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 things. Love 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 When a word is so out of date I search the verse in many versions of the Bible.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:
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.”
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.
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 t
- Send the kids out so you are uninterrupted.
- Set aside any devices that could interrupt this time.
- You want to stay focused and not miss this opportunity.
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).
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…
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 5:22-33. Have 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
- Whether you think he deserves it or not
- Even if he isn’t loving you the way the passage says he should
- Regardless of how many mistakes he’s made in the past.
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.
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
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.
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?
- Time The Conversation Well
- Start Positive
- Ask and Listen
- Take Notes
- Perspective Shift
- Expect Set Backs
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 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
If you enjoyed this you would also like these Posts:
- How to Fast and Pray in a Way that Pleases God
- Be a Biblical wife to an Ungodly Husband
- To The Wife Who Needs Security in a Christian Marriage