By Kristine Brown, Crosswalk.com
I huffed my way into the other room and closed the door. I needed a minute alone, or maybe longer.
I couldn’t believe my husband would disagree with me on such an important topic! And the more we discussed it, the more my annoyance grew.
In that heated moment, I questioned whether we’d be able to get past our disagreement.
Seems like our world today consists of one big disagreement after another. Masks or no masks? Education at school or home? Democrat or Republican? The list of potential disagreements is endless. And with all the differing opinions, many of these disagreements can easily seep into our marriages.
From politics to parenting styles, we don’t have to look far to find fuel for disagreeing with our husbands. If we’re not careful though, we can get caught up in the negative feelings and let the disagreeing turn to disrespecting. And no one wants that.
Which leads us to this crucial question: When those disagreements send frustration levels sky-high, is it possible to still show him the respect he needs?
God’s Word offers guidance for husbands and wives, even when we disagree. Ephesians 5:33 gives us these commands. “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
This verse reveals a valuable truth for our marriages. It is possible to respect our husbands and disagree at the same time. Here are a few tips to help us rise above disagreements and shower him with respect.
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The Difference Between Respecting and Agreeing
Years ago a dear friend shared a piece of wisdom that still encourages me today.
As parents of preschoolers, we’d both learned how unexpected disagreements could pop up in marriage. In those moments she would remember how grateful she was for her husband’s faith in Christ and his good example as a strong and committed dad. Then she would do something nice for him.
This friend inspired me with her ability to see the big picture. We don’t have to agree on everything to appreciate one another. She found little ways to say she respected her husband, and also to show it.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to respect someone is “to consider him worthy of high regard.” If we truly hold our husbands in high regard, we can use that truth to shift our perspectives when it comes to day-to-day differences. You can still think the world of your husband, and also not agree with certain decisions.
Even thinking about Jesus, he never had a moment where he wasn't loving people. But he certainly had times where he disagreed with the religious leaders of the time.
You can find small gestures to show how important he is to you, which will outshine those areas where we don’t agree. If you’ve let clashes in your marriage affect your level of respect, know this.
There is hope today.
Here are 4 practical things we can do to give our husbands the honor they deserve.
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1. Let Go of the Unrealistic Expectation That You Will Agree on Everything
Sitting over dinner one evening, I tried a hundred different ways to explain my point. My husband just didn’t get it. I could feel the tension. The more I tried to make him understand, the thicker the wall grew between us. I just wanted him to see it my way. Is that so wrong?
It’s true that we need to be “equally yoked” with our spouse by putting our faith in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 6:14). Beyond that, the reality is we will have many things we won’t agree on. Thinking otherwise will only lead to disappointment.
Placing unrealistic expectations on the relationship sends the message that I will never be satisfied with his efforts. It can also undermine his confidence in his own opinions. Our husbands don’t always have to see it our way, and we shouldn’t try to force it. Instead, let’s pray our husband will never say, “Yes dear,” just because he thinks that’s what we want to hear.
When we realize it’s okay to disagree, we’re showing how much we care about him over our own opinions.
2. Resist the Temptation to Withdraw
When we disagree about something, I’m tempted to withdraw. I put distance between us by retreating to the other room or sitting in silence. Sometimes, it's out of fear of being vulnerable, or sometimes it's even out of wanting to punish him.
But--I can show respect by drawing closer in the moment rather than separating myself from him.
Withdrawing can also lead to the more dangerous trap of withholding love and affection. Can I let you in on a secret, from one imperfect wife to another? I get irritated by even the slightest conflict. But I’ve discovered a way to replace the urge to roll my eyes.
A simple hand-touch or even a hug will show him you value him and your marriage, whether you agree or not.
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3. Wait for the Right Time to Talk it Out
One day, there was something we needed to talk about. It felt like it was burning a hole in my heart and couldn’t wait another minute.
My husband had a rough start to the morning, so waiting a few days would’ve been a better choice. But against God’s wisdom to listen for direction, I followed my feelings. The disagreement led to frustration, then to a day of silence. If only I’d paused to pray.
The enemy tries to trick us into thinking there’s an urgency in hashing out the problem. So he tells us we need to keep talking about it right then. That it can’t wait until later.
In 26 years of marriage, my husband and I have learned the best outcomes always happen when we wait until a moment of connection to talk out any disagreements. Debating over things like handling our child’s misbehavior is more tolerable during a walk together in the park or over dinner at a favorite restaurant.
I’d even say those conversations turn from dreaded to productive. Maybe even enjoyable!
4. Choose Being Respectful over Being Right
Our human tendency toward pride tells us the more we “make our case,” the closer we get to being right. But God’s Word says nothing about the value of being right in a relationship.
In fact, His ways teach us the opposite. We grow closer to Him and each other when we humble ourselves. When we let go of the need to be right all the time.
At the start of a disagreement, we should always stop and remind our husband that the disagreement does not affect our respect for him. Beginning any conversation with this assurance will keep our hearts in the right place.
Even on those topics where we simply can’t agree, we can keep the peace and move forward with mutual respect.
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5. Refrain from Shaming His Opinions in Front of Others
Allow me to share from a vulnerable place. It took a while for me to learn this truth in my own marriage. We need to guard against chatting about our marital differences with friends, even in a lighthearted way.
When it comes to opinions, most of us have a solid reason for why we think the way we do. When we don’t have that solid foundation, we sometimes look for others to “side with us,” giving us the validation we seek. Even though we don’t intend to hurt our spouses, we could be disrespecting them without realizing it.
We can’t let a conversation with friends about a marital disagreement lead to a husband-bashing session. It’s our responsibility to respect him, not shame him.
Something as innocent as teasing him about his hobbies or rolling your eyes at a purchase he made can tear down instead of building up. As wives, we don’t want to do that. Our role is to always encourage and support our spouse, even if we don’t agree with him.
So whether we’re debating politics or deciding the best way to raise our kids, disagreements will definitely happen. That’s one thing we can all agree on! Rather than getting annoyed or frustrated with our husbands, we can seal the truth of Ephesians 5:33 in our hearts. “...and the wife must respect her husband.”
With this encouragement, we can respect our husbands and disagree at the same time. We can hold them in high regard as the blessings we know they are. Let’s pray for God to go with us into those hard conversations, then apply the steps above. We will see strength develop in our marriages like never before as we show a new level of respect for our husbands.
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