Unlocking Love and Respect

Unlocking Love and Respect

This passage, as well as 1 Peter 3:1-7, gives us some helpful insights into building healthy, godly marriages. I summarize it like this: Husbands must love their wives, and wives must respect their husbands. This isn’t all that we can say on the matter, and of course men and women have more needs than this. But there is a great truth here: men thrive in marriage when they feel respected by their wife, and women thrive in marriage when they feel loved by their husband. 

Men, I’m going to give you one big idea, with two applications:

Love your wife. Do this by focusing on Nourishing her and Cherishing her. 

Women, I’m going to give you one big idea as well: Respect your husband. To put it another way: you love your husband by respecting him.

Let’s look at what both mean in practice.

Husbands, Love your Wives

Love your wife as your own body, and as Christ loves his body, the church. You can do this by ‘nourishing’ and ‘cherishing’ her. 

Nourish Her – Care for her so she can grow

  • Care – Take on the responsibility to care for your wife’s physical, spiritual, emotional needs. Of all the people in your life, she must take priority. 
  • Lead – I think godly women want to be led by a godly, worthy man. Christians willingly submit to Christ because, among other things, we know Christ has our best interest at heart. He desires our good. Wives thrive when they can follow the lead of a godly, worthy husband who has his wife’s interest at heart. This frees her to fulfill her own areas of calling. A passive husband who won’t lead burdens his wife. Leading her well is loving her. 
  • Grow – To nourish something means to help it grow. This means you help her to flourish and fulfill her calling. Encourage her in worthwhile pursuits. Work together to set aside resources she needs for her to pursue projects that will bless your family, home, church, community, and beyond. Help her to grow in her faith in the Lord. She should become a better woman by being married to you. 
  • Protect – Adam failed to protect his wife, to warn her, and so she fell. Godly men love their wives when we act as protectors. This means from physical harm, obviously, but other danger areas as well. She should feel safe with you.
  • Give – Men are built to give themselves away, to sacrifice their life, energy, strength, wealth, everything they have to something or someone worthy.  To nourish your wife will cost you, but you will find satisfaction in doing so. 

Cherish Her – Value and delight in her.

  • Honor – In Proverbs 31, the husband acknowledges all that the wife is doing with her many talents to build up her household, her husband, her children. He honors her contributions, is thankful for her hard work, values her input and counsel. Honor your wife’s hard work and take notice.
  • Pursue – A wife feels loved when you continue to pursue her. To give her attention, listen to her, spend time with her, lead romantically. Men ought to date their wives. There is certainly a romantic aspect to this, but a husband ought to pursue his wife’s company and counsel as well.  Make time together a priority. Initiate in this area.
  • Delight – Your wife ought to know that you delight in her. Maybe this is hard because you have become so critical that all you see are her flaws. In that case, you must work to look for her virtues and what is lovely and beautiful about her. Find and focus on what attracted you to her in the first place. Compliment her. Write her poems. Build her stuff. Give her gifts. Let her know that she is precious to you.
  • Commit – You cherish your wife when she knows you are committed to her and that your marriage is the priority. She ought to take comfort knowing that you are in it for the long haul. 

Wives, Respect your Husband

A wife is to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ. This is hard, no doubt, because it is much easier to submit to Christ. He is the perfect husband! He never does anything wrong. Yet this is God’s will that you respect your husband, and in doing so you are loving him as he needs to be loved. What does this look like?

  • SupportGod created woman to be man’s helper. He is designed to lead, but he can’t do it alone. He needs to be the one who takes on responsibility for weighty decisions, but he needs your counsel. For his calling and responsibilities, he needs you in his corner as his encourager so he can be the man God calls him to be. He should be a better man because of being married to you.
  • TrustThe call to submit is a biblical word. Wives are to live in submission to their husbands. But if that idea is hard to swallow because there is too much baggage attached to it… then try trusting your husband. The church submits to Christ when we trust him and follow his lead. Similarly, wives are living submitted to their husband when they trust him and follow his lead. Even when you disagree, empower him to lead in decision-making and support him in it. When a husband knows that his wife supports him and trusts him, he makes family decisions with confidence. If he knows he has your trust and support, it encourages him to lead sacrificially rather than selfishly. 
  • AdmireEvery man wants to be admired. For someone to take notice of their ideas, hard work, accomplishments, to share in their victories. Men have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, face a lot of criticism, but rarely receive praise. Men invest their time and attention where they feel respected or admired, whether that is at home, at the office, at the bar, at church, or at the softball field. Wives, a quick way to your husband’s heart is to give him the admiration he longs for. A quick way to make him bitter and cold is to criticize him, in private or especially in public. Consider how you are speaking about him in public, in private, to others when he isn’t around. A simple place to begin is by giving him affirming words. Tell him specific things you appreciate or admire about him, or about something he does well.
  • Respond Part of masculinity is to take initiative; part of femininity is response. This is pictured as Christ pursues his bride, the church, in laying down his life for us, and we respond to him in faith. Husbands ought to lead their wives with wisdom and love, and pursue her emotionally, spiritually, sexually, and intellectually. Wives, your husband feels satisfied when his efforts are rewarded with your response, and he cherishes you all the more. But when his initiative is blunted with cold reception, he loses the confidence to pursue. He feels disrespected. You can encourage your husband’s leadership, initiative, and pursuit, by responding positively when he does. 

While these aren’t the only ingredients to a successful, joyful, godly marriage, love and respect is a great place to start.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.