A member of our congregation asked us a few years back if this was a second marriage for us. Rather surprised, I answered “No! We’ve been married for many years. Why did you assume this was a second marriage?” Her reply was revealing. “You all treat each other with such respect and love that I thought this must be a second marriage.”
Men particularly have a need for respect, and we will deal with that in a later session, but what we are discussing this week is the general concept of honor in a marriage.
Gary Smalley spends a whole session in his Keys to Happiness in Marriage series on honor and respect. He holds up a beat-up violin and makes the point that no one would be very impressed with that shabby instrument—unless he mentioned the name Stradivarius. Then gasps of awe and honor spread throughout the auditorium. He challenges husbands and wives to have that same sense of honor for each other. Our spouse is a gift that God has given us, and we should treat him/her with honor.
Here are 5 ways that we dishonor our spouses:
(1) Frequent and/or public criticism. Nothing is more embarrassing than for a spouse to criticize his/her mate in public. And nothing is more honoring than for a spouse to build up, praise and encourage a spouse in public.
(2) By putting your needs before your spouse's. (Selfishness again.)
(3) By not acknowledging the hurts and pain of one's spouse. In years past when my feelings got hurt, my husband used to tell me, “Blow it off.” Finally he realized that my temperament is not the sort that can “blow it off.” I need to talk about it, and then I can let it go, but I have to talk about it first. I don’t need advice at that point. Women particularly need a listening ear acknowledging the hurt.
(4) Outbursts of anger. Speak softly when disagreements arise. Anger toward one's spouse is demeaning and counter-productive.
(5) Putting others before your spouse. Your spouse is your priority.
As we pray with couples who are having marital problems, I have witnessed the effect which a lack of honor and respect have on both husbands and wives. Their countenance is gloomy. They have a “hang-dog” look. Laughter seldom bubbles forth from their souls. The opposite is true of those couples who give honor and respect to one another. They laugh often. Their eyes shimmer with optimism. The husband exhibits a confidence of leadership. The wife’s spirit opens like a full-blooming rose.
Four ways to instill honor in your marriage:
(1) Build each other up and encourage one another. We all need “atta-boys.”
(2) Help your spouse find his/her destiny and giftings.
(3) Cover and protect one another. Don't expose one another's shortcomings.
(4) Acknowledge your differences and accept them. Do even more than accept them - celebrate them!
“Show respect for all men – treat them honorably.” (I Peter 2:7 (Amp).