Ephesians 5:33b: And the wife should respect her husband.
Respect is his primary need, his deepest desire.

I Put My Followers First

Sunday, May 23, 2010

To the Wife of an Ordinary Man

Speaking to the wives in the audience: Have you ever been in such a dire situation that you were actually expecting your husband to rescue you and he did not?

Did you react as most of us do with a pout (in the least) or the silent treatment and cold shoulder flaunted in exaggerated body language? And in spite of your dramatic demonstration, if your husband is like most men, he was probably clueless.

Even those of us who have not acted as the drama queen have been, on occasion, miffed by our husband's failure to save us when things went wrong.

Is it any wonder? As young girls we were subjected to every imaginable damsel-in-distress storyline that emphasized our "right" to be rescued by a hunk-of-a-hero. The images around us enforced the sleeping-beauty and knight-in-shining-armor fantasy that we expected to enter when we grew up. Many of us capped off the fantasy with a fairy tale wedding in a princess gown on the perfect day to the perfect man with the perfectly chiseled features striking a macho pose as he waited to take us into his arms at the end of the long, long aisle.

And then, reality struck.

It soon became apparent that the schools your husband attended never offered "How to be Her Hero" or "Rescuing the Damsel - Advanced Studies" in their curriculum. As a matter of fact, unless your husband was raised by the rare and perfect example, he never saw a damsel in distress being rescued by an ordinary man. As boys, our husbands watched Superman, Spiderman and Luke Skywalker. Everyone, including our husbands, know that little boys do not have super powers and they will not grow up to acquire them either. Little boys grow to be ordinary men.

God challenges ordinary men to protect and provide for their wives and men actually desire the ability to protect and provide in extraordinary ways. But ordinary men are, well, ordinary.

Considering that we are well aware of of this, why do you suppose that we wives continue to be disappointed when no one gallantly swoops in to save us from peril? Are we that oblivious to reality? Let's face it: Given our reality, the fantasy does not fit.

What we have in reality are men who grumble and complain when we need them to change the flat tire, take out the trash or go up on the roof to repair the leak. We find ourselves committed in marriage to men who will avoid the simple household chores until they have to hire a repairman to fix the problem that got way out of hand.

I suspect that God knew this when he inspired the Apostle Paul to write what he did in Ephesians 5:33b. God knew that men would be ordinary and women would need to be instructed to respect them unconditionally. He provided short, simple, and to the point instruction. He did not qualify the point of his instruction to the wives. He said, ". . . and the wife must respect her husband."

It would not surprise me if God provided that instruction specifically for those times when a husband fails to live up to his wife's expectations. While some women would balk at obeying God's instructions, others will find the challenge to be exhilarating. Some have even marveled at the trust that God has placed in them to live up to His expectations in this regard.

Just imagine being respectful to the husband who changes the tire without being gleeful about it. Give him a bright, sunny yet breezy day to squat on the pavement and twist off those lug nuts and darned if he still doesn't find cause to grumble about the gravel in his knees. Can a wife really be expected to appreciate that kind of behavior?  Of course she can and she should.

Maybe she offers a smile, a hug and a thank-you.  In retrospect, if an opportunity has passed unnoticed, she can write him a note or give him a card that expresses what she failed to say at the time. No matter how she expresses her respect, if it is sincere it will pay dividends of increased satisfaction for both husband and wife.

In the course of a marriage, we will be given ample opportunity to express our respect and appreciation for our spouse. While some of our dire situations may be better or worse than a flat tire, the opportunity to practice respect is always the same. When you feel your back against the wall or that you have gone way out on a limb, it is easy to forget that your husband does have your best interest at heart. He may not be adept at communicating his desire to protect and provide for you, but it he feels it just the same.

To offer him anything but appreciation and respect in return is deflating, demeaning and demoralizing.

Your respect is your husband's deepest desire.

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