Scripture commands us to respect others and to treat people with honor. Respect is a vital foundation for any given relationship, and it isn't any less necessary in marriages. Without respect for one another, it's hard for a man and woman to build each other up.
In Ephesians 5:33, Paul says, "However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
Now if you're a wife and you're reading this, you might be thinking "Of course I respect him! He knows it." But maybe he really doesn't know it because you haven't expressed that respect in a way he recognizes. Often we know respect is there deep inside, but it's not supposed to remain deep inside, but rather to be expressed.
And it doesn't mean that Paul calls only the wife to respect and so husbands are somehow off the hook. Respect that is one-sided never sustains. Here are three reasons why wives should respect their husbands and why husbands should do the same as well.
It supports the design of marriage
Wives are called to submit to their husbands, husbands are called to love their wives and both are called to love and submit to God. These roles cannot be supported if there is no respect. Respect is basically the acknowledgment of each other's roles, personalities and qualities and holding it in high regard.
A husband plays his role better when respected and so do wives. When we don't respect, we not only affect our spouse's role, but our roles as well.
Love and respect always go hand in hand
Respect does not exist without love and love will always give birth to respect. As we learn to love our spouse more and more without condition or premise, we will naturally see more respect grow out of it.
Love spurs us to deny ourselves, accommodate the needs of others, put ourselves in someone else's shoes, do the things we don't want to do, go the extra mile, serve, obey even when we don't feel the person deserves it; the list goes on and on. But the bottom line is that love and respect come down to choosing to esteem someone and their God-given role, even when it's demanding, challenging and requires us to get uncomfortable.
Respect brings about change
Yes, the big question: what if our spouses do things that don't deserve respect? Don't we all? But just as the unconditional love of Christ can change us, so can unconditional respect that we give towards one another. Many times we can wait for someone to earn our respect before we give it and we give it so stingily.
While there can be some occasions where waiting for respect to be earned is reasonable and right (I'm not suggesting anyone be someone else's doormat), marriage is not about putting our spouses to the test. Much of marriage was meant to be unconditional in the same way God is unconditional about many things in our relationship with Him.