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By: Donna Martin

Respect – when you hear that word you may think of Aretha Franklin belting out “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.”

Actually the song “Respect” was written by Otis Redding and was written from a man’s point of view.  The message of the song says, honey, you’ve got everything you need and I am about to give you all my money, but all I want is for you to give me some respect when I come home.  The song ends with these lyrics, “Respect is what I want, Respect is what I need, Got to have it!  Give it to me!”

This is the cry of every man – “Respect is what I want, respect is what I need.” In Ephesians 5:33 the apostle Paul says that “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  Did you ever wonder why Paul did not just say husbands and wives need to love each other?  The reason is that women are made with the ability to naturally love and nurture another person, however, men are made with the ability to give respect to another person.  So women need love, but to men love means respect. 

As a wife you may love your husband dearly, but does he know that you respect him? 

Many times women do not realize that they are showing disrespect to their husbands.  We have gone out for dinner with couples when one wife begins to complain in front of everyone about her husband.  She says something like, “I thought we were going to have five wrecks before we got here tonight.  Craig is a terrible diver.”  The other wife replies, “ I know what you mean.  I am going to have to be the one who teaches our kids how to drive.  Justin scares me to death.  No one ever wants to ride with us.”  And then another wife joins in complaining about one of her husband’s faults.  It almost becomes a contest to see who has the worst husband. Sometimes the men may try to defend themselves or they may go along with it just to save face.   These remarks may seem insignificant and funny at the time, but over time careless, disrespectful words tear down a man’s self esteem and cause tension in a marriage.

I’ll have to admit that one day several years ago, I fell right into the trap of this complain game.  We had gone to breakfast with a couple and the wife shared a complaint about her husband while we were all eating.  I went right along with her saying, “I know what you mean.”  Then I shared something that had irritated me about Mike.  Mike did not say anything at that time, he just laughed and went along with it like everyone else.  However, after breakfast I knew something was wrong, but I could not figure out what had happened to upset him. I thought maybe he didn’t feel well or that something had happened at work to upset him.  I was totally unaware of the fact that I was the one who had upset him.  Luckily, later on during the day, Mike told me that what I had said about him at breakfast really was disrespectful.  My unthoughtful words had cut deep into his soul and made him feel disrespected.

Thankfully, Mike shared his feelings with me and I learned that these kinds of remarks would not help us build a happy together marriage. However,  many men never tell their wives that their harsh words or their cutting jokes make them feel disrespected.  They just keep it to themselves and continue to take the disrespect day after day.  But eventually when the husband has had enough of his wife’s disrespect it can lead to undesirable behavior.  If his wife does not show her husband respect, he may just give up and be unresponsive to his wife’s need for love.  Or even worse he may turn to another woman who does show him respect.  His wife may be completely unaware that her lack of respect was what drove him away.

Giving your husband respect is like giving him air to breath.  There is a saying “Behind every successful man there is a woman.”  This statement should read, “Behind every successful man is a woman who shows him respect.”  

Think about your words and your nonverbal responses that you give your husband.  Are you playing the complain game with your friends.  Do you start complaining to him the minute he comes home?  Are you always barking out orders and criticizing him? Are you rolling your eyes and making snide remarks?  This kind of behavior causes your husband to wither on the inside.

On the other hand are you letting your husband know that you are proud of him, that you are thankful for all the hard work he does to support your family and that you could not get along without him?  Have you told him that you are so thankful that you are his wife and that you love being seen with him?  If so, then you are obeying God by giving your husband the respect he needs and breathing life into his soul.

Are you giving your husband respect when you are out in public and when he comes home?  Remember  as the song says, respect is what men want, respect is what men need.

The Martins currently present “Happy Together” marriages seminars for churches and organizations.  To schedule a seminar call Michael at 940-735-1515. They also publish a weekly “Happy Together” Blog about family and marriage issues.  You can order copies of their new books Dancing With Death and 366 Tidbits We Have Learned in 14,610 Days of Marriage, read, and subscribe to their “Happy Together” Blog by logging onto the Martin’s website at


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