“However, let each one of you love his
wife as himself,
and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
MARRIAGE MINUTE #4
Respect Each Other in Your Words and Actions
I have to admit when I saw that “Respecting each other with your words and actions” was my marriage topic this week, my first reaction was “Ugh. I was hoping for an easy one.”
Then I thought, why is this is such a hard topic for me? Probably because I am incredibly guilty of not showing my husband respect in my words and actions. Probably because it’s never easy to share the things that you have struggled with in the past and even still struggle with now. Oh well, here we go…
Being married for over 12 years, and knowing each other for over 16 years, there is a level of comfort that goes along with knowing someone for so long. That’s a great perk of marriage, right? That your spouse is with you for everything no matter what?---the good, the bad, the ups, the downs, the best of you and the worst of you and even the gassy side of you, the no make-up, the unshaven legs, the feet that desperately need a pedicure (if you can ever afford it), the unwashed hair…well you get the point. But when does being comfortable around one another cross the line from being comfortable and just being yourself and being disrespectful?
I hope you don’t get tired of hearing about the challenging times that Brad and I faced in our marriage, but I had a good conversation with a great friend today about how important it is to not always put our best foot forward especially when it comes to marriage and parenting, and so I’m putting my ugly, unpedicured foot forward for a minute to be real. I crossed the line so many times from being comfortable with my husband to being just plain disrespectful in my words and in my actions.
Brad and I had been married for 8 years before I got the wake-up call from God at how much of a snot I was to him (sorry, that’s really the best way for me to describe myself at that time.) I complained a lot about his job and how little time we spent together. (Hello? See how important Love Languages are?) Because of my frustration with him, I disrespected him. I pointed out everything he didn’t do well or at least what didn’t meet my expectations. I was ungrateful and condescending towards him in every possible way. Some of it was said in sarcasm, but you know that most things said in sarcasm have a lot of truth behind them. And frankly, I just said way too many things that just didn't need to be said. (I'm still working on that). Oh, and the wonderful fights sparked by too much alcohol were just ugly. I would wake up the next morning just fine and wonder why he was so mad at me. Could it be that I said some really mean things to him and didn’t even really remember it? Praise God for freeing me from this!
There were a lot of other factors that I was dealing with in our marriage like infertility, depression, insecurity, lack of trust, but that was no excuse for the lack of respect I showed my husband. Even though we didn’t have kids at the time and we both worked as teachers, I didn’t really help him much with the house work. I was too tired or I needed to grade papers or lesson plan, so he ended up doing a lot of it. I remember one time, he was on his way home from a band concert that I didn’t go to because I didn’t like them (Hello? What about going to support your husband?). Anyways, he called me on his way home saying that he didn’t have anything for dinner yet and he asked me to put on a can of soup for him. I remember feeling very bothered that he would ask me to do this when I was lying comfortably on the couch watching tv while the house was a mess and laundry needed to be done. I remember rolling my eyes and getting up off the couch, walking into the kitchen and opening a can of chili. I put it in a pot and turned the stove on high and went back to lay down on the couch to finish my tv show. Instead of walking in the door after a long day to a nice dinner and a cold beer waiting for him, he walked in to burning soup on the stove top. “Oh sorry about that” I shouted from the couch. I really don’t know what he ended up fixing himself for dinner that night. I was too busy lying on the couch watching tv to care.
Sadly, I could go on and on with more stories on both of our ends demonstrating how we didn’t respect each other in our words and actions. All I can say is that I’m so grateful to God for not allowing our marriage to continue with such disrespect. For giving us both the desire to change. For giving us both the eyes to see in ourselves the things that were not of God. For giving us the courage to face our ugliness and allowing God pull the beauty out of it. Years later, after a year of counseling, learning our love languages and devoting ourselves to being more respectful towards one another, I did have the opportunity to redeem myself after the burned soup incident. Brad called me on his way home from a long night at school and asked me to have some dinner made for him. When he got home, I was waiting upstairs with hot pizza, cold beer in the Jacuzzi tub. He still talks about that.
Today, we are not perfect and we never will be, but we both work very hard to be respectful to each other, and it makes a huge difference not only in our marriage but also in the example we set as parents. This week, I pray that you will ask God to allow you to see changes that you can make to be more respectful towards your spouse in what you say and do. I pray that God will show you specific ways that you can bless your spouse, so instead of having a burned-soup-marriage, you can have a hot-pizza-cold-beer-waiting-in-the-Jacuzzi-tub marriage! It’s so much more fun that way!