As you read that title you may have thought I made an error. I meant “unconditional love”, right? Actually, no. Today I want to talk about unconditional respect. Let’s review the definition of unconditional: not subject to any conditions. Sidenote: I can’t stand when definitions use part of the word in the definition. But, anyway…
Many of us know the verse in Ephesians 5 that says, “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Have you really thought about the fact it doesn’t say for the wife to love her husband, but to respect him? Now, obviously, we want to show love to our husbands. What is being shown here is that as much as we, as wives, desire to feel loved, men have that same intense need to feel respected. Let me pause here and say I am bringing this up because I am currently learning a lot. I am not trying to be preachy, but to share my heart based on what the Lord is currently working on in me.
See, I’m not always the easiest person to get along with and I know that is a shocker to some of you. Those close to me, though, would probably agree with me. Ha! My Type A, perfectionist, high-expectation self often is a little overbearing. Ok, a LOT overbearing. An overbearing, criticizing, complaining wife is not good company. If I’m honest, I wouldn’t want to live with me a good portion of the time. LOL….People always say that marriage is so hard and that is an understatement. You take two people, who are usually opposite in a good many ways and expect them to co-exist and for everything to be peachy?! It is quite easy to point fingers and try to change the other person all in the name of helping him/her grow. The hubby and I have been married for 13 years and I have spent 13 years trying to change him in different ways. And I’m not talking about his character because he is an honorable man. But, you know, try to get him to put his clothes in the laundry basket, and to throw his trash away, and to rinse his dishes off….that kind of stuff. Know how far I’ve gotten in 13 years with my pushiness? Not very far. What has happened through the years is my nagging has been disrespectful. Then as I don’t see things improving, I nag some more and use an even more disrespectful tone. It isn’t pretty!
Why am I telling you this? Why am I sharing how bad I have been? I am telling you these things because as I have started to work on showing him respect, things have changed almost overnight. I wish I had learned it sooner! Upon reflection I saw how quarrelsome I was and how I was quick to judge him but not willing to look in the mirror. It is so easy to blame the other person. If he would just do this or that, then….Well, guess what? That isn’t what the Lord asks of us. We are to give our husbands UNCONDITIONAL respect. Think about the definition of that word again. That means no strings attached, no agenda, no not until he shows me love….We are commanded to do this for our husbands. So give it some thought. Are you using respectful tones? Are you showing your husband the things you respect about him? He needs to know them. He needs to feel that you respect who he is as a man. I am in a work in progress, but I am trying to change myself and in doing so am seeing some of the changes I have desired in my husband. All without nagging!! Amazing how that works! I am not saying your marriage will change immediately. It takes work. You have to be intentional. You taking one step in self-growth and reflection could be the start of something beautiful, not only in your character but in your marriage.