I often equate respect for my husband, Edric, as minding my tone and attitude as a wife when I communicate with him, or trusting in his leadership when he makes decisions. But under the category of respect, there is also the aspect of making Edric my priority, of giving him importance.
(I just had to insert this photo of Edric. I think he looks so handsome here!)
What do I mean? Sometimes Edric will assign me a task or responsibility and he expects me to get it done expediently. My problem is I get so busy with the kids and other commitments so that I either forget or delay acting upon his requests.
He will ask me, “Did you get such and such done?” and I will be like, “Ummm…oh yah, I forgot…okay I will do it.”
Other times, prioritising him is about dropping what I am doing in the present to give him attention. When I’m at the table with him, he prefers that I don’t exit the scene until he is done eating, too. He asks me to ignore all my gadgets and set them aside when we are together. When he comes home from work, he wants me to spend time with him and ask him about his day.
Edric isn’t unreasonable about his desire for respect. He doesn’t even say, “I want you to respect me by doing this and that…” But Gods’ word commands me to.
Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:33, NASB)
The original Greek word for respect in Ephesians 5:33 is the word “phobeo” which means to fear, reverence, venerate, treat with deference or reverential obedience. Hmm…I must admit that reading this definition did not sit well with me, at first. It’s not that I don’t respect Edric. But the idea of revering and venerating him troubled me. I thought the passage was asking for too much.
I struggled with all kinds of questions. What if a husband doesn’t deserve respect? (not Edric…but hypothetically speaking.) What if a husband doesn’t act in loving ways toward his wife? What if a husband is tyrannical and abusive? What if…
Well, here’s something comforting…
1 Peter 3:7 also says this: Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
For husbands, the Greek word for respect used here is “time” which means to honour, value, consider precious, to defer to.
While this isn’t the point of the entry, God wants a husband to treat his wife with honour, too. God will hold Edric and every husband out there accountable for the commands he has given to them. But what is my part? God asks me to respect Edric, so that’s what I want to talk about. I can’t control what Edric does or doesn’t do. I also can’t use the excuse, “I will respect him when he has earned it.”
When King David was unashamedly dancing with joy before the ark of the Lord, his wife, Michal looked upon him with contempt. 2 Samuel 6:16 says, “As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.”
When Michal got the chance to interact with her husband she remarked, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (2 Samuel 6:20) In response David answered, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father, and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD–and I will make merry before the LORD. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honour.”
Interestingly, verse 23 emphasizes that Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.
God withheld the blessing of children from Michal for the way she despised her husband and acted disrespectfully toward him. She could have celebrated with David when she saw the ark. Instead she judged him in her heart and spewed out verbal venom. Maybe she thought he was a bad dancer. Maybe she didn’t like the way the women looked upon him because his body was exposed. David reminded her that God appointed him as leader. He also told her that he didn’t mind making a fool out of himself before the Lord. She had interpreted his actions as disdainful and vulgar but he was rejoicing before the Lord. Unlike herself, David said the maids around him will hold him in honour.
I think this passage is rich with application for me, as a wife. I’m reminded that God sees my heart’s attitude toward Edric. If I have seeds of negative thinking growing in it, my words and actions will manifest the ugly that is inside, just like Michal. Worst of all, I forfeit God’s favor and blessing in my life. So I have to take the command to respect Edric very seriously…even in the small things.
A few days ago, Edric and I ran into a conflict because he wanted a more substantial breakfast. Cereal and bread were the picks for the day. Normally, there would have been more filling options on the table. Edric was not expected to be home in the morning since he had a men’s group meeting. However, the traffic was so bad, he decided to do a u-turn and come back. I was still asleep so I didn’t even know he was downstairs.
When he came up asking if there was anything else to eat beside cereal and bread, I was like, “Okay, I’ll fix you something.” So he waited. But I also had to prepare myself for a meeting at 10 AM. Furthermore, I was bringing all the children with me, which meant a certain amount of production was involved in getting out the door. (When you have five kids, there’s no simple way to exit the house unless they run out naked.)
As I busied myself printing materials for my meeting and putting my things together, Edric started to become impatient. He was still kind about it but I sensed that his hunger was escalating. Edric + hungry = bad situation. I should’ve attended to him right away but at the same time, there was a real sense of urgency and importance to what I was preoccupied with.
An hour later, he finally went to the kitchen by himself, but his mood had changed. I plopped my bags on the table when I was all done and ready to go, and asked, “Do you want a bagel with cream cheese?”
“Is there really a bagel?” He responded. I detected agitation in his query.
“Why would I ask you if you wanted a bagel if there was no bagel?” I retorted, unnecessarily annoyed.
“Well, maybe because you opened the refrigerator and saw there was no bagel?” (This was a nonsensical discussion.)
“But THERE IS a bagel and THERE IS cream cheese.” I fixed it for him but I was irked. And then of course this triggered the question from him, “Why are you getting upset?”
I knew what was going on. The real issue was I hadn’t taken care of his needs right away. Sure enough, he eventually remarked, “You said you would get me something to eat, and then you didn’t.”
“But you weren’t even supposed to be home for breakfast anyway, and I had to get a lot of things done.” This was my attempt at trying to side-swipe him and make myself look like the better person.
“That’s not the point. You gave me an expectation. If you couldn’t do it, just tell me. I would’ve been understanding about it. Instead I had to wait.”
I got it. Basically, Edric felt de-prioritized. I agreed to get him more food but it was the last thing I ended up doing before I stepped out of the house. Looking back, I could’ve asked our househelp to whip him up a cheese omelet or grabbed the bagel earlier so his hunger pangs would have been alleviated.
During a conference I attended last Saturday, one of the speakers (who happened to be my mom), reminded the ladies in the audience that our first ministry is to our husbands and children. One of the statements she made was, “We need to prioritize our husbands…be home when they come home, do what they ask us to do right away.” She even gave the example of being in the middle of preparing for her speaking engagement when my dad asked her if he could meet with her to discuss his Sunday message. She dropped what she was doing to spend time with him even if she really HAD TO get ready. My dad was thrilled. It meant a lot to him to have her attention and assistance.
Each husband may have specific ideas about how he would like to be respect by his wife, but I’m sure every husband wants to be prioritized — to feel like he takes precedence over the kids, ministry, career, hobbies, etc. We can interpret this as selfishness (like I used to. bad bad.), or we can embrace God’s design and say, “Absolutely! It gives me great joy to do so!”
After years of marriage, I’ve only begun to understand why respect matters so much to my husband. When I prioritize his needs, obey his requests, trust his leadership, and give him attention, he feels deeply loved. He also feels empowered and inspired to be the Christ-like leader God has called him to be.
Recently, Edric asked me very sweetly, “Hon, I hope you won’t take this the wrong way but I would really like you to hug and kiss me at the door before I leave, no matter what you are doing.” The day before, I had unintentionally ignored him when he left to go to his ANC taping. I was in the middle of an interview with a magazine. I didn’t even realize he had gone. Apparently, he felt hurt.
I could’ve taken this two ways. The first would have been to think, Seriously? My life doesn’t revolve around you, okay?! The better response would have been to say, Sure! Because it matters to you, it matters to me. You are important.
Whew. I chose the latter…only by God’s grace!
The next day, when he headed towards the door to leave, I hugged him and kissed him in a very exaggerated way for dramatic effect. “Is this what you mean?” I asked, smothering him affectionately. He reciprocated and smiled from ear to ear. The kids saw me and came running over to him as well. We enveloped him with our hugs and kisses. He was in heaven! So was I! Whenever I respect and honor Edric, there is a sweet, God-given joy that follows the choice to do so.
How can we demonstrate respect to our husbands today?
It’s not easy to respect Edric 100% of the time (just as it isn’t easy for him to love and cherish me 100% of the time!). But perhaps these questions will help you as they have helped me to think through what respect means when it comes to prioritizing my husband:
Am I eager to serve my husband or do I think of him as an interruption or inconvenience?
Does he know that he is the most important person in my life or does he have to compete with other people and my other preoccupations?
When he asks me to do something, is my response to say, “Okay, I’ll get it done, honey.”, and do I do it with a cheerful attitude?
Do I want God’s favor and blessing in my life? Do I desire to love and obey Him?
John 15:10 – 12
10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.