My husband and I spent many years in a miserable state. I'm ashamed to tell you that this list is a result of some of the ways I was guilty. Several ways, actually. I'd love for you to learn from the mistakes I made over the years. (You can see our marriage video or listen to our story at Revive Our Hearts.)
You might be disrespecting your husband if . . .
1. You throw him under the bus in public.
When you point out his faults, criticize, or correct him, he feels like an idiot in front of others—and that's demeaning. Don't embarrass him in any way (especially in front of your children). Would you want him to do that to you?
2. You remind him of his past failures.
It's something that was settled long ago (or maybe just last week), and you just can't seem to let it go. We've all failed. Let go of things that have already been worked through and settled. If there are unresolved issues that were never dealt with biblically, take steps to graciously resolve them and move on.
3. You unload on him as soon as he walks in the door.
One thing I can't stress to wives enough—hug your man when he comes in from work! Greet him with a kiss and some love. Give him an encouraging word, and hold off on letting him know what a tough time you've had. He has had a long day. (You might have faced a challenging day yourself, but you show genuine love and care for your man when you take interest in him and his day above your own.) He's been hit with challenges that you haven't faced, and perhaps he fought battles you'll never know about. Be what makes it all worth coming home to.
4. You expect him to be just like your girlfriends.
He's probably not a scrapbooker, or a fan of spending five hours shopping. An afternoon in the nail salon is probably not his idea of fun. He's not going to communicate with you like your best friend or want to know the complete story you want to tell—down to the very last detail. Appreciate him for being a man, and leave the girl stuff to your girlfriends.
5. You expect him to read your mind.
Just tell him. Don't play those mind games where you're thinking, If he really loved me, I wouldn't have to tell him that I want him to . . . (fill in the blank). Your husband will be so grateful if you'll ditch the mind-reading game and just have some honest and gracious communication.
6. You treat him like your child.
Men know they don't think like we do. They know it can be challenging to measure up to our expectations or desires. When they forget to close the lid on the toilet, it's not because they want to irritate us. When they take the long route because they forgot the right exit, it's not because they want to burn that extra gas. When we talk to our husbands in the same tone we would use with our children, it's disrespectful. And that's a sin.
7. You start an emotionally-charged discussion at 11 p.m.
Don't wait until bedtime to bring up a topic of discussion that has the potential to put the two of you on opposite sides of an all-out battle until near dawn. If you need to have a conversation that has the potential for major conflict or emotion, do it early in the evening (or maybe save it for a morning when he's home). Respect his need to get some rest.
8. You compare him to that "perfect guy" at church.
Your husband may not seem as "spiritual," may not treat you the same way you see that "perfect guy" treat his wife, may not sound as knowledgeable, or seem as interested in the sermon. But your husband probably has some worthy qualities you may be missing because you're so focused on what he's "not." Rather than comparing him to another man, why not ask God to open your eyes to see things you've not yet appreciated about him?
9. You give him the silent treatment.
Whenever you use the silent treatment to manipulate him, it harms both of you. The silent treatment is a hostile punishment tool. Don't make things more difficult by clamming up or stuffing your anger. If you're hurt or angry, first go to God and ask Him to search your heart to see if the anger is righteous or if there is some offense that needs to be discussed. Talk it out with your husband. Be honest and humble in your communication, and remember—he's not your enemy!
10. You use sex as a weapon.
The gift of sexual intimacy is to be an expression of unselfish love. It's a physical demonstration of spiritual unity. Don't withhold yourself to punish your husband, and don't use your intimacy as a bribing technique (1 Cor. 7:1–5). Honor your marriage bed as sacred, and love your husband well.
Asking God to Reveal Your Heart
I hope I haven't seemed harsh. It's just that I know how easy it is to slip into a disrespectful attitude that morphs into ugly treatment of those we love most. I'm challenging all of us today to set aside any of these things that are a common, but destructive, tendency in marriage.
I hope you'll ask God to show you if anything on this list is true of you. If so, spend some time seeking God. Then ask Him to show you specific things you need to ask your husband to forgive you for, and share that with him.
If you invite your husband to join you, it might open up a discussion where you can reach a better understanding of his needs.
What has God spoken into your heart through these ten items? How can you let this list encourage you to respect your husband and deepen your commitment to him?
PS: You can read more about Kimberly’s journey and the truths God used to change her heart and restore her marriage in her book, Fierce Women and its companion volume, Men Who Love Fierce Women: The Power of Servant Leadership in Your Marriage, coauthored by Kimberly and her husband.