In recent years, many Christian couples have embraced the so-called “love and respect principle.” This principle, made popular by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs after he published his book Love and Respect (affiliate link), is based on Ephesians 5:33: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Because of this verse, Eggerichs and many other marriage experts believe that, though every spouse needs both love and respect, God gave men a particular need to feel respected and women a particular need to feel loved.
I can see the veracity of this principle in my own marriage. However, sometimes when I think about respecting my husband, I draw a blank. It seems like a bit of an abstract concept. I feel that I truly do respect him, but how would he know that I do? Is it enough to say that I respect him? How can I show this to him in practical ways?
I believe these eight approaches are great ways for wives to demonstrate respect for our husbands.
How to show your husband that you respect him
- Avoid complaining about him or speaking poorly of him in front of others. I’m convinced that few things communicate disrespect like complaining about our husbands or speaking poorly of them to others. This behavior shows our husbands that we would rather make them look bad in the eyes of others than go directly to them with our concerns (this latter approach happens to be the blueprint given to us in Matthew 5:23-25). We must guard our hearts and mouths so we respectfully voice matters to our husbands instead of parading these before family and friends.
- Give him undivided attention. I’m often tempted to try to complete another task while my husband is visiting with me (especially when he’s talking about something I’m not all that interested in). After all, I have a lot of things to accomplish! Think about what this distraction communicates to my husband: The task I’m completing takes precedence over you. This isn’t respectful. We need to put down our phones, let the sinks of dishes sit for a few minutes, and gently teach our kids to wait patiently so we can fix our attention on our husbands when they are sharing important things with us. This focus communicates the opposite of distraction: You and your thoughts matter to me.
- Remember how much physical touch matters. Men are hardwired to appreciate physical touch. Yes, I do mean that they appreciate the touch associated with sexual intimacy, but I’m also referring to touch like hand holding, hugs, and pats on the back. Being generous with our touch—initiating sex with enthusiasm, sitting close when having important discussions, saying goodbye with hugs and kisses, etc.—shows that we understand and desire to meet their longing for physical touch.
- Pray for him. When we bring our husbands before the Lord in prayer, we are placing their needs, hopes, and imperfections into the hands of the One who cares about them even more than we do. We can be peaceful presences in our husbands’ lives because we’ve turned our anxieties about their needs over to the Lord. We can cheer them on confidently because we’ve asked the Lord to bring about their hopes. We can stop nagging them to change because we’ve brought our concerns about their less desirable traits before the Lord.
- Look for ways to encourage and build him up. It’s easy to notice our husbands’ faults and the things they aren’t doing that we’d like for them to do. Dwelling on these things and nagging our husbands doesn’t honor them. However, our husbands can see our esteem for them when we put forth the effort to focus on the positive and convey support to them. Not sure where to begin? See if one of these 35 encouragements would bless your husband.
- Give him time and space to unwind. Though there are some exceptions, most men don’t like to debrief or unwind by talking about the challenges they face at work, with family members, or in other facets of their lives. They often like to engage in a quiet activity (like watching TV or reading the newspaper) or by doing something physical (like shooting hoops or going for a jog). This can be challenging for us as wives because, in general, we like to talk about the things going on in our lives. It really encourages our husbands and shows that we value their emotional well-being when we give them a little time and space to unwind instead of expecting them to share all about their days or immediately help with tasks around the house when they get home from work.
- Be intentional about communicating effectively. It doesn’t honor our husbands when we nag them or communicate in quarrelsome ways. On the other hand, we show respect when we communicate in ways that are peaceful and kind. You don’t have to simply take my word for this. The topic of how wives communicate is addressed several times in the book of Proverbs:
- “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” Proverbs 21:9
- “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” Proverbs 21:19
- “A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.” Proverbs 27:15-16
- Treat him like the man he has the potential to become. Our husbands know when we are focusing on their imperfections. Focusing on these discourages us and it discourages them because they know we’ve set the bar low in regard to our expectations of them. However, when we treat them like the husbands they have the potential to become, they’re motivated to become everything God has made them to be. Why? Because they see that we believe in them and have set the bar high in regard to our expectations of them.
Would these things make your husband feel respected? What specific things do you do to show your husband that you respect him? Please share these with us below.
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