The following is a true-life testimonial written to Emerson Eggerichs by a husband who was demanding respect from his wife. But God woke him up. It’s a testimony that Emerson features in his terrific book, “Love and Respect.” Afterwards, Emerson writes his comments.
This husband wrote:
“I had an epiphany experience about 18 months ago that totally changed my life and my view of marriage. Without sounding too mystical I have to say that I believe God spoke to me then, and the message and insight I was given I cannot keep to myself.
“…On a Saturday evening I threw a dish in anger that hit my wife in the face. It left a small cut. She called the police and I was handcuffed and taken off to jail. A magistrate thought it best for me to sit out the weekend there. They held me over on a LOT of bond. I wouldn’t pay it and that set my schedule for the weekend!
“After about 4 hours on a steel cot in the middle of the night the novelty wore off. I thought, boy is SHE gonna be sorry. I really started to think hard about why I was there.
“With nothing to read, no place to go and not able to sleep anymore, I basically paced and prayed for two days. One single Scripture stayed in my mind the whole time. It was ‘Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church…’
“For two days God replayed the memories I had of our arguments. In each one I was acutely aware of how I had failed to love my wife. It was like pausing a video and having someone point to it and say, ‘See, right here, you could have reached out to her. You could have reassured her, but you were too busy trying to prove your point.’
“At one point I was seeing her face, all distorted with rage as she screamed at me, but totally without any sound. …The mute button had been pushed on this memory. And then little by little the sound came up so I could hear it. Only the words were not what my wife had been screaming at me. Instead, they were replaced with other words that I needed to hear. ‘I want you to LOVE me. Why won’t you LOVE me? I’m afraid and insecure and I need you to hold me and LOVE me…’
“And that’s when I began to weep. All this time I had been so totally wrapped up in my own needs. I demanded respect instead of being respectable, to be right at any cost, to win a petty argument. But this hurt our priceless relationship. I had been so caught up in the words that I had totally missed her heart, her need.
“This was my epiphany, and this is why scripture commands me to love my wife as Christ loved the church. In my conversations with men since then I have seen the color drain from their faces as I tell them about my experience, and I see the dawning of their own awareness as they realize how they have blown it too. We NEED this command, but not many of us know just how badly.
God sat me down for two days in jail, took away all the distractions, and forced me to look at myself in a way I had never done before. By the end of it I had been totally emotionally ruined and rebuilt, and I could hardly wait to get home and share with (my wife) what God had shown me! My last evening in my cell I was freer than I had ever been, I knew the Lord had spoken to me and I knew I was going to do something about it, first in my own marriage, and then in others if the Lord allowed.”
Emerson Eggerichs, the author of “Love & Respect” then writes the following:
Although the husband and his wife reconciled, the court ordered him to attend domestic violence counseling, which he was happy to do. He waited over a year after his experience to validate the changes in his life. And then, with the blessing of his pastor, he began to invite other men to discuss the topic of marriage with him. Now he and his wife meet with couples who come to them with domestic issues like the ones they had. He adds, “I’ll forever be grieved at what I did to my wife, and forever grateful for what He has done for our marriage since.”
There are many reasons I like this man’s story. But perhaps best of all, I like that the wife was the first one to contact us when she ordered our resources. She wanted to learn more about unconditionally respecting her husband.
In her e-mail request, she said absolutely nothing about the abusive incident.
She only wrote that she was:
“… Mightily convicted about my need for learning this vital aspect of my wifely role. My husband has a men’s Bible study where, naturally, the focus is on loving and leading your wife God’s way. There is a dearth of material on the other important aspect of godly marriage, namely, wives and respect. There’s lots on submission, but not much on respect. My husband and I have been married, very badly (and without God). But now we are committed to making our relationship one that honors and glorifies His presence and grace in our lives.”
There was not one hint of how she took a dish in the face and how he had to go to jail. I was curious about the kind of Bible study her husband was conducting. Therefore, I e-mailed him and asked him to explain what he was doing and why. That’s when he told me the whole story about hitting his wife, going to jail, and figuring things out as he paced up and down in his cell. What a woman! What a man! He had changed so much that she yearned to do her part. And now they work together to help other marriages.
God commands in His Word:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25).
The above letter and commentary can be found in the excellent book titled, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs a Focus on the Family book, written by Dr Emerson Eggerichs, published by Integrity Publishers. We HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone who is married. It’s based on over three decades of counseling, as well as scientific and biblical research. This book is for people in marital crisis, and spouses headed for divorce. It’s for husbands and wives in a second marriage, and people wanting to heal. It’s also for lonely wives, browbeaten husbands, spouses in affairs, victims of affairs, engaged couples, and for pastors or counselors looking for material that can save marriage.
— ALSO —
There is a Question/Answer article on this same subject found on the web site Nogreaterjoy.org. To read, please click onto the link below:
If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: For Married Men
19 responses to “Demanding Respect from Your Wife”
(USA) I am also a Christian and I believe what you speak of in the passage to be true. However, where and when do you receive respect back from your wife? How is it that I feel as if I am respecting my wife, but in return I get nothing. I will say I need to work on cherishing my wife more. Ex: less video games more wife. Ok, I have even tried that before, and not I am to the point where I could care less to stay married to my wife even though I love her so very much.
(PHILIPPINES) Hi AJ, I have tried that too. It seems women have the girl power thingy that makes them in control of relationship. Men respect girls with the highest aspect yet men do not receive recognition nor respect. The truth is girls are very far more better (exaggerated superlative) liars and wilder than men.
(USA) No matter what the question, love is the answer. Communication is key. Ask and you shall receive. Clearly state what is important to you. Don’t hesitate to mention what your role/contribution to relationship is. Sometimes it is easy to be forgotten and things are taken for granted. Allow your spouse to express themselves freely. Listen and be heard. Don’t get defensive and don’t be eager to pounce on the other. Remember that you love each other. God bless.
(NIGERIA) Your articles have been a blessing to me.
(USA) I think you gentlemen missed the point. Women are not looking for respect. They are looking for LOVE. So when you say you respect your wife, but she’s not respecting you back, you are giving her what YOU want, not what SHE wants.
The scriptures command husbands to LOVE their wives as Christ loved the church, not RESPECT them as Christ respected the church.
And can I also point out, that one of the stumbling blocks that a lot of men have when it comes to dealing with women, is that they tend to define human needs through the male-needs prism. Women are not men. We do not need or want the same things that you want. Our needs are unique to our gender and are good, because God created us in His image, and said that it was “good.”
Perhaps if you understood that fundamental difference, it would be a better place to start. Magnolia
(USA) Ok, I’m all ears. Please explain.
(USA) I just did Walter.
I think he’s saying he doesn’t understand and explain further. Just saying Love or just saying Respect is pretty vague. Not to mention these are subjective terms. Someone might think they are showing their spouse love or respect, only to learn from their spouse that they haven’t perceived that at all. After all, you said it yourself. We view our needs through out gender specific prism.
At times, we also play games. Here is the one I heard from my ex-wife. “If you loved me, you would know what to do.” Really So all I had to do is say, “If you respect me, you would know what to do.” Doesn’t really work that way. You need a few things to be successful at this.
1. You need to be willing. If you are unwilling to love or respect your spouse then no need to proceed.
2. You need to be trained. Your spouse has to be willing to teach you what it is to love or respect them. It’s not a natural act as we are individuals. It’s like learning another language. If you speak it, then be willing to teach your spouse, not just expect that they will pick it up if they really loved you. Likewise, be willing to learn it per step one above.
3. You need practice. These skills will not come overnight. They must be consistently applied.
4. You need patience. While you are learning your new language, your spouse is learning a new language as well. The grace you want to experience when you don’t get it right is what you must offer your spouse when she doesn’t get it right.
(USA) Magnolia, you stated, “The scriptures command husbands to LOVE their wives as Christ loved the church, not RESPECT them as Christ respected the church.” When you love a person you show them respect as well. Of course a woman wants to be respected by her husband as well. The Bible even tells husbands to honor their wives, and when you honor someone you respect them. Love AND respect is what husbands and wives should give each other. I’ve been very happily married for 31 years, and we love AND respect one another.
(GHANA) I am confused here. Women want love from their husbands. Is this love cut across all women? If yes, then what is it exactly women want as love. is it different from the one I know from 1 Cor 13:1-13. Someone help me to know what women need as love.
(USA) I have a lot to learn about respecting my husband and hope once I do better at it… he then will honor and love me. Things have gotten so bad he blocked me from even being able to call him. I tend to get mad and run off at the mouth and he tends to hide the fact he cares for me from his family and friends and hardly spends time with me and I feel like he is ashamed of me yet doesn’t want to divorce me.
This is our second marriage and both sets of our kids have really put our marriage and patience through a lot. I know in his heart he must still love and care for me because I do love him. Friends and family tell me he doesn’t want me or he would have stepped up and we wouldn’t be separated for two years. I believe God wants me to not give up… I believe we’ll make it through even though everyone thinks I am crazy or in denial. My husband seems to listen to those influencing him against me being the reason I feel he hides me even though I am his wife.
I pray for the Holy Spirit to watch over him and God to bless him and touch his heart and let him see I love him. I don’t want to stop believing we will make it and I want to treat him as the scriptures say we must. Is it normal to feel this way… to keep believing as people feel its foolish but I feel I’m supposed to? God’s messages are don’t give up. If he promises you something it is so. Marriage is blessed by God. What has been taken away God will restore. So I want to honor and respect my husband. It’s very hard emotionally to remember to do this and I think that’s why we are in this predicament.
This list of things that you all give for the wife and the husband, are not fair and balanced.
I disagree- I like the things that women should do to respect their man.
“Fair and balanced?”
This ain’t FOX News, baby!
My husband is abusive with words and sometimes threatening with actions too. He is always demanding for my respect and “obedience” which I can no longer bear it. Reporting to police for domestic violence seems to be the right and loving thing to do and I am glad that it worked in your case but I know my husband’s heart is stubborn and harden. He is not going to be sorry and repent. What should I do?
I’m concerned with this particular anecdote… the husband seems to trivialize his abuse by referring to his throwing a dish (at his wife) and how it led to a “small cut…” The Force required to shatter a plate would be pretty immense & I have a hard time believing it was simply a small cut (vs. bruising & a large gash with blood, etc.)
I’m concerned for women who are taught to forgive abusive husbands and stay in abusive relationships. This is not God’s intended path. A better way would be the woman forgiving him, but walking away and divorcing her husband, especially if they have children. Last thing we need are children witnessing situations like this and normalizing these types of environments (and repeating the cycle of abuse with the child’s future spouse).
When I was in a similar situation, my Pastor said many women told him during counseling they’re staying for the “sake of the children.” He was an amazing Pastor and said it should actually be the opposite, “Don’t stay for the sake of the children. Leave for the children’s sake.”
So grateful for my Pastor who taught my family Christian values of human safety in lieu of marriage above all else. He had worked with many abusive husbands and said the odds of people like hat changing their hard-wiring is slim to none.
Fellow Christians, do NOT encourage women (or men, for that sake) to stay in abusive relationships. Please open your eyes, study chemical imbalances and mental illnesses and recognize, while God is the master healer, many people will not change even by accepting Christ as their Savior. If anything, many predators use the church to prey on potential victims because they know the Church will allow them to sin as long as the predator gives off the impression he or she is trying to change their ways.
You cannot DEMAND respect from your wife, or anyone else for that matter; you can COMMAND respect by your leadership, your commitment, your integrity, etc. Anytime you DEMAND respect, you are not going to get it. Period. At least not willingly. You may have “compliance” but not respect.
Love and Respect never sat well with me. I hated the book. Now, I feel validated as it has been identified as one of the resources, which has been instrumental in making a lot of marriages worse.
HAAA! My reply is not a good one. Its after the fact. Guys, wives don’t respect you? Why? You probably poured 100% of all your energy, thoughts & emotions into your girlfriend, now wife. She may have liked it at first but it is a sign of weakness. You rely 100% on her for satisfaction in life, rely on her 100% for mental health. She feels smothered & controlled. She wants space. That hurts you, especially if give her space, (you know if you really do). She is probably happier with your children & grands. Will you ever get respect? NO probably not, sorry guys…
How do I know? I was like this. My 34 yr marriage will never be what it was. I let her do whatever she wants. It hurts on the inside knowing how she feels.