Just like wives need love, husbands need respect. God’s design for marriage is laid out here, in Ephesians 5, and His purpose goes WAY beyond the scope of the health of our individual marriages – although if we follow His design, we will have much healthier marriages. God’s highest purpose in marriage is to showcase the intimate relationship between Christ and His people. We are acting out a living parable where husbands represent Christ and wives represent the church to bring glory to God and to help our children and others around us grasp what God is like in a more concrete way.
New International Version (NIV)
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Here is my particular husband’s list of ways he feels most respected:
My husband explained just last year (2015) to me that what he really wants in marriage is pretty simple. For him, it is not a big to-do list. It is not about me being “the perfect wife.”
He likes things like for me:
– to genuinely smile and be happy
– to be truly peaceful and not stressed (because if I am stressed, he is stressed)
– to be his friend
– to be a safe, welcoming place for him
– to treat him like a grown adult and equal
– to just sit with him in the evenings, cuddle with him, and enjoy being with him while he watches TV
– not to “try too hard”
– not to ask what I can do for him
– not to ask how I can improve
– to appreciate the many things he does to show his love for me
– to give him time to think and process with decisions
– to honor his parenting
– to use a respectful, friendly tone of voice and friendly facial expression
– to make changes for the family slowly rather than to make sweeping changes all at once (he doesn’t like change very much)
So here are some ideas of ways you can show respect to your husband. Think of it like a buffet. This is not a list of rules – but some ways some wives use to show respect that works for them. Some things may apply to your marriage, some may not. There are some things that speak respect to just about all husbands, but each man is unique, so you will need to possibly ask your husband about things – maybe just a few at a time – and learn what speaks respect best to him. That is what matters most! I had some husbands’ input on this list. Thank you, gentlemen!
Please keep in mind that it is impossible for us to be godly or respectful wives in our own power. We MUST abide in Christ and His Spirit must regenerate our souls for us to have the power to truly respect and honor Him and our husbands. (The Answer to All of Your Marriage Problems)
With His Job
It’s important to realize here that what a man does is a part of who he is. This is part of the reason that the first thing one man will probably ask the other is “what do you do?” I think that a lot of wives lose out on connections that they can make with their husbands because they want to separate him from his work– and yet that work is what he does for most of his day.
- Let him know how much you appreciate the work that he does.
- If his company has a get together, don’t try to get out of it.
- Learn something about his profession– so that you’re at least conversant.
- Just like you’d like him to ask you about your day, ask him about his.
- Find out what he wants to do with his life.
- try to support his dreams and ambitions
- Prepare a snack just for him and his coworkers (the people in his office will look up to him!)
- Send him thoughtful or playful texts while he’s at work.
- Include a brief note of praise in his lunch (if he brings one).
- See him off in the morning.
- Welcome him home from the day.
At Your Church
It’s hard to argue that church is not a place that a man should lead. Many places in the Scripture men are called to be leaders of the home, they’re given jobs to do and roles to fill, but you are probably the most important piece to his ability to find respect and leadership in the church. Why? Because people will be looking to see how he leads his family, how he cares for them, and whether his family respects him. What you show or do not show reflects on him even more in this setting.
- If you find it appropriate, cover your head. (I Corinthians 11:3-16)
- Encourage him in his abilities.
- Talk positively about him.
- Defer to him when asked about making time commitments.
- If you have a question about something in the sermon, ask him first before going to the preacher/teacher.
- Actually, finding something to talk about or ask about the sermon would be a great way to show respect, even if you know the answer. Show him that you care about his thoughts and ideas on the subject!
- If your husband doesn’t ordinarily attend, then praise him when he does.
- Thank him for taking the family to church.
- Let your husband know that you are praying for God to give him wisdom as the spiritual leader of the family.
- Encourage him to participate in men’s groups where appropriate – don’t begrudge him that time.
- Don’t make fun of his singing if he’s monotone!
- Praise him for getting involved.
In Your Home
In most cases, you are the master of your home. You are probably there most of the time, you know how to clean it much better than he does, and you are probably given free reign to do with it as you please. However, he will still want to claim some area as his– the den, an office, the garage. There has to be some space that he is allowed to be as “organized” as he wants and that he can call his own. Call it a guy thing.
- Allow him to have a space that is defined as his.
- Ask him respectfully and with a pleasant tone of voice about projects you would like to be done around the house and an idea for when you want them done.
- Do not nag him to get the projects completed.
- Be clear in your requests, don’t make him guess.
- If what he does is not up to your standards, explain what you would prefer without being judgmental.
- Be his wife, not his mom.
- Allow his input into what you make for meals.
- Praise the things that he gets accomplished.
- Guard your tongue as to how you talk about some feature of the house you do not like– most likely he’s providing for it and he could take it as an attack on him or his ability to provide well for the family.
- Make the house presentable, but don’t stress over being perfect.
- Home is where you are, more than the house, if you’re stressed, he will be upset.
- Respect that he sees women all day long that have prepared themselves to be in public– what do you look like when he sees you?
- Clean out all clothing that doesn’t fit or he doesn’t like. (If he is ok with that, of course!)
- There’s a look that you know how to give…
- Massage his shoulders when he isn’t expecting it.
- Run your fingers through his hair.
- Sit down next to him and snuggle into his arm.
- Leave a note on his night stand that lists a few of the traits you respect in him.
- Write a message in the mirror he’ll see after he showers.
When going on vacation, it isn’t time to let up on letting him or encouraging him to lead.
- Don’t question whether he knows how to get where he’s going. Let him ask you if he wants help with directions.
- Ask him how much you should pack.
- Let him pack the car– it’s a big sign of manliness to figure out how to get all the luggage in there
- He’s goal oriented and will want to make it as far as he’s planned. Try to keep stops to a minimum.
- Ask how far he wants to get that day.
- Do what you can to keep the commotion down.
- Take turns driving if he would appreciate that.
- Realize that many men view the ability to drive the whole way manly– it’s not a comment about whether you can drive.
- Don’t blackmail with embarrassing vacation photos!
- Make sure he’s included in family photos– no one likes to see that they were never there. But don’t force him to be in tons of pictures if he hates having his picture made!
- Plan time to make the vacation special with the two of you, even if you have brought the kids.
- Make sure that you get the proper amount of sleep– hard to be respectful when you’re fighting exhaustion!
- Let him know what you would like to do on the vacation, that way he’s not taken by surprise.
- Try to stick to the plan. Some things can’t be helped, but not keeping to a plan can be frustrating.
- Enjoy yourselves– it will let him feel like he’s providing a good time.
- Thank him for all that he does and for the wonderful trip.
At The Store
The store can be an infuriating place for a guy. You’ve made the list, he doesn’t know what’s on it. You know the brands, he wants to get in and out as fast as possible. You’re there for clothing, he has nothing to do while you try things on.
- Share lists, if possible– nothing’s more humiliating than having to follow you around as you dole out instructions.
- If you find something’s amiss, show him the right brand without judging the one he got– no huffing.
- Purchase more at once, if your husband is ok with that, this allows for fewer trips to the store.
- If you’re clothes shopping, plan to do it without the kids.
- Plan to get his input on your clothing choices.
- Don’t stick him holding your purse.
- Don’t take him if you don’t need him there.
- If you’re getting clothing, maybe to make it exciting, pick up something “just for him.”
- Try for efficiency. He knows that his time is worth something, do you?
- If there’s something that he’s mentioned that is at the store, make sure that you get it– especially if he’s mentioned it more than once.
- Surprises are nice– for both people– so think about surprising him when he’s not looking if it is within your budget.
In Front of the Kids
Nowhere is order and respect more important than in front of the kids. I’d also say that nowhere is it harder. You’re in charge all day. You have to make decisions, maintain discipline, teach, and be all that your kids and your house requires. When your husband arrives home, it can be easy to look at him as just another person needing something, or to look at him as the cavalry where you can go veg out and he can take over. Neither of these are necessarily helpful.
- Stop what you are doing and smile, HUG him and KISS him like you mean it and say, “Welcome home!”
- Teach the children to clean up a bit before Daddy comes home and then run to him and welcome him home. Make that time special!
- If you have a concern about how he handled something, don’t question him in front of the kids.
- Get his input on decisions, especially bigger ones.
- If you ask his opinion, make sure you act on it– otherwise don’t ask.
- If he tells the kids something (either they can or can’t do something), don’t alter it, even if you think you know better.
- Make sure that you’re on the same page raising the kids.
- Escalate to him– children should know it’s a worse thing to have to be disciplined by dad.
- Realize that him not being there all day means less time he has to be consistent, and encourage him in consistency with discipline.
- Praise him to your kids when your kids are not around.
- Have your kids pray for him when he is not around.
- Talk with your kids about what he does– especially in his presence.
- Dad’s can get the impression that they’re just a wallet– teach gratitude.
- Encourage him to play with his kids, and provide space to do so.
- Show your kids how you love and respect him, and they will to. The tone of voice you use and way you speak to your husband is the way your children will speak to him, too!
- Make your husband a priority over the kids. They need to see that your relationship is important.
- Make date night a priority in your life– prepare for it, talk about it, etc.
- Make sure your kids know you are fixing your husband’s favorite meal.
- Help the kids prepare a treat for your husband.
Know that he’s not the perfect husband and you’re not the perfect wife, but start from the heart, and learn/practice respect.
FOR MORE IDEAS ABOUT WHAT HUSBANDS FEEL IS RESPECTFUL, CHECK OUT THIS POST!
For some husbands, like mine, less is more, when it comes to ways they feel blessed by us as wives. Read more about how my husband feels respected here.
This blog will be most relatable for wives who tend to be strong willed/in charge whose husbands are passive.
If your husband is controlling or you are more passive – many things I talk about will still apply (God’s Word always applies)- but you may have to approach some of the practical issues from a different angle. This blog may not be as helpful for you. If you have serious marriage issues like addictions, abuse, uncontrolled mental health disorders or infidelity -please seek godly, experienced help. I am not able to address these kinds of extreme issues here and I do not have experience with these situations.
I only write for wives – I don’t write for husbands. A husband cannot force or demand his wife to respect him and submit to him any more than a wife can demand that her husband love her. She must do this willingly and voluntarily out of her love and respect and obedience to Christ.