Did you know that a key ingredient to respecting your husband is humility? Learn why a wife's respect is so critical in the growth of a husband from Robert Lewis, Ann Wilson, and Barbara Hughes.
Did you know that a key ingredient to respecting your husband is humility? Learn why a wife's respect is so critical in the growth of a husband from Robert Lewis, Ann Wilson, and Barbara Hughes.
Bob: Ann Wilson remembers the time when her husband—Dave—told her he didn’t feel like he was getting the support from her that he needed as a husband.
Ann: So, he says, “I played college football, so every Saturday I h—” he was a quarterback—“I had a stadium of people like, ‘Dave Wilson is the man! Yes! Yes!’” He said, “Then, we are dating, and we meet you; and you’re saying to us, “You are the man!” and you’re applauding, ‘Yes! Yes!’” and he goes, “Then, we get married—and it feels like we walk in the door of our homes and all we hear is,‘BOOOO!’”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, July 17th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.
So, would your husband say he’s getting the support he needs from you as his wife? We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
One of the lessons that we’ve learned over the years—in fact, you learned this early on when we started doing our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways—if you’re going to talk to husbands and wives about marriage, you need to talk to them about the unique assignment that God has given to the men—and the unique assignment that God has given to the women. And it’s probably best—if you’re going to talk to the women about their assignment—that you have somebody other than the men speakers talking about the woman’s assignment.
Dennis: But you and I could do it. We could easily tell all the wives what they need to be doing; right?
Bob: We could do it if we wore protective gear. [Laughter]
Dennis: But we have my wife Barbara with us on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, sweetheart—back by popular demand. I have a lot of listeners who come up and say, “I really like it when Barbara’s”—
Dennis: “—on the broadcast.”
Bob: I hear it all the time.
Dennis: I don’t quite read between the lines of saying, “They don’t really like it.” Anyway, welcome back, sweetie.
Barbara: Thank you.
Bob: Since we are going to be revisiting the last 25 years today—listening back to some of the things we’ve heard about a wife’s responsibility in marriage—we thought it would be good to have you here to give us some cover; okay? [Laughter]
We actually addressed this subject very early on with a guest—a male—talking about a wife’s responsibility. He was—he was your pastor at the time; right?
Dennis: He was—Robert Lewis—pastor of Fellowship Bible Church here in Little Rock, Arkansas—founder of Men’s Fraternity—and really a very insightful Bible teacher—
—spoke to women about what it means to respect your husband.
Bob: He had written a book called, Rocking the Roles. Barbara, I remember reading that book and thinking, “This is insightful.” It was putting words to things that I felt instinctively but couldn’t put words to myself.
Barbara: Yes, he did a really great job helping men and women understand those differences and why we each have different assignments in marriage. It was helpful for women, as well as men.
Bob: This is what he said as he spoke to an audience about why it’s so important—from a husband’s perspective—for a wife to be the responder in the relationship.
Robert: Here’s what I’ve learned after 35 years of marriage. You see, in a marriage, a man has a unique opportunity to experience something in his heart and in his life—whether he knew it or not when he first got married—that really, he’s always longing for.
In many ways, he will find—if it ever happens to him—he will find that in many ways this is the crowning achievement of his manhood.
It becomes a reward—the ultimate affirmation—and it can only, really, be given by that one somebody who has examined his life up close and personal, like no other—the one person who really knows him—the one person who is experienced him in the crucible of a raw and honest life in all kinds of innumerable fronts. She saw him as he really is—a lot—and yet—from all those vantage points—there comes a time in their marriage where she is able to reflect back to him what he has longed for all his life—
—and that is that he’s a really good man—respect.
As it grows in her face through the years, the soul of his masculine heart comes together in happiness like he’s never known—because he did it. He came through with a woman. That’s what every man longs for in his life.
Bob: That is Dr. Robert Lewis talking about what it is that all of us as husbands—behind the scenes—I don’t think we articulate or verbalize it very often—but it’s part of what we’re longing for in a marriage.
Dennis: I like the way that Robert expressed that—that only one woman on the planet who is uniquely knowledgeable about that man that can truly—
—make the affirmation, be able to respect him as he really is—and communicate that to him.
Bob: Barbara, how long into marriage did it take before you understood this power—and this ability—that you have to minister to Dennis like nobody else can minister to him?
Barbara: Well, I think I learned some of it early on—but I think I took many, many years—even decades—to really, fully understand it because I think it’s so—well, it’s not so different than what we are—but what a man needs is different than what a woman needs. So, to think like he thinks and to understand his need takes time.
For instance, when we first got married, I remember I would go and sit and listen to Dennis speak. After he left the stage, people would say things but I learned quickly that he really only wanted to know what I thought.
Barbara: What I said mattered more than what all the other people said. That has continued to be true throughout the years of our marriage.
That was my first glimpse into the need for respect from me more than anybody else. That’s grown through the years—and I’ve understood it more.
It’s not just when he says things publicly but it’s when he leads at home or when he makes decisions. What I think about that and my affirmation for his labor on my behalf—his labor on behalf of the family—his decisions he’s making because he loves us and cares for us—when I affirm those, that matters as much as when I affirm him publicly.
Bob: Yes, there’s a great illustration that comes out of a conversation we had with Nina Roesner who wrote a book called The Respect Dare. It’s how she learned this principle of not trying to control her husband and every decision he was making, but giving him some leeway. It was really wisdom she got from her mother-in-law. Listen to how she tells the story.
Nina: Before I went back to work part-time—and I had this great situation workwise—I could work in the evenings, and Jim would be home with the baby. So, I went to a very, very small part-time job that I’d been doing full-time.
Anyway, before I went back, his mom called me. She said, “I’m not going to give you a lot of advice, but I’m going to give you this one: Whatever he does with the baby while you’re at work is good if he’s alive when you come home.” [Laughter] I said, “What?” She said, “No, you just have to let him parent. Otherwise, he will be a distant dad. He will not engage.” I went, “Okay. What does that mean?”
But I went back to work, and I forgot something. I came home, and Jim had the baby in the highchair—there were cookies. I thought, “Oh!” I almost said something, but I didn’t. I left, I came back, and I wanted to just control and go,
“You’re not doing that right”—but I didn’t.
So, I came home and I said, “So, how’d it go?” He said, “You know it was really great. He’s so much fun. We did this. We did that. He didn’t eat much. I gave him some cookies while I was making my own dinner. I probably won’t do that next time. I’ll probably just go ahead and feed him first. Then, I’ll make my supper after he’s taken care of.”
I went, “Oh! Thank You, God!” I didn’t have to say anything—but I knew that that was one of those times that if I criticized how he was doing it and went diapering—all those things—making him feel like a failure—he wouldn’t want to engage and keep going.
Bob: I love that story, and one of the reasons I love it is because Nina was really going against her own instinct in the moment—her own impulse. With the advice she had got from her mother-in-law she said, “There is a bigger issue at play here.”
Barbara: It’s really cooperating with God’s design. It’s cooperating with what He made us to do as women. God has created this partnership—this symbiosis—between a man and a woman where my greatest privilege is to work on God’s behalf to build him up and by doing that for each other—we both become who God meant for us to be.
Bob: Now, that’s not always your first impulse; is it? [Laughter] Why did you laugh like that?
Dennis: Of course, it’s her first impulse! [Laughter]
Barbara: Why would you think otherwise?
Dennis: Well, because the husband is not always giving you things to respect him for.
Barbara: That’s true.
Dennis: I mean the reality is the woman who knows me best—huh?—she loves me most because she puts up with a lot of failures that I’ve made. That’s why I laugh, not at her wrong response. It’s like—“Wow! This is the most intimate relationship of any on the planet.”
Bob: I remember years ago we were interviewing Elisabeth Elliot, and she told the story about a spot on somebody’s white shirt.
She saw an ink spot on the shirt. She said, “Now, that ink spot probably covers less than one percent of the white shirt—but when you see it, that’s what your eye is drawn to—”
Barbara: That’s all you see.
Bob: “—and it’s all you see. Nobody comes along and says, ‘The rest of that shirt looks great.’ All they say is, ‘You’ve got a big ink spot right there in the middle of your shirt.’” She said, “I realized, as a wife, that my eye gets drawn to the imperfections—to the flaws—and I lose sight of the good qualities in my husband.”
In fact, one of our colleagues, Ann Wilson, who—she and her husband Dave have spoken—
Bob: —at our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. She talked about learning this lesson and how she found she had to curb some of her own critical impulses and how she talked about her husband.
Ann: Dave starts—he starts getting into this—and he’s speaking to all these women: “Ladies, I want you to know what it’s like to be a man. You see, as little boys—here’s what happens—we grow up, and we usually have our moms—”
He grew up in a single—his mom raised him as a single mom—“and my mom was cheering for me like—‘Good job, David! Good job.’ I liked that. Little boys are always saying, ‘Mom, watch! Watch!’ and you moms are always saying, ‘Good! Way to go! Good job!’”
“Then, we get older as guys, and we go into middle school and high school and elementary school. We usually start to find what we’re good in, and there is usually someone along the line—a teacher, a coach, or something—that we’re good at. We start hearing other people applaud for us—‘Yes! Good job! You’re the man!’”
Now, I’d never heard Dave say any of this before. I’m like—“Whoa! Look at this. This is some new stuff. This is good.” [Laughter] So, he says, “And I played college football. So, every Saturday, I had—” —and he was a quarterback—“I had a stadium of people like, ‘Dave Wilson is the man! Yes! Yes!’”
He said, “Then we are dating, and we meet you. You’re saying to us, ‘You are the man! You are the man!’”
“‘Out of all the men in the universe I choose you.’ You’re applauding—‘Yes! Yes!’”
He goes—“And then, we get married.” [Laughter] Now, I’m over here in the chair like—“Where are we going with this now?” He goes, “We get married and it feels like we walk in the door of our homes, and all we hear is—‘BOOOO! BOOOO!’” He looks at me—at this point—and I’m like, “What?!” Then he feels really bad. He’s like, “Oh!” We haven’t really talked about this. I’m clueless—clueless.
So, we kind of get in this fight right there. I’m like—“What do you mean I boo? I’m not booing you.” It was terrible—like so terrible. So, we get in the car. I’m like—“What the heck was that about?!” So, I said, “You feel like I boo you?” He goes—“Yes,”—
—“I feel like you’re continually disappointed. I feel like I do something, and you’re always critiquing it.”
So, then, I get really defensive and I said, “I am helping you! I—” —because my heart is really, truly—it’s not to harm him—I said, “Honey, I’m telling you that people are not speaking the truth to you—and I will.” [Laughter] “I am a gift to you; right? Don’t you feel like that? I am your gift.” He’s like, “All I hear is, ‘Boo!’” —which then takes me on this journey of getting in the Word. I come across Proverbs 21:9—and it says, “It’s better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”
Alright, I live in Michigan so I’m imagining—when I read this—
—the middle of winter. I’m imagining Dave on the corner of my roof in the snow shuttering cold—and it’s better for him to be out there than in the house with me. Oh!
Dennis: Most men won’t begin to articulate it as clearly as Dave did to his wife Ann, but they’re really looking for a wife who will cheer him on in the midst of life. Life is discouraging. There are a lot of things that just beat the stuffing out of men today. I know the same thing happens to women—but today we’re talking to the ladies about how to—
Dennis: —how to respect your husband.
Barbara: I think what happens is exactly what Ann said—we get married, and we know this guy is—we think he’s the greatest—we chose him because we think he’s the greatest—and then we see that he has flaws. So—as she said—we think we’re helping. We think we’re pointing out things that he’s oblivious to—and if we don’t say something, he’s not going to know, therefore, this is how I help. I’m going to help him see that he needs to fix—
—and change and do whatever—but as he hears it, he doesn’t hear it as help.
That’s a lesson that I think every wife who has ever lived has had to learn because we confuse helping with correcting—and they are not the same thing.
Bob: I remember our friend Robyn McKelvy who was a high school cheerleader—she said, “Our team was terrible” but she said, “In the fourth quarter, when we were down by 20 points in the football game” she said “we’re still out there going, ‘You can do it! Go, guys! Go!’” She said, “Every wife needs to become the family cheerleader and say, ‘Even when the team is down, we can do it!’ Rather than, ‘Oh, you messed up here again. Oh, you messed up there. You’re always messing up; aren’t you?’”
This is powerful.
We had Kent and Barbara Hughes—and Kent was the pastor at the College Church in Wheaton, Illinois for a number of years—well respected Bible teacher—and they were here a number of years ago. They shared a story about a time in their marriage when Kent was struggling and his wife Barbara’s word were powerful in his life.
Barbara H: We were in a struggling church, and he was discouraged. He was down in the mouth—let’s put it that way. He just—I think he was thinking thoughts that I had no idea—but I did know from what he did express—what I could see, that he was depressed.
What happened is one night he finally opened up to me and started to tell me what was on his mind. I kept trying to encourage him and say, “Well, think of Noah. He preached for 120 years to people without a single convert”—which was hardly encouraging, but I was trying. [Laughter]
Bob: You may have a life like Noah, honey; wouldn’t that be great?
Dennis: Your ministry is going to go down in history. [Laughter]
Barbara H: Finally, it came to the point where he said—the most horrible thing really—he said—that he questioned whether or not God was good.
He said, “If God has not equipped me to do what He’s called me to do, God isn’t good.” I remember sitting there thinking—you know I was praying all the time because I knew this was a crisis moment for my husband. He said, “Barbara, what am I going to do?”
I said, “Kent, I don’t know what you’re going to do; but for tonight—just for tonight—hang on to my faith because I believe God is good, and I believe He’s got a purpose for what we’re going through—so hang on to my faith. I have enough for both of us.”
In the end, I had to go and look and say, “Okay, Lord, what is my goal to be—as a wife—in this role as helper?” Helper. I realized as I prayed and thought about it—I thought, “I want to one day hear God say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’” It still makes me cry because I realized—
—that we are getting old—we getting older—and it won’t be long until we see the face of Christ.
I am not sorry that I have lived my life as his helper, and I see that the Holy Spirit is called the helper. It isn’t demeaning—it’s divine—it’s wonderful. Jesus showed us how to do that—us women—when He kept on entrusting Himself to the One who judges justly—it says in 1 Peter 2 the last verse—or the second to the next verse. Then, the very next verse says, “Wives, in the same way, be submissive yourself to your husbands.” It’s living as Jesus did—to keep on entrusting your souls to the One who judges justly.
I’m not sorry that I’ve lived my life that way. It’s exciting. I can’t wait to hear those words because my husband has been a good and faithful servant.
Bob: That’s Barbara Hughes with her husband Kent with the right perspective—don’t you think—on what it means to be a helper?
Dennis: I think it’s excellent. One of the things that Barbara has done really well in fulfilling this command to respect your husband is she has reminded me of the truth about myself also, from what the Bible says about me—that I do have a mission from God. She reminds me that—“Yes, you are being faithful, and God will bring fruit at a point,” but she’s also believed in me and expressed that belief consistently in more than 44 years of marriage.
Bob: Barbara, there can be other people who can encourage Dennis—but nobody can encourage him the way you can encourage him.
Barbara: Yes, and as he was talking about what I have done, I remember times when I’ve looked at him and I’ve said, “You know, everybody may walk away,”—
—“everybody may quit following, but I’m not going anywhere. So, it may just be you and me—but that’s okay because I’m not going anywhere.”
So, I think that kind of reminder that—“I’m in this for life. I’m in it with you. It started out just the two of us. It may just be the two of us again someday, but that’s okay”—I think that is fuel. I think that helps—it helps me know that he’s not going to leave me either; but when I say that to him, I think he feels like—“Okay, it’s going to be okay because at least I’ve got her. She’s not going anywhere.”
Bob: You have, over the years, offered a lot of wise counsel to your daughters and daughters-in-law about living out their assignment as a wife—how they can encourage and support their husbands. Last year, you took some of that counsel and put it in a book called Letters to My Daughters. There have been tens of thousands of people who have purchased copies of that book and have told us how valuable it has been for them.
In fact, a lot of people have been getting the book as a wedding gift to give to a new bride. I’ll just mention that we’ve got copies of the book available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. If our listeners are interested in Barbara Rainey’s book, Letters to My Daughters, you can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to order a copy; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to place your order over the phone.
Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com; the phone number is 1-800-358-6329. That’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
You know these subjects are subjects we are passionate about here at FamilyLife. We are committed to providing listeners with practical wisdom and fresh hope for your marriage. We recognize that all of us need to be more intentional—more biblically intentional—
—when it comes to strengthening our marriage relationship and our relationship with our children.
I know that we have listeners who share that passion with us. They recognize how vitally important these relationships are. The reason I know that is because I’ve met some of you, and I know many of you are Legacy Partners—folks who support this ministry on a monthly basis.
We appreciate those of you who, along with giving to your local church—which ought to be your first giving priority—you have set aside funds every month to help the reach of FamilyLife expand to reach more husbands, wives, moms, and dads in this country and all around the world. And we’re grateful to be in partnership with you as Legacy Partners.
For those of you who are longtime listeners—if God has used the ministry of FamilyLife in your life and you’ve ever thought about becoming a Legacy Partner—we’d love to have you join the team today. You can do that online at FamilyLifeToday.com—or call and say,—
—“I’m interested in becoming a Legacy Partner.” Call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
Now, tomorrow, we’ve got more wise counsel for wives about supporting their husbands—and we’re going to talk about submission tomorrow as well—what it is—and what it isn’t. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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