Back when I was a newlywed and attempting to navigate the world of the married, one of the issues that really concerned me was respect. I knew that I was supposed to give my husband respect, but at the time (mostly because I was young and foolish) I didn't always think he deserved it. I had all sorts of funny reasons why I didn't think so. And I of course, thought I was totally in the right. I remember voicing these reasons to a mentor of mine and her very wise response.
"You don't respect him because he deserves it. You respect him because he is your head. God has put him over you, no matter if you think he deserves that position or not. You respect him for the God-given position he's in and then you in trust God, not in him."
Pretty monumental to me. I'd never heard this before. In my mind, he needed to earn my respect and he needed to do it in ways that were meaningful to me. The church has pretty much followed our culture in this aspect too. "He better respect you or he's not worth it." Or, "Now when you're young, that's the time to 'train' him." Attitudes such as these are prevalent. And as prevalent as they are, they're also devastating to a marriage.
Now hear me, none of the issues I was worried about were really much of anything. They were only important to me because I was still learning what it meant to be part of a team and not just by myself. Many of the issues fell in the area of money where I thought I knew better. Oh boy did I. And the other ones, well some of them were just a result of both of us learning how to be married.
The key was this though, would I be teachable and resolve to do as advised or continue in the way that seemed right to me?
I truly wanted to have a good marriage so I decided to give her advice a shot despite my misgivings. This is what I discovered.
For one, I think much more highly of myself than I ought. Enough said.
Secondly, I do not have the same protective eye that Steve has. I might've thought that I had more "street knowledge" about certain things, but the truth is that over and over again, the eye that God has given to Steve to see danger and protect our family stepped in and saved us when I would've gone a different route. These events humbled me and caused my respect to rise.
Thirdly, and most importantly, when I began to just respect Steve because he is my head and not because I felt he deserved it, he rose to it. He began acting more respectable, which made me respect him even more, which made him act even more respectable (and the vicious cycle continued).....Ha ha ha!
When he felt I had let go and shifted the responsibilities to him, he had to own it and he learned to be a better leader, husband and man. The weight he bore caused him to bear up under it with pride and determination. If I would've kept trying to help shoulder it, he would've felt more and more like a wimp. It definitely was strength I was after anyway. Ironically, I had to move out of the way to let him be strong.
It all came down to a choice.
Often love is described this way and I believe it to be true. Love is a choice.
But so is respect. It's a choice.
I don't always know better. But God does.
God has put our husbands in a position that requires much responsibility. Of course we work as a team. Of course, there is mutual respect. But when the rubber meets the road, at the end of the day, I better respect the man God has given me no matter what.
And when mistakes are made, (for there have been mistakes and there will be more) I need to remember that I'm just as culpable.
I'm also just as likely to need forgiveness.