Except from Where God puts two hearts in a home.

Imagine one’s husband comes home and says to his wife… Because the house is messy and you haven‘t fixed your hair today, I don‘t love you today. Let me know when things improve!  How will she feel…. She would be deeply hurt! Does he not know that she requires unconditional love in order to feel safe and happy?

But ask the same woman about her husband‘s need for unconditional respect in order to feel safe and happy with her, and you might get a blank stare. She usually links respect with many conditions: ―I will respect him if he makes a good living, if he is kind, if he treats the children well. If she is a Christian, her list may be even longer and more difficult for him to achieve! If he follows God, if he keeps his temper in check, if he leads spiritually,  if he is a good example to the kids.

The Word of God in Ephesians 5:33 says …“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband”.  

These instructions are a golden rule for couples:

  1. Every husband must love his wife.
  2. Every wife must respect her husband.

 Understanding the link between love and respect in a man‘s mind helps to explain this difference in Paul‘s commands for men and women. When a wife respects her husband, she is showing him love—but she is doing it in the way that he can receive it best.

A man cannot divide the concepts of feeling unloved and feeling disrespected for in a man‘s mind, the two concepts are joined intimately.  For a man to feel loved…he needs to feel your respect.

What if Paul had said instead, Wives love your husbands?   The wife would naturally love her husband in the way she wants to be loved—perhaps by touching him tenderly, making his favorite foods, maybe even bringing him flowers or singing him a song. While a man might appreciate these things, Paul‘s instruction makes it clear that the primary way that a wife needs to love her husband is through showing him respect.

Just as a husband may not feel the emotion of love all the time, but is required by the Bible to choose to love his wife, so also a wife is required to choose to respect her husband all the time, despite her emotions or her current opinion of his performance. Her respect, freely given, will help to release the godly strengths that God is building into him. She submits to the proper role of the Holy Spirit to improve the qualities that need further strengthening.

By showing him respect, she is saying, I trust you. I have confidence in you. Even though she knows that her husband could fail, a Christian wife knows that the foundation for the respect she shows her husband is her trust in a powerful God who is always working for good.

In marriage, the woman‘s ability to express respect will help to allay the two things men often fear the most: a lack of respect and a feeling of inadequacy.

Many women tend to see a man‘s desire for respect as feeding his problem with pride. I‘m not giving in to his male ego! she might say. She takes on the job of keeping him humble, either by insulting him frequently, or at least by not praising him when he does well. But a lack of respect is not only disobedient to Scripture, but it is also counter-productive. By not providing him with the respect that he needs, first she cuts the legs out from under his strength. And his ability to do the things that she needs is diminished.

His need for respect comes from a sense of inadequacy, not from his strength. A woman‘s demonstration of respect shows that she understands that his strength is precious and that she is a trustworthy teammate. Rather than take advantage of her respect, most men will treasure and give her as much latitude as she desires. The heart of her husband has confidence in her (Prov31:11).

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