Love and Respect
Showing Love and Respect
Consider the difference between love and respect in a marriage. Since they are such close cousins, the differences are subtle and confusing at times. Maybe this is why we usually only hear about love in a marriage. But if they weren’t different, Peter and Paul wouldn’t have consistently listed them separately. There has to be something there.
Christian and non-Christian websites however list many ways for husbands to show love to their wives, and for wives to show respect toward their husband. The previous links list 100 ways each. Following are three examples from each. A little experimentation and trial & error will tell you what works best for him or her.
How to show love
- Affirmation – “Lots of it. Soft, tender, thoughtful, unexpected, meaningful, heartfelt affirmation delivered with no sexual demands attached. That’s difficult for a man, you score big when we make our goal unconditional affirmation—no strings attached. Your aim is to make your wife feel loved, valued, cherished, and affirmed as the love of your life.”
- Physical – “Hug and kiss her every morning before leaving the house. Research indicates that marriages that practice this simple discipline are much healthier than those that don’t.”
- Pray – Initiate daily prayer with her. “This one spiritual discipline has transformed millions of marriages. Begin by giving thanks for her and your family, then pray with her about her worries and challenges. Ask her to pray for you about a challenge you are facing. A good husband prays for his wife, a great husband prays with his wife.”
How to show respect
- Ask his Opinion – “Guys in particular crave to be looked at as a leader–someone whose ideas are important. Guys want to know you are interested in what they think. He feels respected when you care about how he thinks and feels. Then when you take the time to listen, it’s even more powerful. He will feel deeply valued by you.”
- Cheer him on – “When you cheer on your man, you are breathing life into his soul.”
- Let him speak – “When you put words into a guy’s mouth, you’ll only show him you think he doesn’t know what to say. There are going to be many times he wants you to know what he’s feeling, but he is just going to need a little more time actually getting it out. You can however, repeat back to him what you heard him say, so you both are on the same page.”
As you read down the longer lists of loving and respecting actions, it’s obvious that showing both love and respect to each other will bring your relationship even closer. While a husband’s greatest need may be for his wife’s respect, he would never shun her love. Conversely, while the wife’s foremost need from her husband may be love, she is due his respect as well. Aretha Franklin put these two together by placing her popular song “R-E-S-P-E-C-T? right after “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You.”
Encouragement of Husbands and Wives
An example of love vs respect in action, as well as the power it wields, can be found in the story of two couples attending the same church that hear of the same mission trip opportunity. The wife of the first couple responds by telling her husband they need to do this and signs them up. The wife of the second couple looks at her husband and asks “do you think this would be a good thing for us to do?” The mission trip was indeed a good thing for both couples to do, they both signed up and both went. Which couple, however, was living the curse where the wife was taking her husband’s role? Which husband felt empowered to do the right and best thing for them? Which husband, who may have been spiritually weak, was given the opportunity and was encouraged to grow? Some may call this leading from behind but this story illustrates how a respecting wife can encourage her husband to grow into the man and leader she wants and needs him to be. It shows two other things as well. One, that God does not leave the wife powerless to just take whatever her husband dishes out, or does not have to offer. And two, it shows how husbands & wives, working together, can help each other grow to become the man and woman, husband and wife, that God intends them to be. That’s living the dream.
Symbolism of the Church
God uses symbolism throughout the entire Bible and maybe this is exactly what God had in mind in making the curse and it’s antidote. We know God doesn’t just do things ad hoc, but every action is planned through to the end of time and for our best interest. In this case, it’s marriage being an example of the relationship between God and the church.
Ephesians 5:22-33 22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. [emphasis added]
Paul talks about the marriage relationship between man and woman and ends it by saying in verse 32 “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Notice how the admonition in the very next breath Paul says “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” It’s all part of that same mystery…or maybe not so mysterious any more.
To the Unmarried
This series of articles deals with the married or otherwise “paired”, but scripture also speaks to the unmarried. Take heart, God has not left you behind.
To the widowed and divorced
God will care for you. While not flesh & blood, what better care could one have in life?
Psalm 146: 9 The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow…
Psalm 68:5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Remember the good things from the relationship. There is much said and agreed upon about happy memories improving your outlook on life. Even the rockiest of marriages surely had some good times to look back on. Look back on those things. “Remembering happy things from the past can improve mood and increase happiness.”
Account the bad times to the curse. We are all cursed. That goes for your spouse. While it doesn’t excuse them, it does explain the reason for their bad actions. And just as remembering the good things of our past improves our mood, dwelling on the bad things of the past would do just the opposite, taking us down the path of bitterness and ultimately depression. Remember that Jesus forgave us while we were yet sinners, and casts our sins as far as the east is from the west. We can only strive to do as much for our spouse.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Psalm 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
To the unmarried
Scripture has some things to offer to the unmarried.
God Himself will make us each complete…with no curse attached!
Colossians 2:10 and in Him you have been made complete,
God will provide the love we each need. This would be a perfect love.
John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”
Above all, wait for the proper time for the proper spouse.
Song of Solomon 3:5 “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the wild does: do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!”
We are each incomplete by ourselves.
We are completed through the action of marriage.
Because of the curse we struggle with each other.
God offers an antidote to the curse through love and respect so we can Live the Dream!
To continue reading see Living God’s Dream Marriage or Enduring His Curse? Part Four Discussion Questions