As I’ve interacted with couples from all over the world and researched the keys to happiness and fulfillment in marriage, one surprising discovery is that most husbands are absolutely desperate for the respect of their wives. For many men, the drive to be respected is even stronger than their drive for sex.
(Women also desire and deserve respect. Take a minute to read my post on 7 ways a wife needs respect from her husband)
This isn’t a new discovery. The Bible records a two thousand-year-old tidbit of marriage wisdom by stating, “So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33). There’s a great book by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs called “Love and Respect” which delves into the deeper meanings of love and respect in marriage.
I believe most women genuinely want to show respect to their husbands, but they don’t always know how to do it. What a wife may do to show respect and what a husband may need to feel respected are often two different things. To help bring more harmony to your marriage, I’ve outlined below the main ways a husband feels respected from his wife.
This is not a comprehensive list and all of these may not all apply to every marriage, but I’m strongly convinced these seven principles hold true for the vast majority of men. I’m so thankful to have a wife who shows me much more love and respect than I deserve! Thanks, Ashley.
(In no particular order):
A husband feels respected by his wife when…
1. She is content to live within the family’s financial means.
A husband has a deep desire to be a provider. In our modern society, the man is not usually the sole breadwinner, but he still wants to feel that his work is meeting the needs and desires of his wife. When a wife will live within the family’s financial means, she’s communicating respect to her husband by validating his hard work and his need to be a provider. She’s also removing financial stress from the marriage. (Husbands obviously need to live within the financial means of the family as well).
2. She prioritizes what happens in the bedroom.
When a man feels starved sexually, he will often feel both the physical frustration of unfilled desire and the emotional frustration of feeling undesirable to his wife. When the wife will initiate intimacy and also be receptive to his advances, he will feel more respected and fulfilled and he’ll also be more capable of fulfilling his wife’s needs.
For more on this, check out our new video series on sex and intimacy in marriage.
3. She builds him up with her words (both in public and in private).
A wife’s words have the power to shape her husband. A wife shows respect to her husband both by how she speaks to him and by how she speaks about him. In both public and private, a wife’s words can build up or tear down her husband. She’s affirming, not sarcastic. She’s warm, not cold. She’s his biggest encourager, not his biggest critic.
For more on this, check out this post on “How do I respect my husband when he makes so many mistakes?”
4. She laughs with him (not at him).
When there isn’t much laughter in the marriage, that’s usually a warning sign of deeper issues. Find opportunities to laugh together. Your husband desperately wants you to be happy. Most husbands can’t be happy unless they believe they’re making their wives happy. Also, laugh at his jokes. This one might seem silly, but you’d be amazed how important it is for most men to know his wife believes he has a great sense of humor.
5. She trusts his judgment.
I’m certainly not saying a wife should blindly agree to everything that husband wants. A marriage requires a lot of conversation, mutual submission, and sometimes even debate. What I am saying is that a man feels strongest when his wife affirms his strength. A man feels wisest when his wife affirms his wisdom. A man feels most respected when his wife respects his decisions.
6. She doesn’t mother him.
There’s a motherly instinct in most women and that instinct can sometimes be misdirected towards mothering a husband. When a wife attempts to change, discipline or correct a husband from the posture of a mother instead of a partner, the husband will feel emasculated and it will often cause a cycle of frustration for both the husband and the wife.
7. She has his back.
Above all, a husband needs to know his wife has his back. In all times, in all situations, let him know you love and respect him. Your love, your words, your actions and your respect have the power to bring out the best in him.
Dave Willis is the Founder of the Facebook Marriage Page (www.StrongerMarriages.org) and the Co-Founder of OneBigChurch.com which is a global, collaborative network of churches and ministry leaders. He is the author of five books including “iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage” and “Soul Caffeine: Stories and Life Lessons Designed to Encourage and Inspire.” Dave and his wife, Ashley have three young sons named Cooper, Connor and Chandler and they live near Augusta, GA where Dave serves on staff at Stevens Creek Church as a Teaching Pastor. To learn more, follow him on twitter @davewillis