25 Ways to Show Respect

The following article is one I originally wrote for my blog, Loving Life at Home. It has enjoyed such popularity there that I decided to include it on our family website, as well. To read the original post, follow this link. For a printer-friendly version of the full list, click here. For a printable, one-page summary, click here.

Actions speak louder than words. You can say you respect your husband, but he’ll have a hard time believing that unless your behavior backs it up.

What does respectful living look like? Here are 25 ways you can communicate respect to your spouse without uttering a word. If you’ll make it your habit to do these things, the next time you tell your husband how much you respect him, he won’t have to wonder if you really mean it.

  1. Choose Joy
    It’s true: A happy wife makes a happy life. Please don’t use moodiness as an attempt to manipulate your man, but in all things rejoice, because that’s the right thing to do. (1 Thessaonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4)
  2. Honor His Wishes
    Give weight to what your husband thinks is important. Make those things a priority that matter most to him, whether it’s having dinner ready when he gets home from work or keeping the house tidy or limiting computer time. Don’t make him ask twice. (Philippians 2:4)
  3. Give Him Your Undivided Attention
    Yes, I know that women are masters of multi-tasking, but when your husband is speaking to you, make a point to lay other tasks aside, look into his eyes, and listen to what he is saying with the goal of understanding and remembering his words.
  4. Don’t Interrupt
    Have you ever been around a person who won’t let you finish a sentence? That gets old fast. Even if you think you already know what your husband is going to say, allowing him to say it without cutting him off mid-sentence shows both respect and common courtesy.
  5. Emphasize His Good Points
    Sure, he has his faults (as do you), but dwelling on them will only make you (both) miserable. Choose instead to focus on those qualities in your husband that you most admire. (Philippians 4:8)
  6. Pray for Him
    Ruth Graham advises wives to “tell your mate the positive, and tell God the negative.” Take your concerns to God. Faithfully lift up your husband in prayer every day, and you will likely notice a transformation not only in him, but in yourself, as well. (Philipians 4:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  7. Don’t Nag
    Your husband is a grown man, so don’t treat him like a two-year-old. Leave room for God to work. You are not the Holy Spirit, so do not try to do His job.
  8. Be Thankful
    Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Don’t take your husband for granted. Be appreciative for everything he does for you, whether big or small. Always say thank you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20)
  9. Smile at Him
    Smiles spread happiness. Smiles have even been shown to create happiness. Smiles are contagious. And a smile makes any woman more beautiful.
  10. Respond Physically
    Did you know that the way you respond (or don’t respond) to your husband’s romantic overtures has a profound effect on his self-confidence? Don’t slap him away when he tries to hug you or make excuses when he’s in the mood. Your enthusiastic cooperation and reciprocation will not only assure him of your love, but will make him feel well-respected, too. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
  11. Eyes Only for Him
    Don’t compare your husband unfavorably to other men, real or imaginary. It is neither fair nor respectful and will only breed trouble and discontent. Avoid watching movies or reading books that might cause you to stumble in this area, as well. (Psalm 19:14; Proverbs 4:23)
  12. Kiss Him Goodbye
    I once read about a study done in Germany which found that men whose wives kissed them goodbye every morning were more successful than those who weren’t kissed. Success and respect often go hand-in-hand, so be sure to send him off right, and don’t forget to greet him with a kiss when he returns home, for good measure. (2 Corinthians 13:12)
  13. Prepare His Favorite Foods
    Although the rest of the family is not overly-fond of spaghetti, my husband loves it, so I try to make it at least two or three times a month as a way to honor him. Next time you’re planning meals, give special consideration to your husband’s preferences. (Proverbs 31:14-15)
  14. Cherish Togetherness
    I love to sit near my husband, whether at home or away. Our church shares potluck dinners every Sunday afternoon, and although the men and women normally sit separately to visit, I like to position myself close enough to my husband that I can listen to the conversation, as I think everything he says is so interesting. At home, I’ll take my book or handwork to whatever room in the house he’s working in, just to be close to him, because I enjoy his company, even when neither of us is talking.
  15. Don’t Complain
    Nobody wants to be around a whiner or complainer. It is grating on the nerves. Remember the serenity prayer: accept the things you can’t change, courageously change the things you can, seek wisdom to know the difference. (Philippians 2:14)
  16. Resist the Urge to Correct
    I know one wife whose spouse can’t tell a story without her stopping him fifteen times to correct inconsequential details: “It wasn’t Monday evening, it was Monday afternoon…. It wasn’t blue, it was turquoise…. He didn’t ride the bus, he took a shuttle.” Please. Please. Please. Don’t ever do that to your husband — or to anyone else, for that matter! (Proverbs 17:28)
  17. Dress to Please Him
    Take care of your appearance. Choose clothes your husband finds flattering, both in public and around the house.
  18. Keep the House Tidy
    To the best of your abilities, try to maintain a clean and orderly home. Seek to make it a haven of rest for your entire family. (Proverbs 31:27)
  19. Be Content
    Do not pressure your husband to keep up with the Jonses. Take satisfaction in the lifestyle he is able to provide for you. (1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 13:5)
  20. Take His Advice
    Do not dismiss his opinions lightly, especially when you’ve asked for his counsel in the first place. Make every effort to follow your husband’s advice.
  21. Admire Him
    Voiced compliments and heartfelt praise are always welcome, but you should also make it your habit to just look at your husband in a respectful, appreciative way. Think kind thoughts toward him. He’ll be able to see the admiration in your eyes. (Luke 6:45)
  22. Protect His Name
    Honor your husband in the way you speak of him to family and friends. Guard his reputation and do not let minor disagreements at home cause you to speak ill of him in public. Live in such a way that it will be obvious to others why your husband married you in the first place. (Proverbs 12:4; 22:1)
  23. Forgive His Shortcomings
    In the words of Ruth Bell Graham, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Please do not hold grudges against your husband. Do not allow a root of bitterness or resentment find a home in your heart. Forgive your husband freely, as Christ has forgiven you. (Mark 11:25; Matthew 18:21-35)
  24. Don’t Argue
    You are not always right, and you do not always have to have the last word. Be the first to say, “I’m sorry.” Be willing to accept the blame. It takes two to argue, so “abandon a quarrel before it breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:14; 21:19; 25:24)
  25. Follow His Lead
    If you want your husband to lead, you must be willing to follow. Neither a body nor a family can function well with two heads. Learn to defer to your husband’s wishes and let final decisions rest with him. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Proverbs 18:22 tells us, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Do these 25 things consistently, and your husband will never have trouble believing that fact.

22 Responses to 25 Ways to Show Respect

  1. Lea says:

    Even when you are married 52 years as my husband and me, these thoughts are as good now as they are in the early years. Thank you for some good reminders.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Like it or not ladies, this is the way we are to treat the man that we take as our husband.
    For those of you against these writings, just try it for a week and see what a difference it will make in your relationship. Read the included scripture to go with each bullet and realize that a woman of God shows respect to her husband. Thank you for providing these reminders – not suggestions – reminders.

  3. Tiffney says:

    Amazing!

  4. Cyndie says:

    In a world that preaches the opposite of this to us young mothers and wives, thank you for sharing what the bible teaches and what works when applied. I pray you are blessed for sharing the truth!

  5. Brigid says:

    I’ve been married for a year. I am so glad to have this list to know what I need to work on! My mother loves my father deeply but she doesn’t really let my father be the head of the house. It’s hard to know how to do that without a model, and I think this will help me a lot.

  6. Susie says:

    This is fascinating. I see why people were so upset by it. While it may work, I think the deeper level is to acknowledge your problems and issues together and coming to terms with them together (like, I don’t feel like having sex right now, I’m completely exhausted and anxious) and then trying to figure out a solution rather than one person (in this case the wife) shoving aside her feelings to “honor” her husband. My husband would HATE to be “honored” that way, he’d want to know what I really felt and why and what we should really agree to do about that problem, not just me deferring to him to say “Whatever you think, honey.” We both grow when we have to work together. This being said, he works, I stay home with our five kids, we are religious and have been married ten years and I’m 31, so we follow the pattern but are enriched for following the same rules for each other and meeting each other in a cooperatively equal relationship.

    • Susie says:

      also, obviously prayer is vital to this relationship and it’s up to God to make us more united. This all being said, I respect what you’re trying to do, I’m just sharing why it turns people off.

  7. Diana M Berrios says:

    Hello Jennifer. Greetings from Puerto Rico!! I believe that being raised in a very cultural island has lead me as well to think the way you think also. I always remember my mother, althought beoing a teacher and working outside my house, having my dad’s dinner ready on time and all of us together sitting in the table, laundry done always, house tidy, etc. I believe that the bible has the answer to all of our problems and that giving is how we receive. Excelent job, excelent article and beautiful family. Congratulations!!! Keep me posted :)

  8. Laura says:

    This is a fantastic list! I know many things might seem outdated, but just because they aren’t popularly accepted doesn’t mean that they don’t work. Kudos to you for being bold to speak about what God has on your heart. It won’t always make you popular but the message is important. Sometimes the things we don’t want to hear are just what we need to hear.

  9. Jennifer Flanders says:

    I don’t think I need a spoon, Bill. It sounds like what I’ve written has done an effective job of gagging you already. :-)

  10. Bill Santer says:

    Gag me with a spoon! Keep the house tidy? A good husband helps around the house too. Men are egocentric enough; we don’t need this kind of treatment. Should be titled, “25 Ways to be a Codependent”

    • Jennifer Flanders says:

      I don’t think I’ll need a spoon, Bill. Sounds like what I’ve written has already done an effective job of gagging you on its own.

      • Yvonne says:

        I fully respect what you are doing, however this list is so outdated. It sounds like it came from Heloise back in the day. I have to agree with Bill. I do like the child chore chart.

        • Jennifer Flanders says:

          Thanks, Yvonne. I’ve heard from lots of people who disagree with me on this post, but I’m still standing by what I’ve written. It seems to me that when old-fashioned courtesies (like respect and admiration) and so-called antiquated sex-roles (with husband providing/protecting and wife supporting/nurturing) get tossed out the window, a lot of marital happiness, stability, and longevity goes with it. You may think these principles are out-dated, but I can testify they work.

          • NICOLE says:

            I am 31 years old. I find that fact necessary to acknowledge, because I am of a younger generation, and these ways to show respect are completely ok in my book! There are many “rules” that have been around forever, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still work. (Outdated only means that they no longer have value) I have been married for 10 years, and we have two children. I stumbled upon some of these suggestions through trial and error, and some of them felt completely natural to me, and I never had a problem with them. No one is perfect, and to make sure that each one is ticked off the list each and every day would be tedious and disruptive to a woman’s health. However, I DO believe that they are all useful, true, and all in all, easy things to try and do to just love and respect your lifetime partner. PS God has rules for a husband and how he should love his wife too…;) But we are wired different, and we have different needs, and these suggestions above (I have found) DO match many of my husbands needs! So I applaud you for sharing them.

  11. Kathy Gronau says:

    Love this article and so happy to have found your website. will definitely be a follower!

  12. Becky says:

    I absolutely love this — I have been asking this question for 20 years!!!! thankyou for a practical answer :)

  13. Erin says:

    I have been very humbled by this article. Thank you for sharing it :)

  14. Amanda says:

    Dear Jennifer, Thank you for so openly sharing what God has taught you. I cannot express how your blog has totally changed my stay at home mom mentality. I loved my job as wife and mommy, but now I love it even more.

    • Jennifer Flanders says:

      I’m so glad to hear that, Amanda. Your comment has made my morning! Thanks for taking time to write :-)

  15. Marla Neumann says:

    I found your wonderful article on 25 ways to show respect to your husband and find it very encouraging. On a different note, I have to say that I see the size of your family and I feel. . .I’m not sure how to say it. . .disappointed in myself. We have five children and this summer with the kids off of school I just feel so overwhelmed, probably because I am trying to tackle character issues that have gone under my radar all school year (disrespect and unkind words to each other) and also trying to teach them how to work. I just want to know what makes you so. . . capable. I love my children, but there is not much in me that would cause me to want more to add to the noise level and messes and occasional chaos (“Raise your hand if you want to talk to mom”). I’d love to hear your two cents.

    • Jennifer Flanders says:

      I sympathize with you, Marla. Parenting is hard work, but I remember it being especially so when we had only four or five children — fewer than four, we didn’t feel so outnumbered; more than five, the older ones were big enough to help in appreciable ways — but the stage I found most challenging and overwhelming is the one you are in right now. But be encouraged — it does get easier, especially if you’ll continue to faithfully train your children during this difficult time.

      Let me also assure you that we deal with many of the struggles you mentioned at our house, too — including the occasional chaos. :-) It’s not like we can address such issues once and then we’re done; child-training is an ongoing process. Just as in housekeeping, the floors will repeatedly need to be swept and the dishes washed, in raising children, bad attitudes will repeatedly need to be addressed, misbehavior corrected, arguments settled, etc. For specific suggestions on improving relations between siblings, click here.

      For us, we have found it helpful to sit down every six months or so and reassess what we are doing and why, cutting away any extraneous activities and involvements that are not moving us toward our goals. This helps us to stay focused and provides our children with moer clearly defined rules, rewards, and consequences.

      Do not lose heart, Marla. The God who gives us the children will also provide the wisdom, strength, patience, and energy required to raise them. It is His grace and His grace alone that makes any of us capable and effective parents.

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