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.

Act Respectfully

Instead of waiting for him earn your respect, behave respectfully and you could 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.

The Plan

We went to a Christian counselor who read Ephesians 5:33. Nevertheless let each one of you so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” He 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).

Why Should I?

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. It’s 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. But then she 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

Print Post

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.


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

  1. Hello, Thank you for the advice on marriages. My husband and I have been separated for 18 months and in this time tried to resolve our issues. We did and I was to move back in. He was to come to my home and make peace with my family, as I felt the animosity will be no good. He didn’t and I never went back. He has now brought the maid back to take care of his son and him. He speaks to me but doesn’t want to hear anything of us getting back together, but says he loves me and thinks about me.

    I’m praying constantly. I don’t believe my marriage is destined for divorce but that God will reconcile and allow my husband to search for a heart that is after God’a heart. My husband doesn’t go to church anymore as well. Please help.

  2. The problem I have with your exact example of buying a car that’s too expensive, is that my husband has absolutely NO financial smarts. He is about to trade in a 2013 vehicle that we still owe $23,000 on for a Cadillac (the new loan will be $60,000 to incorporate the old loan, and the trade will only give him $6,000). He spends like crazy and recently went back to work after being unemployed for a year and racking up $15,000 in debt on my line of credit.

    Because I told him he can’t buy the vehicle, he has threatened to not pay my line of credit back despite me shouldering all of our monthly expenses for the sole purpose of him paying off my line of credit. The monthly payments on the new car wouldn’t change a penny, but he would owe that $337 biweekly for an additional 5 years. We want a house soon… but he keeps burdening our family with these crazy debts. The only reason he even still has his car and a good credit score is because I kept him floating during his unemployment.

    I don’t know if you should really be telling women to just let their husbands buy expensive cars if their financial position can’t afford it, because that’s exactly how my grandmother went from riches to rags. Now history is repeating itself for me… imagine if I took your advice to heart and let him make this insanely irresponsible financial situation. I am at an impasse. It is extremely hard to respect and treat someone like a VIP when you feel like their mother. I *Have* let him take care of the finances a few times in our decade together… we had our power cut off twice for non-payment, and he would straight up lie to the cable company saying we’ve paid them the arrears only to get our cable cut off and a huge 3 month bill hanging above our heads.

    1. I face similar issues… trying so hard to respect someone who puts himself above the family is well… hard! He spends like crazy and hates contributing anything to the house. We keep our finances separate otherwise he literally would ruin me! He says his money (from working) is his money and my money is the family’s. I work really hard as a SAHM with my own business at home on top of that, I also try to be frugal and grow our own food, but of course my work isn’t as good as his work because, well I don’t know… he spends money on things for himself that has no benefit to the family and I’m supposed to be happy with that?!

      I made peace with the fact that he won’t support his family or ever find joy in being at the very least co-provider (let alone provider – he thinks that’s silly!), but my respect wears away and when he’s at home belittling me and telling me how to do ALL of my jobs without inputting anything back (no housework, no financial help, emotional support – ferget it!) all I want to do is run away.

      Any suggestions on how to be respectful while telling the man that you aren’t going to do X,Y,Z? My husband thinks it’s disrespectful to not do what he tells me to do, how he tells me to do it. How do you honor someone who makes really bad decisions and thinks they have the right to tell you what to do in EVERY area of your life? When do I get to be me if he gets to change everything about me (whereas he doesn’t change at all)? He gets offended if I don’t do as he says… Do I have a right to any autonomy? Should I allow him to destroy everything in the hope he will grow up and man up?

      1. I have similar problems with my husband. I think the advice in the article, as well as most of the articles on respecting your husband and allowing them to lead is contingent upon the husband not having a psychological disorder, not being abusive or very emotionally immature. This goes for us wives, as well. In some cases, simply showing deference and respect, while remaining his equal partner, can spark change we never thought possible. The only way to find out is to try it. The bible tells us wives to behave in a way that will positively influence our husbands.

        I am a huge proponent of counseling so that the couple has a third party to help ferret out the real issues. In counseling, I’ve learned to “clean up my side of the street” meaning that I deal with my own emotional issues and the baggage I brought to the marriage. I try to communicate with respect and respond to verbal attacks calmly so that they don’t escalate. Working on ourselves and making sure we treat others with respect and respond respectfully instead of reacting and escalating problems. I am NOT saying it’s all our fault, I am saying that once we are doing the right thing, who is to blame is glaringly obvious. And, counselors will tell us that even if we break up a bad relationship, if we have done the work on ourselves to heal why we end up in bad relationships, there are more to follow.

        If a woman is married to a narcissist or a man with some other serious disorder, deference can fuel the problem. Seeing a counselor by oneself can help to decipher whether change is possible. To Gertrude I would say counseling is in order. The counselor can address his attitudes and spending in ways that he might be more likely to accept.

  3. We have now a bad situations with my husband. It began in small things, just not both agreeing the design of his office. All I just want for him is to have a more presentable and comfortable office. When all of a sudden I heard the word I would never say, I earn disrespectful from him. This is the stubborn word that I could never forget.
    I am the owner of this company, may you let me first decide what is right for my company, you don’t have a contribution to it, you’re not an asset but a liability to me.

    I’ll never speak to him like that, I thought he treated me like partner in life…

  4. Me and fiancé have been engaged for 6 months, together for 3 years. We argue a lot. Sometimes I think we argue more than anybody in this world. I don’t know a lot about comforting, so when we’re both mad he’s always the one to try to make it better. Anyways it’s hard for me to comfort him when I’m mad at somthing he did. Like, he gets mad for stuff I didn’t know I had to do.

  5. Hi, Thank you for your advice. I am going to try it today. Keep me in prayer and ask God to give me strength and show me how to obey my husband.

  6. Hi, I’m Serona from Philippines now in NZ. Me and my husband have a big issue of me sending money to my parents. I understand that in his culture they don’t do that. I don’t do it by the basis of my culture but because my parents are old and they need support from me. I wanted to send them monthly but my husband wants me to do it occassionally and only on emergency for them. I don’t want to send money secretly as it will disrespect him. Please, I will really appreciate any advice from you. Thanks.

    1. Hi Serona, Yours is a good question!! My response would be to ask another question: How do you two handle your finances? Is it “my money / your money?” or…. “our money?” If your husband provides the majority of the household income, then he perhaps gives you a budget to buy certain things like food and personal items for yourself? In this case, you could set aside a portion of the budget for personal items for your parents. If you and your husband are both working, then perhaps you can contribute a portion of your income to your parents?

      In the long run, you both need to come to a reasonable agreement on this, to avoid a longterm fight. Perhaps go with your husband’s idea of occasionally or in the event of an emergency for now? This is not so bad really…

      For sure you don’t want to do this secretly…very bad idea. It is unlikely that your parents would want help from you if it were done in secret either.

      Hope these ideas help! Your husband is open to the idea… that’s a good thing!! Take care, WP (Work in Progress)

  7. My fiancé always asks me to respect him. I never felt I disrespect him. I never use bad words, I take care of the household (we have a 2 months old baby) while he is the money maker. But he makes me feel that I am not doing anything while he works all day long to pay for all the bills. I feel devastated. When I try talking to him he gets defensive and then fights started. He doesn’t drink much, but when he does he gets really drunk and has this anger. This behaviour just turns me off and when I try to avoid him he feel that I don’t love him. I used to love him so much and I started hating him when he kept testing me with a bunch of stuff. I have been trying but it doesn’t feel the same anymore. I still love him and I don’t want this to be over. But I have been considering not getting married to him because I start feeling unhappy. But I keep thinking about the baby.

    1. Hi Lina, Have you shown your fiancé this text? Perhaps it would be a good idea? In any case, you are connected already since you have a child together. Do you feel that there is a potential of physical abuse wiating around the corner? You have not mentioned this, but I get the feeling that the potential for it is rather high.

      Avoiding him will only make the problem worse- of course he feels unloved when you avoid him! Better to sit down with him and tell him, “Your bevaviour when you drink too much makes me want to avoid you! It scares me! But I don’t want you to feel unloved. I don’t want to avoid you! Tell me what I need to do to make this better!”

      Perhaps he has anger issues from earlier events in his life? Then seek counseling and get them fixed. Ultimately, the safety and wellbeing of your child hangs in the balance.

      Hope these ideas help…Hope to see you again, Take care…. WP (Work in Progress)

  8. Trust me, from a guy if you keep complimenting your husband a lot he will become someone that will love being in your presence. Its common sense. I mean who likes to hang around people that always seem to have drama, problems and negative vibes? However, who is drawn to people who lift them up and make them feel good?

  9. Hi Nancy, This is a good teaching and I can see it work… My husband is not yet a professed born again. I know God will do it at His own time…I trust and hope in that. We have been together for 20 years now and we have 3 sons. He has been from one affair to the other. I have pleaded, tried to change the way I do things or spoken to him, seek counseling from church and family elders, I have even tried to leave (divorce) him and he would not let me (I did not push also coz I was not ready).

    He has done so many hurtful things that I may have contributed indirectly to maybe…I have now decided to stop feeling anything or complaining about anything – sex is not safe at this stage so I have told him to excuse me (I feel that he is ok having it with whoever he wants to have it with). He is not complaining and life continues, we are friends and co-parenting, he does not seem bothered.

    I know that’s bad for marriage but I cannot be ignorant about the diseases out there either. He talks to me about other things but not our marriage. He is now unemployed because of some financial audit findings pointing to him. I do not know much because he does not open up to me about what happened -what I know I read from some docs I found in his belongings, to which he gave me a brief explanation and told me the allegations are not true…

    I will definitely try what you say, whether it changes our situation or not God knows better. I do hope to have my marriage work (with love, respect and the fear of the Lord) one day. Thank you.

  10. My husband is the type does not have respect on how to talk to elders. He is a woman beater; he can beat me in front of anybody. If we are having an issue and he cause my family especially my mother, he will slap me. He complains about everything. Sometimes I get upset and ask him to stop complaining too much; he will want to beat me up. I will just close my mouth, he will start complaining to his family members and outside. He controls me a lot. I don’t have a say in my own marriage. I am fed up; I want to quit. Please advise me, thank you!

    1. Sarah, I’m not sure what you can do to turn this around. I wish I did. But I am quite sure that if my husband treated me so disrespectfully, and especially, if he slapped and beat me up, that I would not put up with it. I would leave until I was assured that he would treat me as respectfully as I treat him. I can’t tell you what to do about all of your issues, but I can tell you that you need to find a way to protect yourself from being beaten. This is not right in any way. He has no right to lay a hand on you. May God give you wisdom and may He talk to your husband’s heart about NOT treating you this way!

  11. My wife puts her two sons over me. My wife and I have no problems with each other; it’s always over the boys. She shows them not to respect me by not having my back when it come to things around house. Example: I asks her to tell them to clean their rooms and she says to me why am I concerned about the rooms? Or she would say as soon as you clean off your side of nightstand. I feel like she respects her boys feelings more than mine. She also says I speak mean to her. My reply was if I felt like you respected me maybe my tone would be a little more pleasant. HELP ME PLEASE. We are on rocky roads.

    1. Show her unconditional love. Loving her should not be based on what you get in return. As for the boys, if you are the father figure in their life, instruct them as you please. Don’t wait to get permission from your wife, be the father and take charge. May the Lord lead you right.

    2. John, what you are experiencing is very common when you are in a “step-parenting” situation. I’m guessing you and your wife never discussed how discipline was going to be handled before you got married so it was clear what you both expected. The best suggestion I can give you is that you find a counselor who is experienced in counseling couples in blended family relationships. The answer isn’t in a “if you do ‘this’ then things will get better.” It’s much more complicated than that. The good news is that your problems aren’t monumental – they’re normal. But they need to be dealt with because you deserve to be “heard” when you express your concerns over the things that her sons do that you believe need to be corrected. And even though you aren’t these boys’ father they need to respect you.

      As far as finding a good counselor we suggest that you contact Focus On The Family’s counseling department at 1-800-A-FAMILY. You can talk with one of their counselors and then they can recommend someone in your area. They have a list of counselors all over the U.S.that they have vetted.

      There’s something the two of you can do right now to make a significant improvement in your marriage. I suggest you and your wife commit to reading and implementing the principles contained in the book called Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. This book has changed thousands of marriages since it was first published.

      We also have some articles on the web site about navigating marriage in blended families. I can almost promise you that if these boys are older than 7 they are smart enough to know how to pit their mother against you and will do it just about every chance they get. The only way that will stop is if you and your wife are united in discipline and she is strong enough to show her sons that YOU are number one in her life (as her husband) and she will not tolerate any disrespect towards you.

      Lastly, there is an organization called In Step Ministries that specializes in what you and your wife are going through. It’s run by some friends of ours, Dr’s Jeff and Judi Parziale. You can reach them here: They are based in Colorado but they do phone and SKYPE counseling

      I hope this may help you the way you really need it, John.

  12. Hi there. Thanks for sharing that. I am writing now and about to cry, but I cannot cry because I am at work. My story is that I am married to a religious husband. He loves God very much (I do too). But the problem is that he taking God as excuse for everything. We don’t have place to live; we live with a friend with 2 kids in one room, no bed, nothing and each time I am talking to him about our situation he tells me God will provide or he doesn’t care about material thing. I am working two jobs because I lost the hope that any changes will happen. I have a 9 months baby. I hardly can see him, coz I am trying to save so we can move to our own.

    I love my husband and I respect him but I don’t understand him. He doesn’t wear nice clothes or cut his hair. All his church friends have a normal life except us. He really doesn’t care about anything. He tells me if I cannot take it this way we can separate and I marry someone has different way of thinking. He said he loves me but he cannot change (God above anything). I understand that but I believe we have to work also to get our kids what they need better than begging people. (I get mad inside me; sometimes I feel he is selfish.) I am thankful I do have work coz I just want to stay away from the house. An addition note is that he has a son and both (my husband and his son) are kids. They play, watch, TV, eat, and sleep… any advice?

  13. I’ve got the same problem with my husband. To say he is fiscally irresponsible is an understatement. He was raised with a silver spoon in his mouth, mommy paid for everything. He never learned the value of a dollar or the responsibility of having to maintain a standard of living on his income. I’ve shouldered the finances for 4 years. I HAD a savings before we met. He is 42 and mommy still bails him out…they live with us now which makes things even worse.

    We have baby, #2 on the way and I told him that he has to get rid of his mustang because two baby seats will not fit in the back seat…that and I don’t think it’s very safe. I’ve had to sacrifice and trade in my nice car for a minivan. He wants to compromise by trading his mustang for a luxury Audi…that he certainly can’t afford. I showed him the budget and told him what he could reasonably afford with his still owing $24k on the car. He doesn’t seem to hear that part, and when he shows me a car he wants and I don’t go past the price because it’s out of his price range, he gets mad at me. Does he think money grows on trees? Yet he still expects me to co-sign for it…nope.

    He got demoted yesterday. It’s a constant cycle with him. He gets a job, complains about it for 6 months, loses it and winds up unemployed for another six. Meanwhile I’m left to cover all the finances. It’s been this way for 4 years now. I’m left picking up all of the financial slack while he sits on his duff and makes out a list of things he WON’T do rather than what he HAS to do to support his family. Still thinking like a single man.

    So understandably I’m upset and disappointed in him for not being proactive about protecting his job. He’s white, and is being discriminated against by a black supervisor/team. He did nothing to try to protect his position when they had a meeting yesterday to demote him, just rolled over and let them step on him and take a chunk out of his paycheck. The woman belittled and berated him. The truth is, this black woman, who is only in her position because of her skin color and what’s between her legs, is intimidated by his experience and that he’s a skilled white man who may eventually take her job because he’s better at it than she is…so she had him fired before he could go anywhere with the team.

    When I expressed my displeasure with his lack of proactive actions and lack of a spine to stand up for himself he said to me “thanks for the support.” What am I supposed to do, coddle him, throw him a pity party, say, “congrats on making me pick up more of your financial slack once again?” Should I tell this 42 year old man-child that “it’s ok, it’ll be all right” when this is all we go through? Every job he’s had since I’ve know him I’ve gotten for him because he has zero ambition to do anything on his own unless it’s this ONE thing…that he hasn’t been able to come to terms with the fact that it’ll probably never happen for him….and we can’t afford for him to not work…so if I don’t do it, we’ll be homeless basically.

    He’s about to see the difference in what used to be my support, to no support. How am I supposed to treat him like a VIP when he can’t seem to figure out what it means to be responsible for a wife, children and household?? I have so much contempt and resentment towards him I can’t even look at him these days.

    1. Yes, it’s the black woman’s fault your husband isn’t in a higher position at work, not his lack of ambition. Isn’t this the same excuse blacks use when they are demoted at work? It was the white man and women’s fault?

  14. Hi, can you please help me? I am in a very bad situation. My husband taunts me and scolds me for no reason. He just wants me to follow his orders and I do that without any question. Still, he finds fault in each and every thing and starts scolding, which goes for hours. I am sick of it and was planning to go out of marriage but I came across this article. Is there any solution for my problem? I have 1 year old daughter. She is the only reason I am still sticking to this marriage. In India going out of marriage is like crime for women.