We women are very good at pointing out our husbands’ faults and failures and punishing them for not meeting our needs, but that only leads to discontent and distance in our marriages. We all know that yelling, nagging, and belittling are disrespectful and ineffective. So I’m suggesting a radical concept: Treat him like a king, and eventually, he will begin to treat you like a queen.
Instead of waiting for him earn your respect, behave respectfully and watch him grow into the man God designed him to be.
Twenty-five years ago, our marriage was on the brink of divorce. I was controlling, critical, and disrespectful, so Ron was defensive and angry. We were both Christians, but neither of us was living a Spirit-filled life. I was letting my emotions determine my actions and thought it was Ron’s job to make me happy. But through a series of miracles (read my book Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome for the whole story) we made a decision to rebuild our marriage.
We went to a Christian counselor who read Ephesians 5:33: “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband,” and said, “Nancy, the only way you will win Ron back and stay married is if you begin to respect your husband.” I knew he was right so I swallowed hard and came up with a plan. Here are three of the ways I began to respect Ron: They are easy to remember because they spell out the goal—to treat him like a V.I.P.
Respect Him Verbally, Intellectually, and Physically.
Cut out (ok … cut back) complaining and add in compliments.
If you want to have a peaceful, happy marriage, learn the art of the compliment. Compliments are like magnets and the more you compliment your husband, the more he will be attracted to you. Begin to notice when he does things right and verbally encourage him by complimenting him at least once a day. If you are having a hard time thinking of anything to admire, consider these categories: physical traits, mental skills, financial strengths, spiritual growth, or healthy relationships with others (children, parents, or friends).
You may be asking “Hey, why should I compliment him when he never compliments me?” Because if you want your marriage to grow and bloom, you’ll have to water it with kindness and encouragement. Then, as he sees your sincere efforts, he will begin to change too. Don’t give up.
If you do need to bring up a difficult issue, place it between two compliments, also known as a “Compliment Sandwich.” Here’s an example, “Honey, I know how hard you work for our money and that Sally’s braces will be expensive, but I need your decision before her appointment tomorrow. I hope we can do this for her, but if you want to wait, I trust your judgment. What should I tell the orthodontist?”
Men like to solve problems and fix things. So appeal to his intelligence by asking him to help you solve a problem. Instead of saying, “This garage is a mess, clean up your camping stuff!” Try, “I’d like your help with something. Could you figure out a storage system for all the camping supplies?”
Don’t imply that he isn’t smart. Instead of saying, “I think you are wrong about … ” Say, “I’m confused about … please explain it again.” (Remember to keep your tone of voice sarcasm-free.)
Request his help on spiritual matters, too. Ask him to explain a passage of Scripture or ask him to pray for you when you are going through a difficult time. If your husband is not the spiritual leader in your home, continue to pray for him and ask him if there is anything you are doing that is hindering his relationship with God.
Men don’t give a lot of weight to feelings—show them facts and they’ll be more likely to listen. For example: If he wants to buy a car that you think is too expensive, don’t launch into a hissy-fit. Write out your monthly expenses and ask him what other things should be cut out in order to buy his car. Let the facts speak for you.
When you cannot reach an agreement, instead of trying to wear him down by nagging or crying say, “Is that your final decision or can I still try to convince you?” If it’s his final decision, then honor it. It’s freeing—let him carry the responsibility of your family.
Ask what he would like you to do and then do it. Find out what his top three needs are. Ron likes the laundry done, sex at least twice a week (guaranteed!), and he likes me to keep my “girly-make-up stuff” off of the bathroom counter. If these top needs are met, he’s content and easy to get along with. I know it sounds simple, but each of us have different things that make us feel loved and appreciated. You won’t know what he wants unless you ask him.
Be aware of your body language. You can communicate disrespect by rolling your eyes, crossing your arms, or slamming doors. Reflect your new decision to respect your husband in your heart, mind, and body.
Change Your Attitude and Actions
Respect is both a verb and a noun—an action and an attitude. So begin today to respect your husband in thought, word, and deed. He will be more willing and able to give you the love and affection you need if he is respected and admired. When I began to respect my husband, he was skeptical at first. However as he saw that I was committed to change, he began to treat me differently—lovingly. We now teach at couples’ events, helping others discover the blessings of true love in action.
From Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome, © 2004 by Nancy C. Anderson. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. All rights reserved.