Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Wife’s Respect (Part 1 )

“Each husband also must love his wife as he loves himself,
and the wife must respect her husband.”  – Ephesians 5:33

According to an old Ethiopian folktale, there was once a young married woman who became fed up with her husband. Having given up all hope for her marriage, she approached a local judge and asked him to grant her a divorce. Being a wise old man, he chose to probe her a bit. “A divorce!” he exclaimed. “Don’t you love your husband?” “Of course I love him,” she responded, “but we just can’t get along. So we must get a divorce.” The old man had an idea. He asked the young bride, “If I were able to give you magic medicine that would help you two get along much better, would you take it?” “Absolutely,” she responded. “I’d do anything to save my marriage.” “Great,” said the judge. “I’ll just need one key ingredient to make the medicine: a single hair from the tail of the lion that lives down by the river. I’m not sure how you’ll get it, but you must find a way.”

The woman made a beeline to the river, but as soon as she heard the lion roar, she turned in fear and ran home as fast as she could. But the next day she returned to the river with a sack of raw meat. She got as close as two hundred yards from the lion, quickly dropped the bag of meat and ran home. The next day she returned with another bag of meat and got as close as one hundred yards; the following day—fifty yards; and the day after that—twenty yards. After a few short weeks the lion was eating the meat out of her hand, and she was able to carefully reach back and pull a single hair from his tail.

As fast as she could, she rushed to the old judge and exclaimed, “I did it! I did it! Here is the hair from the ferocious lion’s tail.” The judge proudly smiled and said, “Securing this hair took an enormous amount of patience, courage and determination. Now, if you put the same amount of patience, courage and determination into your marriage that you put into securing this lion’s hair, you and your husband will enjoy a long and happy marriage. The magic medicine your marriage needs was with you all along.”

The struggles of this young couple are common to marriages everywhere. And the words of wisdom offered by the judge are just as relevant to us in America as they were to the young couple in Ethiopia. Many husbands and wives throw in the divorce towel far too early, claiming that they just can’t get along. However, more times than not, it’s not that they “can’t” get along but that they don’t try hard enough to get along. Sadly, they aren’t willing to put in the necessary effort. You see, there is no magic formula for a strong and happy marriage. It is—among other things—the result of patience, courage and determination disguised as hard work.

In this day and age when so many marriages aren’t “for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health ‘til death do us part,” we need to get back to basics. We need to return to the Creator of marriage and read His marriage owner’s manual once again. In Ephesians 5:22-33, God gives specific instructions to husbands and wives about their God-given responsibilities within marriage.

Let’s focus on one of the wife’s God-given responsibilities: to respect her husband. I find it very interesting that in Ephesians 5:33, husbands are commanded to “love” their wives, but wives are told to “respect” their husbands. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to ask many husbands, “Would you rather hear your wife tell you, ‘I love you’ or ‘I respect you’?” Guess how most men have responded? By far the most common response from husbands has been, “I respect you.”

Because men are wired much differently than women, husbands have different needs and tend to be motivated differently than their wives. To put it simply: most wives feed off of love, but most husbands feed off of respect. This is certainly true in my own marriage. I enjoy hearing my wife tell me that she loves me. But when she looks me in the eye and says, “Dane, I respect you,” I light up like the Fourth of July.

And God understands this reality better than anyone. After all, He created both “male and female” and knows us inside and out. He knows that in order for a married couple to be happy and healthy, the wife needs to receive a healthy dose of daily love from her husband, and the husband needs to receive an ample amount of respect from his wife. Love and respect, respect and love: they are two critical ingredients in any healthy marriage.

When marriages tailspin into dysfunction, it’s often the result of the husband withholding love from his wife and the wife responding by withholding respect from her husband. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (author of Love & Respect) refers to this as “The Crazy Cycle.” Withholding respect leads to withholding love which leads to withholding more respect which leads to more withholding of love. You get the idea. Ultimately, the crazy cycle can only be stopped when one of the spouses intentionally chooses to stop it. Either the husband chooses to love his wife despite her disrespect, or the wife chooses to respect her husband despite his withholding of love.

Perhaps you and your spouse are experiencing this crazy cycle. If so, there is hope. You must recognize your contribution to the craziness and choose to stop participating in it today. Husband, love your wife in tangible, meaningful ways even when she is disrespecting you up one side and down the other. Wife, communicate respect to your husband even when his love for you is as cold as a winter breeze in the Klondike. Ultimately, God’s ways are always the best ways. If your marriage strategies haven’t been working, then take God’s strategies for a spin. If there is a true lion’s hair that will transform your marriage, it’s love and respect.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. To hear Pastor Dane’s messages or for more information about the church, visit

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