Husbands are called to love their wives. Wives are called to submit to and respect their husbands. That is the ideal relational interaction on each side, set forth by God. (Ephesians 5:21-33) Each side is to give 100%, to love/respect/submit unconditionally.
There is a large gap between the ideal to be striven towards and reality.
The world says, "I will love you IF...."
God says, "Love each other. Period." (John 13:34)
The world says, "Prove your love by your purchases."
God says, "Show your love through words and actions (service)." (Galatians 5:13)
The world says, "I will give you only as much love as you give me."
God says, "Love each other, like I have loved you." (John 13:34-35)
The world says, "Only be nice to those who are nice to you."
God says, "Love your enemies." (Matthew 5:43-48)
The world asks, "What can you do for me?"
God wants us to love others like we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40)
The world thinks we need to tear people down to make ourselves look better.
God wants us to encourage and uplift each other. (Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:24)
The world believes that the way to get your way is to whine, manipulate, and belittle.
God wants us to put others first. (Romans 12:10)
The world portrays men as lazy, clueless, no-good, nuisances and then wonders why men live down to those expectations.
God calls us to a high standard (but especially men) and expects us to live up to it. (see movie Courageous and its Bible Study)
So what does respect mean to me? How do I portray it in my life?
I try not to publicly criticize my husband, either in front of him or when he is elsewhere.
When I do have a problem with something my hubby said or did, I try to tell it to him privately and without scorn.
I try to not bring up past problems in current discussions, especially if we have come to terms with them.
My husband is our primary wage earner (seriously, my paycheck can't even pay the rent), so I try to be frugal with our money, budget it the best I can, keep my hubby in the loop about my breakfast, and not make big purchases without his input.
My man is all too aware of his faults; he does not need another person pointing those out to him, but he does need a cheerleader, encourager, and positive-trait-pointer-outer. It is my blessing that I get to be this person!
Respect means that I don't diss my man or bad-mouth his decisions. Respect means that sometimes I will not do something that bothers him, just because it bothers him.
God didn't make His commands to love, submit, and respect conditional. His Word doesn't say "love each other IF...." "Submit to your spouse IF..." "Respect your spouse IF..." It says "Love/Submit/Respect your spouse." Period.
It is counter-cultural to hold your husband in high esteem and to treat him like the head of the household (he is, by the way). My husband has taught me that in order for men to be the head of the household, they have to see the need to be the head. If wives are doing it all and pushing the husbands away, they'll go do something fun or tackle a need that they can fulfill.
You can't change someone else. You can only change your side of the interactions with them; if they change, it's up to them. So instead of looking at the "ways your spouse fails you" or "how nice other people's spouses are," look at how you are doing as a spouse. What do you need to improve in?
Wives, respect your husbands in words and deeds. Husbands, love your wives in words and deeds. Christians, submit to one another.
What are ways that wives can respect their husbands? What are ways husbands want to be respected?