Love is a choice, but doesn't respect have to be earned?


I posted a few days ago about my marriage issues - and how they stem from my not being “in love” with my husband and probably never having been in love with him from the start…

I can appreciate that being ‘in love’ is a feeling and that in marriage we have to CHOOSE to love our spouse. I am working on that (thanks to many of the suggestions and the advice of several of you in this forum) and taking it one day at a time.

So while I am working on choosing to love, I am also aware that respecting my husband is a huge part of healing our marriage. My problem is that I don’t see how you can *choose *to respect someone. Isn’t that something that has to be earned?

To illustrate my question better…before we were married, I graduated college with my bachelors, secured a job at a prestigious hospital and earned a good living - lived on my own, bought a car, etc. My husband, on the other hand, floundered around, couldn’t finish college, bounced from one job to another before finally joining the military. It was his decision to join the military that actually earned some respect from me, however now that we are married, I see him displaying the same behaviors that he did pre-marriage that caused me to have very little respect for him.

So, how do you RESPECT someone if they aren’t doing anything to earn it? I know that our marriage won’t be as full as it could be without this missing piece.


You respect him just because he’s your husband, he deserves a certain amount of respect just for being that person. I think what you’re referring to is esteem rather than just respect. Don’t take this too harshly, but it seems to me your judgment of him is causing problems. If you see him floundering, you may be able to encourage him more, or at least get him thinking and talking about the future in a positive light. You are his help mate. Maybe you need to respect your position as his wife more. I’ve found often that respect earns respect.


Exactly. Some “offices” deserve respect regardless of the occupant. That happens in politics all the time–opposition parties should pay respect to the governor, president, speaker-of-the-house, simply because of the job title. They may debate and disagree frequently, but if they fail to respect the office, the political system may collapse under revolution.

All husbands deserve their wives’ respect and all wives deserve their husbands’ respect because marriage deserves respect. Lack of respect tears away at the institution of marriage. It contributes to divorce, the break-up of families, and numerous other societal problems. The high rate of divorce threatens the whole institution of marriage and the stability of society.

Sydney, you say he earned your respect when he joined the military. He also earned respect when he joined you in Holy Matrimony. You both signed up for a life-time. Don’t go AWOL on your marriage–respect your husband.


Respect for all other people is vital. Every person, even the person with the ugliest face or actions, is created in the image of God. Work to see Jesus in your husband, that will go a long way toward respecting him.


So you are saying that if someone becomes president who does everything they can to pass bills allowing abortion to become more prevalent, to allow homosexual marriage in every state, signs a bill legalizing human cloning, etc…that you are still going to respect that person solely because their position as president entitles them to it? Maybe on the surface you salute them as they pass by in a parade, or you clap politely after a speech - but to me, that isn’t truly respect. It’s a farse and actual respect has to be earned. Respecting the office and respecting the person are two very different things.

You are commanded by God to respect your parents, but if your father is an abusive alcoholic, you aren’t truly going to have respect for him as a person. I don’t see how you could.

My question wasn’t whether or not I’m called to respect my husband…I know that I am supposed to, soley because he IS my husband…it was HOW do you respect someone who has done very litlte to earn it.


Have you ever considered giving everyone respect from the start? Think of it this way: Do you require that God EARN your respect?

Only other advice I can offer you is remember you and your husband are one with GOD!

Sometimes reminding yourself that when you wake up in the morning, through out the day when you need to, and every night when you go to bed is the best thing you can do for your marriage.


Every time you look at your husband, picture a crucifix in your mind say to yourself “Jesus Christ suffered and died for my husband”.

Fast and pray for your husband. There is no better way to nurture respect for someone than to truely sacrifice for them.


Thank you for offering your advice. These are definitely practical steps that I can start working on :slight_smile:


As someone who has struggled with similar feelings in the past, I’d like to also offer some simple but powerful advice. Focus on the positive. It is all too easy to see the negative in others (especially our spouses) and to let it consume us. Been there, done that. I am willing to bet that your husband does have qualities that earn him respect…

I would also like to suggest that you pick up the book “Personality Plus for Couples”. It really opened up my (and my hubby’s eyes) to how personality differences can really drive a wedge between spouses. Just by your choice of words in your first post (floundered around, couldn’t finish college, bounced from job to job etc etc etc) it suggests to me that you yourself would never do that and therefore can’t understand it. But it may just be his personality type and not an actual character flaw.

And if that is the case, there is lots of hope!!! Once someone feels understood by their spouse it is much easier to give and accept love and respect. The guard gets let down and you really begin to get to know each other.

Hopefully some of this is helpful to you:)**


i would suggest the book LOVE AND RESPECT…

when you say respect, i do believe that it needs to be earned!!
and please dont say its not true - other posters…

even if you do start by respecting someone, it can erode based on the person’s actions!!

what we can do is always behave respectfully towards the other person… do not be disrespectful which is what wives generally do to their husbands… (i say this as i have been there done that!!)

its difficult for us to behave in a respectful manner all the time to our husbands while it is difficult for them to be loving towards us…
but it is learned behaviour and it can be done!!!


I’ll have to check out that book…a lot of our issues definitely stem from our VERY different personalities. He is waaaaay more laid back and unorganized than I am, so that tends to make it hard for me to respect him at times. Thanks for your reply and advice :slight_smile:


I second this book. Great!!! (and hillarious too) :smiley:


Apparently what I wrote earlier didn’t help you much. Yes, I was saying that I respect the office of the President, and respecting the office means respecting the person who holds the office–regardless of their actions. As far as so called “homo-sexual marriage” agenda, I believe such re-definition of tradition marriage is only possible because hetero-sexuals already re-defined marriage with the high rate of divorce. Marriage used to mean “until death do us part”, not “until I find it too difficult and uncomfortable.”

Those small external actions, like saluting a President in a parade, are how you show respect. They aren’t a farse. You seem to be a woman who wants actions. We show respect by actions, not feelings.

Previous posters have recommended a personality profile book. I read and like a similar book called The Temperament God Gave You. More free advice from me that you may not like: check out what can happen when a choleric personality marries a phlegmatic personality. I suspect you already know. Your husband likely has many wonderful qualities, otherwise you would not have married him. Rediscover his wonderful qualities! Help him be the man God created him to be, and he will help you become the woman that God created you to be. God often brings together people with oppostie traits because one is strong in areas where the other is weak, and vice-versa. Opposite personality styles compliment each other well, but the couple must learn to accept and co-operate their differences.


I may be dead wrong but this is just my 2 cents having married someone who joined the military just a few months past our first anniversary. He has now been in 17 yrs and we have been married 18.

My perception and where I was coming from had a lot to do with it. The disorganization I saw in dh was in direct correlation to how freakishly organized I am, so the farther I am on the scale in one direction, he was equally so on the other end of the spectrum, while that means he was the same distance from ‘normal’ that I am, I saw it as doubly in the wrong. Which was wrong. Getting that straight in my head helped a lot.

I also needed to take into consideration that every aspect of his existence at work as a jr enlisted at the time was controlled by others (for good reason so they tell me, but not having signed the dotted line myself I have never been able to fully understand) who may be total jerks, immoral, or fabulous examples of Christianity, that though is not why they are respected-they have nothing but a mark on their clothing that REQUIRES respect from all with other certain markings on their clothing. Trust me, ask him about his experiences at work, and listen to his responses. Anyone who can follow the military’s way of life and remain composed has earned my respect. I know that I could never be what they are, I would have been chaptered out or dishonorably discharged with a quickness!!! The tremendous personal control that requires is amazing to me. Often times this forced organization required at work would increase the desire to ‘let things go’ at home, in an envirioment where he could let things go. I am lucky that over the years dh has become more like me, probably because he has become the one to be directing others at work and sees the importance of organization, but if it had never happened I would like to think that I would have just picked up the confounded socks less than a foot from the hamper and let it go.

I also had to keep in mind that he remained commited to the military and took what I really felt to me inhumane treatment at work to support us and give us, his family, a better life. I know that is a long way from ‘giving one’s life for a friend’, or is it? If that doesn’t ‘earn’ my respect I don’t know what could.

Seriously, listen to his work related vents. The things they put up with early on would have any joe schmo throwing his apron at the manager and walking out of Taco Bell threatening a lawsuit, and would probably win and have national media attention. But these folks do it on a daily basis and remain composed, and say ‘yes sir’ or ‘yes first sgt’ and complete the mission (even if it is as trivial as mowing the btry lawn) with respect.

Once you hear these stories from him, I don’t think you will be able to help yourself from respecting him and loving him, because he loves you enough to do these things for you, his family.

My heart breaks for you as I understand how flustrating it can be.
God be with you


I agree with another post, that with a marriage and how to give respect, you have to learn to always be positive in the relationship. There was soo much I had to learn when I first married, and much of what I learned was that if I were to be able to influence my marriage and put every serious topic in a positive light, I personally needed to speak positively and offer positive solutions.

I would suggest to you that you read a book on positive mediation. This type of conversation between spouses really works, and takes any thought of argument or negativity out of the conversation . It focuses on the “I feel… when you do this…” instead of the “you always do this!!!” I would encourage you to work through your frustrations with your husband. A lot of change occurs when we women get creative in our discussions. If you work the conversation so that your dh thinks he’s come up with the solution, it goes over sooo much better! This type of mediation is essential when you are speaking of frustrations you have. It really shows you have respect for your husband and he sees it too!

Also, if and when you do approach him, be sure to always look him in the eyes, listen to what he says, and don’t interrupt, and face each other holding hands. The touch tells him you do love him and choose to love him despite your frustrations with his actions.

If you have more questions, write!

God bless


Respect is earned, but it is also given and built. A child respects his parents because they respect him - they have taught him about mutual respect. As he ages and learns about God and morality, he respects his parents because they are his parents and also because they have sacrificed so much for him.

I respect my husband because he is a child of God. I respect him because he loves our family, and he does a lot that he doesn’t want to do but has to do to support us. I respect him because I love him, and I love him because I respect him. I respect him because the Bible tells me to. I respect him because he is a unique, precious, vital instrument of God.

Prayer and prayer and more prayer will help. GL2U


It’s funny you should post this today–I listen to a Christian radio program sometimes on my way to work, it’s called Homeword, here in Florida. Today, the host was interviewing someone who wrote a book about how important it is for women to ‘build their husbands’ up, because men (I found this to be eye opening, not sure if I’m alone here) need to feel respected and built up, to succeed in various things in life. When a husband senses that his wife does not respect him, it will actually spiral him downward…so, even if we see things that need improving, we need to be uplifting…supportive. In that support, a man yearns to be better and better…I found it personally insightful to hear this, and I think of times when I have nagged and complained–my husband would become very introverted and closed off, and things would get worse (that I was complaining about) Once I turned the corner, and started complimenting him, and supporting him…building him up…life changed greatly in our marriage. He does the same for me…

So…try to find those things that he does well, and build him up! It might be hard to overcome these thoughts/feelings at first, but you married him for a reason. Get back to that reason…and build on that.:slight_smile:


AMEN! :tiphat:

Another option for you both might be “10 Great Dates” by Arp and Arp. DW and went through this program at church when we were in a similar situation… The program itself was not all that much helpful but the conent of the book was. One of the dates focuses on differences and sameness. Not all sameness is good and much of the differences are very good if you focus on how to work through it together. Just another potential option.

And believe me… your situation isn’t unique and there is great success possible… but like all things in marriage, it takes work. Peace to you!


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