When You Have a Great One-Liner

Illustration of a woman saying, "You should see what he's wearing today," while her husband stands to the side looking frustrated

I don't have a problem with respect — it's showing respect to my husband that I can't quite get the hang of.

Showing disrespect has become a modern marriage pastime. We laugh as our favorite on-screen wives make fools out of their husbands, and before long we're talking like these leading ladies.

Casual disrespect

Here are some ways we show disrespect:

Witty one-liners are clever ways to get the last word. Example: "You can tell me how hard work is after you birth three children."

Sarcasm uses mocking words to strike at him personallyExample: "That's your best idea yet; got any more?"

Misplaced laughter ridicules him, whether or not he's around. Example: "He actually thinks those look good together."

Demeaning reminders imply a lack of trust. Example: "So are we actually going to see you on time today?"

I've come to understand that the phrase "Women need love and men need respect" is more than just a slogan — it's Scripture (Ephesians 5:33). So I try to use encouraging words to show my husband respect. The opportunities are endless, and my words have the potential to empower my husband to be more of the man God wants him to be. When I'm sincere and he accepts my words, our marriage is strengthened.

Here's how I've been making the transition from casual disrespect to intentional respect: I start with prayer, asking God to change my heart and my attitude. I also listen carefully to my words. Finally, I replace rudeness with words that exhibit honor for the husband God gave me.

Intentional respect

These alternatives show respect:

Ask questions: Give him a chance to express himself. Example: "What made work so difficult today?"

Keep it simple: Make clear statements about issues. Example: "I'm not sure that's going to work. Are there any other options?"

Encourage: Choose words that highlight his individuality. Example: "I love that he's daring enough to wear that."

Tell the truth: Express concerns and affirm positive changes. Example: "It's been really hard for us when you're late; I appreciate your making the effort to get home earlier."

I show respect to my husband because God brought up the subject. It's His way of leading me into a marriage that is blessed as it reflects the loving relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. Marriage has a purpose far greater than my husband's and my relationship. Our unity expressed in love and respect is nothing short of God's witness to the world of His great love.

Janine Petry is an editor and writer who lives in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, area.

Did you know couples are 30 percent less likely to get a divorce if they get some sort of premarital training? If you or someone you know is planning to marry, check out Focus on the Family's Ready to Wed curriculum, and then prepare for a marriage you'll love!

This article appeared in the January/February 2011 issue of  Focus on the Family's Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2010 by Janine Petry. Used by permission. From the Focus on the Family website at FocusOnTheFamily.com.

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