5 Ways to Better Show Love and Respect to Your Spouse

When we take wedding vows, do we consider what it means to love and respect, to have and to hold; to cherish our spouse for the rest of our lives?

Humans have a deep desire to understand things and be able to predict our future. When we choose our spouse we hope it leads to a fruitful life. 

However, we are not promised these things. During the courtship and first few years of marriage, loving and respecting each other comes easily. As the years tick by, and the lovey-dovey phase wanes, we can take our spouse for granted.

We forget that a marriage takes work and effort to be fruitful. 

Love and respect are key components of a marriage. When these elements dissipate things start to go south.

How can we incorporate more love and respect in our marriage?

What Is the Difference between Love and Respect?

Before we dive into how to better show love and respect to your spouse, let's look at what those words really mean.  

When I looked up the word love in the dictionary, I found things such as: to hold dear, an assurance of affection, unselfish loyal and benevolent, to feel a lover's passion, devotion, or tenderness for.

The Bible gives us a great definition of love in 1 Corinthians 4-7. It touts characteristics such as patience, kindness, unselfishness, humility. Love is more than a feeling because feelings are fleeting. Love encompasses a deeper emotional or intellectual intimacy with your spouse.

If you are married, you know what it means to love another human being. Hopefully, your family of origin taught you how to love as your mother and father met your physical and emotional needs.

On the other hand, respect is defined as the following: to consider worthy of high regard, admire, appreciate, consider, esteem, and to refrain from interfering with.

I think a good biblical example of respect is Joseph and Mary. Joseph showed respect for Mary when he found out she was pregnant before they were married.

Matthew 1:19 tells us “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” He could have shamed her, but he chose not to. I’m sure he had tons of feelings racing inside but instead of outing her to the community, he quietly dealt with his concerns until an angel cleared things up for him.

Respect plays out in our lives through praising, empathizing, and encouraging your spouse.

As mentioned above in the definition, sometimes respect means “refraining from interfering with.” This is challenging because it often means holding our tongue or exhibiting self-control when we want to say something but know we shouldn’t.

Although love and respect are different, they are both critical ingredients to a healthy marriage.

Why Does Love Matter to Women and Respect Matter to Men?

Dr. Emerson Eggerich wrote a book called, Love & Respect where he dives into this exact topic in great detail. His research refers back to Ephesians 5:33, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

The Bible lays it out pretty clear. Men are to love, and women are to respect. Love comes naturally to women, and respect comes easier to a man. We are called to practice what our spouse needs, rather than what comes innately to us.

Women are relational and when we feel fully loved by our husbands, it gives us the security we long for. 

Of course, the reverse is true as well. When we question whether or not our husband loves us, we are unconfident, insecure, and lacking one of the necessary components to go out and be the best version of ourselves.

I don’t know about you but when I’m arguing with my husband or not connected, it throws off my world.

This displays how utterly important it is to feel loved by our spouse. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.”

We want our husband to love us regardless if we have showered or if we have baby spit up on our clothes. We desire their warm embrace after a long day of being screamed at by a toddler, or a stressful day at work. We long for them to endear us unequivocally.

Keep in mind, they will fall short because they are, after all, human.

Men want our love, but our respect is extremely important to them. Our husbands are the head of the household and desire our admiration (Ephesians 5:23). They want to be desired and cherished by their spouse.

When we lift them up rather than tear them down, we are equipping them to thrive in the world. If we show them and tell them we are on their team, behind them no matter what happens, we are strengthening them.

When a man can be respected in his own house, it’s a place he wants to return to. Home should be a place to recharge from the daggers the world is throwing at him.

Does he always deserve our respect? No. Do we always warrant his love? No. We make the choice to put our spouse's needs above our own, as difficult as that might be.

When we know they need our love and respect we can choose to give it to them regardless if we “feel” like it.

Love and respect are valuable attributes in a marriage. There are many ways we can show love and respect every day. Here are a few.

3 ways to show love and respect:

couple touching foreheads forgiveness

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/MangoStarStudio

1. Submission

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22) This one is challenging; I’m not going to lie. My prideful ego fights this one every second of every day. This statement is extremely unpopular in culture and if you make this claim a lot of people will argue with you. However, as Christians, we are to take to heart all parts of the Bible, even the verses that offend our egos.

Submitting to your husband is one of the greatest ways you can show him respect. What does this look like? It means backing him up and not mocking him in front of the children. It means inspiring him instead of degrading him. It means loving him as the church is commanded to love Jesus.

2. Effective Communication

I value and seek my husband’s opinion and he comes to me for advice. As a couple we discuss all major decisions and have an equal voice.

We show our love and respect by the way we communicate. We listen and respond lovingly. Together we pray to God about the things on our hearts. 

I will occasionally send my husband a brief text or email throughout the day letting him know I appreciate him or thank him for working hard to provide for our family.

He shows love for me when he sits down after a long day and fills me in on what’s going on in his life. It’s important for him to share with me as we are a team, a unit, and our fortunes rise and fall together. I want to support him regardless, and he needs to know this.

3. Prioritizing Time for Them

It is so easy to get caught up with the business of life that we forget to make time for our spouse. Both kids and work responsibilities can often get in the way of putting each other first.

Another way to show love and respect is to give your spouse time. Time is one of our most precious commodities. Actions speak louder than words. We can show them they are important to us with our presence and our undivided attention.

This plays out by doing something our spouse enjoys; watching their favorite movie, going to their favorite restaurant, or sitting there patiently while they discuss what’s on their heart.

Don’t spin your wheels, ask your spouse how they want to spend time with you. Take the love languages quiz so your efforts aren’t wasted. Make sure you are spending time in a way that is making your spouse feel loved.

While these are simple actions we can take, they won’t be easy. Pushing aside our desires is hard on a good day. These are intentional decisions, they won’t come naturally.

10 Love and Respect Quotes on Marriage

Sometimes a brief quote will motivate you to love our spouses a little more. Here are a few that might resonate in a way to love and respect your spouse.

1. In your marriage, be the first to “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11).” --Emerson Eggerichs, Love & Respect

2. “Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.” –Billy Graham

3. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” –1 Peter 4:8

4. “A marriage cannot survive when we think only of ourselves. We need to recognize that to love someone is a choice, not a feeling.” –Christin Slade

5. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” –Ephesians 4:2

6.“A woman loved by her husband will grow in loveliness. A man respected by his wife will become more respectable.” –Douglas Wilson

7. But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense--love as distinct from ‘being in love’--is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. –C. S. Lewis

8. “Respect begins with this attitude: "I acknowledge that you are a creature of extreme worth. God has endowed you with certain abilities and emotions. Therefore I respect you as a person. I will not desecrate your worth by making critical remarks about your intellect, your judgment or your logic. I will seek to understand you and grant you the freedom to think differently from the way I think and to experience emotions that I may not experience." Respect means that you give the other person the freedom to be an individual.” --Gary Chapman

9. “When a husband feels disrespected, it is especially hard to love his wife. When a wife feels unloved, it is especially hard to respect her husband.” --Emerson Eggerichs, Love & Respect

10. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. --Ephesians 5:25-33

Embrace This Opportunity

Is loving and respecting your spouse easy. No! It goes against all of our selfish desires. Then again, what about living this Christian life is easy? 

If we decide our spouse doesn’t deserve our respect, then they don’t feel loved and a negative cycle of bitterness begins. Someone has to be willing to break the cycle and love and respect the other, regardless if they deserve it.

We can’t do this alone. If we are left to our own power, we will fall short. The only way we can love and respect them the way God wants us to is with His power. When we come to God, acknowledging our weaknesses and asking for His help, we have a fighting chance.

When my husband and I are seeking God’s will for our lives through prayer and reading the Bible, He shows us our weaknesses and how we can do better. As I align my will with God’s will, He naturally draws me closer to my husband. He wants us to have a strong faithful marriage. When I drift from the Lord, I also find myself coasting away from my husband. It’s funny how these correlate.

“You’re the only person in the world who can meet your spouse’s deepest need for love and respect and marriage. After all, you alone are married to your spouse!” states Dr. Emerson Eggerich.

What a gift we have been given!

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/leolintang

Katie Kennedy headshotKatie T. Kennedy lives in Richmond, VA. She is married to a wonderful husband Jonathan and they have three girls. She is a writer, blogger, and employee of the family business. After a mid-life spiritual transformation, she discovered her love of writing. She loves to travel, read, be in nature, cook, and dream.  She would love to connect with you online at www.katietkennedy.com, Instagram or Facebook.

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