We’ve often heard of “unconditional love.” In fact, I’ve learned that if love is conditional, it really isn’t love at all. It simply makes for a shaky relationship of convenience. Once feelings cool or certain expectations aren’t met, all bets are off. That’s why marriage is a covenant relationship of unconditional love—it’s not meant to be broken. As two bags of sand are poured together and the grains cannot be sorted again, so is marriage meant to be a promise we keep, for better or for worse, in sickness or in health.
That’s a hard promise. But we can make it easier. As wives, a huge key is practicing unconditional respect.
That means just what it says. No excuses. Many of us respond quickly with words like, “How can I respect him when he …?” And truly, if we are in circumstances where abuse is involved, separation may be necessary, at least for a time. But even if separated, we are required to respect. That’s our part of the covenant, and part of our responsibility as people of faith.
Our husbands, on the other hand, are charged with loving unconditionally (that’s something that comes to us ladies more naturally). They’re even supposed to be willing to die for us. But that’s their own responsibility. We can’t make them do anything.
I’m talking about us women in this blog. And our charge is clear. We must respect, no matter what.
That doesn’t mean we condone obviously wrong actions or allow ourselves to be doormats. But it does mean that we look for every single opportunity to show respect to our men and build them up.
When an addict of any type is shamed, it only pushes them back into their addiction for comfort. Don’t fall into that trap! Be the woman who can’t be resisted because of her kind words and unconditional respect. Pull him towards you and away from his behavior that only leaves him empty. And train yourself to be that woman. Take full responsibility for your own weaknesses, and overcome them. Have grace to forgive yourself, but have no tolerance for sloppy love or respect. This is a war for your marriage, not a war between you and your husband. Fight for your marriage with love and respect, not with arguments and attacks.
One of my friends and I talk about the necessity of giving love and respect “like medicine.” There may be no gushy feelings behind the actions, but we still do the loving thing, the respectful thing, because we know it’s best for us, our husbands, and the marriage.
No matter what your husband is doing, I challenge you to act respectfully towards him anyway. I challenge you to smile and remember what you love about him, what drew you together. Plant seeds of love and respect and you will get the same. Plant seeds of contempt, and … you see my point.
Unconditional respect works. Tell your husband why you respect him today. Then keep doing it. And doing it, And doing it. Amazing shifts can result that may make the difference between your marriage’s survival or ruin.
Recommended reading: Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs