Do you ever feel like your husband has completely shut down and shut you out? No matter what you say, or how you say it he’s not hearing anything. To fix this, I had to learn to show respect in ways he understands.
What Does It Mean To Show Respect In Marriage?
That was our story for years. He just didn’t hear me.
The truth is, he gets tired of being told he’s failed or fallen short. He just shuts down. And while I would never call my husband a failure or tell him he fell short, I did imply those things…
For years, I nagged him about doing things my way. I complained about what he forgot to do. I ignored him when he asked me to do something his way. In so many ways, through my indirect words and actions, I showed him I didn’t think much of him.
How did this change?
There came a season when I learned how to show respect to my husband in a way he would understand.
What Does It Mean To Respect Your Husband?
“Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22 NASB)
How do you nail down the true meaning of respect as a man understands respect?
We know the Bible verses about respect in marriage, but it feels like there is a special respect definition for men and a different definition for women. We just see this issue so differently!
Can you relate?
What is the act of showing respect?
To me, respect is being heard, understood, trusted, looked up to, prioritized.
However, my husband sees and feels respect in a different way. How about your husband?
Has he ever accused you of disrespectful behavior and you honestly had no idea where he was coming from?
Related Post: 9 Steps to ID and Heal Disrespect in MarriageMen and women understand respect differently, so how can we show respect from a place of love? Click To Tweet
What My Husband Finds Disrespectful
The truth is, I want my husband to open up to me, share his heart with me, love me, and cherish me. But over the years, that has disappeared.
Respect, I found is at the heart of this communication problem in our marriage. What I found to fix the problem was a form of respect. But learning how to show respect to your husband required me to first understand disrespect…
I know what my husband finds disrespectful. Tell me if your husband is like mine with these examples of disrespect in marriage.
- Being told to take the trash out more than once a day shows a lack of respect for my husband.
- Pointing out that the exit we need to take is four lanes over and 1/2 a mile away is disrespectful to my husband.
- Asking what he’s read in the Bible lately is disrespectful to my husband.
- Scrolling Facebook (instead of active listening) while he goes on and on about a game is disrespectful to my husband.
I’m stopping now, but I could honestly go on for hours listing all the things I do that drive my husband crazy. All the things he says are disrespectful.
Show Respect to Others
Your husband is different than mine. What sets my husband off, may not be what sets your husband off. Be a student of that man and learn what he finds respectful and disrespectful. It will be eye-opening and help you avoid needless marriage conflicts.
Honestly, I had to break it down even further than just how to show respect to my husband. I had to see it as showing respect to others in general.
I have no problem being respectful to other people, even caring about others’ feelings in the process. Why does that change in marriage? Why can’t I show him the same respect I would show a friend at church?
Because his mistakes and shortcomings affect me and our family negatively. When other people are struggling it doesn’t affect me so personally.
Marriage Communication Workshop
That’s why showing respect to others and showing respect to my husband are completely different. They start in a different place.
In the workshop we are doing together, we begin with prayerfully taking all the hard things to God. That’s because there are hard things. There are things our spouse does that are difficult to accept and show respect.
Have you registered for the Marriage Communication Workshop? This is one of the many marriage communication exercises you will learn in it.
When There Is No Respect In Marriage
Before we learn how to show respect, we have to ask a different question. Why is respect important and what does it have to do with communication in marriage?
Ah, so glad we got back to that! When your husband feels like there is no respect he shuts down and stops the lines of communication. I mean, he may nod and grunt, but there is no real meaningful, intimate conversation happening.
And really, how long can a marriage survive without communication?
The Connection Between Disrespect and Broken Communication
Yes, that’s where I am going with this conversation. Divorce statistics show that a lack of respect is a valid reason for men to quit marriage and a lack of communication is a reason for women to quit marriage.
Can you see the connection?
What are the effects of no communication in marriage?
- We disconnect.
- Our love tank empties.
- Both of us become irritable and hard to live with.
Marriage becomes difficult when there are communication problems. Communication problems from our husband’s perspective are often related to disrespect.
What can we do to shift this cycle?
How to Show Respect In A Relationship: 5 Best Ways To Show Respect
What I don’t want to do is give you 10 examples of respect and no real understanding of why they are respectful.
We need a practical understanding and a repeatable process. Something we can figure out for our unique relationship.
The specific ways I show respect to my husband may not be how to show respect to your husband. Make sense?
So instead of examples, I want to show you 5 best ways to show respect in any marriage.
- Look back if this season is too difficult.
- Understand that respect does not need to be earned.
- Use body language
Related Post: 53 Words of Affirmation for Men & How To Use ThemThere are 15 ways to show respect in marriage that he is sure to understand. Words of appreciation and admiration! Click To Tweet
Words of Affirmation
Affirmation is a buzzword today in culture. It means to support someone and show a strong belief in someone or something.
This is very similar to the idea of a helpmate in Scripture. Read more about that: What Is A Help Meet in The Bible: 4 Ways How To Have Joy.
I learned a lot about how to actually use words of affirmation from the book The 5 Love Languages.
From that teaching, I took a good idea and learned how to communicate in a respectful manner even when I felt little respect for my husband. It was more about the golden rule which is a lost art in this culture.
Why Focus on Words of Affirmation?
- Affirm means or the affirm definition – to state a fact, offer emotional support.
Words of affirmation are a way to show respect in a healthy relationship even if they are not his main love language.
We’ve talked at length about why love languages will not help your marriage if there are deeper needs not being met. Respect is a deeper need in our men.
The lack of respect is a barrier to effective communication in a Christian marriage.
We must learn how to show respect to others, and really internalize the show respect meaning here to shift things!
3 Examples Of Words of Affirmation?
Some ways to affirm your spouse, support him, and show him you are on his side might sound like this:
- It means so much to me when you…
- Thank you for…
- When you did xyz I felt…
- When you said xyz I felt…
- I noticed you did xyz well.
Where can you get ideas to fill in those blanks?
- Think about things that he does well.
- Remember things he was bummed out that you didn’t notice before.
- Look at areas where he seems proudest of his skills, knowledge or accomplishments.
Those are all areas where you can affirm him and support him, effectively showing respect!
Words of Appreciation
If you are struggling to find things to affirm in this season, try to think of appreciation rather than affirmation.
Honestly, if you search “show respect synonym” you will see that admiration and appreciation are at the top of the list!
- Appreciate means to recognize, see the full worth, and understand fully.
Whether I can affirm the things I recognize in my husband, I can see them and speak what I see.
He is human, a person made in the image of God, so there is worth in his life. I just have to see past the hurt and disappointment to find things to recognize in his worth.
How to Show Respect to Adults When There is Hurt
But what if you can’t find things to appreciate in him, to recognize in him honestly, to see worth in him?
There have been seasons in my life where the hurt was too great to affirm or appreciate my husband. The disappointment still stings when I think back on those seasons!
In those seasons a mentor taught me to look backward instead.
No matter how difficult things are in the present, I can reach into my memory and find things I appreciated about my husband once upon a time. It’s okay to walk down memory lane, I promise your husband will love it.
Examples of Words of Appreciation
Remember that your spouse is different from my spouse, so you will have to journal through things to appreciate about him specifically. Here are a few examples of things from my journal to help get you started.
- I recognize that you tried really hard to XYZ.
- Stay at this job.
- Not quit a job until you have another job.
- Fix the plumbing to save us money.
- Research a better system to make our lives more comfortable.
- I see you giving your all about XYZ.
- Reading bedtime stories to our kids.
- Trying to find a group at church.
- Keeping your calm around my family.
Examples if you are using the past:
- When we were dating you did xyz and that meant the world to me.
- Holding the door open for me.
- Calling me just to say hello.
- Asking about my day.
- I remember when you tried to xyz and I appreciated that.
- Fix the broken swing.
- Get along with my dad.
- Help move my mom out.
- Understand my first writtings.
- It was so thoughtful of you, in the early years of our marriage to do XYZ.
- Clean up the house if I was sick.
- Invite me to go on a walk.
- Sit down next to me and put your arm around me.
Words of Admiration
Earlier I mentioned there are synonyms for showing respect. Synonyms help me understand a word better when I am looking for practical ways to do something. Since all I was getting from my husband about respect were examples of disrespect I started searching deeper.
What is a synonym for showing respect? Admiration is high on that list!
I sort of understand that one more in line with how to show respect to elders. How does it apply to marriage? I do not think of my husband as my elder (I am 2 years older and way more mature!).
What Are Words of Admiration?
Okay, so we have seen words of affirmation, words of appreciation, and now we will look at words of admiration. But what does admire really mean?
- To Admire is to hold in high regard with approval.
Are there things I hold in high regard about my husband?
Are there things in his character that I approve of?
My gut wants to say, yes, there are things I admire about my husband. Of course, there are, even if they are things from years ago.
We chose our spouse for a reason.
Words of Admiration When There is Hurt in Marriage
On the other hand, it is difficult to affirm my husband when we are having marriage problems.
When we are struggling with broken communication I can only see his faults. In a difficult season, it can be challenging to see beyond his mistakes, beyond the pain and disappointment.
In those seasons, honestly, if I try to muster up affirmation, it will sound false and my face, my tone of voice, and body language will give me away. I don’t ever want to lie to my husband or be fake with him.
But, there are things to admire in most people. So again, I need to set the hurt at God’s feet and ask The LORD for eyes to see my husband as He sees my husband. To see behind or beyond the mess to the heart of that man.
Examples of Words of Admiration
In this season I need to think of the question with a shift.
How can you show respect to others? Then take that answer and try to see my husband as I would see any other person in my life.
So let’s take a moment and answer these 2 questions honestly, even if it requires looking back.
- Are there things I hold in high regard about my husband?
- Are there things in his character that I approve of?
You might tell him these things with this statement:
- I understand you to be a man who values XYZ.
- The sanctity of life
Use Body Language To Show Respect in Marriage
As a human being, at times my body betrays my thoughts. We know the best thing for our spouse is to feel respected, but even when my words are right, my facial expressions and tone of voice are a long way from being respectful!
How can we fix our body language when we need to show high esteem despite how we feel in our daily life with our spouse?
Remind yourself of the different things you listed that were affirming, admiring, and appreciative. Find common ground with how your spouse feels about respect. Practicing in front of a mirror is a great way to prepare for the next time you disagree. The next time it feels like a personal attack, when his definition of respect and your personal beliefs do not match you will be ready!
What will you be ready for? Great question!
Ready to acknowledge that you come to the relationship with different perspectives. Ready to remember that the most important things are to build trust and mutual respect. Prepared to lose a fight to win the battle.
Work hard on your body language on the good days, so that on your bad days you can pull from all the different ways you have been practicing to build him up.
How Can I Show Respect To My Husband When I Am Hurting?
When I speak words of affirmation, appreciation, and admiration my husband hears respect
Something magical happens when a man feels respected by his wife; he begins to show love.
You read that right.
We want him to love us and hear us when we communicate. Respect is what we must show.
Respect is this beautiful key that unlocks your husband’s heart.
When we do and say things to him that show respect, he responds by doing and saying things that show love. This one change is high on my list of the best advice for a happy marriage.
Words of affirmation, appreciation, and admiration speak life into your home, your husband, and your marriage in a practical way.
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21 NASB)
A Marriage Challenge: Showing Respect in Marriage
It was hard for me to begin to show respect to my husband in these ways. As I shared in the playful words session, we were in a difficult season of marriage. It seemed like he was doing nothing admirable at the time.
It took a lot of soul-searching and looking back for me to find things to say that would build my husband up.
My mentor issued a 30-day Marriage Challenge. For 30 days I had to speak, text, email, or drop a note about one thing I affirmed, admired, or appreciated about my husband.
I want to challenge you in the same way but first, let’s get over some the main hurdles most Western Christians have with showing respect.
- Respect should be earned
Respect Is Commanded Not Deserved
I remember being so aggravated that my mentor, who knew how unrespectable my husband was behaving at the time, wanted me to submit and show respect anyway.
How do you communicate respect with a difficult spouse?
I asked this so many ways, and her answers seemed to avoid my question though now I see she was wise to redirect me.
“Respect is a command from the Lord, not something a person earns. And how respectable a person is depends largely on how we think about them…”
Bible Verses About Showing Respect
Is respect a command? Doesn’t it have to be earned?
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (respect).” (Romans 12:10 ESV)
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (show respect). Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)
“Honor (respect) everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17 ESV)
These are just a few of the hundreds of Bible verses about showing respect. They do not teach us that respect has to be earned. Rather, respect is a command from the Lord that applies to our elders, leaders, other believers, those struggling, and yes, our spouse!
This challenge shifted my thoughts.
Respect Fixed Communication in My Marriage
So, if God commands me to show respect then I have to try this… Right?
We agreed to at least try to practice communication God’s way at the start of our series. And try I did!
It was shocking how quickly respect fixed communication in my marriage.
I mean changed.
My husband began looking for things to do to bring more of those words of admiration, affirmation, and appreciation! Things I had begged him to do for years were getting done around the house.
Even though in that season I had literally shut up about them… Even though I was only talking to God about them…
Respect was filling up a bucket that had been empty in my husband’s heart for years.
It breaks my heart to think of all the time I wasted nagging and complaining. All he needed was a cheerleader.
Your husband wants to be admired. Your husband wants to be appreciated. He longs to be affirmed by the one person who’s opinion matters most to him; his wife.
How To Show Respect To Your Husband
I want to sum up what we have learned today before we talk practically about this marriage challenge.
We have seen more than 5 ways to show respect in marriage. What are the 5 ways to show respect?
- Understand that respect does not need to be earned.
- Look back if this season is too difficult.
- Use body language
A Marriage Challenge to Add Respectful Words in Your Marriage
Now that you see the more than 5 ways we will practice showing respect, let me give you practical steps to actually accomplish the task.
The first step of this Respect in Marriage Challenge is an honest evaluation.
I want to challenge you to honestly evaluate your words over the past week, month, and year.
How often do you point out the good things in your husband?
How often do you point out his mistakes?
When I took this challenge the ratio was about 98% negative and 2% positive and I probably padded the numbers in my favor. I was so embarrassed.
If someone spent 98% of their time and conversation dogging me about my flaws I’d walk away from them. There would be some serious boundaries put up to protect me from them.
Then it hit me. An aha moment.
“It is better to live in a corner of the roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” (Proverbs 25:24 NASB)
2. Own The Truth
My husband has shut down to protect himself from his contentious wife – me.
My husband’s lack of communication is a boundary he has set between his heart and the wife that hurts his heart with her words.
I didn’t mean to hurt him. Those words were meant to help him – help him grow, correct things that will hurt him more later… or so I rationalized.
But that takes us all the way back to day one, session one of the Marriage Communication Workshop.
3. Know Yourself
Do you know yourself? Do you know the you that your husband sees and lives with and protects his heart from?
I was completely blind to my part of the problem in our marriage. My heart cried out day after day, “How do I save my marriage, Oh God I just want to fix my marriage.”
All the while, my mouth was causing a lot of the problems.
4. Deal With Your Sin
My mouth… my big fat stupid sinful mouth was filled with sin. I had to deal with the sin.
- Those negative thoughts.
- My inability to accept the flaws in my husband.
- Refusing to forgive his mistakes even knowing you make mistakes.
- My refusal to see anything except his imperfections.
That all fueled my words and those words were speaking death into my husband’s life. Can you relate?
Maybe your part is different than mine. I sure hope so. But if you are here, focusing on fixing the communication problems in your marriage, odds are we are Soul Sisters.
Fellow naggers in the contentious wives club.
We’ve seen the importance of effective communication, now we need to commit to it!
5. Pray More Than You Complain
If you got this far, I challenged you to spend the next 30 days just shutting up about the things you can’t accept and praying about them instead.
Prayer changes things!
Those hard things that hurt; pray about them.
The failures that have caused you pain; pray about them instead of talking about them for a time.
6. Find Respectful Words
Will you take that another step further?
Will you commit to speaking words of life every day for 30 days?
There are prompts in the 30-day Words of Appreciation Challenge below to help you get started. Fill in the form below and you will gain access to the resource library where they can be downloaded.
7. Accept The Conditions
For this challenge to work, you need to agree to some ground rules and some conditions. For 30 days there can be no:
- Pointing out anything negative
Instead, admire him, appreciate him, respect him, flirt with him, and be playful with him.
How do you really speak words of affirmation to your husband?
I keep a journal entry on my phone with a list of affirmations to say to him.
LOL, why do I keep a journal?
Say a great idea comes in Walmart but a kid is tugging at me and as I’m driving home I realize I never wrote it down. Gr… that’s so aggravating. So as I remember something to affirm my husband about I speak to text it into my phone.
There are also some tried and true phrases that fill up his respect bucket every time (he never gets tired of hearing about things he did well). I put them into a printable 52 card set in my shop!
9. Accept Change In Him
Lastly, know that when he feels respected he shows love. He also opens up and wants to communicate with me! Win-Win!
But we have to accept the change and affirm it or he will lose momentum. Be ready and add to your list of respectful words.
Appreciation, admiration, and respect are key to communicating in our marriage. They create momentum that drives real change in our husband’s lives.
Will You Take the Challenge Of These 14 Ways To Show Respect in Marriage
Today we saw 15 ways to begin to show respect in marriage. When we commit to speak words of respect to our husband it becomes a life-giving habit that can fix a marriage!
Remember who the real enemy is and be determined not to speak words of death as we fight a very real battle for our marriage!
Words that show respect for your husband are powerful communication exercises to diffuse tension and save a marriage. They did for my marriage and we are nothing special. That’s why I KNOW they can help you!
Go Deeper To Show Respect Through Communication
If this is an area you are working to improve in your marriage be sure to join the Marriage Communication Workshop where you can download the effective communication in Marriage PDF workbook that is filled with even more Marriage Communication exercises!
In HIS love,
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