Many of us know the song “Respect” that is sung by Aretha Franklin. It is so popular that it was named one of the top 500 songs of all time. Many women have felt empowered by another woman belting out a song and asking for “just a little respect”. What you may not know is that the song was written by a man, Otis Redding. So while women sang the song to demand respect from men, there was a silent plea for the very same thing from a man behind the scenes.
In one of the lines of this epic song Otis writes, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me.” This one little phrase is exactly what we as wives and women should be striving to do – finding out what respect means to our husbands.
In Ephesians 5:33 (ESV) Paul writes, “…let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Our husbands are designed by God to be empowered and to feel truly connected to their wives when they feel respected. We should not only strive to be respectful to our husbands, but we find out what that means to our husband.
Here are 3 ways you can respect your husband, but be sure to take the time to ask him exactly what respect means to him!
1. Respect your husband with your time
Last weekend Jerry and I went to one of his favorite stores and purchased a cargo carrier for the back of our SUV. When we got home, we realized it would take a lot more assembly that we had thought, so I pulled up a chair and sat in our driveway handing him nuts and bolts while he worked to put it together. I fetched sockets, screwdrivers, wrenches, and other tools as needed. I held parts while he tightened them and I chatted with him as we worked side by side. After we finished our project he held me tight and said he had a great time together. It had been a long time since I gave up my own time to help him with a project, and I never realized just how meaningful these moments are to our marriage.
Generally men enjoy the company of their wives when we are their “buddies”. They like for us to hang out in the garage while they work on things, and just listen to them as they work. They want us beside them for 3 long quiet hours of waiting for an animal to roam in front of their gun sight in the frigid morning. They want us to take a road trip with them to the middle of no where to pick up something they bought on the internet. They want us beside them throughout life. So show your husband that you respect him by spending that extra time with him while he does what he loves.
Another way to respect your husband with your time is to check with him before you make plans to do things with your friends. My friends are often asking me to go to the movies or a weekend shopping trip, and I would love to join them but my time with my husband is extremely limited and I want to make the most of it. I respect him by asking him before I make a choice to do something without him. Often times he has no issues with me running out to spend time with the girls, but there are times when he has planned to spend the afternoon with me. If I just tell him I’m heading out the door to spend the day with friends, he would be left feeling rejected and pretty disrespected that I didn’t communicate my plans to him – who wouldn’t?
Respect the time you have together by making that time with your husband a priority over all the other things on your to-do list. When you choose him over spending time with your friends, taking the children to the park, cleaning the house, running errands, or any of the other million things you could be doing, you show him how much you enjoy your time together.
2. Respect your husband with your words
I’ll never forget a moment when several couples were standing in a group at our church and talking about an upcoming softball game. One of the youngest couples in our group started to tell everyone that her boyfriend was clumsy and not very good at sports. She made a few jokes about how he would probably hit himself with the bat, and how the only way he could stop a ball was to take a line drive to the face. I watched the face of her boyfriend as he anxiously scanned the faces of the other men in the group to see himself slipping in their opinions of him. The other men chuckled uncomfortably, and I bit my tongue rather than tell the young bride-to-be that she was destroying her man with her words. In her mind, she was making light of the fact that he wasn’t all that athletic, but in reality she was being wildly disrespectful to him.
When it comes to respecting your husband with your words, you really should take the time to “find out what it means to me”. Each man is different, and you may be surprised to find out what he finds disrespectful. You can be sure to note that no man wants you to talk about his faults in front of anyone else ever. Not in front of him, and not behind his back… even jokingly. Your husband needs you to build him up with your words, and to respect him for how God made him. Spend some time talking to your husband about this. You’ll be surprised how much more he loves you when you are respecting him in a way that is meaningful to him.
3. Respect your husband with your actions
When my husband comes home from work, I always try to stop what I’m doing and greet him. I make myself available to him by quietly standing nearby just in case he has a few things to discuss. I don’t pounce on him with all the things I want to tell him, and I don’t pry information out of him either. I’m just there for him. I’m not always able to do this, but when I do it is very powerful. It shows my husband that I’m grateful for his time and effort at work, and I love and respect him enough to be available to him. This is a sign of respect that is meaningful to my husband, but your spouse may be different. For your husband, it may be important that you put your phone down when he is with you. Perhaps he feels most respected when you set out his morning coffee. It’s possible that he doesn’t know how you can respect him with your actions, but he may be able to tell you what he finds disrespectful. If this is the case, give him room to share his heart with you, and rather than defend your stance just hear him and respect his feelings.
You can also respect your husband with your actions by being a respectful listener. When your husband is talking with you, listen to him without interrupting. Let him know you heard him by rephrasing what he said by asking, “So do you mean…” or saying, “So what I hear you saying is…” Hold his hand while he speaks so he knows that you are connecting to him, even when you don’t agree with what he is saying. Don’t try to come up with a solution to his problems, or justify your opposing opinion. Just listen to your husband and let him know you’ve heard him.
There are several ways to respect your husband with your time, your words, and your actions and these are just a few. Find out what is important to your spouse and strive to be a more respectful wife. You’ll be surprised at how respecting your husband can truly change your marriage.