One of the most basic, most fundamental concepts in the Bible for building a strong, godly marriage is the principle of love and respect. We see in Ephesians 5 that God has commanded husbands to love their wives, and likewise for wives to respect their husbands.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to build an intimate and strong marriage if this principle is not being practiced.
This principle can lead to some confusion, however. Shouldn’t wives also love their husbands? Do husbands need to respect their wives? The answer is obvious: Yes. It would be rather silly to think that a marriage could succeed where the husband doesn’t respect his wife, or if the wife doesn’t love her husband.
So, that begs these questions: Why didn’t God command husbands to also respect their wives? Why didn’t He command wives to love their husbands?
These questions have been speculated on countless times in blogs and in the book that explores this principle in depth: Love and Respect. The common argument is that it comes naturally for wives to love their husbands, and likewise for husbands to respect their wives. It’s how we are wired: women for love and men for respect.
I don’t know if this really is the right answer. After all, there are many marriages where the wives don’t love their husbands, or the husbands don’t respect their wives. I suspect that many of these marriages have much deeper problems that can’t be solved with a simple dose of love and respect. They need healing at a much deeper level.
This brings me to a point I want to make. In an earlier post I talk about an incident early in our marriage where my wife and I went shopping at Costco. We each had different ideas of how the shopping was supposed to be done. I expected her to follow my lead without question, she wanted an explanation of why I was doing things out of what she felt was the proper order. This misunderstanding led to something of meltdown in the middle of the store.
From the comments I’ve received on that post it is clear that I touched a nerve. Take this comment, for example:
I had no idea such sexist piggery still exists. Do you not have any respect for your wife? Do you not believe in communicating with her? She is a human being with the same need as you to be treated as a person, not a shopping cart, so why wouldn’t she be upset at such behavior?
I freely admitted in the original post that I was in the wrong for expecting my wife to follow me without question. It was the mistake of a naive, new husband. She had every reason to be upset at my behavior. I have no illusions otherwise. After this incident took place, we talked about it in the car, forgave each other, and made up.
So let me make a few things perfectly clear:
- If you expect your wife to follow you blindly and unquestioningly, you’re being an idiot.
- If you expect your wife to respect you when you haven’t earned it, you’re being equally stupid.
- If you don’t respect your wife, you don’t deserve her respect in return.
- And don’t even think of telling her: “God has commanded you to respect me even if I don’ deserve it.”
God has called you, dear husband, to sacrifice everything for your wife. It is your duty and honor to love, cherish, defend, protect, uplift, serve, and otherwise give everything you’ve got for her, second only to the Trinity Themselves.
Show love and respect for you wife first, and she will be more likely to return the favor.