Think it’s an old-fashioned idea? If it makes your marriage better, these techniques are as current as ever.
Our mothers and grandmothers didn’t need lessons on how to respect a husband. They got married and quickly fell into a role that felt natural.
Our generation has more trouble. Perhaps we’re more educated, we think we’re smart and independent, and we have a hard time slipping into that essential role of a good wife.
So let’s break it down into “Should we” and “How.”
Showing your husband respect doesn’t make you less of a feminist, not any less of a woman, and doesn’t take anything away from you. Just the opposite: Showing respect to your husband gets him to treat you better, and as a result have a better marriage in the Torah way. The Rambam says “A husband should be like a king in his wife’s eyes. She should have a certain awe. Her actions should be according to his will.” Respecting a husband does not mean agreeing with everything he says. Being respectful of your spouse is like being respectful of any stranger you interact with.
Our first reactions are usually “When he respects me, then I will respect him.” Leah Reicheimer in Marriage Secrets usually answers that statement with this line “scrutinize your own history; has the strategy of waiting for your husband to respect you been a fruitful approach?” It may not feel fair that the wife always has to be the ones to step up to the plate first, but Hashem gave us binah, the wisdom and insight to do so, and the bottom line is, it works…. I don’t claim to know why our sages insights work, I just witnessed that they do.”
First take note that you may think you are respecting your husband but if you are constantly arguing about things or if you feel like your opinion is being ignored, you are not respecting him.
Here’s a game plan.
1 ) Don’t feel like respecting? Fake it until you make it.
2) Stop controlling. We think we are smarter and know how to do things better. If we express that, it doesn’t work. Keep your feelings of superiority to yourself.
3) Giving helpful suggestions is something we woman try to do, but it makes men feel controlled. Try to resist.
4 ) Listen – without offering advice or helpful suggestions (unless he specifically asked). You don’t have to agree or disagree with everything. You can just listen.
5) Apologize when you yell, criticize him for doing things his way, and not your way.
Which brings us to – Let him do things his way
6) Don’t contradict his stories. Yes, you were there and it didn’t happen the way he’s telling. But be quiet and let him say it the way he wants to.
7) Don’t nag. He heard you the first time. Don’t treat him like a child where you feel the need to repeat things 100 times to get them done.
8) Don’t talk critically of your husband in front of your children or family.