Marriage Missions International

Respect Your Husband – Even If He Doesn’t Deserve It

My husband, Ron, admits that he used to be jerk, but I discovered a secret formula that turned him into a loving husband: I started treating him like a VIP! Ron always wanted me to respect him, but I thought he had to earn it and I had to feel it, before I could do it. Wrong.

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 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.

Verbally: 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 it 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?” It’s 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?”

Intellectually:
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.

Physically:
Physically 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 a 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.

Ask the Lord to strengthen you as you obey His word.

Remember:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)


The above article is adapted from the great book, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome: How to Grow Affair Proof Hedges Around Your Marriage, by Nancy C Anderson, published by Kregel Publications. This book was written by a woman who strayed to the other side of the marital fence — and returned to find forgiveness and restoration. Based on the principle that the grass is always greener where it’s watered, this book focuses on how to grow a beautiful marriage in your own backyard by establishing six protective “hedges” around it. Because Nancy Anderson nearly ruined her marriage due to infidelity, she truly knows the misery that an affair can cause. This really is a very good book for every Christian couple to read! We highly recommend it.

Author Nancy C Anderson and her husband Ron, speak nationally to couples’ groups of all denominations. They share their message of hope and restoration with tenderness and humor. If you live in the United States and would like for them to speak with your group please contact them at www.RonAndNancyAnderson.com. You may also want to visit their blog at www.joyfulmarriage.blogspot.com.

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Comments

157 Responses to “Respect Your Husband – Even If He Doesn’t Deserve It”
  1. Mia says:

    (USA)  I love my husband, but I don’t feel like I can respect him anymore. It is hard for me to find something nice to say about him. We talked about the problems we were having in our relationship & promised each other that we wouldn’t disrespect each other, curse, yell,or hang up on each other when we are on the phone.

    Needless to say, he breaks all 3 promises in less than a week. I’m at the point of just leaving because I don’t feel connected to him at all. To top it off, he had another woman on his voicemail & told me he didn’t know her (liar). Whenever I ask him a question about something that is not quite right, he brings up trust to make it seem like I don’t believe in him. I’m out of ideas & hope. Please help someone…

    • Shae says:

      (UNITED STATES)  Why dote on him if he doesn’t give you the time of day, and doesn’t respect your relationship? He sounds like a self absorbed jerk.

  2. Shae says:

    (US)  No, no, no, no, no. Respect is a two way street. If he doesn’t repect you then he doesn’t deserve you… end of topic.

  3. Marcus says:

    (US)  I didn’t read all the comments but just a few has me really shaking my head. God bless this author, her husband is a lucky man. I’m no way shape or form a male chauvinist, but if today women would ever stop being so defensive they would understand how much more happier they could be. God created man 1st; so to say why do we have to respect them if they’re not deserving is saying “God, you messed up you should have made us women first!..?”

    What the author is trying to say is if your man has Christian roots or even better, Christian potential, you can place a manufacturer reset placed on his life. A little respect will go a tremendous way with a man, if the woman is sincerely giving it.

    A wife needs undying love from her husband but it is almost impossible for a man to do that without the respect he needs to operate. (It’s our fuel.) You need the vehicle to get to “destination love.” Put fuel in the engine. Pray that God makes him into the man you need if he’s not there yet, but be a honest Christian believer… and in the mean time allow your husband to be your Lord. 1 Peter 3:6

  4. Karin says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA)  Hi, I really like your website. My husband only respected me while we were dating. I am saved, but he swears at me, threatens to hit me etc. He says that I am dark, fat and old. I pray so much for him but how must God work in his life if above all of the man has a drinking and a drug problem. Divorce does not please God, but what must I do?

  5. Karin says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA)  Hi, I really like your website. My husband only respected me while we were dating. I am saved, but he swears at me, threatens to hit me etc. He says that I am dark, fat and old. I pray so much for him but how must God work in his life if above all of the man has a drinking and a drug problem. Divorce does not please God, but what must I do? Things are aso bad that I know this man never loved me, how do I correct my mistake?

  6. Heather says:

    (USA)  I had a break through today when I came across the story of Mary and Martha. My husband has not been pulling his weight when it comes to companionship in our marriage and I’ve been feeling pretty lonely (sad, when I have Jesus) and sorry for myself. After I read that story I realized that I need to be spending more time with the Lord. Then I laughed because I will learn how to respond to my husband the way the Lord wants, plus me putting up with my husband only means I will be receiving more blessings in Heaven, as long as I respond wisely to my husband’s silence or anger. So keep it up women! We will be rewarded. :)

    • Shea says:

      (CANADA)  YAY Heather! God bless you on your breakthrough!…God is So faithful and His ways are SO much higher than ours. Love and honor win- ALWAYS!!! And you WILL see “fruit” that you never imagined. I can relate from personal testimony… turning my own “nagging Martha” into a “love-at-the-feet-of-Jesus” Mary.

      You will find as you yield to the wise counsel of the Holy Spirit, that a deep love will be forged in your heart for your husband as a result. You won’t be just “putting up” with your husband. If you ask the Father to help you to see your husband as He sees him, you will find yourself in deep gratitude for the gifts that He has given you in your man, and you will also find more “unexpected treasure” waiting to be “unlocked” …treasures that can only be unlocked through a commitment of deep, enduring love.

      The scriptures tell us that when we respond to God in difficult circumstances He builds enduring character in our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience… be multiplied to you! Standing with you cheering you on! (Hebrews 12)

      Also, I love this quote from Graham Cooke, “Receive courage and strength from the Holy Spirit. Take your heart into a place where it can be touched by God.”

  7. David says:

    (INDIA)  I treated my wife like a queen. It was like I even kept my hands under her feet when she walked. I even gave her a quarter of a million $ for her higher studies. And yet, she never respected me, never wore dresses of my choice, never loved me like I wanted her to love, and gave importance to her family and her friends more than me.

    I never spoke to any girl as I did her in my entire life. I thought I would love only 1 person after my marriage. But she betrayed me. She was having an affair with her professor well before the wedding and never told me. She took my money and filed for divorce. I shall get my divorce in JAN 2012.

    Every day I curse her. I ask GOD, is this the price I pay for being nice and honest? I am a highly emotional man. I have hidden this secret from all my friends for the past 17 months. I burn everyday. I cry every day. She was with me for 15 months.

    When I did not pay her fees she was very nice and even begged me mercy to pay her fees. Once they were paid, she showed her true colors. Is there justice in this world? The wicked make merry and the nice ones suffer! Is it a crime to be nice and honest??

    My mom is very worried about me. She is ailing to see my sadness and down spirit. Can somebody guide me?

  8. Cheyanne says:

    (SINGAPORE)  Hi, Is there such a thing as ‘personal life’ in a marriage? My husband told me not to pry into his personal life when he doesn’t pry into mine. Is there such a thing in a marriage? I don’t hide anything that is of interest from him but it seems for him he can share it on Facebook n friends but not with me. How do I handle this? Is it midlife crisis? We’re 44 years old, 20 years of marriage.

    • Cindy Wright says:

      (USA) If your husband wanted a “private” life he should have stayed single. It’s not that you can’t each have things that you individually enjoy. That actually can make you more interesting and feel more fulfilled if you’re allowed some space to sometimes to pursue personal interests, but it should NEVER be at the expense of the marriage. If it is damaging to the marriage, it shouldn’t be a part of your life any longer.

      I enjoy artistic things and certain sentimental movies. But they can bore my husband. Why should I have him take part in these things? Instead, he gives me the grace and space to sometimes pursue these things without him. He enjoys other hobbies and more graphic movies, which bore me and don’t interest me, in the least. Why would he make me attend such things, and why wouldn’t I let him sometimes enjoy them? So we allow each other the space to sometimes pursue these things with other (marriage-friendly) friends and/or family. And when either one of us is able to partake of such things, we’re more fulfilled and enjoy the rest of the time with each other, all the more. But those hobbies and interests are NOT pursued at times which override the needs of the other spouse. Our marriage comes first.

      Secrets are for kids to play around with, not those who are mature and have grown up to the point where they have vowed to love, honor, and cherish –forsaking all others, in marriage TOGETHER. Facebook, apart from the spouse, can be exceedingly dangerous. We should not be viewing or texting or calling or emailing someone our spouse wouldn’t be allowed to be a part of. And that’s the truth.

      I’m sad for you Cheyanne. Your husband is taking advantage of your marital partnership and is dragging it where it shouldn’t go. Deep in his heart he knows that. But he has worked up a way to figure out a way to justify what he shouldn’t be doing (to him and to you) because he wants what he wants, how and when he wants it, and he’s willing to hurt you to get it. How I hope he wakes up and sees that a secret life is not a good thing when it hurts his marriage partner. My heart and prayers go out to you.

  9. Rose says:

    (S.AFRICA)  Cheyanne, A happy marriage should be open and honest in ALL respects. The moment that your husband starts with demands for his “private” or “personal life” …beware. Face Book is highly additive and dangerous. THOSE WHO HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE HIDE NOTHING. Trust me, I have been there and the warning bells should be ringing for you.

  10. Annie says:

    (USA)  I’ve been married to a man for almost a yr now. & we’ve been together (dating + marriage) for about 1 & half now. It’s short but all this time we broke up & got back together million times… mostly because he did me wrong in so many ways. But he always came back begging he would change.

    So the last time I took him back he really did try but because of all the hurt from the past I always gave him a hard time, and disrespected him and nagged and complained ALL the time. So we separated again, this was just 2 months after him proposing to me too.

    He took it for about 2 months and he says he’s sick of it and he doesn’t want to be with me. He wants to get out…
    unless I start respecting and NOT one more word of disrepect or putting him down. While he was blowing up, he calls me all the worse names in the world, and he’s a violent person when he’s mad, and he admits it…

    Am I supposed to forgive for all the things and the way he mistreated me while he was angry, since I’m the one who messed up by not being nice? Even if I was nagging everyday, is this still worth keeping if he gives up on me within 2 months because I complain and nag and he’s being nice? I thought marriage was through good and bad. i just don’t know if this is fair of him. Is putting a ring on my finger a joke?

  11. Nono says:

    (ZAR)  I have been married and staying with my husband for 25 years. We have beautiful kids who love the Lord. I do not know whether to say my husband is vindictive or just disrespectful. In the beginning things were much better. I was working and he did not and I took care of almost everything that needed money. When our kids came into the picture I paid for hospital fees, doctors, school, etc, until he got employed. He started paying for some things.

    The bottom line is I have tried to treat him like a king. Once he said that
    - I was not his choice for a wife [a mistake]
    - I was the devil’s hand into his life

    He is a Christian and he is very good at teaching and advising other believers on marriage issues. He does not appreciate everything I do. It is like I am supposed to do it. He never says thank you or sorry.

    Thank you for your site. I needed to vent this frustration because I am afraid that if I tell other people in the congregation, this will hinder the work and mission of God with his life. My prayer now is for God to change me and make me what He had in mind when he put us together as husband and wife.

  12. Ibukun says:

    (NIGERIA)  How do I respect a man who is suspicious about everything, always reading a negative meaning in the name of being careful, complains about everything I do, and never sees anything good in me? Please tell me how to love him and continue to repect him in spite of all these.

  13. Helena says:

    (US)  I treated my boyfriend with kindness and respect for seven years, because I really truly thought he would give back what he got. I was sadly mistaken. Despite this I still really loved him, because he had good qualities too, and I wanted to marry him. He repeatedly told me that he didn’t want to marry me and he didn’t want to have more children with me, because He already had his two kids and because I couldn’t even take care of myself.

    That part is actually kind of funny because I was living on my own and taking care of not just my apartment and my pets, but driving 30 mins to his house every other day or so to take care of his house, laundry, pets, kids etc. Not funny ha-ha, but funny he didn’t get stabbed in his sleep.

    He gave me the respect I wanted about 2 years ago, when I joined the Army and went away for training for 8 months. Once I came home, everything had changed between us. It was like we switched personalities. Now HE was the one crying and telling me I was hurting him and I was the one telling him to toughen up. Now the relationship is a mess, we’re both miserable, and we are both dependent on each other for certain important things (mostly business related).

    In my humble opinion, I believe that if your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, fiance or whomever, consistently treats you with a lack of respect, you should leave that person. Do it as quickly as possible before you lose all sense of autonomy and independence. His taunts of “you can’t even take care of yourself” were not true before, but they are now. My life is a mess, every day is a new misery and I wish I listened to my head all those years ago instead of my stupid stupid stupid idiot heart.

  14. Bella says:

    (USA)  I am truly shocked at some of the comments I am reading. It is one thing to have faith in God but Latoya …seriously?

    If he hits you, remind him not to touch the Lord’s anointed. Remind him that his prayers are hindered, remind him that he should not abuse the wife of his youth, else the Lord will deal treasurously with him, (Malachi). Don’t stand for abuse. Find ways to show forth your strength without being confrontational.

    This is the worst advice I have ever read. He is strangling her and you are telling her she should quote scriptures to him? She needs to get out of that house and as far away from him as she can. I believe in God and having faith and I also believe that most people get divorced too easily BUT in the case of any type of abuse, the abuser has broken his marriage vows.

    Where were his scriptures when he had his hands around her throat. There are countless women who are abused every single day and some do not make it out alive mabye because some of them were taught they must love, honor, obey and respect their husbands no matter what. Well, that’s wonderful because they are obviously in a much better place right? Absolutely ridiculous. Physical abuse is grounds for divorce and until you are in that situation you have no right to tell someone to be strong and stay in that marriage and put themselves in danger.

  15. Donna says:

    (USA)  This sounds good but, it does not work if you are married to a narcissist. I tried for 20 years.

  16. Cindy Wright says:

    (USA) I agree with most of the above comments, in theory. It seems outrageous to treat a husband respectfully when he is not acting in a manner that is respectful. But you and I are not God. He has His reasons for what He asks of us.

    As far as our husband is concerned, even if he isn’t acting in a respectful manner, we’re told in the Bible not to treat him in a disrespectful manner. In other words, we are not to stoop to name-calling, berating, screaming, nagging, game-playing, and being abusive in speech and/or manner. We can be unhappy, disappointed, fearful, distrusting, furious, or whatever about a situation involving our husband and voice our anger and concerns, without sinning and lowering our standards.

    I like what Lori (from the web site, The-generous-wife.com) says about this, “Yes, I know there are men who don’t act well or aren’t ‘deserving’ of respect. I’ll be blunt, this is not about them, this is about you and me, as wives and as individuals. What we do and say is more about our values and what we believe. Either we believe the Word …or we don’t. Which is it?” The Bible says, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” -Ephesians 5:33.

    Just because a husband says and does things he shouldn’t, it doesn’t mean that we have to join him and add to the wrong behavior. We can get our point across and still be respectful and civil in the way in which we deliver it.

    Don’t allow abusive behavior. Sometimes extreme measures need to be used to escape it. But don’t become an abuser. The tables can turn in both directions.

  17. Theresa says:

    (USA)  How can you respect someone that beats the crap out of you when he gets mad, and still have respect for yourself?

  18. Kat says:

    (UNITED STATES)  I think this is a dangerous article for women. This Nancy woman is advocating that women should pretend to be confused even if they aren’t, make men feel smart even if they aren’t being smart, compliment men even if they don’t deserve it etc. So she meets Ron’s sexual needs whenever he wants and she also acts like she isn’t there because goodness forbid she leave a hairbrush out. So this guy wants a sex object but none of her personal items on the counter?! Geez I hope she’s allowed a toothbrush. I don’t understand why she’d encourage women to act like this or to strive for a marriage like this just because she settled for it. There’s plenty of spousal abuse, there’s no need for her to go around preaching this stuff. Women need to be empowered.

    • Sue says:

      (USA) I have been in situations with Christian couples, where the husband has to be ‘right’ all the time. When their wives have a good idea or sound ‘too bright’ the men have insulted them to belittle everything their wife says. These type of articles are very dangerous to women, because it places women in a second class place in the relationship.

  19. Amy says:

    (USA)  My husband left me a couple of weeks ago for this very thing. I didn’t show him respect. Now he tells people we are just two different people and aren’t in love anymore. I miss my husband and want him back. I love him so much. He is holding his ground. I have had a huge wake up call and have grown from this and learned my lesson. I want to respect him and honor him and be his number one cheerleader. Do you think it’s too late?

  20. Sue says:

    (USA) Women like to solve problems and fix things too.I find this article rather insulting to women, as though we have to pretend to the men we believe him to be more intellefent then we are. Also women need respect also. I know this is not in the Bible but in real life, women need the same respect.

  21. Jen says:

    (UNITED STATES) The title of the article is an oxymoron. Respect is everything in a marriage. But it can’t be faked if it’s really gone.

    • Cindy Wright says:

      You can’t treat your husband in a respectful manner “as unto the Lord” even if he doesn’t act like he should? I can treat even a convicted killer in a respectable manner… I don’t have to lower my standards of how I treat people just because they don’t act like they should. The Bible isn’t saying to be all “kiss-kissy” and lovey-dovey” but to treat a husband in a way that reflects Christ… that’s all.

  22. Rosalia says:

    (GUAM) My husband is a great man. He always does what I want, but when it comes to me I never do what he wants. I always complain, scold, and nag him. I don’t know how to respect him. I think our marriage is falling apart… I don’t want to lose him.

    • Cassie says:

      (SOUTH AFRICA) Rosalia, You describe your man as a great man. My dear, a good man or great men are hard to find. So since you got lucky to find such a man, who always seems to do all you want, I say your man is a keeper. Keep him and try to work on your inner self, boost your self-esteem, respect yourself first, in order to respect your husband. Divorce is never a solution. You will regret it and feel miserable and lonely without your great hubby. Pray for your marriage daily.

  23. Cassie says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA) Dear Nancy and Ron, Your article on your experiences really opened up my eyes. I now know that God says a woman must respect her husband. And I now see that it’s not about womans feelings, it’s about following the law. *Great stuff* I’m glad I googled this right on time cause my wedding is just around the corner. I hope it continues to help lots more woman out there.

  24. Gemart says:

    (PHILIPPINES) I came to realize my mistakes and the reasons why I and my husband always argue, to the point of telling each other that it will be better to go on separate ways. My mistake is that I am being disrespectful to my husband. Now I know how to make things work out and how to make things right between me and my husband. Thanks and may God bless you.

  25. Linda says:

    (ZIMBABWE) I am glad I come across this web site. My hubby always says I don’t respect him and now I am learning how to really respect. I am praying by the Lord’s grace I will be able to respect him the way he wants. Thanks a lot.

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