There have been a couple of very good blog posts recently on the question of how to show your spouse respect.
Cassie Celestain of True Agape described he top five behaviors that show your husband respect, and Ngina Otiende, writer of Intentional Today, makes the case that your husband wants your respect more than your love.
They make a compelling case for why one should be aware of just how one shows respect; it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you're respectful when it doesn't come across that way.
"But of course I respect you!" rings hollow, for both men and women.
It's a cheap shot to say that if you have to declare it, the respect isn't there, and it's not particularly true.
Marriage is a place of familiarity, and showing respect through words and actions has more than a whiff of formality...it's how we were taught to treat our 'elders and betters'.
And we often err on the side of familiarity, to look friendly and approachable...and often appear disrespectful, when we're not.
But what of the other side of the coin? What if respect is really lacking in a marriage? It does happen. A husband who goes through a long spell of unemployment can sorely test his wife's regard, even if he's doing all he can to secure work.
Same thing can happen with a wife.
And sometimes we make mistakes that cost us the respect of those to whom we're closest.
Love is still there, but that's not the issue. It turns from the love of an equal to the somewhat indulgent love one has for a wayward or slow child. It's a bit condescending.
Do we need our spouse's respect?
We can't control what someone else thinks of us. We want to be well-regarded as well as loved, but it's something we can';t enforce, and to demand the outward trappings is at best a Pyrrhic victory.
We have to respect ourselves. Not in conceit, but in the confidence that our Creator made us in Love, and with care, and, as they say, "God don't make junk".
If we can find ourselves grounded securely in our kinship with the Almighty, the respect of even those closest to us becomes less than a necessity, and if we don't have it - we can put aside the bitterness and anger that would normally ensue.
This doesn't mean we shouldn't work on rebuilding respect if it's been lost, either without cause or through our own actions. Respect is an important part of marriage, and that can't be ignored.
But it has to start at home, so to speak. Jesus said we should love our neighbor as ourself. Not more than. Not less than. Equal, because if you don't love your neighbor, you can' love, or, ultimately, be loved.
And respect is in the same place; if we can't respect ourselves, we can neither give respect to others...nor truly receive it from them