YMJ013: Me? Respect Him? | A Christian wife’s need to respect her husband

Aug 20, 2023You and Me and Jesus Podcast

Listen to "Me? Respect him?" Here

Picture of podcast co-hosts Carey Green & Mindi Green, hugging.

HOSTS: Carey & Mindi Green

Resources from this episode

To start this episode, Mindi asked me (Carey) a curious question:

How important is it for you to feel respected by me?

May answer was a bit funny… but true, nonetheless:

I think on a 1 to 10 scale, that’s an 11. I need to know you believe in me. I need to know that you are for me and that you’re proud of who I am, what I do. All those things to me, all those fit into that word respect.

This actually IS a biblical issue, in case you didn’t know.

What the Bible says about a wife’s respect of her husband

Ephesians 5:33 instructs wives in this way: “Let the wife see that she respects her husband.

She’s to “see to it.” That sounds pretty important — and it IS important, for a specific reason.

We live in a culture that says that respect has to be earned, but that’s not what the Bible says when it comes to the marriage relationship. God says that wives are to respect their  husbands, not because they have earned it or deserve it, but precisely because they may not.

It’s in the respecting that the seeds of change are planted. It’s in the love of God, expressed through a respectful wife, that a man’s heart is made pliable and ready for Him to grow humility, and grace, and Jesus-like tenderness.

If I were to say all of that in different terms, I could say that wives are supposed to respect their husbands because their husbands NEED their respect. I can say that confidently because I know that when the Bible instructs us to do something toward another person, it’s because that person has a need for that particular thing.

Men need respect – which is what I was communicating in my response to Mindi’s question at the beginning. Her respect empowers me, enables me to become what and who I’m supposed to be. It’s what leads me into the grace of God, in one sense.

Common scenarios where wives may be tempted to act disrespectfully toward their husbands

Friend Talk

A sitaution we’ve seen over and over in the lives of Christian women goes something like this…

A woman gets together with a group of her friends for coffee or a playdate at the park for the kids. Inevitably the conversation turns to their relationships with their husbands, and it goes quickly downhill. These talks can become complaint sessions, where husband after husband is criticized for what he’s NOT doing right. We understand. Really, we do. It’s frustrating to be the one left holding the bag of someone else’s negligence or thoughtlessness. Especially when that someone is your spouse.

But what good does that sort of conversation really do — for anyone?

Mindi makes the point that if she were to complain about me to her friends, she’s not only disrespecting me (in public) but she’s also damaging my reputation over the long haul. Those women wouldn’t have the benefit of seeing how I’ve grown over time in the areas Mindi complained to them about. They’d simply characterize me as a struggler or failure in that area. Their opinion of me would be sullied, maybe forever.

Mindi asks, “Why would I want them to think badly of my husband? Why would I do that to him?”

I can tell you this, if I were to find out that had happened, I would be seriously wounded and the worst part would be that the injury came from my wife’s bad opinion of me, broadcast to her friends. Yes, it might serve to humble me, but it’s more likely to embitter me — toward my wife.

She doesn’t want that, so she doesn’t speak ill of me in front of her friends… even if I deserve it.


She goes to the Lord about the issues that bother her (about  me) and asks Him to do a work in my heart to change me from the inside out. Then, as she as released the burden and hurt of the issue to the Lord, finding her security in Him, she comes to me to talk about the issue.

She takes a humble approach, thinking the best of me (I know you don’t want to come across like this, but…). Her heart is to help me, not just to “fix” what’s bothering or hurting her.

And what if I don’t respond well? (It’s been known to happen). Then she gives it to the Lord again and keeps praying for me, trusting the Lord to work in His timing. She doesn’t badger me about it. She doesn’t bring it up again in a month. She leaves it with the Lord and like that persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), she prays without ceasing for the Lord to intervene.

In front of the children

Many times the things a husband does that his wife becomes concerned about is done in front in front of their kids or relates to their kids. In situations like this, the most damaging thing a wife can do is bad-mouth or run down her husband in front of the children.

It could happen in the moment of the husband’s wrong behavior (which only adds a second sin to the scenario, and in turn, complicates things even more). Or it could be later, when he’s not around and she’s rehearsing the offense to the kids in a sort of “self therapy” session where the kids are her sympathetic listeners.


Either way, wives need to respect their husbands enough to ensure neither scenario happens. It’s time to lean on the Spirit of God to provide the self-control to close your mouth so you don’t bad mouth (your husband) in front of the kids.

If you struggle with this, maybe it will help to consider the consequence of your actions (beyond what it’s doing to your husband).

If you want to set your kids up for rebellion and misery as young adults and teenagers, demean your husband in front of them. They will not only disrespect him by following your example, they will disrespect you because they intuitively know you should be respecting your husband.

And if you want to raise daughters who are going to be bad wives, then go ahead, disrespect their dad in front of them. Then, when they become wives, they’re going to do the same thing you to their husbands.

And the dysfunctional family tree grows on and on.

Correcting him in public

Imagine that you and your husband are at at small group Bible study together. Your husband does something that embarrasses you, or says something you think might have been offensive.

The worst thing you can do is correct him, right there in front of the entire group. It’s likely to come across to him like you’re chiding him, correcting his behavior like you would one of the children, and he’s going to feel disrespected.


Again, pray. Again, ask the Lord to provide self-control to you so that you can affirm and encourage him in public in spite of what he’s done.

Then humbly talk about the situation on the way home. You can be sure he’ll respond much better if he’s felt your love and enthusiasm about him in front of the other people in the group. Your respect of your husband in that situation will yield good fruit over time, so don’t grow weary in doing good.

Respectful mindsets for Christian wives (regarding their husbands)

Mindi shares that in the early years of marriage, she struggled with all of the scenarios listed above. Part of the reason for that is because I (Carey) was such a bonehead and had a lot to learn. But another part of it was that she was brand new at this “wife” thing and was learning what it looked like to respect her husband properly.

She says that the Holy Spirit gave her gentle nudges of conviction when she found herself tempted to complain to others about me. He reminded her to her to bring her concerns to Him, asking Him to help her love me better. 

That’s a great mindset for all of us Christians, regarding lots of different things. If we direct our thoughts on what WE can do to improve the situation and ask the Lord to help us with OUR stuff, we’ll find that we begin contributing to the situation positively, rather than living out of hurt, or frustration, or fear. Faith comes on line as we see God doing a work in us in these tough areas of life.

It’s also important to recognize the great privilege and God-given resposnility it is to be a wife or husband.

God has apppointed YOU, Christian wife, to love YOUR husband like nobody else gets to love him. He’s done that for a reason. He has designed you as the particular tool He wants to use to shape, grow, and mature your husband into the image of Jesus.

As you learn to respect him, to build him up, to encourage and affirm him in the steps of growth you see him taking, he’s going to be encouraged toward even more growth.

You have been appointed by God to be a specialized tool in His toolbox, to work on and build up your husband. Trust Him to use you in your husband's life as you rely on Him to give you wisdom about how to respect your husband.

When husbands become abusive… how can a wife respect him then?

We acknowledge that not all husbands act respectably. Some are truly awful in the way they treat their wives and children.

How can a wife rightly respect her husband when his behavior is so wrong and so damaging?

First, you need to become practiced at seeking refuge and strength in the Lord. He is your strength, your protection, and your wisdom. You are not alone when He is with you, so stick with Him through thick and thin. Read His word daily. Speak to Him about your burdens constantly.

Next, seeking guidance and help from friends, small group members, and your church staff as appropriate. You can’t and shouldn’t carry the burden all alone. The family of God, manifest in the people of God we call “the church” is designed to help you carry the weight of the issue, so let them.

Don’t let shame keep you from getting help. Don’t let embarrassment stop you from putting yourself in a better place. Your church family can only pray for you and come alongside if they know about the needs you have.

Somewhere along the line, the wife is going to have to confront her husband about his wrong actions. T hat’s a conversation that may or may not go over well.

If the husband becomes defensive or abusive, leave the issue and wait for the Lord to work on his heart instead of continuously confronting him. Reach out to the leaders of your church for help, especially if your husband is a part of the church family too. He’s accountable to the church’s leaders whether he likes it or not. They are there to come alongside him and help him grow in the areas where he’s failing.

And all along, as the scripture teaches in 1 Peter 3:1-4, the wife should respect her husband through the expression of a gentle and quiet spirit, showing support and encouragement, and finding areas to build him up. This sounds counter-intuitive in some ways, but it’s God’s way of handling the situation. If you become combative with your man, he’s not likely to respond well (in a variety of ways). God knows that, so He’s giving you a way to positively move into the situation.

What we are talking about here is one of the unique ways that wife is able to express the sacrificial love of Jesus to her husband.

Some of you might read that and think, “You’re just telling me to be a doormat and you’re just telling me to let him abuse me.”

No, that’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is this…

If you are a Christian woman, which means a Christ-following woman, you should look like Jesus in the way you love your husband. What is that going to look like? Different in every scenario, to be sure. But the point is that our comfort is not the main goal here, our willingness to be a sacrificial instrument in the hands of our Lord to bring about change, is the point. He did so for us, we can do no less (with His help).

And should things come to a point where you are physically in danger, or your children are in danger, there is nothing wrong with moving yourself out of that situation. Yes, it may be circumstancially difficult (or near impossible), but again, your church family should be able to help in a variety of ways.

When you put distance between yourself and your disobedient husband, you can still do so with an attitude of respect. Don’t get petty or bitter or harsh with him in return. Entrust yourself to the Father, who is the righteous judge, and ask Him to go to work on your husband (1 Peter 2:23).

And you can do all of that without divorce even coming into the picture. I believe it’s more honoring to God for a wife to separate from her husband for the sake of safety when needed, while continuing to express her desire to be married to him and to see God give them the harmonious and loving relationship He intends. 

If God sees fit for that process to take years, so be it. 

Be faithful every step along the way.

Realize there is no obstacle too big for God, and that your husband falls into that category.

Your husband and his issues are not too big for God to handle. He is not too big for Jesus to transform. Even the hardest heart can be changed in a second by Jesus.

The touch of God on any human being is going to bring change for the good and we know that God loves that abusive or insensitive husband. He wants wives to rely on Him through prayer .

So whether you have a scenario where it’s just a lower level of difficulty to respect your husband, or you are way off the chart regarding how hard it is because of his abuse or neglect, keep telling yourself,” God can do anything in and through me and in and through my husband.”

You know this to be true. He’s proven it in Jesus. If He can raise our Savior from the grave, if He can part the Red Sea, if He can heal the lame, you know he can make changes in your husband.

Christian women respect their husbands - a prayer for husbands who are harsh (1)

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So Lord Jesus we are grateful that you are about your work in our lives and our marriages are one of the primary laboratories where you’re doing that work and each of us, husband and wife, need your refining work in our own hearts. We need your Holy Spirit’s strength and resilience to endure in the good works that you’ve appointed us to do even when we’re not feeling loved or cared for well, even when we’re feeling disrespected or, or not, uh, not showing enough attention.

Father, there are very legitimate things wrong in marriages that husbands do, that wives do, but nevertheless, you call us each to obedience. And so Lord, I want to pray right now for the women who are enduring a difficult time and are having a hard time respecting their husbands. Or to enable them to remember respect is an issue of obedience. An issue of being like Jesus, to love in a sacrificial way. You want to transform their way of thinking about their husband so they can see that you the God who hung the stars, Want to use them you want to work through them and show your miracle power in.

Changing little by little those things in their husband’s life That are displeasing to you and that are hurtful to them and Lord we ask that you would work in the lives of those men, that you would do your transforming work in the lives of people, who don’t deserve it, who are painfully disobedient, and who are quite honestly a pain in the neck to the people around them. These men who are abusive and overbearing and too critical and don’t pay attention to their spouses or kids.

Lord, we ask you to do a revolutionary work in their lives. We ask you to change them from the inside out. As you did the Apostle Paul, It just took one encounter with you and he was a different man. We pray, Lord, you would do that in the lives of these men in supernatural ways.

And Lord, that you would use the patient endurance and love of their wives to be a tool in bringing that about. We’re asking you for your protection over these dear daughters of yours, and for your great mercy to be shown to them through making their husbands a blessing, making their husbands the men of God you have in mind. And Lord, I want to pray to you for the men who are not failing in this area, Lord. Give them resilience and strength.

Give them the ability to continue being conformed to the image of Christ and loving their wives well. We ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.