The other day I was talking to a friend and mentioning that my husband and I went through a very rough patch in our marriage around years 14-18. When she asked why that was, I had to really think for a minute. It should not have been that difficult. This was one of the most pivotal points in our marriage and it had to do with—not surprisingly—respect.
I had a wonderful husband, but I didn’t always give him the credit he deserved. His schedule at work was quite busy, and he wasn’t at home as much as I would have liked. This meant I was carrying the load of our five children, homeschooling, and everything else on the home front—many things that I felt shouldn’t be my sole responsibility. He was the breadwinner of the family, but not much else in my eyes.
And therein lies the key—in my eyes. Who put me in the position to judge my husband and whether he was fulfilling his responsibilities at home or not? Might there possibly be some areas I was not succeeding at in my role as a wife and mother as well?
These are a few of the things that I’ve found vital to keep our relationship healthy.
- Unconditional respect. This was a major part of my learning experience. While I expected love to be unconditional in my marriage—as all of us women do—I still believed that respect had to be earned. And because I didn’t feel my husband was worthy of my respect, he wasn’t getting it. Instead, I had actually grown to have contempt for him because he was not measuring up in my eyes in his role as a husband and father. Little did I know that even more than unconditional love, a man needs unconditional respect. My lack of respect for him was destroying our relationship. Additionally, he was highly admired by others on the job, so that caused him to prefer to be at work rather than at home.
Beware of expectations. Having expectations in a relationship often sets the relationship up for failure. When my husband fell short of my expectations, I respected him less. For example, if I expected my birthday to be celebrated in a big way, I wouldn’t appreciate anything less than that. Because I already had my heart set on a specific scenario, I would have set myself up for disappointment. On the other hand, if I let go of any expectations, I can be thrilled with however my special day is remembered. We both win.
Focus on the big picture. A husband should be respected for the position he stands in within the home. He is usually the main breadwinner and leader of the family—but that requires the support of his wife. Whether he is fulfilling this role at any particular point in the marriage or not, his wife should still give him the benefit of the doubt and express admiration to him.
Watch your actions. As I was working on putting this newfound knowledge to practice, I realized that even though I might say I respected my husband, my actions were communicating something different. Words weren’t enough. My tone in how I was saying it was negating my words. I had to make sure my tone and body language lined up with my words.
Be considerate of his needs. For any relationship to work, there must be some give and take. So, wives, instead of focusing on receiving, consider how you can meet his needs. How can you give to your husband in such a way that he can’t help but want to give back to you? For my husband, just showing I was thinking about him during the day, or sitting down and asking about his day when he got home, or planning a special date time for us, all conveyed how much I appreciated him and how willing I was to support him in his role.
Our roles within the home flexed over the years according to the stage our family was in and the demands of his work. But following these principles helped both of us to find the rhythm that has produced a strong, unified marriage—now thirty-six years and counting.
Question: What has helped you show love and/or respect to your spouse? Share your answer in the comments below.