“One time my husband and I were on a date at a restaurant — we like to sit on the same side of the bench — and we saw this older couple walk in, and they [also] sat on the same side.” Deb Weakly, co-founder of The Help Club for Moms, never expected to learn a powerful life lesson while ordering dinner. “I noticed they were married, and the wife would look at [her husband] when he was talking, and she would touch his hand. She was really paying attention to him. She wasn’t rushing him. She was listening and nodding and touching him, and I thought I want that kind of marriage when I’m in my 60s.” It was a moment that changed Weakly’s relationship with her husband.
“I was so convicted,” Weakly says, “And so, I started — by the grace of God — trying to listen to my husband more.” As she put the conviction into practice, Weakly also learned how respecting her husband could make him a better leader in the home. She also learned that she wasn’t the only woman with questions about how to respect and follow her husband’s leadership. “There are so many women that desperately want their husbands to lead, but maybe their husband wasn’t discipled or maybe their husband came from a broken home. Maybe their husband doesn’t know how to lead, but as women, we’re supposed to submit to our husbands. How do we do that if our husband doesn’t even know how to lead?”
The answer didn’t come easily. For Weakly, it meant making intentional choices and listening to God’s gentle promptings. Here’s what she learned:
Say goodbye to criticism
“I used to hang out with people. I wanted to fit in. They would gossip about their husbands, and they would criticize them. I started joining in the gossip.” But the more Weakly tried to fit in, the more uncomfortable she felt. She soon realized the damage that the negativity could bring to her marriage. “I thought, Wait, this is wrong. I love my husband and I don’t want to talk about him bad.” There was just one choice to make: “I pulled away from those friends and I asked the Lord to give me godly friends. It’s important that we guard who we hang out with,” she says.
Choose to see the good
Not only did Weakly change who she spent time with, but she also chose to respect her husband’s decisions. Weakly tells how her husband spent years working overtime, saving money and investing to build a new home for his family. But, when the Great Recession hit, he lost 11 years of investments. It forced the family to back out of their building agreement and move into a small rental house. Weakly says it would have been easy to criticize her husband (even though the economic issues were out of his control), but she respected and encouraged him through the tough times. She encourages other women to do the same with their husbands: “I think we need to open our eyes and see how hard our husbands are trying. They’re trying to serve. They’re trying to love. They have so many pressures. Cut them some slack … give them some grace.”
Weakly regularly interacts with women through her Help Club for Moms ministry. As she listens to their stories, she hears others share their struggles as they search for the right way to balance respect for their husband with the reality that he is not a perfect leader. The key, Weakly says, is to recognize your husband’s unique strengths and skills. “Our husbands are not going to lead the way that Sally’s husband leads or the way that Betty’s husband leads. We need to remember that in our homes we need to be keeping our eyes on Jesus … not looking around at what other people’s husbands are doing. [We need to] find the good in what our husband is doing and let him lead.”
Even in the best marriages, it’s not easy to see your husband’s imperfections and let him lead your family. (However, if your husband is abusive, get to safety and seek help.) But Weakly says that respecting your husband can make him a better man. “You have the power to raise your husband up. He could be a better leader in his community. He could be better in your home when you’re lifting him up and when you are encouraging him instead of beating him down for what he’s doing wrong. He will rise to what’s expected of him.”