Don’t Treat Your Husband Like a Child

Don't Treat Your Husband Like a Child

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aquamech-utah/ (changes mine)

When I was … less mature (ahem)… I had no idea that women were designed differently from men – in more than just the anatomical ways.

Some people will think the differences stem from strictly scientific means (hormones, etc.), but I think that is just part of it. From the beginning, man and woman were created in different ways and for different purposes within their relationship (Eve being created as a “corresponding companion” to Adam).

I say I had no idea, but rest assured, some very good Bible teachers had relayed this message to me while I was in college. I took it in, processed it, and stowed it away in my Very Important Biblical Information file in my brain. I then heard more very good Bible teachers preach on the very same message multiple times in my first several years of marriage.

And then I carried on my way doing one of the exact things I was created to do: Nurture. To my husband.

Right behavior, wrong subject.

So, ladies, you’ve already pointed your mates to Servant Leaders Are Sexy, now what’s our role in all of this? Let me tell you this very plainly:

  • My job is NOT to love my husband.
  • My job is to RESPECT my husband.

Let me also say this, if you’re anything like me, You don’t know what that means!!!! I truly thought that if I would just love Brad to death, then he would have everything he needs to thrive as a man. W.R.O.N.G. The reason I truly thought that is because that is what I long for as a woman.

I thought men and women needed the same things (and, you know, we just call them different things). No. Men and women need very different things. I need love; he needs respect. Our community group went through a study based on the book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs*, by Emerson Eggerichs. And finally, I started to see what respect really looks like.

Ladies, there are ways you can encourage your husband (or boyfriend or fiance) to thrive in servant-leadership. In fact, even if your husband is not a good servant leader at all, you should still start with respect.

Now I am no expert, believe me (or ask my husband!). My heart here is just to share with you some things that have worked for us. In most situations, ask yourself what would empower your man. In no particular order, here are some suggestions.

  • Your husband is not your child. Do not offer to cut his meat for him. You do not need to ask his opinion on exactly how he wants his sandwich made for lunch; that kind of behavior is belittling, naggy, and makes him seem incapable. I’m pretty sure you already know what kind of sandwich your husband likes anyway.
  • When your husband leaves the house, don’t say, “Be careful.” He is not made to be careful. He is made to be a risk-taker, a wild man. I just say, “I love you.” He knows I want him to come home safely.
  • Pet names: Instead of “widdle widdle wammy poo poo”, call your husband by something that makes him feel like a man. I like “My Warrior”, “Strong Man”. FYI, I do have other gushy pet names, but they do not in any way make my husband out to be a child. E.g., “My One and Only”.
  • Trust him. If you’re anything like us, and you as the wife is the left-brained one, you might have the tendency to question his every decision. I’m not saying it’s bad to talk through decisions together; in fact, I hope you do! But you absolutely need to trust him in some things to give him room to lead.
  • STOP NAGGING. I have never thought I was a nagger, but then I found out that even “gently reminding” my husband of an undone project is a nag and makes him want to check out. Here’s the way we work around this. We have a list (yes, you probably have a similar honey-do list). The list is on a bulletin board. When there are projects, big or small, that need work, either of us can put it on the list. Once a week, hubby has a man-check morning. As part of this ritual, he asks himself some questions to make sure he is doing what needs to as a servant leader. One of his tasks is to check the list and make plans towards those projects. I don’t have to nag, and he is empowered in his efforts.
  • But DO communicate! We have a monthly “Team Pete” meeting where we discuss calendars, budget, spiritual goals, and anything “big” coming up. This is a great time to discuss things that are and are not working. This isn’t the only time you communicate, but it’s one big download session that we both mentally prepare for.
  • Don’t constantly correct him on how to play with the kids. His ways are different, and it’s supposed to be that way. (I hope you know that I do not mean that you should not be unified, but that it’s OK for him to be more rough and wild with the kids than you would be.)

Now, I’m sure some of you are much better at this than I am. Tell me in the comments what you do to empower your husband.

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26 thoughts on “Don’t Treat Your Husband Like a Child

  1. Anonymous

    I royally stick at all your examples, and find myself saying "but, but…"
    Like he is really hard to please food wise, and so me asking is just attempting to make him happy…
    Like He doesn't tend to be careful,sometimes he really does need that reminder…
    Like He has not been that trustworthy in the near past…
    Like not nagging doesn't seem to work (neither does nagging though).

    Then I remember the KEY thing I must always remind myself over and over and over: My respect is not conditional!
    Regardless of if he shows love or does not show love as I would to him if it were my job.
    Regardless of if he has met or has not met my unfair you deserve respect measurement.
    Unconditional is unconditional.

  2. Stephanie

    This is a GREAT point because we think of love as unconditional, but we don't think of respect as unconditional. Thanks for adding that!

    My ideas definitely aren't "rules", but they are examples of the heart behind the matter, so there will be exceptions. Just try focusing on the empowering of your husband for 1 week, and just SEE if anything is different in his attitude. He may not be responding to anything because he does not feel like a man and doesn't know what to do about it.

    "Attempting to make him happy" and "he really does need that reminder" – make sure you are not trying to be your husband's mother. Your job is not to make him happy with a sandwich, but happy with respect.

    Thanks for interacting through the comments!

  3. Beki - TheRustedChain

    This is beautifully written and so very true!

    I'm a firm believer in that I am my husband's wife, not his mother. I don't need to coddle him, baby him, or in any way make him feel insignificant.

    I need to build him up, instead.

  4. Stephanie

    Beki – thanks! Yes, keep building him, girl! Sometimes it's hard for me. That little nurturer takes over, and I have to fight her back so that my husband can lead.

  5. Amanda G

    Jac and I dated for 5 years before he proposed. For about 4 1/2 of those years, he had been telling me that I didn't respect him, and I thought he was crazy. But I wasn't seeing "respect" as a daily action word, I was just seeing it as a feeling about him. (We often get great reminders in the church that love is a verb, but up until that point, I'd never gotten that message about respect!) Then
    I read this concept, and decided to try to put it into action. It was amazing what God did with our relationship at that point! Six months later, we were engaged, and happier than we'd ever been. Thanks so much for the reminder! Since I've been mothering for 7 years now, it's pretty easy to lump him in the same boat with the kiddos!

  6. Stephanie

    YES, Respect is a verb! We need to "put legs" on it! It makes such a huge difference in our men – finally, they feel empowered instead of usurped.

  7. LeEtta

    I think BOTH men and women, whether in or out of a romantic relationship want BOTH love and respect. As for nagging, it accomplishes little, even in children.

  8. Stephanie Post author

    LeEtta, great point. Absolutely we both want love and respect. But I as a woman thrive more on love, so I deliver more love. Brad, as a man, thrives more on respect, and so he delivers more respect.

  9. Belinda

    My husband and I read this book together about 3 years ago. Wow, I think I needed this reminder, I tend to nag way to much and not boast about the great job he’s doing as a husband. The past few days we have not been speaking the same language.. I say something and he’s hearing it another way and same for me with him.

    God always brings something to me to read or hear when I ask.

    Thanks for your blog!

  10. vsg

    Read up recently about the concept of your home being criticism factory or encouragement central. It made me come to a realization that I have no idea how to be encouraging. What are ways you can encourage? without “Good job” (which sounds very much how you would speak to a 3 year old). I think I may need a course in this.

    1. Stephanie Post author

      vsg~ You’re right! The last thing you want to do is belittle your husband when you’re trying to encourage him and empower him. I have seen such a need for some practical help with this, so stay tuned as I seek what God is leading me to do to help you guys long term!

      In the meantime, look for a post in the next week about encouragement. I started writing a reply, and it turned into a whole post!

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  12. Janie

    Thanks for the pointers, and they only prove my theory. Long ago, in the Garden….Adam just stood there…..when he should have spoken up as Eve’s leader. He and she walked out of the Garden stricken w/ regret. As she handed down lack of self esteem, depression, and pain in childbirth; he handed down the feeling of self doubt, the chore of digging out his self worth w/ his hands, and always feeling like he can never satisfy his wife. All because he did not stand up and be her spiritual leader. It is done, and there is nothing we can do about it, but learn from it….after we really look in to it w/ an open heart & mind. Be wise and find the man that God has for you and then allow him to stand for you spiritually, physically, and intellectually. Men were made first, and most importantly….they were designed to fulfill God’s plan. we were made to aid them, receive them, and complete them as a “warrior” for God. I have no trouble dealing with that, and I am not continually finding ways to wear his titles. I think men should lead our country, not women. I think we should do just what God brought us “out of man” for…..and that is to love, trust, and excite them. Thank you for the space to say something that has been on mind quite a while. it might have saved a few lives….if it had been considered.

    1. megan

      No disrespect, but I believe you to be wrong in a number of ways. Yes, I believe you have something there with your intrepretation of the Fall, but that’s not all there is to womankind. Womankind was made in the image of God. Genisis 1:27: “So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Male and Female created He THEM. Both Adam and Eve shone God’s glory to each other and to all of creation. Something to think about: I read the book “The Shack” and there is a portion saying that the fact that woman came from man is an equalizer, all of mankind, excepting Adam. Therefore, women are life-givers but men are not. However, womankind came from mankind initially so therein lies our equality. (Also note that we were not taken from man’s foot or man’s head but man’s Side as an equal)Take or leave this point.
      Secondly, God made women to do amazing things! To say that women’s roles are simply to inspire men to do things is limiting their potential. Why would God give women intelligence and talent if He didn’t want us to use it to His glory? Women can and should be leaders if so called. In the church, in politics, in the military.
      Thirdly, “we were made to aid them, receive them, and complete them as a “warrior” for God.” Complete? No. Not a single person on earth has the capacity or the right to try to “complete” another person. We can inspire men to fulfill the role as warrior and perhaps they will “complete” the role or warrior because of the assistance of women (or men for that matter), but people can’t fulfill other people. We’re all broken and while we can shine the light of Jesus into people’s lives (through word or deed or miracle) it is the power of Christ that completes us and makes us whole.
      Lastly, if women are raised to fulfill men’s desires (men who are broken by sin) women will never reach their destinies God has made for them. If men are raised to fulfill their own desires only ruin awaits them if not now then eternally. Eve wasn’t made to help Adam. She was made to rule with him as a help meet. There’s a difference. I don’t know if any of this makes any difference to write. I don’t know if anyone will read it or if anyone reading it will consider it. There’s so much mysogyny built into the church it’s hard to think of it being ripped out, or how to go about it, even if people could start imagining the church without it.

      1. Stephanie Post author

        You’re right – there IS a lot of unbiblical mysogeny stuck in the church. I hope we can break through some of that and realize that God has us women here for very special purposes! Some purposes that women are especially good at – and then, we all have our own individual purposes that we are especially built for. We don’t complete men – but we do complement them. It seems subtle, but it’s a big difference. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Casey

    So, my husband has been asking me to read this for at least 3 months now. I kept telling him I would but also kept putting it off… Now I know why I kept putting it off and more importantly why he wanted me to read it. I am so convicted! Tears just streamed down my face after reading this, only because I desperately want to respect my husband, but have had no idea how to do that and honestly no desire to do so. I recognize what he has done as a leader, but in the process point out all that could have been done differently or in a better way. In order for our relationship to grow spiritually, I *have* to make some changes. I know that ultimately it will benefit us both and strengthen our love for Christ.

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Casey – what a great time of the year to have such a conviction! Thanks for being so candid about what’s in your heart. I pray God moves you.

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  15. Maria

    I appreciate this website and I believe it to be true, because that is how I use to treat my husband, with much respect.

    However, without notice I started to lose respect for him. He started to ignore me in ministry. We were no longer a team in ministry, but in fact other members knew about his schedule, his activities, his next meeting and even his thoughts about certain matters better than me. At this point I am in tears, because I have lost all respect for him. In turn, I don’t have the congregations respect either. They constantly criticize me of not participating in ministry with my husband, but they do not know that it is my husband who runs ministry without me. I have been chasing him for so many years, to work with him and be his right hand. I am so tired! I am so tired, I don’t even argue or nag anymore, I just cry. Before I got married people warned me that he would ruin my ministry. I never listened. At this point I do not preach anymore, I do not do ministry couselling, I don’t do any of the things that I used to do for the past 25 years. I feel I have been reduced to nothing, due to his negligence to my ministry and even to our everyday life, which has taken a toll on me. Since he is so absorbed in ministry, I’ve had to take the financial burden and try to be a home improvement girl, because I don’t have a man to help me. With all this pain, with all this neglect, how can I respect him again? I can’f find my way anymore. I want to repect him again, but his constant actions remind me daily of how little repect I have for him. I constantly battle the thought of divorce on a daily basis. I feel out of place in our own church and so disrespected when other people know more about my husband than I do……..that just kills me. Currently, I have stepped aside and gone with the rythm of things. If he does not want me involved, I simply don’t get involved. But now it has come down to people knowing if he wants a birthday party or not and completely over ride my decision or my desire to honour him with an appreciation party. His actions and events tell me everyday of my life that I am not his ministry partener, nor a help, nor a wife. How can I repect him again? Some one please help me. I have talked to him about this and all he does is remain silent and walks away.

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Hi Maria! It’s very hard to read your story! But I know you’re not alone. It sounds like you and your husband have years of disresepect and lack of love, and those issues are going to be hard to mend – but it IS possible! With God as your focus, your marriage can be a picture of Christ and the church as it’s intended to be. Here is what I recommend from here:
      1) You must must approach your husband from a place of forgiveness, humility, honesty, grace, and acceptance of what you have done to contribute to these problems. I’m sure you’re willing to do this. He may not respond in kind, but don’t resort to old behaviors. Continue to be Jesus in your marriage.
      2) You must find a Christian counselor, and it needs to be someone that you do not know. NOT someone from your church. Your husband may have a hard time agreeing to this. Do not tell him all of the reasons why, just tell him you want an unbiased third party.
      Please know that I’ve prayed for you.

  16. Brenda

    I have just stumbled upon this blog and can’t believe this. I am married to a pastor and have been miserable for the past 10 years. We are so detached from each other I sit here this morning and wondered if this latest explosive argument was my final straw. I am so alone in this and very depressed. I have been sitting here trying to fugure out how I can leave without to much of a scene just leave quietly. I have always blamed my husband for our problems. So for the past 10 years(probably more if I’m honest) I have built up walls and detached myself from him, blaming him for it all. But after reading this blog I have found myself saying when was the last time I encouraged him I always nag him and give him attitude justifying it by all the hurt he has caused me. I know believe I am the one who has created the monster. Unforgivness is probably the root. How do I begin to practice this when my attitude in my marriage has been “well you’ve hurt me so now I will hurt you. But in my own words just yesterday as I was counseling someone “if you want something different, you must do something different”
    I need your help

    1. megan

      This was posted two months ago so I don’t know if your situation has much changed, so perhaps this post won’t mean much. I think it’s great that you recognize your own mistakes and recognize the need for help. These are very brave and honest things worth commending. May I suggest counseling? I hear it can be really helpful and it may be good to get an outsider to help you two. I can’t give much advice–I’m unmarried myself. But I’m praying for you. God bless.

  17. Ninahchamorrita

    Women don’t want love and men don’t want respect. I’m not trying to make any ad hominem attacks, but I believe in utmost, if somewhat brutal honesty. So I have to be completely honest when I say that women only wanting love and men only wanting respect is utterly baseless, and quite moronic.

    Both men and women crave love and respect. I could never, ever be with a man who claimed he loved me, but didn’t respect me. That doesn’t even make any logical sense to me. It looks abusive at worst, and douchey at best. Like something a pick-up artist would say to me in order to get me to throw myself at him. It sounds like pseudo-psychology, it truly does. I don’t know… how many men get turned on by the idea of their wives saying, “My big strong warrior, I respect you so much, but I don’t really love you. Respect is all you want, I know, so I’m not going to waste my time loving you…”?

    How many? None? Only guys with issues?

    Right, just as I thought.

    Look, it’s impossible to love someone, but not respect them. If you think it’s possible to separate the two and still have one be a genuine emotion, then you do not really understand either. Sad, but true.

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Hi Nanahchamorrita! Thanks for commenting – I agree: love and respect are not mutually exclusive in a healthy marriage. Both partners need and want both. But I do believe that women are wired to crave love more and men are wired to crave respect more. And when we as women focus our love on the respect, our men respond differently. They’re less passive, more loving, and ready to take action where needed.

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