A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” – Proverbs 12:4
If you asked every wife which she would rather be, a wife of noble character or a disgraceful wife, I would venture to guess that about 99.9% of the time she would say she would rather be a wife of noble character. I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of being my husband’s “crown;” his beautiful adornment, his status symbol.
I don’t like making blanket assumptions, but I hope you’ll forgive me and allow me to make a general statement for the purposes of this post. Generally, wives desire love and affection while husbands desire respect and admiration.
Yes, there are always exceptions, and everyone requires and deserves respect. But there is a difference in the way that is shown between husbands and wives.
Our husbands need to know that we admire, appreciate, and respect them. Sure, they know we love them, but do we actively notice what they do for us? Do we show them that we recognize the vital role they play in our lives and the lives of our children? It’s so easy to get into the habit of only noticing what our husbands don’t do and all the things we have to do. How often do we give them credit for the ways they make our lives easier?
I am guiltier of this than anyone I know. I am so quick to point out when my husband is the opposite of helpful or when he screws up. Whenever he does something worthy of my admiration, I write it off as something he should do anyway. It’s an unfair double standard. Men need appreciation just like we do.
And as much as I hate to point it out, if your husband doesn’t get admiration, respect, and appreciation at home, he will go somewhere else to get it. Sometimes that “somewhere” is innocent, and sometimes it’s not. Finding admiration and appreciation from other sources is never inherently a bad thing, but it is something that can quickly grow to become a larger problem if we are not careful.
Men will find admiration and respect from somewhere. Sometimes it’s their jobs, sometimes it’s their mother or their children, sometimes it’s their friends, and sometimes they will find the admiration they desire from another woman.
I am not saying that if your spouse cheats on you it’s your fault. I am also not saying that all of the pressure of respect in the marriage lies on the wife. Marriage requires two people working as hard as they can to make the marriage work. It’s a team effort and there are no team-carrying superstars. Search your heart as you read this. If you find yourself thinking, “Yes, but my spouse also needs to…” or “But what about my wife/husband?” or “Yeah, but he isn’t doing anything to deserve my respect!” Don’t make this about what your spouse is doing wrong.
That’s the problem in so many marriages. We refuse to see where we have gone wrong and keep a laundry list of all the things our spouse has done to hurt us. Make this about what you can do right. We all need to take the time to turn the mirror on ourselves. I am often guilty of not giving my husband the admiration and appreciation he deserves. I am guilty of remembering only the things he does wrong instead of also the things he does right. Is he guilty of things, too? Of course. He’s human. But his flaws do not excuse my own. I am only held accountable for my own behavior, and excuses are not a viable option.
“However, each of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” – Ephesians 5:33
Your husband is required to love your life as much as his own, and you are required to respect your husband. According to Google, there are two different definitions of respect. One is a noun: “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements,” and the other is a verb: “admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
This verse doesn’t say that you only have to respect your husband if he loves you and treats you well. It just says, “the wife must respect her husband.”
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
No one has a perfect marriage. But some of you are in deeper struggles than others. Sometimes, your husband is not someone you can respect. I understand that. When that is the case, love him. You can love your husband when you aren’t able to respect him, and “love covers a multitude of sins.” When you love your spouse selflessly and unconditionally, then eventually he is going to notice.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:2-3
And when your spouse has gone beyond the boundaries of what your love is able to help, then meditate on this verse from Ephesians. Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Love your spouse anyway. Make every effort to keep the “unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” That doesn’t mean roll over and let someone take advantage of you. It just means to keep unity by being humble, gentle, patient, and by loving one another.
There is no blanket answer to fix a marriage that is struggling. I hope that’s not what you expected this post to be. But there are instructions we can take from the bible and try to fit to our situations. For some, the solution to marital distress is as simple as learning to show your appreciation in a way that your spouse understands and receives. For others, the rift between the two spouses is bigger. Never let the idea of seeking counseling make you feel like a failure.
I truly believe that most small issues in marriages can be solved by each spouse focusing on loving and respecting the other and by showing that love and respect in a way that the spouse needs it shown.
So, where does your husband go to be admired and appreciated? If it isn’t first to you, his wife, then maybe you should pray and ask God to show you how you can be the steadiest and most important source of admiration and appreciation for your husband.