[From Julie] Last week we divided our Real Marriage small group again for discussion after we watched the video segment. The ladies had a good time of sharing what it looks like to be a respectful wife. In our discussion from last week a number of the wives identified that they were married to men that are more passive and laid back than they are. This is a challenge for women who are driven and find leadership to be a natural ability for them. Despite this fact God has placed our husbands as the leaders of our families and we are the respectful helpers. That statement makes even me (someone who is not a natural leader and married to a man who is) bristle. Being described as a helper makes me feel less valued and not as significant to my family. As wives we need to guard against speaking and behaving in a disrespectful manner to our husbands even when we think they are doing things in a way we don’t agree with and our way would be better.
In this chapter of the book, Grace spends time defining what a Biblical helper is. In our culture being the helper is viewed as a lesser role but that is not God’s intent. We are equal in value to our husbands but we have different gifts and tasks within our marriage. The Holy Spirit has been sent to us as our helper, God himself is described as our helper. This is not a role to be diminished or minimized. God designed marriage and created husbands and wives in a way that would compliment each other. God has commanded husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. These are not a conditional statements. Wives, God has asked us to respect our husbands regardless of their behaviour or their demonstration of love.
Grace spends time discussing heads, hearts and hands of respect. I think it’s a good way to break down the components and helps us identify where we have the most difficulty in our own marriages. Heads of respect deals with our minds and thoughts. Once you start to discipline your mind into dwelling on your husbands most respectable attributes you will find it easier to think well of him and encourage him.
Hearts of respect recognizes that women often respond out of emotion. Often our disrespectful words are spoken out of hurt feelings and we may not even mean them. Grace quotes a Biblical counselor that says, “If my words don’t flow out of a heart that rests in God’s control, then they come out of a heart that seeks control, so I can get what I want.” We need to use our words to pray for our husbands and help them, not try to control them.
Hands of respect talks about how to display respect in practical every day ways. First of all have hands that pray for your husband and yourself for softened hearts and opened minds to the will of Christ in your marriage. There is nothing like prayer to remind you that you are dependent on God for any change or strength in your marriage. Hands that open the Bible also brings us closer to God and keep us connected to him. Hands that touch reminds us of the need our husbands have for physical affection. Be available to him. Hands that hunt and fish encourages us to be unselfish and spend time doing things with our husbands that he enjoys. Hands that feed recognizes the importance of informing yourself about nutrition and encourages us to spend time regularly enjoying good meals in order to build a strong friendship.
There is so much in this chapter and I encourage you all to read it several times. It’s difficult to absorb and put into practice. The segment dealing with how to disagree respectfully is very important to understand. Learning to submit respectfully is equally important and often a misunderstood principle. One point that stood out to me is that my husband gets to decide when he feels disrespected just as I get to decide when I feel unloved and we each need to honour each others feelings. If Noel tells me that something I’ve said or done feels disrespectful I need to accept his feelings, apologize and work on how to change the way I am acting or speaking to him. It’s not a time to argue my point or how I think he is wrong. I need to trust him. This is part of learning to submit to each other. I love what Grace says at the end of the chapter, “A wife flourishes with a loving husband and a husband becomes courageous with a respectful wife.” Amen to that.