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Today I want to help wives better understand their husband’s biggest need.

And women, way more than they want for you to look attractive (although they do care about this more than they often admit),

More than they want you to spend recreational time together with them (they love this),

And even more than they want physical attention from you (for many men, this is almost right at the top)…

Men want one thing.

Your respect.

Yup, the common theme in all of their earnest desires for their marriages, that they pour out in those vulnerable moments in coaching or therapy, continues to be respect.

Hands down.

But I know you ladies already know this.

You’ve been told this all of your life, especially if you’ve grown up in church.

So today I’m going to shed some light on what they need specifically in the area of respect.

Maybe you think you’re already great at this, because when I ask women “Do you have respect for your husband?” most women I work with reply….

“Yes, of course!”

But when most men, when they feel safe after a session or two, are asked whether they feel that respect, they usually say “Not really,” or even “Not at all.”

Something’s not lining up.

So what is this kind of respect men are talking about not getting?
They definitely want to hear that they did a good job on projects for work.

They also love hearing about how you find them intelligent, strong or handsome.

But let’s face it. They can and do get this from their mothers and relatives, and even co-workers or strangers to some degree.

But the kind of respect they both need and crave even deeper from YOU is this…

They want you to believe in them.

They want you to come alongside them in their leadership vision for their families.
And they want you to let them lead.

Yup. It’s the big stuff.

And I know how hard that is.

Because most women squirm uncomfortably when it’s time to give up control.

And I’m the first to admit it.

So I’m gonna go a little deeper in this email to you…

And share with you how God helped me to show respect to my husband.

But if you’d like to cut to the chase, just scroll right down to the Five Essential Steps to Respecting Husbands at the bottom of the page.
About six years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to move away from Detroit.

You think?
But seriously….
It was time, after 10+ years of marriage in the midwest to get outta dodge.

He wanted to move to Florida where he had a few relatives. I loved the beach.

And it was only one road down I-75.
One long road.

Or so I thought.

From the moment we settled into our new town, we had a stream of visitors and the road all of the sudden seemed…..


To my shock, my husband’s Florida relatives starting coming out of the woodwork and more of my husband’s family started making plans to move down with us.

My husband was thrilled.

I wasn’t.
And just as many of you can imagine if you’ve done my Relate book …

We had now come across one of those lovely “unsolvable problems” John Gottman the #1 marital researcher in the country talks about.

My husband felt that if they came to join us, our purpose was to love and minister to them. He was very passionate about this. I wanted to do ministry with a more receptive audience who truly wanted to grow. I wanted to focus elsewhere in ministry and wanted some space from those family members who were majorly emotionally unhealthy.

The important thing to note here is that neither of us were “wrong.”  Like your own “unsolvable problems,” there was no “hero” or “villain.” We just had a MAJOR difference of opinion.

I fought it for awhile…I couldn’t envision giving in this time. I didn’t want to pray about it together. Until one day it became crystal clear.

I heard my husband on the phone with his family and…

He was trying so hard to convince them to come….

And it dawned on me in a super clear way for the first time.

I wasn’t setting boundaries for us.

I wasn’t even fighting them off like I imagined.

I was only fighting him.

And I knew I was literally fulfilling the Bible verse, “A house divided against itself will fall.”

I wasn’t respecting his heart’s desire, wasn’t trusting him to take the lead. And this wasn’t even about health, safety or job, it wasn’t even the really big stuff.

The next morning, I processed it all with the Lord. Did I trust Him?

It was definitely a dark night of the soul for me to admit I was being controlling.

But since marriage is an act of faith, it was time to take a leap.

I waited for God’s peace and direction and in that time of waiting on God, He encouraged me to fight hard for my family, yes, even my extended family whom I love dearly but felt overwhelmed by.
It was gonna take everything I had.

So by faith, I chose to respect my husband’s desire for his family to live near us (They were literally on the road by this point, so it was good timing!) In fact, they’re still coming in droves….:)

And while I don’t know if that exact story resonates with you, 

The theme is the same.

In session, I hear you saying you don’t want to follow your husband’s financial lead, or his lead with the kids, or his lead in his vocation, or his lead in the extended family like me.

And we’ll talk in a moment about when you just can’t surrender.
But when you can, do. Co-lead, yes, but when there is a matter of urgency to him that won’t affect your emotional and spiritual well-being, ask yourself what it is you’re losing by giving in.

He thrives on this kind of respect and that trickles down to everything and everyone in your household as a benefit.

I know your biggest worry of all in this matter…..

That if you relinquish control and submit to your husband’s leadership…..

That you would lose yourself.

But that part just isn’t true.
Because even if you give in to your husband and show respect for his leadership…

You’re still you!

Just as you should be.
You have value and giftings no matter what.

Never let him tell you that you don’t and don’t listen if he does.
But respect your husband’s vision for the family, talk it out, make compromises, and when there are no compromises to be had, have a little faith and show him the respect of letting him lead.

If your opinions differ and you come across certain “non-negotiables” and you just cannot show respect for his idea…

Respect him in the areas where you can and pray hard. Read the Bible together and see a counselor. If you’re worried you will lose yourself in the process and get swallowed up in one big swarm of Hardins like I was…

(I’m pretty sure that’s not your exact worry 🙂

Set some boundaries and get self-care no matter what.

In my case, I decided there were certain things I would not be able to willing to do, like move in with my husband’s family or hang with them every day. When I feel smothered by them I take a break, period. I need to do this so I can be healthy for my kids, for my clients, for my marriage, and just as importantly, for myself.
So don’t compromise where you can’t.

And if you guys are stuck and need some help figuring out a particularly spiderwebby situation, we really and truly do love looking at the big picture and helping to get you unstuck! And if you like simple formulas, here’s your 5 Essential Steps to Showing Respect to Your Husband:

  1. For starters, don’t do anything to compromise your biblical values. Get in line with God’s word and pray about the big decisions your husband is asking you to respect him in. God will give you peace and direction in this.
  2. Get accountability. If your husband’s not particularly easy to respect right now, come on in for a tune-up together, book an individual session or get talking to another wise mentor about how you can stay healthy. Wisely not blindly, submit.
  3. Resist & remember. Resist complaining. Get a move on with your own life and interests and hobbies instead of dwelling on stuff you can’t change about your man. Remember the awesome parts of your hubby, the reasons you married him and tell him often about those!
  4. Boundaries. Set them where needed. Don’t do things that make you forget who you are. But believe God and remember blessings await you in heaven even if here you find yourself ministering more than receiving. God says are true treasures are in heaven and that it is more blessed to give than receive.
  5. Report – This is the biggest. Tell your husband all the things you do respect about him.