Ways Wives Disrespects Ther Husbands

The Four Most Common Ways Wives Disrespect Their Husbands

Even if a wife has good intentions, such as trying to be helpful, if her husband feels disrespected, it’s a problem. Read or listen to this material from Your Marriage God’s Way or watch the message from the Your Marriage God’s Way Conference to learn the four most common ways wives disrespect their husbands.

Your Marriage God's Way book and workbook by Scott LaPierre

During a counseling session, as I was helping a couple who struggled with lots of conflict, the wife had an epiphany. Most couples enjoy working together, but these two always fight each other. The husband explained that nothing he did was good enough for his wife. She always countered him with a better way to do things and picked apart all his decisions. She was genuinely confused about her husband’s frustration because she thought she was being helpful. It wasn’t until this session that she realized her husband found her “helpful” suggestions disrespectful.

Even if a wife has good intentions, if her husband feels disrespected by her, it is a problem. A good perspective for a wife to remember is that as painful as it is for her to feel unloved, it is equally painful for her husband to feel disrespected.

The Two Common Causes of Marriage Conflicts

Modern research supports the biblical instruction on this topic. Marriage expert Dr. Emerson Eggerichs shares essential statistics about husbands and wives in his famous book Love and Respect. In one survey, 400 men were asked, “If you were forced to choose, would you prefer to feel alone and unloved or disrespected and inadequate?” Seventy-four percent responded that they would rather feel alone and unloved than disrespected and inadequate.

When Dr. Eggerichs conducted the same survey with women, a similar percentage of women responded that they would rather feel disrespected and inadequate than alone and unloved. Dr. Eggerichs sums up his findings:

[A wife] needs love just as she needs air to breathe, [and a husband] needs respect just as he needs air to breathe.”

Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 36.

Another survey asked 7,000 people:

“When you are in a conflict with your spouse, do you feel unloved or disrespected?” Eighty-three percent of husbands responded with “disrespected.” Seventy-two percent of wives responded with “unloved.”

Eggerichs, Love and Respect, 160

This reveals that during marriage conflicts, husbands often react because they feel disrespected, and wives often react because they feel unloved.

The Four Most Common Ways Wives Are Disrespectful

Conversely, no matter how much a wife might profess her love, certain attitudes communicate disrespect to her husband. Here are four

First, Wives Disrespect Their Husbands By Being Discontent

When a wife routinely expresses frustration with her life, home, family, or possessions, she inevitably disrespects her husband. A discontented wife makes her husband feel like a failure because he is the one—at least in her eyes—who is not providing well enough to keep her content.

Katie and I have always been a single-income family. When we married, I was a schoolteacher, and then I became a pastor. We have nine children, and while God has always provided, our lives are far from glamorous. Yet, if you were to listen to Katie, you would think we’re well off. She has committed to being content. Like love, contentment is also a choice. The same goes for discontentment.

Second, Wives Disrespect Their Husbands By Using Disparaging Speech and Body Language

A wife disrespects her husband when she

  • talks down to him or treats him like a little boy who is in trouble
  • interrupts or talks over him
  • rolls her eyes, huffs and puffs, or wags her finger at him

Even worse is when such disparaging speech and actions extend to others, such as telling friends “a funny story” about a husband’s inability to do something or how many times it took him to fix something.

This reminds me of a sad situation I witnessed. A man enthusiastically started sharing a story with a group of people. Those listening were enjoying what he had to say. His wife arrived, rolled her eyes, interrupted him, and said, “Let me tell you what really happened.” The man was visibly embarrassed. Oddly enough, her account wasn’t much different than his. I’m not sure why she had to interrupt him other than to make him look bad and draw attention to herself. When a wife treats her husband this way in public, you must wonder how much worse things are in the privacy of their home.

Third, Wives Disrespect Their Husbands By Frequently Second-Guessing

Even when a wife thinks she respects her husband, she sends the opposite message when she second-guesses everything he says, offers all the reasons he is wrong, constantly corrects him, or undermines him when he makes decisions. From her perspective, she might be trying to help, but in reality, her actions communicate, “I don’t trust you. You don’t know what you’re doing. I could do this better.” Sometimes, the words “I’m just trying to help” don’t help.

Fourth, Wives Disrespect Their Husbands By Badmouthing to the Kids

One of the worst ways a wife can disrespect her husband is by belittling him in front of their children. There is nothing wrong with a wife disagreeing with her husband, but there is a right and a wrong way to do this. Disagreements between a husband and wife should be thoughtfully communicated and resolved privately. When a wife tells the children, “I wish your dad would…,” or “It’s too bad your dad doesn’t…,” or “I can’t believe your dad…,” it diminishes him in their eyes. When a wife corrects her husband in front of the children—or worse, slanders him—she destroys his credibility and ability to lead the home. Instead, a wife should strive to instill her children with a good opinion of their father.

A Husband Lives Up or Down to His Wife’s Treatment

As a wife looks for her husband’s best qualities, focuses on his strengths, speaks well of him to others, and praises him to their children, she will find her respect for him growing. Conversely, if a wife speaks badly about her husband to others—whether they be friends, neighbors, or the children—she will find her respect for him diminishing.

Katie thinks too highly of me. I am not the man she thinks I am. I am far from the father and husband that she tells our children and others I am. But I want to be that man. I want to live up to her praise. Yes, primarily, I want to please the Lord, but secondarily, I want my wife to think well of me. I desire her respect, and I want to be the man that she treats me as though I am. If Katie were to belittle or slander me, I doubt I would be motivated to give my best.

Most men have no problem living up or down to the bar their wives set for them. If a wife disrespects her husband and treats him like he’s a child, he’ll have no problem living down to that level. If a wife respects her husband and looks up to him, he’ll be eager to live up to that level.

Michal Loved and Disrespected David

Plenty of men feel loved by their wives but not respected by them. Scripture provides a perfect picture of a woman who loved her husband without respecting him: Saul’s daughter, Michal, the first wife of King David. Even though she was responsible for one of the worst displays of disrespect ever recorded in the Bible from a wife toward a husband, Michal is also the only woman Scripture specifically mentioned as loving her husband: “Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David” (1 Samuel 18:20).

This is not to say other women in Scripture did not love their husbands— many of them did, but that’s not emphasized. Why is that? I’m being a little speculative here, but I suspect it’s because the priority is for women to respect their husbands rather than love them. As a result, Scripture emphasizes a wife’s respect instead of her love. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, is a case in point as she is held up in the New Testament as an example for wives, not because of her love but her submission and respect. This also reveals why Michal is not praised even though she is the one wife in Scripture said to love her husband. The disrespect she showed David ruined any potential for her to serve as a positive example for women.

How was it that Michal showed disrespect to her husband? Soon after David became king of the nation of Israel, one of his top priorities was transporting the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, the capital. The biblical account describes this as one of the most joyful moments of the new king’s life. As the procession entered Jerusalem, “David danced before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14). Unfortunately, Michal did not share her husband’s joy: “Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart” (verse 16).

Michal thought David’s behavior was unbecoming. Her father, Saul, was all about appearances, and he would never have acted this way. Perhaps this rubbed off on Michal, so she found David’s conduct below a king’s dignity. She was probably jealous of the maids who admired David as he danced. Second Samuel 6:20 records her reaction:

Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!”

Her words dripped with ridicule. King David arrived home eager to share his joy with his family, but Michal was so disgusted with him that she immediately belittled him. Picture a mother reprimanding a child. You can hear the scorn and disrespect in Michal’s words. Wives will want to ask themselves, “Am I like this? Do I pounce on my husband and ridicule him over something inconsequential? Do I make him feel like a little boy in trouble?”

Note that Michal was not the only one who mishandled this situation. David did not respond lovingly to his wife:

David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor” (verses 21-22).

David harshly pointed out that God chose him over Michal’s father. How do you think this made her feel? Then he added, “You think this is bad? I’ll act even worse than this!” The phrase “held in honor” in verse 22 may be the Bible’s most precise and straightforward definition of respect. David told Michal, “You might not respect me, but plenty of other women do.” David pointing out other women’s feelings about him was prideful and insensitive. While I’m not at all defending the sinful actions of men who do this, how many husbands have been disrespected by their wives only to look to other women they believe will respect them?

A Wife Can Change Her Husband’s Feelings Toward Her

This encounter between David and Michal does not end happily: “Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death” (verse 23). I take this to mean that David no longer had sexual relations with Michal. I am not defending David’s actions. God commands husbands to love their wives unconditionally, and David disobeyed. As is the case in most marriage conflicts, both spouses were at fault:

  • It is sinful for wives to disrespect their husbands, as Michal disrespected David.
  • It is sinful for husbands to punish their wives, as David punished Michal.

That said, noticing how dramatically this event changed David’s relationship with Michal is essential.

Consider what occurred only a few chapters earlier. When Saul became jealous of David, he took Michal and gave her to another man. Saul’s general, Abner, defected from Saul and wanted to join David: “Abner sent messengers on his behalf to David, saying, ‘Whose is the land?’ saying also, ‘Make your covenant with me, and indeed my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel to you’” (2 Samuel 3:12). David wasn’t king over all of Israel yet, but Abner said he would help fix that. Considering all the years David had waited to become king, that was a fantastic offer. Of course, David would respond in the positive, but David told Abner he could join him under only one condition: “David said, ‘Good, I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face’” (verse 13).

At the end of 2 Samuel 6, David wants nothing to do with Michal, but only a few chapters earlier, he made every effort to be reunited with her. Once Michal disrespected David so drastically, his attitude toward her changed just as drastically. He now resented her. His was not the correct response, but it was the reality.

It is no different today. When husbands are strongly disrespected by their wives, they become resentful and distance themselves from them. That is not the proper response, but it is a common fruit of disrespect. If not dealt with, the result may be a destroyed relationship, as we see between David and Michal. The biblical account of what happened between them is instructive:

  • It gives wives an example of how not to treat their husbands.
  • It gives husbands an example of how not to respond to their wives.
  • It illustrates that wives loving their husbands is not the same as respecting them. Perhaps Michal still loved David at this point, but we can be sure he did not feel loved because she had disrespected him.

Do you have a question or thought? If so, please let me know. I do my best to respond to each comment.

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