The love she desires, the respect he needs


What do wives need most from their husbands?

What do husbands need most from their wives?

In his passage on the family in Ephesians 5, Paul describes how God wants husbands and wives to care for each other:

Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)

Paul sums up what husbands and wives need most from their spouses by instructing husbands to love their wives, and wives to respect their husbands.

In his book, Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs writes:

Of course, I had read that verse (Ephesians 5:33) many times. I had even preached on that verse when conducting marriage ceremonies. But somehow I had never seen the connection between love and respect. Paul is clearly saying that wives need love and husbands need respect.

First, notice that wives and husbands don’t need the same thing! God knows this because He made you the way you are. He made a woman to desire the love of her husband first. And He made a man to crave the respect of his wife before anything else.

Second, notice that this verse is not a suggestion or helpful hint. A husband must love his wife just as he loves himself. A wife must respect her husband.

Notice also that this verse calls for unconditional love and unconditional respect. Husbands, you are not given the right to withhold love from your wife because you think she has not earned it. Wives, you are not given the right to withhold respect from your husband because you think he does not deserve it.

This is a command from God to all husbands and wives. As we have seen in earlier posts (here and here), God has a purpose for marriage that goes far beyond personal fulfillment or satisfaction. God intends for marriage to be a way for a man and a woman to help each other become the person God made them to be. A husband who shows unconditional love to his wife helps create the conditions that will draw the wife nearer to God. The same is true for a wife that shows unconditional respect for her husband.

Dr. Eggerichs describes the connection between love and respect in marriage, pointing out that a wife who feels she is not being loved by her husband will react without respect, while a husband who feels he is not being respected by his wife will react without love:

When a husband feels disrespected, he has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel unloving to his wife. (Perhaps the command to love was given to him precisely for this reason!) When a wife feels unloved, she has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband. (Perhaps the command to respect was given to her precisely for this reason!)

The teaching of Ephesians 5:33 is clear. Resist the urge to run it through the filter of your own experience to determine if it will “work” or not. If it doesn’t make sense to you, choose to be obedient to God as an act of faith. If you think your spouse is unworthy of love or undeserving of respect, stay tuned. We’ll discuss that in a future article. In the meantime…

Husbands, love your wife as you love yourself.

Wives, respect your husband.

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