Just A Little MORE Respect

I am on a role with this respect series so I am going to go ahead and post what I just shared at a couples’ retreat in Baguio…

At the beginning of my marriage I struggled in the area of respect. (For those of you who have followed my blog, you have heard me say this a number of times.)

I thought I had married the man of my dreams. He was (still is) but in our marriage, certain realties presented themselves.

Edric had temper issues. I didn’t see this when we were dating. But my father-in-law jokingly told me once, “Edric can be a monster.” I laughed because I thought it was an exaggeration. This couldn’t possibly be true, I thought.

However, a few weeks after we got married I began to see what my father-in-law meant. Edric had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to him. When he was in good spirits he was the most fun person to be with. He was energetic, intense, and passionate. But, when he was uncomfortable due to heat, hunger, fatigue, or stress, he was the binary opposite. If his expectations were not met he tended to be critical. Furthermore, as the only son in his family, he wasn’t used to being flexible with inefficiencies and changes in plans. He admitted that he was used to being treated like a PRINCE. Naturally, in marriage, he graduated to KING and wanted to be treated that way.

I began to entertain thoughts like, “Is this the man I married? Is this how marriage is going to be?”

One of the mistakes I made was I compared Edric to my dad. Even though I didn’t vocalize this, it was like I had a mental chart in my head with two names on it..Edric versus my father. And then I went down the list of “categories” and said things like, “Why can’t Edric be more even-keeled like dad? Why doesn’t he make choices like dad in this area? Why isn’t he a better provider?”

So I made it my mission to help Edric be a better husband and leader. I thought I was doing him a favor by correcting and pinpointing areas for improvement. But this didn’t work. It only lead to more conflict.

Edric would be driving down Edsa and if someone cut him off, he would try to chase the person down and antagonize him. This would deeply annoy me, so I would say things like, “Why do you have to get angry? You shouldn’t do that. That’s not a godly response.”

He would react with greater irritation at my attempts to teach him, and tell me to back off and leave him alone, that it wasn’t the time or place to correct him. According to him, he already knew he was wrong and he didn’t need me to say it.

This sort of scenario and many others repeated themselves over and over so that I developed a resentment toward Edric. I became an expert at rolling my eyeballs, deep sighing, snide remarking, contradicting and arguing, the silent treatment, even withholding sex at times, and a host of other tactics to communicate my disappointment in his leadership and choices.

I even kept journals where I enumerated my frustrations and hoped that he would read them. He didn’t. He had no idea what kinds of ugly feelings inspired me to fill pages and pages of my notebooks. After a while, I worried that if my children or others ever read my journals in the future they would think I had such an awful marriage which wasn’t true. But since I tended to write more when I was upset at Edric, my journals reflected this!

I praise God for couples’ retreats and seminars, the advice of wise women who have gone before me, and for God’s word where I learned and relearned about my role as a wife. I had failed to respect Edric because I thought of it as conditional. My perspective was, If he was deserving I would respect him. And what about me? What about being cherished and treated with respect?

God showed me that I was neck-deep in ugly pride and bitterness, and these hidden sins of my heart were making me a contentious and unpleasant wife. I mistakenly thought I was the better half in our relationship, the one who was more spiritually mature. But I wasn’t! My attitude was turning Edric’s heart away from me and it wasn’t inspiring him to grow spiritually either.

I realized that respect was one of Edric’s needs and desires, and I wasn’t meeting it. More importantly, I was disobeying God’s command to respect Edric as the head of our marriage and family. God convicted me to look at the many ways that I needed to change. How could I be a better helpmate? Edric’s strong supporter? A life-giver along side him? What did I have to stop doing and start doing?

I determined to do four things:

The first was I PRAYED for Edric and SURRENDERED him to the Lord. Instead of nagging Edric, I began to beseech God, presenting to him very specific requests about Edric, myself and our marriage. As I came before the Lord in dependence and brokenness, I experienced God’s peace, assurance, and security. The burden to change Edric was turned over to Jesus and I relaxed as a wife.

For the first time I began to understand what it meant to be a gentle and quiet spirit. It was resting in who God is amidst circumstances, amidst the urge to manipulate or control Edric, or fight for my rights as a wife. It was knowing that I was heard — my hurts, longings and desires — by the ONE who knew me best and loved me most.

Second, I FORGAVE Edric and chose to apply the principle of a CLEAN SLATE. If Jesus had died for me and forgiven me completely, who was I not to do the same for my husband?

The Bible tells us the God’s mercies are new every morning. Similarly, I needed to let go of the compounded hurt that kept stealing my joy. Instead of thinking, “he’s never going to change”, or “see he’s going to do the same thing again,” I said to myself each day is a new opportunity to love and forgive Edric.

Third, I asked Edric “HOW CAN I BE A BETTER WIFE? This is, of course, a dangerous question to ask! I discovered I had to improve a lot! I needed to speak in a more gentle way, I needed to do what he told me right away (as often as possible), I needed to prioritize his want for companionship, attention, service, and intimacy. So I humbled myself and asked for forgiveness for my disrespect and the things I had done to hurt him. I still have to do this when I repeat the same mistakes.

Fourth, I learned to BE A MORE AFFIRMING AND ENCOURAGING WIFE. Instead of telling him how he should lead spiritually, I affirmed his love for God and desire to follow him. Instead of second-guessing and challenging his decision-making, I expressed confidence in his leadership. Instead of wishing we had more money, I thanked him for working hard and trying his best to provide for our needs. Instead of focusing on what he was doing wrong, I tried to pay closer attention to instances when he made godly choices.

When I chose to be more positive, I realized what an amazing man I was and am married to. There were so many things that I didn’t see when I was focused on the negative aspects of his person (which were really minimal in light of all his great facets). When I was zoning in on his faults and criticizing them, I had tunnel vision for the bad that blackened out his wonderful traits.

Slowly but most certainly, Edric began to transform. It wasn’t overnight but God worked in his heart and made him a more selfless, patient, and Spirit-filled man. Today I see the old Edric less and less. If I had the beta version when we got married, God has upgraded him to version 10.0 x 10.0. God keeps on upgrading him!

For example, in the mornings I get my baby from her room and breastfeed her in ours. This is early in the morning. Sometimes, I get her at 5 or 5:30 am. Afterwards, she doesn’t go back to bed again. She is fully awake. In the past, Edric would have ordered me to bring her out so he can get more sleep. But he is the one who lovingly takes her and brings her downstairs to our househelp so I can rest. It’s a sweet gesture that demonstrates how different he has become. From expecting to be treated like a KING, he is willing to serve me and inconvenience himself for me.

A few weeks ago we were enjoying our date night when he asked me, “How can I improve and change as a husband?” I had to think long and hard and I replied, “Honestly, you have been great! I can’t really think of anything.”

Photos from that date night…

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Years ago I would have jumped at the opportunity to bullet point all the ways I wanted him to change. But by God’s grace he is a transformed person because of Christ’s continued work in his life. He is truly a godly leader, a loving and understanding husband, and a good provider. He is a man that I admire and respect with all my heart.

While I still struggle with respect and Edric still struggles with impatience from time to time, the secret to victory, romance and joy in our marriage is keeping Christ at the center of our relationship. When the motivation to keep improving wanes or when we are tempted to return to the selfish version of our Christ-less selves, Jesus becomes our superseding why, compelling us to press on in obedience and hopeful expectation.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me
. (‭Galatians‬ ‭2‬:‭20‬ NASB)

Serving together at the CCF Couples Retreat in Baguio. I love this man!

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Comments

  1. Hi Joy! That was such a blessing to read. So much that I had to comment. Your description of “Beta-Edric” pretty much fits the definition of my father with regard to temper issues. In fact, it’s quite spot on, actually. Don’t get me wrong though, my dad’s a godly man but most of the time, his anger gets the best of him. It bothers and irritates me so much that I always tend to disrespect him too. But I praise God for your the four points you listed down and I will commit to make that my response as a daughter. I trust that God will indeed transform my dad just like he transformed your husband. God bless you and may God continually use you for His glory! 😀

  2. Love this post! I really can relate. My husband also has quite a temper. I’ve also gone to a point of giving him the silent treatment. I won’t ever win an argument with him–no one can out-shout him.

  3. My previous comment got truncated.

  4. Actually in my family, i am the one that has the bad temper. I have hurt so many people because of this. There has been a big breakthrough in our lives when i got my stroke. But before going into Glorious Hope this year, my anger and somethings, rage, came up again in my marriage. I always think that everyone is disappointing me everyday. Thank God for Glorious Hope, really! I know that I need to be a better, submissive, respectful wife. God is indeed transforming me everyday for His glory.

  5. Jelly Palroan says:

    Great morning Joy! This blog is very helpful to a lot of wives out there who have the same situation. Lately I tried to do #1 advice and trying my best to surrender my husband to God and let him work on his heart. At first I find it hard to do because doing #1 means I cannot control the situation anymore on how I want my husband to behave but it is God’s love that gives me peace of mind knowing that He is in control of my marriage. It is really important that we continually walk with God in marriage. And i’m happy to see God’s work in our marriage, I became less negative and my husband is showing an improvement. Powerful God! You are right, we should surrender all to God as we relax as wife and focus on the blessings of marriage. Joy, thank you for teaching me. You are an amazing Godly wife! God bless you abundantly 😀

  6. Thank you for the very encouraging post! Your past predicament is exactly where I’m at right now… thank you for the very useful 4-step guideline that I shall always keep in mind. And my quiet time verse today just hit me right smack at the heart: Philippians 4:4-9. 🙂

  7. You have enlightened me a lot. Is there an email where I can send you some queries? Thank you and God bless you. Please continue on posting blogs like this. If I read this blog 4 years ago, maybe I would have stayed married. 🙁

  8. Thank you for this. I’ve been married for two years and have found myself asking a lot of questions recently about my husband and his attitude and why I cannot seem to respect him. Your post has helped me put things in perspective.

  9. Wow, the questions you asked and the reactions you had on your husband on your first years of marriage sound just like mine. Although mine is still happening currently. I am praying to God that I will be a better wife to my husband. Thanks for writing blogs like this that always remind me on my own misses as a wife.

  10. Thanks for the “how to’s”…I now where and what to start when struggling with this situation. God bless you.

  11. Thanks for the “how to’s”…I now where and what to start when struggling with this situation. God bless you.

  12. Hi joy, i thank God for giving you the wisdom and experience to share these articles and inspire families to grow in life and in God. Looking forward to many more wonderful write ups. God bless you and your family.

  13. it’s so hard to be always giving in. But God tells us, as wives, we have to be submissive to our husbands. it’s okay to voice out views but in the end we have to submit. And God also has words for the husbands, right? love your wives as God loves His church

  14. Thanks for this post, Joy.. Women need this, and men need women to be like this.. It’s an encouragement and inspiration to see people like you who are actually living out biblical principles and reaping out the rewards that come with it. Christians and non-christians need to see that it’s possible to live biblically even in this age and that the promises that God gave for doing so are also true.

  15. This is my struggle too.

    And working together makes it worst

  16. Great blog Ms. Joy! it really helps a lot! Thank you!

  17. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am speechless and I know God has just talked to me through your post. Thank you for reminding me how wonderful my husband is.

  18. Thank you Joy for the inspiration. Its by God’s grace that I was lead to your blog to read this article. It was my struggle too. Thank you sooo much for sharing.

  19. Thank you very much for the inspiration.

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