“Wives, honor your husbands.”
We know we should honor our husbands, but what exactly does that look like?
I know that’s a pretty loaded question. There are countless ways to honor our husbands & I think each one can look just as different as each marriage. But in every way that we can honor our husbands, there is common thread running through the middle of them all. And it’s respect.
Honor is defined as “regard with great respect.” There are numerous Bible verses like Ephesians 5:33 instructing husbands to love their wives & for wives to honor their husbands.
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
This verse reveals the core need that each of us has within our marriages. That’s not to say that husbands don’t need love or wives don’t need respect. But men & women are wired differently & generally speaking, women thrive when they’re loved & men thrive when they’re respected.
Nearly ½ of marriages, both in & out of the church, end in divorce. Why aren’t we, as Christians, following God’s words regarding our marriages? It was God that, you know, created marriage. Maybe He knows a thing or two about what it should look like & how to keep it functioning correctly. Right?
Please know this before I go on: I’m sharing this with you as I look in the mirror. There is not one ounce of judgement or condemnation in my heart as I write this. In fact, I’m overflowing with love for you, my sisters. My words come from a very tender & intimate spot of my heart. I’ve been in a place of frustration, confusion & isolation. I’ve felt the sting of hopelessness. I’ve endured that hurt. It wasn’t for years & years like some of you, but I have been there for a significant amount of time & understand things are complicated & there’s no 1, 2, 3 fix for some things. But I have experienced the restoration, healing & joy that God can bring back into a marriage through living out love & respect to one another. And it is from that beautiful place that I am sharing this with you.
There have been times where my husband & I have felt like we were on completely very different pages…even in different books. Lines of communication were being tangled up with emotions, senses of entitlement, a lack of patience for each other & just plain frustration.
I would think to myself, “It’s hard to communicate with you when I don’t feel loved.” I knew my husband loved me, but feeling disconnected with him emotionally drained the feelings of being loved, cherished & important. I felt like he needed to put the issue & his point of view aside & make sure I was feeling valued & heard. I wanted him to put himself in my shoes, see my perspective & stop holding onto his opinion so tightly. Even if I didn’t deserve it, I needed my need for feeling loved to come before the issue at hand.
But what I kept hearing from him was, “I need to feel respected. It’s hard to communicate with you when I feel like you don’t care about what I say or when I feel like I’m being degraded or disrespected.”
It took A LOT of effort to retrain ourselves & be intentional about how we communicated with each other. It took prayer, it took outside assistance & it took willingness & commitment from the both of us. I realized that as I was asking him to make my need to feel loved, even during a disagreement, a higher priority then making his point, he was basically asking me to do the same thing. But I wasn’t giving it to him. Because my selfish, self-entitled nature was telling me that I was right & that my opinions & needs should come first, I didn’t want to “give in” first. But when there’s 2 people involved, that doesn’t work. And if that cycle isn’t broken, it will drag us down into a very miserable, lonely, unhealthy pit.
The saying, “if you both try to win an argument, you’ll both lose” sums it up perfectly. It’s not about winning or being right. It’s about working TOGETHER & finding a solution TOGETHER. Aren’t we glad that we are able to receive grace, mercy & salvation – all of which we don’t “deserve”? I know for myself, it’s easy to take something good that I don’t deserve, but far more challenging to give it out when I feel the other person is undeserving. But that is the heart of Jesus & we are called to emulate it, not only when it’s easy or deserved.
Being aware of & sensitive to each other’s needs has changed the way my husband & I communicate. Instead of being right, we try to put our pride aside & truly hear the other person. If we can’t see eye to eye on an issue (which is totally ok & happens most of the time! Welcome to marriage!) then we try to find a mutual ground & compromise to land on. It may not be 100% the way we each want it as individuals, but it’s exactly what we need together, in our relationship & marriage. We have by no means perfected this & probably never will. We still mess up & say things we shouldn’t have. But overall, we are trying. And I know that it will be a lifelong process with many opportunities to practice this.
Our husbands want…no, need to feel strong, capable & respected.
The many forms that honor takes are too vast to list, but here are a few things that honoring our husbands is not. It is NOT:
– embarrassing him in front of other people
– tearing him down to friends
– complaining about him to family
– degrading him through Facebook statuses
– saying hurtful things to his face because he “deserves” it or hurt my feelings first
– threatening to leave or divorce him
– telling him he isn’t a good provider/husband/father to intentionally wound him
– saying your marriage was a mistake
– making him sleep on the couch or withholding sex as a punishment
(These are all important, but PLEASE understand that this last one, is not as harmless as most wives think it is. Guard your husband! Especially if he is in a vulnerable or discouraged state of mind, guard him! The perversion & sin of this world will welcome him & promise to fill his need to feel desired & respected. But it will devour him whole. This is a slippery slope that can lead to things that will ultimately damage you both even further! Guard him even when you don’t like him. The stakes are too high.)
If your marriage is in a place of brokenness or frustration, can I just say how sorry I am that you’re in that place? It’s not a pretty place to be. It can feel isolating & hopeless. But it’s not. I promise! If you haven’t already, I encourage you to find a godly pastor or person at your local to church to talk to. Most churches will do this for free. Sometimes we just need a godly, outside perspective to create more balance & give us clarity so we can figure out which steps to take towards healing & restoration. We all need someone to talk to, so find that handful of “safe” people that will fight for your marriage with you. But keep it limited to just them. There’s a huge difference between seeking support from godly people & sharing tender, personal information with the entire world. One is constructive the other is destructive.
I don’t wait to take my car in when I’ve driven it into the ground, the tires have fallen off & it won’t drive anymore. I consistently go in to have the oil changed, get a tune up & have the tires rotated. If I take this much preventative care to maintain my car, why wouldn’t I do the same with my precious marriage?
Getting counseling or asking for godly advice does NOT mean you’re failing in your marriage. It means you’re FIGHTING for it! And that my friend, takes heart, energy & time. And it is admirable & beautiful. Every marriage has their “stuff”. I promise you that. It’s how we handle those issues that matter. One of the most tragic things we can do is judge someone for reaching out for help in their marriage, or individually. I greatly admire any couple who goes for counseling regardless of whether or not they have an issue they’re trying to resolve or are just getting a tune up!
Dear sister, you are loved & treasured beyond your wildest imagination! I rally behind you to fight for your marriage!! And as always, feel free to contact me if I can pray for specifics with you or help direct you to resources that might be helpful.
Just remember- it’s one action, one word, one opportunity at a time.
Be blessed & know – our God is FAITHFUL in your marriage.