As women, we know what love looks like. We know how we want to be loved and how we can love our husbands. But studies show that what our husbands primarily need is not love, but respect. In his book, Love and Respect, Emerson Eggerichs shares his unique take on Ephesians 5:33:
God has ordained that wives respect their husbands as a method to win husbands to Himself. As a husband opens his spirit to God, he reopens his spirit to his wife. No husband feels affection toward a wife who appears to have contempt for who he is as a human being. The key to creating fond feelings of love in a husband toward his wife is through showing him unconditional respect (2004, p. 19).
So if you want to be loved by your husband, you’ve got to respect him.
But that begs the question: how do I respect my husband? I have wrestled over this question through many a sleepless night. Although the list could be MUCH longer, I’ve gathered three suggestions to help you get on the path to respecting your husband more.
Take care of yourself.
In her book, For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhaun shares some insight from one of her male friends:
Sometimes I’ll meet a guy who looks just like an average guy. But then if I meet his wife and she is huge and very out of shape and just sloppy, I feel so sorry for him….But then sometimes I’ll meet a man whose wife is overweight – but she takes care of herself….She puts some effort into her appearance….I look at that husband and think, he did well.” (2004, p. 169).
Before you decide you need to lose twenty pounds, look at the difference between these two women. The first was sloppy; she put in no effort. But the second, even if she was as heavy as the first woman, spent some time taking care of herself. And in the eyes of this man, that made her much more attractive than the first woman.
Your husband is not looking for the perfect woman, but showing a little bit of effort can make him feel like a million bucks. This has been especially true in my own marriage. My depression has taken me to a place where I’m not sure what taking care of myself looks like. Over the last two years, my husband has encouraged me to take care of myself and when I do, he seems more attracted to me. There are days when I can barely get out of bed, but I’ll put on some makeup right before he gets home. It’s a little effort that lets him know that I respect him.
Speak of him favorably.
Shortly after I got married, I was having lunch with a group of women I truly respect and admire. But before we even got our food, one of the younger women started complaining about her husband. Several of the older women encouraged her and before I knew it, the discussion had turned into a whine fest. I almost offered them cheese.
As a new wife and a women’s ministry student, I was appalled. So I decided to offset the discussion by informing the women at the table that the very issue they were complaining about was a subject my husband was an expert in. They all looked at me like I was an alien. That day I learned it’s not popular to talk well of your husband. But ladies, we need to! Not just for them, but for ourselves! When we speak or think poorly of our husbands in private, we begin to think less of them. And when we begin to think less of them, we respect them less. If it’s uncomfortable to speak well of your husband, just don’t say anything! It’s better to keep your mouth shut than to participate in that kind of talk.
Respect his need to conquer.
This is a huge one. Early on in my studies, I learned that men feel the need to conquer. Unfortunately, a lot of men in our lives feel like the little Lego copilot at the beginning of The Lego Batman Movie who loses the game of rock, paper, scissors and says
I’m a loser at home and a loser at work.
I know that quote is supposed to be funny, but every time I watch that movie, I stop for a minute and think about how sad and true that statement is. Ladies, let’s talk about video games. Video games are not evil, and I often indulge in them at the end of a hard day. But video games make men feel as if they’ve conquered something. Therefore, many men fall prey to addictions where they play video games nonstop for hours on end. I’m sure that reality resonates with some of you.
When we make our husbands feel like a loser at home, he feels like he’s not conquering that aspect of his life. Now you may not be able to control whether he feels like a conqueror at work, but you can encourage him to feel like a conqueror at home. One of the biggest areas you can make him feel like a conqueror at home is in the bedroom. And although I’m not going to go into great detail because that could take an entire book, but just know this: sex is emotional for men too, and he needs to feel like you enjoy him as much as he enjoys you; that’s what it means for him to conquer the bedroom.
I hope this post has helped you understand some of the needs that your husband has and ways that you can help him feel respected. If you have any comments, feel free to leave them below! And here’s a cool infograph you can pin!
With Love Always,
Allegra, W., Ashton, M., Burton, J., Halprin, R., Harris, R., Lee, R., . . . Wilfert, J. (Producer), & McKay, C. (Director). (2017). The Lego batman movie [Motion picture]. USA: Warner Bros.
Eggerichs, E. (2004). Love and respect. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Feldhahn, S. (2004). For women only. Atlanta, GA: Multnomah Publishers, Inc.