A large part of this - though not all of it - has to do with sex, so let's get that one done first.
Paul enjoins us to consider our bodies to be not our own, but belonging to our spouse, and that has to be one of the most misused pieces of Scripture in the New Testament.
Taken in its full context, Paul's talking about a fully Christian marriage in which respect is so deeply ingrained that we can trust our spouses with a measure of 'control' over our bodies.
What that really means is this - that "I have a headache" means you'll get a couple of Tylenol and a hug, not a comment about "spousal duty in the bedroom".
Physical respect grows out of emotional and spiritual respect, realizing that your spouse wants to be a full physical partner in marriage...but accepting in good grace that some times are simply not good.
Physical respect does not read rejection into "please, not tonight". Physical respect trusts.
Physical respect also focuses on a spouse's fulfilment as the first priority. "How was it for you?" sinply isn't enough.
"How can I make this a special experience for you?" is better, and it should be said well in advance of time spent in the bedroom. Anticipation is important for women...and it is important for men, too, whatever popular culture may tell you.
And...I hesitate to bring this up...physical respect does not view pornography. At all. Ever.
First, pornography (usually a failing of men) is degrading to both men and women. It creates a mindset in which a woman is viewed as a receptacle. View any woman that way - and you're well on your way to seeing your wife in the same light.
Second, pornography plants ideas...and guys, can you imagine how disappointing it would be for your wife if you suddenly suggested something 'new', and she quickly realizes you got the inspiration from watching porn?
The first time that happens, you'll have lost something, a shared innocence, that you will not regain.
Enough about sex.
There are other types of physical respect, as well, and these deal with health, fitness, and body image.
Health is important, and we should encourage one another to eat healthy, avoid smoking, and so on...but we should not harangue or blackmail. We've got to credit our mates with the ability to make adult decisions, and if they don't, we have to forbear to impose guilt. That's not our job; it's God's.
I used to be a runner, and I married a weightlifter (talk about role reversal!), so fitness was important to both Barbara and me...but when we established a home, suddenly we found we didn't have time to stay fit. It hurt us individually,and it hurt our marriage.
What we didn't realize was that we owed one another the creation of opportunities to keep fit. It meant that if Barbara wanted to go to the gym, I would find a way to keep myself occupied...without complaint. And if I needed to go for a run, Barbara would find something to do, and not pointedly ask how long I'd need (which she never did).
We should encourage exercise; it's wonderful if it can be shared, but if not...encourage the separate times. Again, it;s not a rejection. Trust that.
Finally, body image. You may one day find that the slim Romeo you married has turned into Elmer Fudd, and how did that happen?
And he may be fine with it. Men can be pretty accepting of what they look like (well, maybe "in denial" is a better way of putting it).
It's not your job to correct him, ladies. If he has accountability partners among his friends, they should handle it...but from you, it's going to come across as disrespectful and critical, even if your pure motivation is love and care. That just how it is.
And guys, if your wife has put on weight...she knows it. She does not need to be reminded, ever, in any way.
She needs to be loved for WHO she is.
Please stop by my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quick look at a quote and commentary on grace in marriage
And...we're pleased to announce that Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart is now a part of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association! This is a tremendous honor, and we're delighted!
This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage (and I got to write today's!). If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information.