9 Steps to ID and Heal Disrespect in Marriage

Dealing with disrespect in marriage has two sides. When wives disrespect their husbands and when husbands disrespect their wives.  When I started trying to address the issue in my own marriage I wanted soooo badly to start with, “How do you deal with a disrespectful husband?”  God had other plans and they start with the old world word ‘unbecoming’.

Dealing With Disrespect In Marriage

To be perfectly honest with you, by the time I was turning to God with the broken pieces of my marriage I had long since given up on the idea of love in marriage.  No, love wasn’t a part of our story anymore, but I was determined he would at least respect me!  

Except that he didn’t. 

God kept bringing me back to love when I had buried that idea and moved on to disrespect in marriage.  

Who Said Love is Patient and Kind?

For our study, we are looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act disrespectfully or unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s own, is not provoked to anger, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth;bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, enduring all thingsLove never fails.

Today we see that love does not act unbecomingly.  

What Does ‘Love Does Not Act Unbecomingly” Mean?

Unbecoming is such an old-world word. When a word is so out of date I search the verse in many versions of the Bible.  

Some synonyms for unbecoming from different Bible versions:

  • Rude
  • Unseemly
  • Disrespectful   

Unbecoming = Disrespectful

Ah, disrespect in marriage, right smack in the middle of a passage on love.  Doesn’t that feel good?  Love and respect are tied together which means I was not crazy to long for respect from my husband.  

Understanding Respect Differently

The problem was that God was very pointedly talking to me about respect when I wanted Him talking to Bud about respect (among other things)!  

I was sure I was a respectful wife.  Sure of it! 

  • When he did something worthy of respect I gave it to him…   
  • I was kind and courteous to him.
  • When he spoke I listened.
  • Even when I was angry I was polite.
  • To be engaged I offered advice as an active listener.
  • I was willing to change.
  • Gossip never crossed my mind.
  • I admitted my mistakes to him.


But, in the middle of our crazy-mess-of-a-marriage-season, I was issued a challenge by my Mentor.

“Do you know what your husband finds disrespectful?” 

I thought I did but this friend pressed further.  

“Men and women understand respect differently.  I want you to ask your husband what he finds disrespectful.”

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9 Steps to ID And Heal Disrespect in Marriage

I took her challenge, sure he would have nothing but praise of how respectful I was.  Ouch, I was not ready to hear his gut-level honest answers and the first conversation failed terribly! 

Today, as I mentor other women I give this challenge in nine small steps to prepare them for the shock.  Often we see the faults and failures of our spouse before ever realizing we are guilty of the same behavior. 

When dealing with disrespect in a relationship you have to accept that both people probably feel some level of disrespect.  

Will you take this challenge to identify the list of disrespectful behavior?

Step 1.  Pray

Pray and ask God to prepare your heart for your husband’s answers.  Be honest with God about your hurts.  Lay them at His feet. He can heal the hurt and prepare you for such an amazing change!  At the time of this challenge, my prayer was, “My husband has no respect for my feelings God.  It hurts.  Help me.”

Don’t assume you know what your husband finds disrespectful.  Men and women see respect differently and even among the genders our background will cause variations.  Ask God to soften your heart (and his heart) in preparation for this conversation and make you a student of your spouse.

Related Post: Offensive Fighting That Will Reclaim Hope in Marriage

Step 2. Timing

Timing is important for difficult conversations.  To make the most of this one, pick a time when your husband is in a good mood to start the conversation.  Some times that work well for us are after a good day at work or after an intimate time with you (that usually makes a lighter mood). 

Some other things

Related Post: Sex In a Christian Marriage: The Uncomfortable Truth

Step 3. Start Positive

Start the conversation very positively.  When I began I explained it this way:

“Hey hun, I am trying to understand respect and how you feel respected because I wanted to be a more respectful wife. Can we talk about that?”

Give it a try!  I bet you’ll have his attention (and probably his admiration).

We often approach the topic of disrespect in marriage from our own gender point of view and that can be detrimental. Learn the right way here… Click To Tweet

Step 4. Ask and Listen

Ask him to tell you what makes him feel disrespected by you.  This is where I went wrong the first time having this conversation so let me give you some pro-tips:

  • Just listen as he tells you.
  • Don’t justify your actions.
    • This is not about right or wrong, it is about how he interprets situations.
  • If it is in you, apologize for what he mentioned.  

Let me tell you I was shocked by his list of disrespectful behaviors.  He felt disrespected when I:

  • Habitually criticize him.
  • Offer advice about little things he didn’t ask for advice about.
  • Correct his parenting in front of the kids.
  • Take the lead and leave him out of the decision-making process.
  • Nag him about his driving.

This is a small part of the list…

Related Post: 16 Characteristics of a Godly Marriage

Step 5: Process 

It was shocking to see how unbecoming I had been!  There was disrespect in our marriage all the way around!

I was not respecting him in the way he understood respect.   And as I sat there… shocked I came face to face with sin.  

Unintentional sin… but sin is sin.  Sound harsh? 

Well, if God said, “Wives respect your husband,” and I wasn’t… that was a sin.   

God showed me this sort of Love/Respect sandwich in Ephesians 5:22-33Have you ever seen it there? 

  • God starts it with a one-liner for the wife -respect your husband.  
  • Then for 10 verses, he tells the husband how to love the wife.
  • He finishes the passage reminding the wives to respect their husbands. 

Now, most of the weight falls to the husband – and man alive – that kind of love is intense!  Believe me, if I were sitting with your husband I would challenge him to dig into that passage and better learn what this intense love looks like. 

But I am talking to us as wives.  Ladies, God doesn’t give any loopholes about respect or acting unbecoming.  

You Have to Respect Your Husband

I’m not good at any of that. When I feel disrespected I show disrespect. What about you?

After recovering from the shock of his answer, I began working on being a respectful wife. 

Related Post: Words of Affirmation for Him: The Best Gift for My Husband

Step 6.  Take Notes

After you process the shock of what he shared, write down what he shared so you can begin being intentionally respectful! 

What is respectful behavior in a relationship?

Listening to the feedback your spouse gives and making changes.  This is hugely respectful and when you show respect often you get respect back!

So make a list to help you remember and think about what he said.  You can brainstorm ideas on the list to try to change bad habits.  

  • One idea that helped me was to post reminders for myself about the things that are hardest…  “Tiffany close your eyes in the car and don’t give advice,” for example. 

Step 7. Perspective Shift

The truth is, you can’t change disrespect in marriage alone!  The change will require more prayer.  Pray that God will begin to make deep heart changes so you can begin to see things from your husband’s perspective

God is faithful and He will show you ways to do this better.  Remember He promises to give wisdom freely to those who ask (James 1:5)!

Step 8: Expect Set Backs

Along the way to change I still catch myself slipping up. Expect setbacks!  You will have a bad day or you all fight and you will slip back into those old disrespectful habits. 

When you slip, be quick to make amends. 

This one is hard because I often feel “justified” in my way of doing a thing.  Remember, this isn’t about who is right or wrong, it’s about creating a habit of respect where I care about him and how he sees things.  

Related Post: Add Prayer and Fasting for Marriage Blessing

Step 9. Check-In

After a few weeks, check back in with him to see if he noticed any change in how respectful you have been.

By checking back in about the issue of disrespect in marriage you show him love in a felt way!  You show him this wasn’t a one-and-done thing but something he can count on you about.  You show him you are trustworthy.  It goes a long way. 

The most amazing result of this challenge is that now I know what he sees as respectful.  I can ensure that our love does not act unbecomingly in our marriage as much as it depends on me! 

Will You Take the Challenge To Deal With Disrespect In Marriage? 

I know, I know.  One more thing for you to work on in yourself when what you really want is for him to change.  I get that!  Believe me, I have wrestled with God over this for years!

But wives, can I shoot straight with you?  You are only responsible for your behavior.  Even if he is the one being disrespectful 99% of the time (which God sees) you still have to own your 01%.  So we have to face the fact that there could be disrespect in us… that could be part of the issue in our marriage.  If you are like me you may see that it was more like 50/50 after all!

What is disrespectful behavior in a relationship? We often approach the topic of disrespect in marriage from our own gender point of view and that can be detrimental. 

Do you know what your husband finds disrespectful? Are you willing to take the Respect Challenge today to begin seeing real change in your marriage? 

  1. Pray
  2. Time The Conversation Well
  3. Start Positive
  4. Ask and Listen
  5. Process
  6. Take Notes
  7. Perspective Shift
  8. Expect Set Backs
  9. Check-In

I know this article focuses on signs of disrespect in a relationship from the husband’s point.  Many of you have asked me to address the opposite side:

Why Do Husbands Disrespect Their Wives and How to Turn It Around will come soon.

More Tools For Fighting Disrespect in Marriage

Words of affirmation (admiration and appreciation) and prayer are two of the biggest things that healed our broken marriage.

The best gift for our husbands when healing the wounds of disrespect in marriage can be our words!  Over the course of the challenge, I made notes to share with Bud about the things I respected in him.  Then I turned them into a printable for you!

Check out these Love Notes: Words of Affirmation Cards in my shop, print them out, commit to pray over them, and give one per week to your husband for the next year.  You will build him up and create momentum for real change in his life!

Do You Need To Go Deeper?

This is part of the 9-week Marriage Bible Study –Finding Hope & Joy in Marriage.  Through this course, we will explore the 9 Biblical foundations of having a successful marriage in God’s way.  

This class will include:

  • 10 video lessons
    • You can watch live or when you have time
  • 9 weeks of personal study
    • 5 days each week that should take 10-15 minutes
  • A private Facebook Group to discuss the homework and talk through the weekly challenges
  • 45 Days of Prayer prompts

in HIM,

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Tiffany Montgomery

Tiffany of Hope Joy in Christ inspires Christian Women to grow in faith, live out Biblical Marriage Principles and raise Godly Children.  Join the Wives Only Facebook Group here or keep up with her through Pinterest.

44 thoughts to “9 Steps to ID and Heal Disrespect in Marriage”

    1. I agree Heather. Seems like common sense… but I didn’t get it until a few years ago.

  1. I think that it should be both way, not only the wife to respect her husband but the other way around too. Marriadge is a friendship based on love in the end where both partners should respect each other the same.

    1. too true Joanna. sadly, I can’t do anything about how he behaves. I am only responsible for me. Too often I would hold out respect until he showed love… but that never worked out! Now I focus on doing my part. He is also working to do better at his part. It is beautiful when it works that way.

  2. I have to admit I do nag my other half, that’s something I need to get better at not doing as most of the time he doesn’t deserve it.

    1. I think we all do that! You are not alone. That’s why I say we need our own club-to encourage and lift each other up. I call it “The Wifehood”! Welcome Sarah

  3. I think you raise some good points about being respectful to one another even if you aren’t feeling too many kind thoughts towards them at that point in time haha

  4. I definitely need to work on the respect. Sometimes with everything going on in life it is easy to forget.

    1. IKR Mal! Isn’t it odd how this is the relationship it is easiest to neglect?

  5. Communication is so important in a successful marriage. This is a great series if posts. I will have to share it with a friend that is getting married this summer.

  6. I think it’s really important that partners mutually respect each other. I have correct my husband’s parenting in front of my daughter too. We talked about it afterward and agreed that we try not to talk about parenting mistakes in front of our daughter.

    1. That one is so hard Ave! I get emotionally caught up in that moment and it has taken time to re-train my brain to be silent in that moment and talk to him later – privately.

  7. Thanks for sharing your personal experience, I agree that respect is definitely key to any good, healthy relationship!

  8. Respect in a marriage is critical. However, it isn’t just about the wife respecting her husband. Husbands need to respect their wives. It is truly a two way street. Having said that – if for some reason my husband disrespects me, I’d like to believe that doesn’t mean I will automatically stoop to disrespecting him. Instead I try to understand what is going on – there is a reason this happened. Perhaps he had a bad day at work? Marriage takes work no matter what – every day.

    1. So true Athena! I wrestle back and forth with that… but All I can focus on is my part. He should love and respect in return. He does a good job with this for sure. But I don’t always. Just being real. I love all the comments from women who do it so much better! Hoping to be there one day!

  9. We are both non religious couple, but what makes us bond and together are the undestanding and love that we have. Its a good communication and patience to one another.

    1. Yes Blair, it is true regardless of religious beliefs. Religion is not really a part of it… thought it is in my life so I write from that perspective. Respect is just a piece build into us that we need to learn how to live from. Thanks for the comment.

    1. That is true. It’s so important to show grace when either of us mess up. It’s funny though how we understand it differently than hubby does. we really are very different.

  10. These are some great reminders! With us we realized that love and respect are essentially the same thing for men. My hubby is a little different in what respect looks like because of his upbringing, but really it’s all connected to loving your husband, because to him respect shows that you love him.

  11. Can i say something here, what if you have a husband who degrades you constantly, should you still respect him.
    Both women and men deserves respect in a marriage in order for it to work out.
    If only men is to be respected, than women will be always be the abused victim here.
    Take for instance, in Papua New Guinea, we have marriages been torn apart because the men decided for themselves that they are in charge and they can do what pleases them.
    The poor wife not knowing anything trusts and respects her husband no matter what people tell her.
    But only comes a time ,when the two women meet and they fight and husband decides to bash his wife up because she hit his girfriend and leaves her for good
    What will u say to this? Should respect be still be maintain

    1. I hear you, Abigail. That is a whole other topic for sure. This was shared from the perspective of a wife wanting to learn how to respect her husband. I have noted that it needs to be tackled from the other angle. There are many wives struggling in a marriage where their husband shows them no respect and that is hard. Something that I can share here is that when your husband does not respect you you have to surround yourself with godly wives to help you fight through this season in prayer and with tough love and hard conversations.

      Thanks again for pointing out that this was just one side. I will address the other side soon. Praying for you in the inbetween!

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