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

ron & nancy 9-4.0My 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?”

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 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.


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

This 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 You may also want to visit their blog at


Filed under: For Married Women

Join the Discussion

Please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.

We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.


196 responses to “Respect Your Husband – Even If He Doesn’t Deserve It

  1. This page I just read dealt with my situation. I will just obey this word and start respecting my husband again. I pray it works, nothing like living in love and peace. Thanks to the writer.

  2. My husband cusses at me practically everyday for the past 5 years and calls me every name in the book including the c word. How am I supposed to respect that when all I feel is hurt and pain rejection loneliness an anger? All I get is I’m sorry and he never changes and then he throws it in my face that I just need to keep forgiving because that’s what Christ would do. I feel like I’m married to Nabal in the Bible, no filter for anything that comes out of his mouth.

    1. Hello Nina… God Bless you. The last scripture in this article really convicted and lifted me up all at the same time. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. The whole time I was reading this I can’t apply my specific situation to every paragraph… “but my husband isn’t saved”… “but my husband keeps lying to me… how do I respect a man who constantly lies to me”…. “but I feel hurt and unloved”…

      I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…then I had to think… God didn’t say anything about only obeying His word in certain circumstances. I am saved, I do believe God’s word enough to trust Him and trust it enough to obey Him. It is not up to my husband to change for me to be obedient to God. This is my own spiritual walk and when I stand before God He won’t look past my disobedience because of my husband’s actions.

      1 Peter 3:1-2 (KJV) “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”

      Please pray for me as I pray for you. I know that God is going to save my husband. I will pray for patience and strength for the both of us. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” That is my Rhema word from God and I pray that it will bless you too.

    2. This is verbal and spiritual abuse. God does not call you to be a doormat, nor does He call you to enable your husband to continue behaving in this way. This is bad for both you AND your husband. He does not call you to have your religion thrown in your face. Think about how God asks us to repent and turn from our sins and THEN be forgiven.

      What you allow is what will continue. You need to get some real help and cease allowing this situation. You are not a bad Christian for feeling upset by this, you are not a bad Christian for standing up for yourself. Don’t let him, or yourself, or any one else make your desire to be a good Christian the reason for tolerating real abuse. You deserve better because you are a daughter of the King of Kings. Your husband needs to stand up and behave as a son of the King of Kings. Cussing at and insulting you is not run of the mill marital bickering. It is abusive.

  3. It wasn’t until recently that I started getting uncomfortable with this type of advice. (Everything I’m about to say is coming from my particular situation and not necessarily what’s best for another woman’s situation). For the past 4 1/2 years, I couldn’t agree more with this article and be willing to do it all, but 4 1/2 years later, I’m highly discouraged bc it seems that as my marriage takes 2 steps forward, it takes 10 steps back.

    After letting him know I don’t feel respected being a stay at home mom to 2 kids, having only 1 car, which he takes to work, he gets angry and refuses to understand. He doesn’t agree and says that he does, which is why he gets angry and defensive. He has strayed away from God but is still a professing Christian. As far as spiritually, I often wonder if God is allowing me to suffer through this marriage, and it’s not a matter of “can He?” but “will He?”

  4. I’m so thankful and Feel So Blessed that I found this in my journey to save my marriage of 35-yrs and 38 yrs if you count dating. My husband was my 1st and only true Love, and we never thought as highly devoted Christians since we were 19-yrs old, that we would ever have anything come between us. I don’t know if part of our problem was that we thought we were far from anything that would ever hinder our bond. My favorite saying had always been “Never say “Never”. I temporarily forgot that as far we were concerned so it seems. I do not believe in coincidences so I know the Lord lead me here for a purpose.

    Thank you for the words of wisdom. I’ve learned quite a few things from what you have written. I think a lot of times we know these things already, but sometimes when faced by many circumstances we seem to forget and need a good reminder by good people as you. God Bless you Both and If you would pray for me and my Husband, I would be very grateful.

  5. I don’t understand why the focus is always about how the wife should change. How about the husband treat his wife with respect because it’s the right thing to do? My husband has ptsd. Doesn’t matter what I say or do he has a problem with it. Everything is a crisis to him. Can’t blame that all on ptsd. Some of it is just plain ignorance. Treats our kids the same. But treats everyone else in his life the exact opposite. Let me guess ladies; I’m supposed to treat him like a king because he’s rude and mean and this should change him, right?

    1. Hi, Mary. Cindy and I are so sad for you that things have turned on you in such a destructive way within your relationship with your husband. I want to first address the PTSD issue your husband has. I’ve been a fire department Chaplain for many years and I have seen PTSD (also called CISD) up close and have been trained in defusing right after a traumatic incident and Critical Incident Stress Management. Now, I don’t know your husband; never talked with him, so I can’t begin to guess how severe his PTSD may be. I’m pretty sure you’ve read up on it so you know the symptoms and common behaviors exhibited by people who suffer from it.

      I can assure you that what he is experiencing is very serious. Because of the traumatic event(s) he has experienced he is suppressing feelings and emotions because he doesn’t know how to handle them (he probably thinks he’s “crazy”) and if he goes untreated he can suffer irreparable harm. There is a part of his brain that is broken. Think of it like he had a compound fracture of his leg. It got mangled in an accident and the doctors put it back together for him with rods and pins. You wouldn’t expect him to get up and start walking as soon as he got home from the hospital. It could take months of rehabilitation before he could put weight on it again.

      So, as hard as it is for you to be there to see and experience what your husband is going through – don’t expect him to act “normal” (the way you define normal). It’s just asking too much of him right now.

      Now, this doesn’t take all the responsibility off of your husband. He needs to own what he is doing/not doing and acknowledge that he needs help so he can feel more normal again. Then, he (with your help) needs to locate a place that is equipped to handle PTSD.

      I know the area of the country where you live and there are V-A facilities not that far from you. They are the best resource to get help (I assume your husband is a vet and has access to these facilities at no cost to him). If he’s “afraid” to go to the VA (for privacy reasons) there are other Vet associations (not tied in with the government) that also offer help for vets suffering from PTSD. Just Google “help for vets with PTSD” and put your city in. This is a very serious matter, both for him and for you and your family. I know it is not easy to live with someone going through this and it’s easy to interpret his behavior as something he’s “doing to get at you.”

      Please find a way to encourage your husband to get the help he needs. He may be mostly out of control because of his PTSD, but it doesn’t have to always be that way. He DOES have control over that. He may not want to reach out for help but he needs to man up and get the help his family needs for him to get for everyone’s well-being. I have no doubt that he would die for his family, but you need to encourage him to do what it takes to live for his family in a way that shows love and care. I hope he will and pray for you and your husband and family that things turn around for the better. God bless!

    2. Mary, Love yourself and realize that you are a vital female created by God. You seem to be a smart woman, so your wisdom senses that something is not right when we tell wives to do all the marital sacrifices. Something is telling you that these man made doctrines are wrong. Trust God, not people. They are all mixed up.

      I see that it is wrong too. I trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not to my own understanding. I worship God in Heaven. I do not worship or exalt any man. Our husbands are mortal humans. They will stand in judgement just like their wives. That lets you know that those man made doctrines are wrong. So when a husband is harsh and ugly and cheats and watches porn and gets satisfaction from porn and compares his wife to a porn female, wow, these husbands are sick.

      When a husband is cold to his wife and pouts because she won’t spoil him, that’s a ego sickness on his part, not his wife. He is wrong and he will answer to God for that. A husband must treat his wife with the same care, appreciation, and respect that he wants. We do just as much for the family. Wives work outside and inside of the home. Wives need appreciation and praise too.

    3. Mary, you said: I don’t understand why the focus is always on the wife to change…well, in my circles, it’s the exact opposite! Yep, believe it or not, here is a male who experiences the exact opposite. I don’t believe God singles out either gender. The Bible speaks to both spouses, pleading with us to repent and experience the love chapter for our spouses. It is rare that both spouses seek that together. However, if one does, that may be the catalyst for a complete turn around in both! I am not going to wait for my wife to change, I am going to seek to be like Jesus every moment of every day, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit! Let us no be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

  6. I’ve been in a relationship for 7 years. I was 23 when I met my husband & we’ve been married for 2 years now. I became an instant mother of his 4 children. I took over the role of a mother to them, my husband was the mom and dad when they were babies but had the support of his mom and sister, and they hardly have accepted me. It seems like he only needed me for a mother for his kids, to cook, clean, sex when he wants. I do EVERYTHING for everybody but myself.

    Now he has no respect for me, always belittling me. He says our marriage doesn’t matter, my feeling don’t matter; the only thing that matters to him is all about him and the kids. His mom and sister are constantly arguing. I suffer from PTD, depression, anxiety and a mood disorder, but he’s not even supportive and understanding at all! Always disrespecting me and I’m saying sorry practically everyday. It’s just getting too much for me. I pray and pray and he just doesn’t make the effort to change, so what am I supposed to do? I’m just starting to dislike him really bad, what should I do if my husband just doesn’t care? How am I supposed to make a marriage work when he doesn’t even care about it? How am I supposed to treat him like a king if all he does is makes me feel like I’m nothing?

  7. You will not post this I’m sure. But that doesn’t stop me from saying, no human has inane control or rights above anyone else. You are not you’re husband’s property. You are a free individual. If a person wants respect it really does need to be earned. There is no excuse for his behavior other then being a “jerk” to you. You are NOT required to take it.

    All women need to tell men things are changing, we ARE and always have been the other side of you’re coin. If women are respected and treated equally, EVERYONE benefits. I love you sister. I am an atheist. Have a wonderful life.

    1. Then why visit a site that’s based on the word of God? We are all here because we need help and we need answers. No, I am not beneath my husband nor am I the inferior sex. However, I have exhausted all resources, and because I really do love him, I will do as the article suggests, and “be the change I want to see!” Tired of the negativity. That’s what got us into this predicament in the first place

  8. I would like to thank you. Your little story that I did read is a plus for me, my husband and I need the encouragement, all we do is argue and fight! I love him and we brought seeds into this world, I have faith in this relationship. Only God can fix this. Thank you for hearing me out. God bless you and yours.

  9. How can I treat my husband like a king, when he never has my back? I have cared for our children, do all house work, worked out of home and from home. Now for the last 8 months my income has changed, he won’t give me money for groceries, gas, children’s needs. I buy what groceries I can with what I make the rest goes on my credit card and he doesn’t care. I have been praying for him but I can’ t keep doing things for him when I am struggling to feed our children. So my question is how much do I keep doing for my husband?

    1. Queena, When a husband is acting in ways that he shouldn’t –acting out in self-centered ways, turning his back on partnering with the wife and financially providing for the family (as you describe in your comment), then that type of behavior can’t be enabled. That is not what this article is proposing. It’s telling the wife not to act disrespectful, regardless. You can get your point across without name-calling, slandering, acting self-righteous or acting in ways that a child of God should not. Your husband is created in the image of God regardless of whether or not he acts like it. Address him in a “meek” manner, which is defined as “strength under control.” Meek is not weak. It is strong, yet respectful of the fact that you don’t have to “revile” or “pay back evil with evil” as we’re told to beware of in the Bible, when we’re confronting behavior that needs it. And it’s obvious that you need to do some confronting. Just be careful not to “sin” in your anger.

  10. What do you do when your husband tells you he doesn’t need you or he tells you that you’re nothing?

    1. Keisha, I’m so sorry that your husband would do this to you. That has to be absolutely heartbreaking. I’m so very sad for you and will pray for you. I wish I could say that I have “magic” words that when I say them your husband would turn around and respond to the Light that we will be praying God reveals to him, but he has a free will and it’s difficult to say what will happen. But I can tell you that as you lean upon the Lord, He will be your strength and will guide you. He will never leave, nor forsake you. As far as advice for what you can do, the best we can give is found in the “Save My Marriage” topic, which you can find at We make other topics available and I highly recommend that just like with the first one, you pray, glean through and see what you believe God is telling you will help, and then apply it.

      I wish we had more than that, but as you put your hand into God’s you will get the best guidance ever. Even if your husband doesn’t respond as he should (many, many do), God will still give you wisdom as you ask for it. I pray for you Keisha, and pray for your husband and marriage. I hope he wakes up as God talks to him, to see that this is not what you say, nor do to someone you promised to love for the rest of your lives together. “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11). Please know that “the LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)

  11. This is really meant for me. I am so humbled and inspired a lot. I talk back at my husband each time we have a misunderstanding, I nagg him, I speak at the top of my voice, and I don’t give him a chance to speak either… I really want to change. Please help me.

    1. Thank you Lestina, for sharing what you are learning. I pray you don’t forget it when things get tense. I used to be there too, so I understand how easy it is to fall into doing this. It’s called “right fighting” where you will do and say anything when you feel you are right, and you want to convince your spouse of it.

      There’s another article you may find helpful, because the concepts I learned have helped me, and helped us in our marriage. If we aren’t careful in how we talk to each other, we will cause all kinds of problems, including evasion of saying anything to our “partner” and I don’t know if this will help you at all, but it sure has helped me. I hope it helps you too. :)

  12. Ben from Ghana: I am a young guy ready to get married by the end of the year and see this behavior in her. I have advised her on several occasions on this issue but want to tell me that is part of her, which I am not comfortable with. Please, I need advice and prayers.

  13. I’ve been married for the past year and I have tried to change myself upside down. Yet my husband scolds me and hits me. I have tried being nice to him but he drinks without reasons. What can I do to change him?

    1. Narmadha, you said: I don’t understand why the focus is always on the wife to change…well, in my circles, it’s the exact opposite! Yep, believe it or not, here is a male who experiences the exact opposite. I don’t believe God singles out either gender. The Bible speaks to both spouses, pleading with us to repent and experience the love chapter for our spouses. It is rare that both spouses seek that together. However, if one does, that may be the catalyst for a complete turn around in both! I am not going to wait for my wife to change, I am going to seek to be like Jesus every moment of every day, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit! Let us no be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

    2. Leave. A drunkard will not change until he hits rock bottom. I have recovering alcoholics in my family and this is what one told me: they will not change until they have no other choice. As long as you stay, it will continue.

  14. My name is Pat, from Nigeria. Thank you for these wonderful tips. I am currently in a relationship with this guy and we hope to settle down. The issue is that I find it difficult submitting to him because he is not financially stable for now. I pay my bills and seem to get no support from him. I get angry and irritated and put up attitude. He complains that I do not value and respect him and as a result, he is holding back. My relationship has not been sweet lately. Please, what should I do? How do I go about it?

    1. Pat, Please don’t consider marrying this guy… at least not until he understands the importance of financial stability… and that you don’t have to “submit” to him –you are not married. He doesn’t have the right to get angry with you over this. It’s difficult to “value” someone who is “holding back.” I’m sensing an immature spirit in him that wants what he wants and wants you to give it to him, without consideration of how this affects you. If you “settle down” with him, I’m sure you are just now seeing a foretaste of what is ahead. Please prayerfully consider this as you look to the future. I pray God gives you wisdom as you lean upon Him.