The Unfortunate Truth About Respect

A horrible truth dawned upon me recently.

No, the truth didn’t dawn. It sprang.

And I’m still struggling in its teeth.

You know this thing called marriage? One man, one woman, one flesh, for life? The husband in charge, as ordained by God, the wife submitted to his authority?

I understand this. It makes sense. My husband and I are a team, but someone has to lead. I’d rather it be he than me, because I certainly don’t want to shoulder his responsibilities or his accountability to God.

Except. . . I didn’t understand it. Not like I should have.

Here’s the truth that will not let me go: I do not get to define respect. That’s my husband’s job.

If I do and say things that feel disrespectful to him, then I have been disrespectful, even if it feels harmless and inconsequential to me. He is allowed to make the respect call.

I don’t know why I haven’t seen my inconsistency before. I know that parents, not children, define what is respectful and what is not. God, not humans, decides what is obedience and what is not. The courts, not criminals, declare what is law-abiding and what is not.

With authority comes the power to decide when that authority is being challenged.

I sometimes live as if a wife is the exception to this rule. When my husband says it feels like I’m challenging his decision, I brush it off and say I didn’t mean it that way at all. When my actions make him think his opinion didn’t matter, I claim he’s not being understanding enough.

I’ve been wrong.

He is allowed to decide when he feels respected and when he does not. This doesn’t suit me. I’d rather that my husband be understanding and conciliatory: Of course you didn’t mean to be disrespectful, my dear. I misunderstood you. Forgive me.

On second thought—no. I’d rather my husband be strong than weak, even if he stomps on my opinions.

To live under his definition of respect means I have to consider my actions and words from his perspective. I have to accept the truth that sometimes, even when I mean well, I am flat-out wrong.

This still doesn’t suit me.

But why do I fight it? He is a good man, better than I deserve, and he is no tyrant. He loves me, a fact I still struggle to believe. Besides, in marriage (and in everything else), God’s way works better than any other way, every time.

The unfortunate truth about respect is that I’ve been wrong about it far too long. I’ve been choosing to respect him according to my standards instead of his. But it is God’s standard that truly matters, and God who receives the glory when a husband and a wife live beautifully together. I want my husband not only to hear that I respect him, but also to feel it, to know it, and to never doubt it.


Five Easy Ways to Change a Husband

Now, I’ve only been married nine years, five months, and four days, so I’m not claiming to be an expert on marriage or husbands—especially not on yours. But I have picked up a few battlefield tactics in the trenches of our marriage, and I’d like to pass them on to you.

You know how it goes. You get married knowing that this man’s your best friend, your soul mate. He’s got a few flaws, yes, but nothing that a wife can’t handle with grace and love.

After a while, the wife is handling it with grace. Lots of grace.

Then, she is handling it, but barely.

Finally, it becomes unavoidable: The man has got to change.

Here are five sure-fire ways to change him.

1. Nag

Remind him over and over that you do not like to unball his socks, find his keys, scrub toothpaste out of the sink. He’s a big boy; he can clean up after himself. And that honey-do list—keep the pressure up with daily reminders, and in times of dire need, accost him the instant he walks in the door.

2. Comment Publicly

Mention his shortcomings when you’re with friends. Laugh a little after you say it, so everyone can tell that you didn’t mean it. Everyone, that is, but him. He’ll know you meant it, and your message will be perfectly clear.

This one is also known as shaming.

3. Compare

Nothing inspires a man like being compared to all the fabulous, sensitive husbands out there, husbands vastly unlike him. If you combine #2 and #3 by doing your comparison in public, you may find it even more effective. Don’t forget to laugh a little.

4. Stop Talking

If he doesn’t want to please you by changing, then make your unhappiness known with a brooding silence. Talk and text with others a lot to make your silence with him all the more clear. Expect him to understand exactly why you are no longer talking to him.

5. Lash Out

Every time he asks something of you, snap at him. Resent his refusal to change until it spills out of you with little provocation. Cut him down to size. Snarl at him when he acts innocent. Get angry when he points out your flaws. You are the injured party here—never forget that.

Will this work? Absolutely. If you follow these tips, you will succeed.

He will change.

He will no longer be your best friend and soul mate.