Love, Respect and Admiration
Tracie Miles

"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)

When I married my wonderful husband twenty years ago, I fully intended to unconditionally love, respect and admire him. I had great intentions of being the perfect wife, with sweet words, a romantic kiss and dinner on the table every evening. But then careers took off, bills increased, children were born, laundry piles grew, and life got chaotic. Along the way I subconsciously created a measuring stick of expectations for whether my husband actually deserved my love and respect.

When marriage doesn't meet the unrealistic expectations we imagine before the wedding, and real life kicks in, women can inadvertently get lured into tearing down their husbands, and their marriages as well.

In fact, the longer couples are together, the easier it becomes to not only see each other's flaws, but to mercilessly criticize them. This eventually leads to low tolerances, short tempers, minimal patience, and a woeful lack of marital bliss. As a result, those gifts of unconditional love, respect and admiration that were once offered so freely become gifts that we are not so willing to offer at all.

A few months ago I picked up The Man Whisperer, written by my friend and author Rick Johnson. The title intrigued me, as I was anxious to rekindle some passion in my own marriage Little did I know that God would use the truths shared in this book to step on my toes and cause me to take an inward look.

Many relationship topics are covered, but as I read, God convicted my heart about things I had said to my husband just days earlier. As I recalled some of the critical comments that had rolled off my tongue so easily, I became overwhelmed with regret and disappointment. I had fallen into a bad habit of tearing down my man with my words, not fully realizing the toll it was taking on him. Most importantly, I began to realize the powerful influence I have on my husband and marriage by simply choosing words that encourage, instead of discourage.

As women, we have the power to build up or tear down our husbands every day, merely by the respect we give and the amount of faith we let him know we have in him. Respect and admiration are two of the most powerful tools a woman has to influence her husband. I realized I had fallen short lately in giving those two precious gifts to my man.

I prayed, asking God to help me control my tongue and fill my heart and mouth with words that would make my husband feel appreciated, admired, respected and loved, regardless of whether I felt he deserved it. I prayed that God would convict my heart when critical thoughts crept into my mind, and help me avoid the temptation to say them out loud.

Within just a few weeks, I saw a change - in me, in my husband's demeanor, and in our relationship: a change that rekindled that unconditional love, respect and admiration that I set out to give him all along, and that I also wanted in return.

Through a wife's gifts of unconditional love, respect, and admiration, we can help our husbands become the great men that God created them to be, and in turn, create the marriages we always dreamed of.

Dear Lord, help me to tame my tongue and focus on building up my man. Help me break free of the habit to criticize, even when warranted. Open my eyes to the positive, not the negative. Draw us closer, and help us both nurture a strong and loving marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Tracie’s blog for more about this topic and to enter for a chance to win an audio CD by Rick Johnson called Power Tools for Women

The Man Whisperer by Rick Johnson

What a Husband Needs from His Wife and/or What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood

Love Notes on His Pillow: And Other Everyday Ways to Keep Your Love Alive by Linda J. Gilden

Application Steps:
Think about how important your husband's love is to you and consider that your respect means just as much to him.

If your marriage seems strained right now, think about your conversations with your husband lately. Have your comments been encouraging and uplifting, or discouraging and destructive?

Instead of chocolates this Valentine's day, give your husband what he really desires- respect, admiration and love.

Am I in the habit of tearing down my husband?

Do our daily conversations leave him feeling respected and admired, or unrespected and criticized?

Power Verses:
Genesis 2:24, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (NIV)

1 Corinthians 13:2-7, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (ESV)

James 3:5b-6a, "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body." (NIV)

© 2010 Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the line between being supportive and becoming a "rug". Often books I read are all about the woman submitting, and assumming all the responsibility of building her husbands ego. They read as if all the marriage problems can be fixed by the women being submissive and forgiving. How many times are we to set back like Stepford wives and watch our husbands make mistakes and then just say, it's ok honey, you'll get it next times---7 x 7, I assume. But, in the meantime my husband completely ignores any converations or suggestions I make like I'm a dumb bunny. Any suggestions appreciated.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great reminder. I know that God is using my husband to humble me and to grow patience in my life. My husband doesn't always listen to my suggestions either but does more now than in the past because God has helped me to show respect even during those I- told- you- so moments.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God's timing is always on time and boy did this one hit home this am. My husband and I just completed a very heated discussion about the very topics covered in today's devotion. I needed this message greatly. In addition to making a personal effort to seek God's guidance in betting a better wife I am also going to the book store -today! Thank you for being God's voice and tool for me today!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a timely devotional. I too have been convicted lately of things in my own attitude that needed to change regarding my marriage & my husband. The Lord laid it on my heart how much I need to concentrate on the beam in my own eye and leave the speck (which I sometimes want to see as a beam) in my husband's eye to Him. I have begun praying for the Lord to help me focus on being the wife He wants me to be and that my husband deserves and leaving my husband and his attitudes in the Lord's hands. I keep remembering a comment our pastor made in a sermon that in essence was "Even when he or she does or doesn't do certain things, love them anyway". I keep trying to focus on my own attitude. The Lord is blessing my efforts and I can see changes in my attitudes and in my husband's response and attitudes. Man, marriage sure takes a lot of work, but it's worth it. No I don't have it all worked out yet, and will pray to remain a work in progress under the Lord's direction. It's amazing how many little things that used to bother me so much just don't seem to matter when I put the Lord in control. Thank you for sharing.

Blogger T-Reese said...

Awesome word, thank you. We often forget how to show Love, Respect and Admiration for our husbands especially when we feel that they "need" to do things. This was a great reminder of what God designed for us in marriage.

Blogger horseprariechatter said...

I also pray that somewhere, someone would clarify the boundaries between a supportive spouse and a door mat. I agree with the devotional that we need to check our tongues and our thoughts before we spiel off tirades about flaws and imperfections, that our spouses deserve our love and respect, and too often we need to be reminded of that. Loving our neighbor as our self first applies at home, and that love should be unconditional, but in a relationship, that unconditional love/loving someone as one loves herself isn't intended to be one-sided. May God clear these muddied waters.

Such good stuff Tracie! That ole' tongue can be a stinker sometimes! Thank you for this reminder to love our hubby no matter how we are feeling about it at the time. So glad mine loves me when I don't deserve it too.

Lee Ann

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think any woman who feels like a doormat is doing much spouting off to her husband. That is why it is unhealthy. Health is respectful disagreement A doormat will not disagree or have thoughts of her own that she will verbalize. But God chooses to lead through the husband not the wife as it says in Ephesians5:23 "The husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is Head of the church." But there can and should be healthy, respectful trading of ideas. If the husband chooses not to listen to his wife, then we wives have to respect that and let them fall on their faces. Because they are responsible to God for leadership, wives are not. Ephesians 5:21 "Submit yourselves one to another." This verse should help men to listen but sometimes they just have to take their lumps.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you do when the table is turned in the other direction? When it's your husband that talks very abusive towards you and degrading you all at the same time.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is about both parties working together to make a marriage work. One person cannot do the work of two. It takes two willing people.

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