R-E-S-P-E-C-T That is What He Needs from Me
Renee Swope

"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)

I have a confession to make: when my husband JJ and I got married over 15 years ago, I took out the words "honor and obey" from my wedding vows. I didn't say I would submit to my husband either. I vowed to "submit my ideas and dreams" to my husband and trust God's leadership in our marriage.

I had some serious issues going into marriage. I was a young Christian, who was afraid of the "S" word, and I wanted to make sure God and my witnesses didn't catch me in a lie. Like many women, I was terrified that if I submitted to my husband I'd become a doormat and lose myself somewhere in the middle of letting my husband lead. I regretfully remember one time JJ told me it was easier to let me lead because it wasn't worth the argument to him.

You'd think that's what I wanted - to get my way - but it wasn't because my husband became apathetic. Soon I realized I was losing respect for my husband and it was mostly my fault. I wanted him to lead, but when he tried I'd often criticize how he led. It was a mess.

One day I was praying God would change JJ and make him more decisive, more confident, more protective and, well, just more what I wanted him to be. God strongly impressed on my heart that my criticism wasn't getting me any closer to my desired result. In fact, my frustration with JJ only contributed to his own doubt as a man trying to follow God and lead His family.

God's also reminded me that I was fueling Satan's flaming darts of condemnation aimed at my husband's heart. I was joining efforts with the one who wanted to take out my husband as the leader of our home. Through prayer, God showed me that my husband needed me to be his greatest cheerleader and his biggest supporter verbally, emotionally and spiritually.

God challenged me to keep my mouth closed when JJ did something I didn't like or led in a way I didn't want to follow. He encouraged me to tell my husband all the wonderful things I appreciated about him and use the power of my words to build up and not tear down my man.

I started doing what God showed me. I looked for and found things in my husband that I valued, things I had started to overlook. I got intentional about finding things I respected and letting God take care of the rest. I made choices to honor him in big and small ways. And you know what? I discovered so many things about my husband that were worthy of honor and respect.

We've been through a lot together and our marriage is stronger because of it. I have followed God as I trusted many of my husband's decisions that scared me: job changes I didn't want him to make; financial investments that seemed too risky; parenting issues that were hard. It hasn't been easy, but it's been amazing to watch God make and mold my husband into the leader of our family, a leader I truly respect. And because of prayer and trusting God, I am more comfortable following my husband's lead than I ever thought I'd be!

Dear Lord, I want to respect my husband and build Him up with my words. Help me to measure my thoughts carefully and come to You with my complaints. I want to become my husband's biggest cheerleader and watch You do Your thing in His life. I know this is possible as I depend on You to live Your life through me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Renee’s Blog for powerful scriptures to pray for your husband.

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
• Tell your husband that you believe in him!
• Don't point out his mistakes, just fill in the gap.
• Ask God to show you ways to serve your husband.
• Don't ever say "I told you so." • Say "I'm sorry" and mean it when you dishonor him.
• Say "I forgive you" and mean it when he dishonors or hurts you.
• Tell your husband that you thank God for giving him to you (and be sure you do).
• Let him overhear you telling someone something you appreciate about him.
• Support and encourage his decisions.
• Praise him when his decisions turn out well and encourage him when they don't.
• Tell you husband each day about one thing you are thankful for - about his character, his work ethic, his provision, his humor or something he adds to your family.

* Several of these ideas are from What A Husband Needs from His Wife © 2006 by Melanie Chitwood.

What do I value and respect about my husband?

How often do I criticize or encourage him?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 3:15, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (NIV)

1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (NIV)

Proverbs 17:9,"He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." (NIV)

© 2009 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch! Painfully revealing. It is difficult to do the things you mentioned when your heart is filled with pain. When you have tried to be his cheerleader in the past only for him to eventually just take you for granted. When all you are doing to try to "support" him seems to end up putting more and more of the pressure on you. When it seems like it is all and only up to you to make the marriage work. When after 10 years of marriage he thinks the marriage is great and you are suffering and he is unaware because you have done "all the right things".

And yet I understand the part about trying to find things to respect and support. I have tried to do that. The problem is that when your husband is starting from a place of excessively low self-concept, you run out of energy. Sometimes, perhaps, it takes more than good intentions and kind words to restore a relationship, maybe it takes God-Himself to intervene. That is where I am at. I WANT to be restored and renewed in relationship to him. I am afraid and there is so much pain. But I am looking up to God to do what ONLY He can do in both of us.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was most helpful to me. But I do think as a sorely neglected wife that my relationship with the Lord is the main thing that has helped me to deal with my pain. The way that I have been able to deal with the pain is to go daily, hourly, or minute by minute if need be and tell the Lover of my soul about my pain. I describe it to Him who already knows my loneliness and rejection. I
listen to Him and read in His Word about His Love and Care for me, His great sacrifice, the Psalms especially have ministered to me and through His Word which is like a balm I am comforted and healing begins. Thank God , my husband has never beaten me though because then I would have left so my children would know that was not normal or healthy. God has done a wonderful work in my husband's life but our relationship still needs works and I am trusting God to do it. He gives me the right attitude as I recognize wrong attitudes and ask forgiveness, letting Him know I want Him to change my attitude.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This again hits a spot that shows me that trusting in the Lord and praying for strength for marriage truly works. We have been though many trials, infidelity, loss of job, death of family, and trust issues. Putting my faith in the Lord and trying hard, not always though in my marriage, pays off. My husband repects me and my decisions and I am allowing him to be the leader and want him to be the spiritual leader, which is turning around slowly. Praises to Him for the power He has in us if we just trust.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one of today's Application Steps: Don't point out his mistakes, just fill in the gap. I need more direction here.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is sometimes hard to find the good qualities in your partner if you
are carting pain around you must ask God to help you heal and that will also help you see things clearer and
work on being the one caring and understanding person that you vowed on being.Always keeping God first and realizing he will give you the understanding and peace through his words.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Renee for sharing God's word. I am not married and I am reading these blogs from these ladies that are suffering in their marriages, but who sound like they so desperately want to work. I am praying for all of these Anonymous women out there...these P31 Women who truly and faithfully want their marriage to work and believe that only God will give them the strength to push forward with time healing all of these pains that they are describing. Thank you also for just verifying for me that I truly do want to wait for the husband that God has already picked out for me, b/c I prayerfully will be able to be the woman that God has been preparing me for all these years...

Blogger Renee Swope said...

I am praying for each of you and your marriages. Our whole family prayed for each marriage that was impacted somehow by Friday's devotion. We believe God is at work healing and restoring marriages that the enemy has been tearing apart!

If you haven't had a chance yet, be sure to visit my blog where I share some scriptures you can pray for your husband - from head to toe.

Also, anonymous asked for more direction about the application Step: Don't point out his mistakes, just fill in the gap.

Example: My husband tends to forget his t-shirt on the floor by his bedside. It used to drive me crazy!!! I used to complain and criticize. Now, I see it as a way to serve him so I just pick it up, throw in the laundry and thank God that sweet forgetful man that sleeps by my side each night. I also thank him for my husband's willingness to serve me in so many ways that I don't even see.

My husband has made some costly financial mistakes. Instead of reminding him, I try to encourage him when he make a wise decision. We all make mistakes. Love covers them.

I hope those examples help. Bless my husband's heart for letting me share his shortcomings with the world. :->

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How are you to a respect someone that never shows any emtions good or bad. He choose other things to cover his pain or feelings. I want to obey the Lord it's just hard. We are in desparate need of prayers.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a number that someone at Proverbs can be reached at to talk more private

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My good friend just signed me up to receive P31 devotionals. How amazing that the first one I read is about marrriage and loving and respecting your husband more. There have been struggles in our marriage, we are celebrating 24 years though and I am thankful for husband God has blessed me with. I know that I need to spend more time in prayer and encouragment for my husband . Thankyou for the important reminder, I know God will bless our decisions to be faithful to Him.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a wife carting a lot of pain. God knows I long for a friendship(s). Today after Father's Day Church Service, the church had a BBQ lunch. I had (3) hungry sons with me they could smell the hamburgers, I was starving for fellowship for myself and husband and 3 boys. My husband screamed at us we had to leave church to come home for ongoing remodel work. This is a clear example of my life and I have decided I need to find and trust someone at church to talk to in person. I love Proverbs 31 ministry and thank you all so much for saying and doing what you do. The tears stream down my face now and I can relate to so many of the comments after 11 years of this marriage we all do run out of energy.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the deveotions. Its hard and painful as we struggle in our marriage. Only God is my pillar and hope and I pray for spiritual that help me see.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Approaching 42 years of marriage, I can see & feel the pain of years past in the blogs. Can I say we have attained our marriage goals? In truth, no. I can say that we function together better most days. My spouse now finally leads us to worship. My spouse has the final word on many things. On the inside of one of the Bibles here in my home is a place where I wrote that I had mistaken trust for indifference. I pray for you "young" wives in this journey.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rene, this was so helpful for me. I needed to read this. I needed to feel this. I'm very grateful God guided me here. :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i need God to help me as i do not love or respect my husband. i have only been married 4 months and i realize that i do not know how to love him. I hope God can show me.

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