Respect Revisited PDF Print E-mail
Femina: For Wives
Written by Nancy Wilson   
Thursday, 17 September 2009 11:15

It’s easy to think that because I have written on a subject, I should move on to other topics. But since it is still the central command to wives, perhaps I should keep on beating the respect drum. After all, many young women are contemplating marriage, and many young wives are dealing with this for the first time as well. And women who have been married for some years can get distracted away from their central duties. So there is my justification for this redundancy.

I was recently visiting with a group of unmarried, post-college women, and I reminded them how important it is to marry someone for whom they have great respect. It is relatively easy to “fall in love” with any number of men for whom you have no respect at all. Women do it all the time. But how do you recognize respect? What kind of man do you respect? How do you render it? How do you preserve it?

This is one of the big advantages to the courtship model as opposed to recreational dating. In courtship, a woman has an opportunity to get to know a man and determine whether she respects him before she allows herself to become emotionally attached. If she is already deeply in love, it is a bit too late and much more difficult to begin asking the question. If she doesn’t really respect him, she may be tempted to talk herself into believing she does. Then she can end up marrying a man for whom she actually has very little respect.

I don’t think women know much about respect in general. Before I was married, I certainly didn’t. I remember hauling out the dictionary to figure out just what respect meant, and what would be required of me were I to get married. This was very helpful in navigating through the confused courtship waters back in the day when I had never heard of courtship. I could recognize pretty quickly the men for whom I had little respect, but I had never met a man I really respected until I met my future husband. He pretty much defined it for me. I remember thinking, “So that is what I want in a man.”

Respect means admiration, honor, looking up to. It is connected to achievements and abilities. It means treating with courtesy and deference. It is showing consideration for. So, a woman should admire a man, look up to him, and feel confident that he would be easy to follow, help, and (even!) obey were she to marry him. If she feels that he would not be up to leading her, or if she has doubts that he could lead a family in the right direction, she ought not to consider him for a minute.

But knowing about respect is not the same thing as rendering it. After you are married to a man and living in close proximity, it is easy to become careless, casual, and sloppy. You see his failures, his foibles, and his mistakes. You can slip into patterns of disrespect, discourtesy, and disobedience.

So how do we disrespect our husbands? Here are a few techniques: By talking about them disrespectfully, complaining about them, sharing their weaknesses and faults willy-nilly to friends or family members. By talking to them with little regard for their position and authority: interrupting, arguing, downgrading, rolling the eyes, not listening, belittling their views, ordering them about, protecting or mothering them. By treating them with little or no courtesy, failing to express gratitude for the work they do, ignoring their needs or their wishes, being unresponsive or cool.

How does a wife show respect to and for her husband? By thinking right thoughts about him, praying for him, showing gratitude, speaking courteously, praising him to others, contemplating his strengths rather than focusing on his weaknesses, going to him for counsel, forgiving him, showing concern for his needs and wishes, following through when he assigns a task.

The effect of disrespect on a husband is described in Proverbs 12:4 as “rottenness in his bones” which sounds a lot like spiritual bone cancer, slowly destroying him from the inside out. But the respectful wife is described as a crown of blessing (Prov. 12:4) to her husband, a source of great good to him, both body and soul. What a contrast!

One of the things I appreciate about the commands to wives is the way in which they are expressed. Ephesians 5:33, says “Let the wife see that she respects her husband.” It doesn’t say, “Let the husband see that his wife respects him.” This is the duty of the wife and she is to check up on herself to see if she is doing it. And Christian women are not commanded to render respect to men in general. That would result in oppression. Rather, wives are to see that they are submissive to their own husbands, not someone else’s. What a relief that is!

Where respect is lacking, cultivate it. Begin by confessing the lack, and then express appreciating for something, anything. Cut out the bad and replace it with the good.

Wives are to render respect, submitting to their husband “as unto the Lord.” If it is difficult to respec the man you married, start by being civil. And when you are courteous and kind, offer it to God as a means of pleasing Him.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 03 October 2009 00:16