marriage books, you’ve probably heard it said that one of a man’s greatest needs is respect.
Our husbands need us to admire them, to appreciate them for what they do and who they are. We can admire his abilities (“You did a great job fixing the dishwasher!”), his qualities (“I appreciate that you’re always honest in dealing with others, even when it’s hard”), and/or his achievements (“I’m so proud of you for getting that promotion at work!”)
By our words and actions, we show our respect (or lack thereof) for him and the God-given position he has in our family. Our children will notice, and will treat him (and, if they’re girls, most likely their future husband) in a similar manner.
If we study our husbands, we can learn what makes them feel respected. Here are six ideas I’ve come up with.
1. Speak positively about him to my children, parents, friends, etc. I think one of the main things that will cause our husbands to feel disrespected is hearing us criticize or belittle them to other people. Yes, every husband has faults, but those aren’t for me to discuss with others. Sometimes women are tempted to have a gripe session about what’s wrong with their husband. If the situation was reversed, would I want my husband venting about me to his friends or coworkers? Um, no. Instead, I can notice and verbally praise his good qualities.
2. Be his biggest cheerleader. Be the first one to congratulate him on a success at work or in any part of his life. Make a big deal out of it, even if he downplays the accomplishment. Encourage him when you know he’s working on a big project or dealing with difficulties on the job. Express confidence in his ability to handle things well. I can also bless him by being appreciative for how he provides for and takes care of our family.
3. Listen to him. If he wants to talk about something, stop what you’re doing and listen. Sometimes I’m tempted to only give my husband half of my attention, so I can keep working on whatever I’m doing. But focusing fully on him and being totally present in the conversation is a good way to show my respect for him.
4. Overlook the little things. Perhaps this could just be worded “don’t nag.” 🙂 Whether it’s his clothes piled on the floor or the mud he tracks in from the yard, choose to be forgiving rather than making it a big deal. If it’s something that needs to be addressed, pray that you’ll approach him with a right attitude, then discuss it calmly at an appropriate time.
5. Be honest with him. It hurts our relationship if I hide a purchase so he doesn’t know how much I spent. I certainly don’t want my children to think it’s okay to keep something secret from their dad. Even after 25 years of marriage, I want to continue building trust by being truthful in every area.
6. Trust his judgment. My husband has helpful insight on every part of our lives – especially for dealing with our children – and his input is valuable. When it comes to making decisions for our family, we discuss alternatives, then he ultimately has the final say. I want to be supportive, not second-guessing him or whining if I don’t get my way. In spite of what I may think, I really don’t know it all! It also helps if I’m daily praying for him to have wisdom and guidance as he leads our family.
It’s certainly easier to implement these tips when we have a husband who is seeking to follow God. Yet even when our husbands struggle spiritually, we can still ask the Holy Spirit to help us show the love of Christ by being respectful to our spouse.
Do you have other ideas for how we can show respect for our husbands?