8 Simple Rules for Respecting my Husband
Lane & I have now been married for a little over 8 months. That puts us at just a third of the way through the “newlywed” phase of our marriage. These first 8 months have been incredible, and God has truly blessed me beyond measure! He’s also challenged me, probably more than ever before. We both believe in Biblical marriage. In a husband leading, and a wife submitting to his leadership. We believe marriage is to be a reflection of Christ and the church. And ladies, let me tell you–it most certainly is! Just as the church struggles in their sin, and pushes against God’s leading, I find myself doing the same with my husband. Just as Christ is faithful to the church–no matter how rebellious we are to Him–Lane is faithful to love me even when I’m being stubborn, rebellious, and let’s just say it–SINFUL. Submission is hard, and marriage has got to be one of God’s best tools for revealing the sin that lies in our hearts. My husband is patient, kind, loving, intelligent, responsible, and even fun! So I didn’t think submitting to him would be that tough. After all, we want the same things, right? I figured I’d be “submitting” by doing everything I’ve always valued. But I’ve learned that submission comes in the small, day-to-day moments of life; not just in the major decisions. And when it comes down to choosing a movie, deciding what’s for dinner, or even whether or not I’m ready for bed–it’s just not so easy anymore. In the moment, I want control. I want to do whatever it is I want to do, and respecting my husband’s leadership falls to the back of my mind. Slowly I’ve begun to recognize this sinful behavior a little quicker than I used to, but sometimes it’s still not quick enough to stop me from acting on my own sin.
God is working in me though. He’s changing my heart. He’s changing who I am. He has consistently put things before me that convict me of my sin, call me to repentance, and teach me how to be the wife that He’s called me to be. Through blogs from The Peaceful Wife, Lessons of Mercy, and Joyfully Submitted; He’s given me so many examples of practical ways to respect my husband. These godly women have written words that God has used on my heart, more times than I can even count. My sweet husband has gently guided my character as he demonstrates love, mercy, patience, and service. Through these women, through Lane, and through many others–God has laid on my heart some goals. Some principles to live by. I might even call them “rules”–though many balk at the word. But if he is my husband, then he is my authority. And submitting myself to “rules” or any authority is going to have to humble me. It’s time to embrace humility, and to embrace the freedom that comes with submission.
So here they are, “8 Simple Rules for Respecting My Husband”. Some are specific to me as a wife. Others may apply to both my husband and me. But regardless of whether this should apply to my husband to, I must remember that it simply isn’t my job to make sure he is doing his. I can do my part, regardless of if he’s doing his. Here’s how:
1. My answer is always ‘Yes’. Before our wedding, Lane & I sat down to discuss our wedding vows. Though Lane thought the vows were but a small glimpse of all he was promising me, I really wanted to search for vows that would at least give a broad overview of all that we were committing to each other. We settled on traditional vows, with a few tweaks here and there. In Lane’s vow to me he said,
“I, Lane, take thee Rachel
to be my lawfully wedded wife.
To have and to hold from this day forward.
For better, For worse.
For richer, For poorer.
In sickness and in health.
To love and to cherish,
As long as we both shall live.”
My vow to him was almost identical, with one MAJOR difference. In place of “to love and to cherish”, I vowed “to love, cherish, and obey”. Did you catch that? “OBEY.” It was added for a reason, and I’m sure it didn’t go unnoticed by very many of our wedding guests. I believed submission should go deeper than a simple respecting of his opinion. That my submission wasn’t just hearing his side before I made my own choices. Though he’s always willing to hear my side and he always makes decisions in light of my wants, desires, or needs–submission had to mean that the final decision comes down to Lane, the leader of our family. To my husband, the man I married. The man I love. The man I trust. The man I have chosen to follow. I vowed on that day, before God and about 100 witnesses, to obey him. Not just when I feel like it. Not just when I agree with him. But until death. So when my husband makes a request of me, or makes a decision, my answer should always be the same. ‘Yes.’
2. If I don’t understand something, assume he does. A few months ago, the Peaceful Wife shared a video about responding to our husband’s criticism. The lessons she taught in that video have really stuck with me, and I’ve begun to realize that they apply to so many more moments than if my husband is criticizing me. April shared that in communication with our husbands, we need to START from the assumption that our husbands have something worthwhile to say. It seems so simple when you put it that way. OF COURSE my husband has something worthwhile to say. He’s intelligent. He’s a critical thinker. He’s actually pretty wise. These are things I know for certain about him. In fact, they are things I knew about him before I married him. But again, in the heat of the moment, when he doesn’t agree with me, I sometimes get defensive. Rather than hearing him out, and assuming that he’s telling me something worthwhile–I begin scrutinizing what he says. I pick it apart and use it to come up with my own ‘talking points’ that will convince him that what I have to say is better. Of course I may do this in the nicest of words, and I may even precede ‘my side’ with something along the lines of, “I see what you’re saying BUT…” or “That’s a really great idea BUT what if….” God has reminded me over and over of April’s wise words. “Consider that his ideas may have wisdom. His ideas may have merit….It’s worth taking the time to listen and assume that there might be something important here in what your husband is saying.” Wow! Not a day has gone by that I haven’t been convicted by these words. Though I know them to be true, pride is a hard sin to overcome. But regardless of my opinions, thoughts, viewpoints, or what I think is ‘wisdom’–the truth is that most of the time I don’t know all the details. I don’t know the reasons my husband has chosen a certain method, or made a certain decision. And even if I don’t understand a decision he makes, it’s best to assume that he DOES understand. And if you ask me–it’s a pretty safe assumption when I consider the man I married.
3. Apologize first. After reading the first two rules, it’s probably pretty obvious why this one’s important! Marriage is a union between two sinful people. We will both make mistakes, and many of them. When I fail, I know he will forgive me. But it’s up to me to say “I’m sorry.” As soon as I realize I’ve been disrespectful to my husband in any way, I should apologize. Regardless of who was ‘right’ in an argument, I have committed to love, cherish, and obey my husband. So even if I truly believe he is wrong–I am still to be respectful. This doesn’t mean that I’m a doormat. It simply means that I respect him even when I disagree with him. I can let him know I disagree, but I must do so in a respectful manner. If I am disrespectful in any way, I owe him an apology. Nothing fancy, no rationalizations, just an “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have (fill in the blank).” We learned it as preschoolers, and the truth is that a simple apology goes a long way toward restoration.
4. Forgive first. Just as I fail, my husband will too. And while I don’t sit around expecting him to fail, I shouldn’t be shocked when he does. I also shouldn’t treat his failures as though they are worse than mine. I should let them go. I should forgive immediately, even before he asks me to. I should seek to never bring up a past wrong that I’ve claimed to have already forgiven. In fact, if and when these things even come to mind, I should dismiss them as quickly as possible. Rather than dwelling on his faults, I should dwell on the positives. In thinking about my husband, it’s a pretty simple concept to apply. I could probably count the negative things about him on one hand, but when I sit down to write the positives–the list never ends! In fact, a year ago I set out to make him a Valentine’s gift with a deck of cards. It was called “52 Things I love about You” (a pinterest idea, of course!), and each card had one thing I love about him. I thought it would be hard to come up with 52 different things, but then I started writing. I ended up having to pick and choose which ones to put on the cards, because I had come up with so many more! These are the things I should dwell on, and forgiveness will be easy. I love this man. I’m so blessed to be married to him. And no grudges are going to get in the way of that! As far as I’m concerned he doesn’t even need to ask for forgiveness when he messes up, because my forgiveness will always be there. If he does ask, the answer is always, “Of course. You’re my husband. I’ll always forgive you.” Though this forgiveness will hopefully go both ways, I shouldn’t wait to be forgiven before offering forgiveness myself. My forgiveness should be unconditional.
5. Confess my wrong-doing. Though I’ve already included “Apologize first”, I wanted this to be here too. Sometimes I mess up in ways my husband isn’t even aware of. Sometimes I’ve done nothing to hurt him, but I have done something wrong. This could be a simple mistake, like forgetting to tell him about something he needed to do. I may remember after it’s too late, and think “Well, there’s no use in telling him now. It’s too late.” But the truth is that if I tell him as soon as I remember, it will build trust in our relationship. “Honey, I just realized that I forgot to tell you something, and you’ve already missed out on the chance now.” Yes, he could be disappointed. Yes, he could be upset. But it’s more likely that he’ll forgive me, and recognize that I told him even when I didn’t have to. That builds trust. It tells him that I trust him and respect him enough to confess my mistake. Confessing my wrong-doings applies both to intentional sin, unintentional sin, and genuine mistakes. Regardless of if the mistake was my fault or not, I owe it to my husband to be honest about it. It’s not always a case of needing to be forgiven. This is about being 100% honest with my man! This way–there’s nothing I’m keeping from him, there’s nothing affecting our communication, and there’s nothing hindering our relationship.
6. DON’T explain ‘my side’ of the story. This one is HARD! When I mess up, it’s so natural to want to give excuses, or even legitimate reasons, as to why I messed up in the first place. But this is manipulative. It isn’t my place to force him to take my side! I don’t need to convince him that even though I messed up in the end, I had a good reason for it. If my mistake is sin–well…..Sin is sin, and any excuse for sin is a bad one. I shouldn’t want my husband to take my side when I’ve sinned. I should expect him to help pull me out of that sin. If my mistake was simply a mistake, then I should trust that he will see that. Rather than telling him all the reasons I forgot to tell him something, I should just say “I’m so sorry. I forgot to tell you (fill in the blank).“ Doesn’t that sound so much better than telling him about how busy I’ve been, and all the things I’ve been doing to help him, and how I’ve also been really tired–and a little bit sick, too? My husband LIVES with me. He sees almost everything that I do. He knows if I’m busy, or tired, or sick. Rather than assuming I need to remind him, I should TRUST my husband to recognize these things. The details that I feel will ‘get me off the hook’ are irrelevant in the end, and can come off sounding extremely disrespectful. What matters is this: I messed up, and I’m sorry. What I consider to be ‘my side’ of the story is really just me trying to control my husband’s reaction. This motive is manipulative, disrespectful, and sinful. When my “I’m sorry” is followed with “but…”, everything after the “but” tends to negate my apology. Though I can always let my husband know what I desire or need, I have to make sure ‘my side’ of the story isn’t just my way to manipulate him.
7. Say ‘Thank You’. This one is FUN! Regardless of whether he helped me pick up after dinner, handed me something from across the room, listened to my idea, granted a request, or was simply ‘there’ when I needed him–I am to let him know that I’m thankful. There are SO many reasons that I am thankful for him! And whether he’s going above and beyond (which he does pretty often!), or doing something that’s generally expected of husbands, I should be thankful. I should be thankful when he fulfills a promise. I should be thankful when he is kind, when he does something small, or when he does something big. The size of his service to me is irrelevant in determining my appreciation. I appreciate my husband, and I want him to know it!
8. Serve him MORE than I have to. There are certain duties that tend to be classified as the ‘wife’s job.’ We all know what they are–things like cooking and cleaning and laundry. I’m so blessed to have a man who helps with all of these things. And considering that we both work for now, I’m so glad he does! I’m really not sure I could get everything done if he didn’t help. But even with his help, I get tired. Sometimes I want to come home from work and just ‘chill’ on the couch for a while. And every now and then, it could be exactly the right thing to do! But I should also remember I John 3:16, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us, And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Christ loved the world SO MUCH that He laid down His life for us! This is the fullness of LOVE–that we also lay down our lives for others. The love between husband and wife is the deepest and most intimate love I will ever experience on this earth, and following after Christ–I am to ‘lay my life down’ for my husband. I am to give my all, and hold nothing back. I’m not just trying to fulfill my ‘wife duties’. I want to do MORE. If I CAN do something for my husband, then I want to do it. I don’t want to be too tired to serve him. I don’t want to be too lazy to serve him. I want to pour myself out completely, for him. I want to love my husband with all that is in me, and with all that I have.
All eight of these ‘rules’ are such simple concepts, but they cut deep to the heart. I cannot fully live them out on my own. I can only give this kind of love and respect to my husband through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in my life. It is God who leads me. It is God who defines me. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts my heart. But it is I who must listen to God’s leading. It is I who must obey. It is I who must seek God daily, and keep my eyes set on Him. And God will take my offering of myself, and transform it daily into a woman who loves as He loves. Into a wife who truly respects her husband with all that is within her, and with all that God has given her.
Check out these other excellent posts by God-fearing women! And while you’re at it, just go ahead and follow their blogs! You WILL be blessed!
- Forgiveness <www.peacefulwife.com>
- How to be a Lonely, Frustrated, Angry, Overwhelmed, Worried Wife <www.peacefulwife.com>
- I Gave Up Money Control-Update <www.lessonsofmercy.wordpress.com>
- Money-and the Ugly Truth <www.lessonsofmercy.wordpress.com>
- Ladies, IT’S A FIGHT!!! <www.joyfullysubmitted.com>
- I Hate My Husband! <www.joyfullysubmitted.com>
- Submission: A Perspective on God’s Love For Us <www.joyfullysubmitted.com>
- Video: Why Non-Verbal Disrespect is SO Disrespectful to Our Husbands