I had the privilege of speaking at a bridal shower a couple of weeks ago, and was able to share about a burden that God has been laying heavily on my heart lately - wives respecting our husbands. God has brought a wonderful marriage book into my life that has revolutionized how I view my relationship with my husband - it's called Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Since God has given me this platform as well, I thought I'd share my (edited) devotional here, too.
A godly marriage is such a blessing. It is so amazing to see how God puts two people together who complement each other in so many ways, and are able to serve Him more perfectly as a couple and eventually, as a family, than they would as two single people. Marriage is a gift from God. That may be very easy for you to remember right now, but, far in the future, I hope, there may come a day where it might not be so easy for you to see things that way.
1 Corinthians 7:28 says that 'those who marry will face trouble' - meaning that you will have troubles in marriage. That doesn't sound very encouraging to a new bride, right? Well, maybe it doesn't now, but someday when you and your husband have an argument, maybe it will encourage you to remember that it is completely normal, and that even the Bible says that we will occasionally have troubles in our marriages. That's because every human relationship, including that of a husband and a wife, is made up of two sinners. Sinners saved by grace, but still sinners who occasionally act selfishly.
Ephesians 5:33 speaks of how should treat each other. The husband's responsibility is to love his wife and cherish her. The wife's responsibility is to respect her husband. Loving comes naturally to us wives. But respect is AS important to our husbands as love is to us wives - when we disrespect our husbands in the way we talk to or about them, it is a slap in the face - in their minds, it is just as if we had said, "I don't love you." So it is important for us to know what respect is. The dictionary defines respecting someone as: holding them in high esteem or honor, and showing regard or consideration for them. We expect our husbands to love us unconditionally, and we are commanded likewise to respect them unconditionally - not only when they 'earn' our respect.
I remember very clearly one time, before my Hubby and I were married, I was complaining to his mother about something he had done that had annoyed me. She told me then that the most important thing she had learned over the course of her marriage is that a wife should NEVER speak negatively to others about her husband, because this disrespects him and hurts him so deeply. I will never forget her telling me about this principle - she believes it so strongly! Now, whenever I am tempted to complain to others about my husband (or to join others in complaining about our husbands), I always remember her words. (Sidenote - this is also why I choose not to use my blog as a platform to bash my husband - that would be so hurtful and disrespectful to him!)
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs wrote a marriage book called Love and Respect, which teaches how to apply this principle of unconditional respect for your husband in your marriage. In this book, he takes this principle even one step further- he says that it is our responsibility to THINK the best of our husbands. Think about it - if negative thoughts about your husband are not filling your head, they can't accidentally come out in conversation.
Dr. Eggerichs explains how this principle plays out in his own life in this quote from page 22 of his book: "I have decided to believe that my wife, Sarah, does not intend to be disrespectful. Oh, she can be nasty at times, but that isn't how she truly feels in her heart. I know she respects who I am deep inside. And Sarah has decided to believe that I do not intend to be unloving, though I still hurt her at times with my comments or attitudes. She knows that in my heart I love her deeply and would even die for her." When we remember that our spouses really do have loving hearts and good intentions towards us, it is easier to discuss what's really bothering us, forgive them for the ways they have hurt us, move forward and grow in our marriage relationship and, consequently, in our relationship with God.
So I'd like to challenge you tonight, as you begin your marriage, begin on the right foot. With God's help, you and your husband can both put each other first, and choose to love and respect each other unconditionally the way God designed. And when you do, God will be honored. And you will be the happiest couple in the world.
So I have a challenge for all of us married ladies tonight - myself included. Think of something about your husband that you respect - maybe something he does for you and your family, maybe a character quality that you admire about him, just anything that you respect about him. Go give him a kiss, tell him you love him, and then tell him, "I respect you so much because ________." And see how he responds. Let's all revolutionize our marriages with unconditional respect for our husbands, and let's start tonight.