How to Show Respect Even When You Disagree

dona February 13, 2013


Original Photo by Michael Sarver 

By Megan Ciampa, Contributing Writer

“I told you so!”

Words you never enjoy hearing.

Especially when it’s between a husband and wife or anyone in any close relationship.  Those words sting even more and often signal that the person who said those words has been harboring judgment, resentment or accusations in his or her heart towards the other person.  “I was right, and you were wrong.”

We make decisions every single day, and oftentimes we as parents and spouses have to make important decisions that are not as clear-cut as the rest.

What do you do though when you and your spouse do not agree on big matters? How do you handle it if you and your husband are at odds with one another?  What’s your reaction typically like? And how does your response fit in with what the Bible says about roles and responsibilities within the home?  If you are not a believer, this part may make you groan, but if you hang on for just a tad longer, you may see that this can be applicable even if you are not involved in a Christ-centered marriage.

Here’s a quick peak at God’s instructions for Christian households in Colossians 3.  I am using The Message version because I like how it reads (emphasis in bold is mine):

18 Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master.
19 Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don’t take advantage of them.
24 Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ.

God calls us to a higher standard than what we often see displayed on TV or in the media in marital relationships.  Wives are to be understanding and supportive, and by being submissive to our husbands (which we’ll discuss more in depth), we are honoring Christ.

Often times we see the submission verse given to women and we might shudder and think, “Oh great, just another command to the women.  The guys get off easy!”  In reality, the very next verse calls husbands to “go all out in love for your wives.”  We are to be submissive, but our instruction does not heed love!

Let’s just take a pause here and say if you knew me as a teenager, your jaw would probably drop knowing I would even discuss passages like this! Even though I grew up in a Godly household with Christian parents who modeled a very Godly marriage to me and my three brothers, I grew up with boys all around me and I often felt suppressed by the verses I read towards women. I believed false truths that these commandments put women down and were not in a woman’s best interest, and yet I was still a Christian.  It was just an area I really grappled with and didn’t enjoy discussing much in woman’s classes or hearing from the pulpit.  It really wasn’t until I grew up and got married and had a baby that I realized there was much wisdom in these commandments.

So, how can you show respect and submission to your husband even when you disagree on BIG issues (health, food, education, where you live, careers, decisions related to your children, finances, etc)?

First we must understand what submission means.  It does not mean suppression.  While it may harken back thoughts or ideas of the 1950s era or lead you to the beginnings of the feminist era, real submission does not mean suppression.  I do not believe God employed women with hearts and brains only to not use them and “play dumb.”  As helpmeets, we are employed with these assets to work alongside our husband and truly strive to make the best decisions we know how, giving glory to God.  It’s just that we will not always see eye-to-eye.

Submission means yielding.  It means letting go when you realize in order to move on as a couple, someone has to give.  It does not mean your ideas or thoughts are not valid. It does not mean your preference has no merit.  It just simply means yielding.

fPat Murray via Compfight

Imagine a wrestling match between two stiff competitors.  Both have trained hard, are in good physical and mental condition.  It’s a pretty even fight, but eventually in order for the fight to be decided, one must win and one must lose.  The one who lost is yielding.  The fight is over and both the winner and loser move on and there is probably a sense of relief among both competitors that the match is now complete.

This is sometimes how it feels when there is a major disagreement between a husband and a wife.  In the midst of the struggle, both are at odds with one another, working their hardest to prove their point.  When it all comes to a head and a decision is reached, there is often relief that follows.  I believe these feelings are probably part of God’s design.  It’s not easy to submit, but when you sense the peace and healing God’s plan can provide, it makes the act of submission a little bit easier.

About Respect

One of the biggest needs for a man is to feel respect.  As women, we often think it’s love, so we might shower our husband with the type of loving affection we like to receive, when what would really float his boat is for him to know we really respect who he is as a man and that we trust him.  (To read more about this I suggest you check out the book For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn.)

During and after a conflict, one of the easiest ways to show respect to your husband is to just yield.  It may be very hard to do so, but you can respectfully say, “I’m going to trust you on this.” You don’t have to say you disagree, it’s probably quite obvious if you’ve been fighting!  You can just simply communicate, “I have my reservations and I feel differently but I’m going to trust you on this and we’re in this together.”  That sentiment will probably mean more than anything to your husband.  To know that you stand beside him will give him the confidence to proceed with the decision.

It also puts the ball back in his court so that he really has to consider for himself, “Am I making the right decision?”

If you yield, then just yield.  I’d advise not coming back and saying “I told you so” or acting like a jerk or being disrespectful.  The simple act of yielding creates trust and respect, and creating trust in your marriage is one of the most important things you can do.
Yield Sunset

Image by Sean Molin via Compfight

When a decision has been made, as a couple you bear the outcome together.  Whether it’s a good choice or a bad choice in the end, it’s something that both the husband and wife need to be united on.  It’s ever so tempting in the face of a bad choice to say to someone, “Well, I wanted to do ____, but he said…” and knock down your husband.  Let’s not do this!

When it’s a good choice, you can also share in the victory of that, but avoid the temptation to be a fair-weather friend.

One last reminder:  Never forget the words in 1 Peter 3:1:

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (NIV).

Even if your husband and you are not on the same page about issues you find incredibly important, by yielding and showing respect, you may gradually win over your husband with less heartache and torture than you would by fighting over every single issue.  (When it comes to real food and health, I found this post by Katie of Kitchen Stewardship incredibly encouraging: How to Boil a Husband.  She recommends: Share information, communicate, build trust, retain normalcy, and show results.)

How do you show respect and submission in your relationship?  How have you improved this aspect of your marriage? What makes it easier? Harder?

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  1. “It means letting go when you realize in order to move on as a couple, someone has to give.” Yes – this! In Judaism, we have the concept of Shalom Bayit, peace in the home. It is only after struggling with the idea of yielding through our first years of marriage that I finally understood that sometimes you have to just drop whatever this issue is (that probably won’t matter in the next 2 months, let alone 20 years). This can be so hard, but it does become easier with practice.


  2. Great thoughts, and encouragement for wives! I applaud you for courageously taking a stand on an issue that is even touchy among Christians.


  3. Beautiful post. My relationship with my husband has evolved greatly and I am thankful to have let myself be guided by him. Thank you for the inspiration and support. I wholeheartedly wish to read a similar post on parents’ relationship with teenagers.


  4. Good advice, however with some situations it can be very tricky. Like when you’ve had two kids close together and want a break from pregnancy and breastfeeding, but hubby wants another baby. BUT you have to deal with being pregnant when you don’t want to be without becoming resentful…yes, very tricky.


    • Christina, you raise an interesting point! Is there a way you could find a compromise–like, yes, let’s try for a third, but can we wait a bit while my body recovers?


      • Christina, your husband isn’t acting in love if he is putting your health and future #3 in danger…your body needs to recover. Autism is higher in the US because of the back to back babies that we do without our bodies recovering.


  5. What if your husband is a Christian but he has always been a liar? What if I have zero trust in him due to his continues lies? He went out and bought a motorcycle while I was away at a very close family members funeral. He already has a motorcycle…I did not agree with him buying it either. He decided while I was gone grieving with all 3 kids that he was going to buy yet a much bigger one. I believe he stole “our” money. I also believe this shows a complete lack of respect. He says he chose to fight over this motorcycle because he will not be happy without one so the fight is worth it to him. I think he essentially chose the motorcycle over me. He has continually chosen things over me. I’ve forgiven and forgiven and forgiven his lies and verbal abuse. He says he is going to change and he seeks help but he does not change. I do not believe in divorce…so where does this lead me? I cannot respect a man who calls me nasty names when he does not get his way.


  6. Great article! I was the same way like the author. It took childbirth and the way my husband supported me through the 20 plus hours of labor for it to click. (Not like we issues before or anything, it’s just something I didn’t ‘get’) I do think that some pastors get some pride and ego in talking about women submitting.


  7. This is indeed a tricky issue…….
    I’m not exactly sure where I stand on this. I definitely want to stand on the word of God, but it gets a little fuzzy when you see your husband making self-destructing decisions that are not based on honoring God but on honoring the things he has elevated above God.
    For instance, he has always been a dedicated supporter of sports in general. Now that our three children are all in organized sports, he has placed these games and practices as #1 priority in our lives, making everything else secondary. Our family time, our marriage, our finances (because these sports are expensive and we are not keeping our head above water due to the expense of these).
    After 18 years of marriage, I really do want to respect him. We are both followers of Christ and we are committed to our marriage, but at times, I clearly see the self-destructive behaviors and I know, like you said, that we (as a family) will ALL reap the consequences of these decisions……but I can’t continue fighting him on it…, I’ll voice my opinion with grace and not push my ideas, hoping to “win him over” by my gentle spirit.

    That being said, these things can ripple down in other areas of the marriage……He wants mind-blowing intimacy when he never has time for me or has any value in my opinions, and he wonders why I’m unresponsive? ….already these decisions he’s made are having a serious impact on our lives…………


  8. I had a similar situation to yours, although not with motorcycles, but with the narcissistic attitude. It doesn’t go away. Read A Cry for Justice by Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood and it will open up your eyes. That book has my married life written in it and I don’t even know the author personally. The mental and emotional abuse broke us apart. He would not only lie to me, but everyone (Romans 3:13-14). Everything he did was justified and done “in the Lord’s name”. Lead me to believe that God abhors me and I contemplated suicide because I was in sunk in utter sin by not “obeying” him and that my understanding of the Bible was wrong. I never yelled at him. Always mindful of respecting him at all times, everywhere I went, unconditionally. But when my eyes were opened and I shared calmly and with tears what was in my heart it was used as a weapon to destroy me and my reputation, my testimony. He did that. I willingly and happily submitted to him for 12 years. He used that against me in so many evil ways – manipulation in every aspect. He said that my submission and yielding only made him the man I didn’t want him to be, that it was my fault. When we tried to get help, he made them his allies, so that only encouraged him to do it more in the home. He would paint them the most beautiful application of Ephesians 5:21-33, but living it in our home was a living hell, as living with Satan, the accuser (Rev. 12:10). Swords drawn out against me (Psalm 55:20-21). I was in denial for such a long time.

    Listen, you serve the LORD, with all of your heart, mind and strength, no God above Him – remember that! – and when your husband leads you to do something that would be dishonoring to God, he, your husband, is not your legitimate head, for Christ would never do that for His beloved church! I, who would have never, ever, believed in divorce had to do it to save my own life and my son’s! The grace and mercy of God is with me. He loves me not one bit less because I have divorced. I’m not telling you to seek out divorce, No! Just study it in the Word of God, find grace in it, and read A Cry for Justice like right now!

    Don’t justify wickedness, (Proverbs 17:15), under the veil of submission and yielding. Be careful!


  9. I REALLY like the quote of Proverbs 17:15: Respect is a part of submission, in my book.:) Also, I really believe this whole issue of love and respect leads to the condition of the heart. I know personally I have a really hard time admitting when I havent been supportive. However, when I “check my Heart”, I cant help but know my attitude was not anywhere near where it needed to be.


  10. I understand how some of you women feel who are married to a husband who loves the Lord and you but who also uses the Word to pardon, excuse his actions that he knows are not pleasing to the Lord. I honestly told the Lord just yesterday that I know this is the man God made me from and for, but that I also knew His will for us was NOT the continual war zone we have. We have 6 children, but only 2 are still in the raising stage and at home, and they are NOT benefiting from the frequent strife. I want to please the Lord, but I know HE does not want me to be constantly run over. I am a coach and know how to peacefully and constructively navigate through anything EXCEPT conflict with mu husband.


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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