He Respects You as Much as You Respect Yourself

July 2, 2014

in Uncategorized

Paste your dHow do you earn respect? One way is to show you respect yourself. People in general, and men in particular, will show you no more respect than you seem to have for yourself. One way we judge how much others respect themselves is by what they put up with. Again, this is especially true of men.

An example: Billy and Jane are getting married. Billy comes from a family where physical violence is a common way of dealing with problems or getting what you want. Jane tells Billy the first time he lays a finger on her she will divorce him. They marry, and Billy does all manner of horrible things to Jane. He yells at her, ignores her, and stays out late without calling. He flirts with every other woman he sees, and has multiple affairs. However, he never uses violence against her. When she said she would leave him if he hurt her, he believed her, and he respected that line.

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Billy is neither loving nor good-willed, but even so, he respects the line Jane set because she respects herself enough not to put up with violence. Billy violates her in other places, where she does not respect herself enough to say no and mean it.

Your husband is probably a better man than Billy, but like Billy, he responds positively to self-respect, and negatively to a lack of self-respect. Please do not hear me saying it is your fault if your husband is not showing you respect in certain area. He should do what is loving and right no matter what. He should, but most of us fall short of what we should do. Understanding this dynamic can help you precipitate some changes in your marriage. Look at the areas where he treats you poorly and ask yourself if you respect yourself as you should in those areas. If not, why should you expect him to? When you start to respect yourself more in any given area, you pressure him to do the same. Of course, change take times, but if you stick with it, expect him to gradually moderate his behaviour.

If you are looking for a good place to start, Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s Boundaries in Marriage is an excellent resource. (Also in Kindle) It is especially good if you read the whole thing carefully before you try to apply it! I also suggest you start slowly with a couple of areas, rather than trying to make sweeping changes.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and respect self-respect.ocument here

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gaye July 2, 2014 at 6:36 am

This is absolutely true – in marriage and in life, people will respect you to the extent that you respect yourself. This ties in very closely with your egalitarian-complementarian post on The Generous Husband. Almost by definition, every position from moderate complementarian through patriarchy prohibits women from respecting themselves. They simply have no right to set boundaries for the way others (especially their husbands) treat them. So in your example, the advice that would be given to Jane in thousands of churches would not be “respect yourself as a person created in the image of God” but rather “pray more, submit more, endure more, suffer more.” And no one would counsel her husband to love and serve his wife and treat her as a joint heir of the Kingdom. In general, the comp and patriarchy crowds have a very low view of women (even though they argue loudly that they have a high view of women). Their position is primarily about control and power. It has very little to do with living like Christ and advancing his Kingdom. That’s how you end up with a leading complementarian pastor/writer/speaker saying “women may have to endure abuse for a season” and other Christian “leaders” making statements that clearly show their near-contempt for women.

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Jenny July 2, 2014 at 8:53 am

It took me way too long to learn this.
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Jenny July 2, 2014 at 9:12 am

I have difficulty proving this idea biblically. Any suggestions?

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Paul Byerly July 2, 2014 at 10:44 am

I would say it is human nature and not actually the right thing to do. Jesus respected many people far more than we can see they respected themselves. I think we should do the same, but we usually do not.
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IntimacySeeker July 3, 2014 at 6:12 am

It would seem too much responsibility is on the wife. There is the expectation that she respect her husband regardless of his behavior and solely on his position. There is also the expectation that she set the standard for how he respects her. Another perspective is that she is the one with the power in this facet of the relationship. Indeed, she is the one with the leadership role here.

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Paul Byerly July 3, 2014 at 2:04 pm

And he is expected to love her regardless of her behaviour.
I am not saying she should set the standard, only that this is the reality in a sinful fallen world. When men are being taught as they should, they learn to respect women properly. Sadly such teaching is rare today, and when it happens some women get offended about it.
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