148/365 days of blogging.
Guest blog comes to you from April over at Peacefulwife’s Blog. For the next few blogs, I am going to post a series of her blogs that tell how to have a Godly marriage.
Marriage can be the most incredible, blissful, wondrous form of intimacy known to humankind when things are going well, and it can also be the source of the most indescribable pain when things go wrong.
GOD’S DESIGN AND PURPOSE FOR MARRIAGE
I believe that the Bible is the source of God’s truth and that it contains God’s design for our lives, including marriage. When we follow God’s instructions, marriage can be an oasis of life, peace and joy.
But God’s primary purpose in marriage is not for me to be happy. He desires to make me holy. He also desires our marriage to produce godly offspring (Malachi 2:16). And He designed marriage to display the “mystery of Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:32).
When our marriages follow God’s pattern and design, and we function properly in our God-given roles as men and women, Jesus is glorified and the Word of God shines– our marriage relationships bring our children and others around us to Christ like a magnet. The purpose of marriage goes way beyond our own family – it is to bring people to Jesus! But it can only do this when we are empowered by God’s Spirit and obeying His commands for marriage.
God designed husbands to represent Christ and wives to represent the church in marriage – we are to be a living illustration to the world of God’s love and relationship with His people! These roles are not interchangeable. And God physically, neurologically, sexually, emotionally, hormonally and spiritually specifically designed men and women to perfectly fit the roles He made for them in marriage. They are both equal in God’s sight (Galatians 3:18) but they have different purposes and roles that allow them to complement each other and work well as a team! Obeying God always leads to peace, fulfillment and joy.
We respect our husbands as the church reverences Christ. Our husbands love us with the same self-sacrificing love of Christ for His church. In human marriage, we each have to give something that is unnatural and awkward to us in order to meet each other’s needs. We are forced to stretch and become selfless, learning the needs of our spouse and putting his/her needs above our own.
THE CONCEPT OF RESPECTING OUR HUSBANDS IS UNPOPULAR TODAY
But it works. We can fight God’s design, insist on doing things our own way and be miserable, demanding that men be what we want them to be and not what they are. And we can try to be more masculine instead of understanding the glory and power in our own femininity.
Or we can embrace God’s way and experience the most incredible intimacy with God and our husbands! What are you willing to sacrifice in order to have the emotional and spiritual intimacy, peace, fulfillment and joy you crave in your marriage and with God?
Before I learned to respect my husband, I was often lonely, stressed, overwhelmed, anxious and negative. Now that I understand my God-given feminine power and give my husband the respect he needs and I obey God, I feel loved, adored, cherished, peaceful, joyful and happier than ever in our marriage and with God! I want every wife to experience marriage the way God designed it!!
HE DOESN’T DESERVE MY RESPECT
A lot of women/wives say (with a GREAT deal of hurt and anger), “I will give my husband respect when he has EARNED it!” It’s natural to feel that way. Of course there are things that are not worthy of respect in our men. You’re right! Your husband is a sinner – just like you are – according to the Bible (For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23) We as wives are not always worthy of love, either. But we need love. And they need respect.
MEN HURT, TOO. THEY HAVE LEGITIMATE NEEDS, TOO. THEY ARE DIFFERENT FROM WOMEN!
It is so easy to see our own pain and not even notice the pain we have caused our men. Men are not like women! They do not verbalize like women, or attach emotions to memories like women, or have multiple things on their mind all the time like women do. Their brains are designed differently from ours, so are their cocktail of hormones unlike our own. They are not wrong. They are different. It is easy to assume that since they don’t say anything, they are happy and content.
Men don’t think and feel exactly like we do – but they do have feelings, even if they don’t talk about them much. The more we understand them and their world, and enter into the culture of masculinity and study to speak the language of respect fluently the better our marriages will be! Often women don’t realize that a husband even needs respect, or that their husbands feel disrespected.
OUR MEN USUALLY SUFFER SILENTLY
Many husbands will not say that they are feeling disrespected and deeply wounded by their wives’ words of disrespect. A husband will usually just quietly go about living and never voice his pain in his marriage. That shocked me. If I am hurting, I want to say it ASAP so it can be fixed! But men aren’t like us!
WHY HE STONEWALLS YOU AND YOU FEEL LONELY
The damage that is done to the relationship can be cataclysmic when he feels routinely disrespected for months and years. He may not trust you with his heart again. He may know he can’t share his feelings with you because you will stomp on his dreams, his pain and refuse to meet his legitimate masculine needs. If you won’t give him respect, he can’t give you emotional or spiritual intimacy. That’s how he’s made – he must shut you out. Your body is made to require love to be open sexually to him and his mind and heart require respect to open up to you emotionally and spiritually. If your man is distant or angry, chances are good that he is probably feeling disrespected by you!
GOD CREATED MEN TO NEED RESPECT TO THRIVE IN MARRIAGE
We women choke on the concept of giving respect that we don’t feel is earned. But the love/respect balance God designed makes marriage fair. I need love when I don’t deserve it, and he needs respect even when he doesn’t deserve it. I don’t have to like all of his actions. I don’t have to respect all of his actions. I generally ignore the bad and respect and praise the good that is in him! Then I see more and more good and less and less bad!
A man will not change because of nagging, criticism, anger and hostility. In fact, if nagging and criticism DOES change a man, there is something terribly wrong with him!
WHAT WILL MOTIVATE A MAN TO CHANGE
He will change and become the best man he can be when he finds acceptance, encouragement, and someone who has faith in him for who he is right now. A man rises to the occasion when his wife trusts him, respects him as a man, believes in him, depends on him in a healthy way, praises him, and looks for the best in him.
There is a massive famine of respect in our country and culture today. We have lost respect for almost all God-given authority: God, the Bible, husbands, fathers, teachers, government leaders… It used to be that people would show respect to others just because of the person’s position of authority. Sadly, we are lacking in examples of what respect looks like and how important it is for there to be peace, harmony and unity in marriages, families and society.
GOD KNOWS BEST!
It just doesn’t work any other way than God’s way!
“This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the Church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:32-33.
RESPECT IS MORE ABOUT MY HEART THAN HIS ACTIONS
I am NOT saying to respect things that are awful, ungodly or sinful. But we can find masculine traits in ANY man that we can focus on and build up.
Honestly, my ability to show respect for my husband has a lot less to do with HIS character and a lot more to do with MY character! Just like Jesus is love and He shows love no matter what we do. My character needs to be one of respect that shows respect regardless of what my husband does. My level of respect depends on my spiritual maturity level and my being in tune with God’s Spirit – NOT what my husband is or is not doing on a given day.
A wife’s admiration/praise/acceptance/appreciation is what will motivate a husband to become his best self. This is the power of godly femininity! I must cut out criticism, negativity, lecturing, scolding, sarcasm and mocking. Then I focus on my husband’s good qualities and praise everything I see that I admire. My admiration and my trust in my husband’s abilities build my husband up, change him and create a more godly man and a hero out of a regular guy! God gave us SUCH power as wives in our marriages to either build up or destroy! We often have no idea!!!
RESPECT WORKS IN EVERY RELIGION, CULTURE AND LANGUAGE. GOD MADE MEN THIS WAY JUST LIKE HE MADE GRAVITY ON EARTH. THIS IS HOW THINGS ARE!
Even if I am not that mature, even if I don’t acknowledge God, even if I am motivated by my own selfish desires to have my own needs met- I still have the best chance to get what I need by giving my spouse what he needs. If I refuse to give him what he most needs from me – my respect – I am much less likely to get the love I need. Then we are at a stalemate and we will both lose.
WHEN WE HONOR OUR HUSBANDS, WE HONOR GOD!
The one who is most mature and in tune with God and the relationship will make the first selfless move and give to his/her spouse what he/she needs without any expectations of the giving being reciprocated. Thankfully, when I obey God – I am blessed! Even if my husband doesn’t respond to my respect lovingly for a long time – God rewards my obedience and gives me peace and joy now and rewards in heaven later!