Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Nina Roesner's book, The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and your Husband (Thomas Nelson, 2012).
Men’s greatest need in marriage is respect. Yet, too often, wives neglect to give their husbands the respect they need, which significantly damages their marriages.
When you withhold respect from your husband, it’s as painful to him and harmful to your marriage as if he is withholding love (women’s greatest need in marriage) from you. Respecting your husband is a challenge – especially when he doesn’t deserve it. But God stands ready to help you learn how to give your husband the unconditional respect that’s necessary for your marriage to thrive.
Here’s how you can learn how to respect your husband more:
Reflect on how your parents’ relationship has impacted your own marriage views. Think about the kind of example your parents set for you growing up about how men and women respect each other. What good and bad choices did they make about respect, and how has their example impacted your current views about respect in marriage?
Evaluate how spiritually mature you currently are, and ask God to show you areas to improve. Learning how to truly respect your husband requires great spiritual maturity, but God will help you every step of the way. Honestly consider the various aspects of your spiritual development so far – from your character, to how often you communicate with God. Then pray for God’s help to grow in each of the areas in which you need improvement in order to be able to respect your husband well.
Develop the self-control you need to respond rather than react to your husband. When you’re communicating with your husband, aim to be quick to listen and slow to become angry. Ask gentle questions to clarify what your husband says rather than arguing with him.
Practice acts of kindness. Do something kind for your husband (such as taking over a chore of his when he’s especially busy) without expecting him to notice or thank you for your effort. Develop a habit of being kind simply to express your love for him. Cut back on unnecessary activities in your life to free up more time to serve your husband through regular acts of kindness.
Choose words of respect. When communicating with your husband (in speaking or in writing), choose your words carefully, making sure that they express your message respectfully. Be careful to respect your husband’s reputation when communicating with other people about him (so avoid venting your frustrations about him or your marriage to others) Make a habit of complimenting and praising your husband whenever possible.
Remember why you married your husband in the first place. Ask God to remind you of specific, positive qualities that first attracted you to your husband. Then make a point of noticing and appreciating those qualities still at work in your husband today.
Extend grace to your husband. When your husband makes mistakes, decide to give him grace, just as God does with you when you make mistakes.
Be encouraging rather than judgmental or critical. Ask God to help you refrain from judging or criticizing your husband, and instead encourage him as often as possible. When you regularly encourage your husband, he will develop more trust in you and start to confide in you more.
Resist the temptation to give your husband unsolicited advice. Simply listen when your husband talks about the challenges and problems he’s facing; offer advice only when he asks for it.
Focus on what God wants you to think about. Pray daily for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and discipline yourself to focus on thoughts about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy in every situation.
Treat your husband like a man, not a boy. Ask God to make you aware of any times when you’ve been treating your husband like a child rather than the adult he is. Develop a habit of intentionally saying and doing things that respect your husband’s manhood, such as refraining from rescuing him from the consequences of his poor decisions.
Don’t put financial pressure on your husband. Respect your husband’s hard work and efforts to earn money, and thank him for it. Never pressure him to try to get a raise so you can have more money to spend. Ask God to help you meet your financial needs in ways that don’t involve pressuring your husband, such as earning more money yourself to take some of the financial burden off your husband.
Organize your home. Do whatever you can to make your home’s environment orderly, which will create a respectful atmosphere for you and your husband both to enjoy, leading to less stress and more peace in your marriage.
Express love for your husband in the ways he’s most comfortable receiving it. The ways your husband naturally demonstrates his love for you are the ways in which he’s most likely to appreciate you showing love to him. Find out what those ways are (from acts of service to affirming words), and express your love to him in those ways often.
Don’t keep score with household chores. If, like many wives, you’re doing more of the household chores than your husband does, don’t let resentment poison your marriage. Instead, do your best to divide the labor between you in respectful ways, and keep in mind that you’re ultimately serving God when you work.
Support and encourage your husband as he pursues his dreams. Do whatever you can to help your husband pursue his dreams, and celebrate his accomplishments with him.
Listen well. When your husband shares his thoughts and feelings with you, listen carefully and try to understand both what he says and the intentions behind what he says.
Allow your husband to be in charge of your home. Trust God to help bring you and your husband into unity as you make decisions together by respecting God’s role for your husband as the head of your home and letting him make the final call when you all disagree about something, since God holds him responsible for the consequences.
Pray for and with your husband. Respect your husband’s concerns enough to bring them before God in prayer. Make a daily habit of praying for your husband, and pray with him when possible, too.
Work on your sex life together. Do your best to develop and maintain a mutually satisfying sex life with your husband. Initiate sex with him sometimes, rather than just waiting for him to approach you about sex.
Join your husband for recreational activities he enjoys. Let your husband enjoy your company on his terms sometimes. Be willing to join him doing something that he enjoys, regardless of whether or not you enjoy it as much as he does.
Forgive your husband. Follow Jesus’ command to forgive whenever husband hurts or offends you, and rely on Him to empower you to do so.
Adapted from The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband, copyright 2012 by Nina Roesner. Published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Nina Roesner is the executive director of Greater Impact Ministries, Inc., a Christian training organization. Nina has more than 20 years in the communications and training industry and has coached numerous executives, managers, individuals, wives, church staffs, and pastors around the United States. She has been married to her husband, Jim, since 1991, and together they are privileged to be raising and homeschooling three children.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles. Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.