However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)
Paul brings this section to a close with this a final admonition to the husband and the wife. Husbands are commanded to love their wives, and wives are commanded to respect their husbands. You may ask yourself, why does each one get a different command? So many people today think that there is no distinction between husband and wife. They are inter-changeable. In fact, substitute genders and it does not matter. God has different thoughts on the people whom he has made. We are not the same.
Not only are males and females different in their genitalia, but they are very different in how they are created emotionally. Emerson Eggerichs is a marriage counselor who pastored for 25 years before starting his ministry to husbands and wives. It was this verse that really got his attention. He realized that men have a desperate need to be respected. Conversely, women have a desperate need to be loved. Now, it isn't that each one doesn't need both of those things, but we need them in different proportion. Also, while women tend to love naturally, they need a little encouragement to show respect. Similarly, while men are prone to show respect, they need to be reminded to love.
I would highly recommend Eggerichs' book, Love and Respect, in which he develops this wonderful teaching on marriage. To sum it up, he is convinced that if you have a wife who is battling you and you feel defeated in your marriage, begin to shower her with love, even if you feel she does not deserve it. In the same way, the wife is instructed to take initiative and show respect to her undeserving husband. It will open up the love gates. Here is a quote from his book:
“Few seem to have considered 1 Peter 3:1–2. The apostle Peter reveals that husbands who “are disobedient to the word” (meaning they are undeserving of respect) “may be won . . . by . . . respectful behavior.” A simple application is that a wife is to display a respectful facial expression and tone when he fails to be the man she wants. She can give her husband unconditional respect in tone and expression while confronting his unloving behavior and without endorsing his unloving reactions. He may deserve contempt, but that doesn’t win him any more than harshness and anger wins the heart of a woman.”
― Emerson Eggerichs, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs
Marriage is a wonderful gift given to us by God. Husbands, love your wives. Wives, respect your husbands. It is simple, but not easy. God's way always works.
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