Why I Choose to Respect My Husband Even When He Doesn’t Deserve it!

By Jolene Engle, Contributing Writer

We sat across the table chatting one night and that’s when he asked me…

“Why do you respect me even when I don’t deserve your respect?”  

“After all, I’m lazy.”

“I leave my stuff out all over the place.”

“And I don’t do enough for you and our family.”

“Why is it that you still respect me in spite of all my shortcomings and failures?”

I smiled and then responded to my Beloved,

“Because I’d be a foolish wife if I didn’t respect you!”

I choose to respect you for three reasons.

Reason #1

Because the Bible commands me to, and who am I to argue with God.

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” ~  Ephesians 5:33


“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?‘  ~ Isaiah 45:9


Over the course of my marriage I’ve learned something about how God intended a marriage to be…

God tells us in His Word that wives are to respect their husbands and husbands are to love their wives.  Neither of these two commands are easy to do because we have to die to ourselves in the process.  (And I certainly don’t always succeed in this endeavor, either!)  

But God placed that command in Ephesians 5:33 because it protects our marital oneness; it provides us with what we need from one another.  And when both husband and wife seek to obey these commands, our marriages become God-centered, God-fearing, God-honoring, and not to mention, absolutely amazing!

A God-fearing marriage is a true testimony of Christ-like love to a dark and lost world.

When your marriage is like that, your life is representing Christ and the Church!  That God of ours is a pretty smart God!  If only we had half a brain to listen to Him all the time!

Reason #2

Because I need to respect you and you need my respect.

I proceeded to tell my Beloved about a little switch that I have in my brain.  Now, I’m not sure if all wives have a switch like this, but I sure do.  I do my best to fiercely protect it because I know what will happen to me if it gets flipped!

If the switch gets flipped and I stop viewing my husband with respect and admiration, then my marital relationship would shortly turn into a platonic relationship because I wouldn’t want to be intimate with my man.  (Um, yeah, I just said that! :)) If this takes place, we will be just two people living under the same roof, parenting together, but going through life like mere roommates.  That’s not the type of marriage I want to settle for, nor is it the type of marriage that God intended.

And if my marital relationship turns into a platonic relationship, then it’ll be easier for me to be unforgiving and bitter towards my husband.  If I continue down this path, my heart would harden towards him and my marriage would be a poor reflection of the love that Christ has towards the Church.  In essence, I’d be blaspheming the Word of God if I took this approach in my life.

Reason #3

Because I’m a selfish individual.

I want a glorious marriage!  Who wants their marital relationship to be blah?   I don’t know any bride who said they walked down the aisle hoping to have a mediocre marriage. :)

So that’s why I do what I do.

I choose to respect my man whether he deserves it or not.  And it just so happens that this one intentional act causes him to want to be a better husband.  It’s a win-win for both of us!

Now let me just say that taking this intentional approach to your marriage will kill you.  Yes, kill you!  Your flesh will not like it one bit.  In fact, it’ll feel like a part of you is dying inside. And you’re right, my friend, it is!  Our natural self-centered and pride-infested tendencies will be screaming ‘no-fair’ and ‘no-way’. But push through those feelings with the strength of the Holy Spirit.  If you keep continuing in these ways, respecting your man on a regular basis will become much easier and you’ll come to embrace it.

New Year’s Challenge:

If you struggle with respecting your man or you’ve become complacent in this pursuit, implement as many ways listed below to start your New Year off right!

10 Ways to Help You Respect Your Man

    1. Be more concerned with your walk with the Lord, rather than your husband’s.  You are his wife, not his Holy Spirit.
    2. Continue to build him up rather than tear him down.  You’ll create a lot of peace in your home by doing this.
    3. Share your heart with him.
    4. Become best friends.  Ask him about his day.  Take up a hobby with him.
    5. Become even better lovers.
    6. Put more effort into your role as a wife, than your role as a mom.  Remember, the marital relationship came before motherhood.
    7. It’s easy to nag, condemn and criticize.  When you feel the tendency to speak like this, instead, do the opposite.  Speak loving, encouraging, and uplifting words into his life.  If you can’t do this then just bite your tongue.
    8. Forgive him like Christ has forgiven you.  Keep the right perspective.  Remember that you’re a sinner too!
    9. The two of you are one.  So if he’s broken, hurting, insecure, etc. guess what?  You are too! :) Handle him with care.
    10. Rinse and repeat!

If you’ve already lost respect for your husband, here’s some ways to regain it!

Now how about you, friend?  Do you want to dive in and take this New Year’s Challenge?  Leave me a comment below!

Photo credit: kelp1966 / Foter / CC BY-ND


  1. misty Long says:

    what are you supposed to do if you have lost the intimacy in your marriage that you so desperately desire but your husband isn’t interested in that aspect of your marriage anymore. he says he loves me daily but when intimacy is suggested, he always finds some excuse. All of our children are grown and out of the house, and there is no medical problem.

  2. Hi Misty,
    Well, I would lovingly confront him on it. If a husband professes to be a Believer, he is not to withhold sex from his wife, nor the wife from her husband.

    “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Cor. 7:5

    I realize that no wife wants to feel as if her husband does not desire her (nor any husband for that matter) but a marriage is designed to have intimacy. Having a spirit of humility in talking with your husband about this is the approach that I would take. He needs to hear your heart. He needs to know you need to be intimate with him in order for you to feel connected and loved by him. If he doesn’t care to love you in the way you need, keep in mind that you can’t change him. Only God can soften his heart and convict him.

    And there can be several other reasons why a husband doesn’t want to be intimate with his wife. I wrote a post about this topic awhile back. http://joleneengle.com/why-a-husband-doesnt-desire-his-wife-a-link-up/

    So I would suggest those two things: sharing with him and praying for him and let God move in your marriage.

  3. Mrs. Pinner says:

    While I am LOVING this post, in this particular season that I am in, in my life and marriage. I need you to explain Reason # 2 a little more clearly, like what does the “un-flipped” switch represent…I hope this sounds crazy but I NEED more on that because you scratch the surface and peeked my interest but I need to understand what that “switch” is per sa’???

  4. Hi Mrs. Pinner!
    My ‘switch’ in my brain is how I view my husband. Simple as that! If the switch is flipped to where I view him with utter disdain or disgust, then my marital relationship will go downhill. Basically I would be allowing the seeds of bitterness to choke out our love. And when a wife has bitterness in her heart towards her man, she has a big hurdle to overcome! Here’s a post I wrote on how to overcome this problem. http://joleneengle.com/when-the-seeds-of-bitterness-sprout-up-in-your-marriage/

    But if I keep my switch flipped on to ‘respect and admiration’ of my man, like I did before I married him, then our love will continue to grow. As a wife, I am the one who controls HOW I view my husband. I control the switch in my brain!

    Of course all husbands (and wives) make poor choices and fail since we are known sinners, but that’s what grace is for. I try to extend it as much as possible in my marriage so I can continue to hold my man in high esteem. The simple act of extending grace to an imperfect human being will cause any husband to feel loved and accepted. That’s how I want my husband to feel. And when he feels that way towards me, he pours his love out on me even more!

  5. Jolene- I just love your writing! It’s so loving and respectful and really makes me feel like being a better me. My husband and I have many ups/downs, more so since we both accepted Christ a few years back. I struggle for control, he doesn’t fight back much, but the respect I should have for him is rarely there (not by any fault of his own, I just don’t seemed to be engineered that way). I work very hard to make biblical marriage a priority in my heart, God’s word means something to me very deeply. Just struggling to put it all together and show him the love and respect he so deserves. Sure I’m not alone!

  6. This is great! I struggle so much with that mental switch! I find that I switch to annoyed and condemning without even realizing it – he comes home and I am just frustrated with everything he does. It feels like it is always such a great effort to switch back to being loving and respecting. Love is so difficult sometimes.

  7. Vintage Housewife,
    I love your honesty! Just for the record, no wife is engineered to respect her husband! It’s just not a natural thing for us. :) That’s why God, in His sovereignty, commanded His daughters to extent respect to our husbands! That God of ours is filled with wisdom. If only we’d listen to Him and apply His biblical principles to our lives rather than wrestle with the Creator of the Universe!

  8. Hi Mikah,
    Extending grace to a husband will help a wife to keep her ‘switch’ in the flipped up position of respect and admiration. That’s what I try to do. I remember the grace God has extended to me; one who is a sinner and imperfect. And then I think about my man who is commanded to love me in my imperfect state. I want his grace as well as his love. Of course none of this comes easy to our natural flesh, that’s why it’s so important to be walking in the spirit!

  9. How do I share my heart when it seems to invite more bitterness afterwards?

  10. If the bitterness is on his part, let the Holy Spirit deal with him. If you’re bitter by his lack of response, run to God and put your hope in Christ rather than your man. Remember that God is always at work in your marriage. Be patient for the Lord to move in your marriage.

  11. i cant i cant he does all that i do hate, drink and get drank, smoke, ignore me, doesnt work, take my money, lie to me, how, how can i respect him without being angry and my heart feels so sad, the only thing that i know is that one day all will be over because i trust in God.

  12. gloria enobakhare says:

    Hello,am gloria frm africa nigeria,was jut going through google to see what can help me in mymarriage when I came across dis page,indeed all ur outline point is what we shld be doing as gud wifes,but the flesh always hv its way of getting d best out of us.myhusband is nt born again and am still pushing wit myfaith won’t mind u joining me in prayers4 him to be a God fearing husband and father.I belive tym heals evrytin.thx so muh n God bless urhome.

  13. Daisy Carroll says:

    I love my husband. I am wondering about the honor thing…you see I am a housewife who cooks, cleans and faithful. I ask nothing from my husband except for respect and intimacy. He lies to me about what he is doing and who he is with. He erases his phone completely before he comes home and if i ask him why he tells me to quit treating like a child. He lies about money and cant produce reciepts so i can balance our finances. I ask him about money and he gets defensive and tells me its none of my business as he is the one working. He can talk Bible verses all day but shows me no love or respect. If i ask for sex he makes an excuse to not do it. Help me understand please. Do i still have to honor him when he obviously doesnt love me.

  14. Daisy, I hear the pain. You have a challenging set of circumstances. I want to give you a hug. And then say some challenging things. I hope you’ll bear with me. Before I start, please know that I’m not blaming you. Women have not been taught HOW to respect their man, and we really don’t get how ridiculously easy it is to disrespect him. When we do the eyeroll (because sometimes they really just don’t get it), or we don’t show it in the eyes, but we sound like we are treating him like a little child (again, it happens more often than we may realize), we sound like we are constantly telling him what he’s doing wrong. We may even adopt a mindset that we have to mother him to get him to do the right thing (to not lie, to be financially responsible.) That mindset comes out in our attitude. The most freeing thing I saw on YouTube recently was a lady talking about how she used to control (or try to control) her husband. She said that God showed her that it wasn’t her responsibility to keep her husband from sinning (even from sinning in his head – lust). It really hit me hard. Men respond to respect, praise and obedience (respect is a challenging art to learn, and I haven’t found a single resource yet that really puts the whole picture together with lots of examples so we have a chance of understanding it.) However, it may take a LONG time for him to respond, because he wants (NEEDS) unconditional respect from his woman the same way his woman needs unconditional love from her man – even when she’s cranky with PMS or she’s overwhelmed and just not giving him what he needs. Daisy, I can tell you from experience that withholding honor will never get you where you want to go. A man wants to be in control, and some will do anything to get it. I would encourage you to read anything and everything you can to learn about how to show respect in his language. It may take him years to respond – or he may respond in a surprisingly quick time. It depends on how long it takes for him to feel safe. Again, this is not to excuse his behavior (which you can’t control), but encouragement to give that completely to God and focus on the part that you can do something about. It’s a tough journey, but you’ll know in your heart that you did everything you could do. That knowledge brings peace to your core.


  1. Grace Notes says:

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