Do I Have to Respect my Spouse in a Difficult Marriage?

I, by no means, have managed to master this concept.

I used to belive that respect was something a person earned, like trust. They really are connected in many ways. But when trust is broken, respect is hard to summon.

So when a woman is in a difficult marriage and it says in Scripture that she is to respect her husband, it is like kicking someone who is already writhing on the ground in agony. You just can’t see it because as a “good Christian woman” we have to pretend to the world that everything is fine.

Even when we are at church.

Especially when we are at church.

After all, it is right there in Ephesians 5:33. Verses 23-33 are pretty strong commands for men to love their wives. Yup. It’s a command.  No negotiations. No paltry love. We wives are to be charished, protected, provided for and LOVED.

Then Paul writes this little addendum:

” . . . and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.”

I’ve heard that “see to it” is more of a “might.” It is not a command. It really is a suggestion. A strong one from Paul.

The fact is, if a man is really living out verses 23-33 (you can go look them up), a woman is going to naturally fulfill the last part of 33. She’s going to want to.

So does that mean women who are in difficult marriages don’t have to respect their spouse who fails to in any way fulfill the ten verses before that?

No. We still need to respect our husbands.

I’ll be honest.  Struggle daily with the resentment and hurt over the fact that I don’t have an Ephesians 5:23-33 kind of guy. I long for that. Is it wrong for me to want what I can’t have? No. But I can’t need it. That’s a tough one.

So how does one respect a spouse that does nothing to earn it?

We respect him as an image bearer of God instead. He may be a horrible spouse. But he is still an image bearer of Christ as much as any murderer, rapist, child-molester is.

Ooooh. Ouch. But it’s true. All sin is equal in G0d’s eyes. And I am not exempt either. I don’t always act as Christ would want me to although most of my sins are ones of thinking. Still, it’s sin. Pure and simple.

So while we may struggle to love and respect our husbands because of their words and actions that are the oppositive of what a God-fearing man should be doing, we have to remember that we are all fallen and all sin.

Because Jesus loves our husbands more than we ever could, we need to respect the person and yes, even the position. God  holds our husband’s responsible for the words and actions he expresses towards a wife. And the ones he doesn’t but should.

Just as he holds us responsible for our own actions.

So maybe Valentine’s day isn’t a lovey-dovey holiday for many of us. We can still be respectful of the person God holds in the palm of His hand just like He holds us. No one is more important than the other. Equally loved in spite of our sin.

And for that reason alone, we should respect our husband in spite of the pain he causes.

Blessings, Lilly Grace

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Broken Promises

We get married and promise to love and honor and cherish. A man promises to provide and take care of his wife. To love her as Christ loves the church.

For many of us, that is not our reality.

Now to be sure, we fail as well as wives. We have our sinful tendencies and it is hard to humble oneself to apologize to a spouse who may use that against you in the future. At least that’s the way it is for me. But I apologize anyway.

Some have said I have a reason to divorce because of the broken marriage covenant. My spouse has abandoned the marriage bed (years ago) and treats me with derision and contempt and is financially and emotionally abusive (after 21 years of marriage he knows exactly where to strike).

And just when I think I’m doing well, satan will use my spouse to try to derail me from the ministry that God has called me to in the midst of my difficult circumstances.

See, my husband has broken the marriage covenant but that doesn’t necessitate divorce. I joked with one dear friend of mine that I was sold a false bill of goods on my wedding day and why isn’t there a lemon law for husbands? He led me to believe he would love, provide and care for me. But he has refused to do so.

Broken promises often negate a contract. But marriage is a covenant. And God shows in His word that many times when He has covenanted with his people – they have broken their end of the agreement. God has stayed faithful. Sometimes there have been consequences – but He has never abandoned the people He has called to Himself.

By extraction, as His child, He will never abandon me. That’s one of His promises. He will provide for me. And He has. He will be good even when I cannot see it or I feel pain. He never promises wealth or a life free of suffering. He promises to be with us always.

My spouse may not keep his promises but I am, with Christ’s help, trying to keep mine. I will treat him respect even when he as failed to earn that. He is an image bearer of God and for that alone He deserves to be treated with respect. And I want to model that for my kids. “Love your enemies” is hard when that “enemy” lives in your home.

I do all of this to honor Christ and HE has sustained me! He has provided. He has been faithful to His promises to me. He loves and cherishes me in ways my husband is unable or unwilling to do. I can entrust Him with the future of my marriage. He has blessed me with church leadership and dear safe friends to encourage me on the path as well. I often need Jesus with skin on – and just at that moment He has been there providing that.

Can you trust God to keep His promises to you? Will your life give testimony to that as you lean on Him in your struggles? I hope so!

Blessings,

LGB