Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Nina Roesner’s 40-day devotional, The Respect Dare.
Standing and waiting on Bob and Joan’s front porch, Janda realized they apparently hadn’t heard the doorbell ring. Nor were they aware that Joan’s voice was coming over the intercom at the front door as they set up the crib.
“That’s not right, it pops up here first! No, not like that, like this! No, push that side in first, and then pull it up. Bob, you’re still not doing it right.”
The wife’s comments nipped at Janda’s ears as she waited and grew more uncomfortable. She rang the doorbell again.
“Go get the door, and I’ll just do this myself!”
The man, clearly irritated, answered the door.
“Bob, it’s good to see you!” Janda smiled. “I just wanted to drop dinner off for you and your wife. How’s the new baby?” He smiled and launched into a story about life with a newborn, and she could see him relaxing.
About five minutes later, his wife came to the door.
“Oh, thank you for bringing dinner!” she said. “Bob, you better get that in the refrigerator. The lettuce will wilt if it gets warm.”
His brow furrowed, his lips pursed a bit, he nodded at Janda and left. She felt sorry for the guy. Here’s a man who daily runs a crew of 30 guys on a construction job, and his wife talks to him like he’s a 5-year-old.
In the car on her way home, Janda grimaced as she remembered someone asking her at a social gathering about 10 years before, “How many children do you have?” “Three, if you count my husband,” Janda had replied. Since then, she had heard similar responses from many women over the years. She was sure that back then, her behavior matched her attitude. How could it be that she could think about her own husband as if he were a child? She felt a twang of guilt and remorse for her actions. She also realized that Joan was on the same path in her marriage.
Janda was thankful she had learned that her behavior was rooted in disrespect and that it was not honoring to her or her husband.
Bottom line: Think about and treat your husband as the man God created him to be. If you do, your husband will feel more respected by you and your marriage will improve.
So what about you?
1. Ask your husband if he feels like you have ever treated him like a child. Ask him how this made him feel, and apologize. How has treating him like this been harmful to your marriage and to him?
2. Can you remember your mother, sisters, or friends talking about their husbands as though these men were inferior? How has this impacted families?
3. Make a list of eight things that wives in general can do to make their husbands feel like men.
4. Pick two things from the eight things that you feel would benefit your husband’s esteem the most and circle them.
5. Either schedule these activities or do them today, without exceptions. What specifically are you going to do and when? Write it down.
Often we give to others with the expectation that our gift will be rewarded. Recognize that this type of giving is not a true gift if it is actually “sold” for praise or appreciation. Christ gave the gift of His life for ours by dying on the cross. Before that, He repeatedly gave healing, teaching, and food to those in need without expectation of payment or even appreciation. His behavior is the perfect example of love. It is God’s love for us, brought to life in the man of Christ Jesus.
From this day forward, when you experience resentment or disappointment due to your husband’s reaction or lack of reaction, consider those feelings cues of expectation for you. Choose in those moments to change your attitude, loving without expectation, as God did through Jesus Christ.
Pray for God’s help in doing this.
On FamilyLife Today®, Nina Roesner talks about how learning to respect her husband was the first step in learning to love him well. She also explains that when a woman speaks a man’s language of respect, he will reciprocate in kind with the love she craves, and how she learned this lesson the hard way.