The Heart of a Remarried Husband

Description

Men often get a bad rap in our society, but Michael Smalley makes clear what every man truly wants from his wife.

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance (Titus 2:2, NIV).

The Remarried Husband’s Need for Respect

A few years ago, a senior pastor named Emerson Eggerichs uncovered a biblical secret he says was a “truth hidden in plain sight for 2,000 years.” It is found in Ephesians 5:33, and you probably know it by heart. It’s the verse that instructs husbands to love their wives as they love their own bodies. Pastors have preached this message to the men in their congregations over and over again. Every Christian husband knows he is supposed to love his wife unconditionally. That means he loves her on bad hair days, bad mood days, bad everything days. He has to love her, no matter what. The Bible tells him so.

What Eggerichs discovered was the second half of this verse, the part that is often glossed over but says, “and the wife must respect her husband.” A light bulb went off when he realized the implications of this in marriage, and he went on to develop highly successful marriage conferences and a best-selling book called Love & Respect from his revelation. Eggerichs believes (and we agree) that men were commanded by God to love their wives with no conditions attached because loving doesn’t come naturally for men, yet their wives were created with a deep need to feel loved and cherished. The pastor then quickly connected the dots that wives must have been commanded to respect their husbands for the same reason. Wives are to respect their husbands unconditionally because respect does not come easy for women, but men need it, as Eggerichs puts it, “like they need air to breathe.”

Men need unconditional respect from their wives, but a remarried husband may quickly feel like he’s having a tough time getting it. We want you to know that your desire for respect is normal and okay. It’s a deep-seated part of the way God wired you as a man. You need to recognize that, as a husband, you want your wife to respect you more than anyone else does. Her opinion of you counts the most, and you need to feel that she is your biggest cheerleader. In the workplace, at church, and among male friends and acquaintances, respect is the code of honor you live by. But once you walk through the front door after work, respect may feel like it goes right out the window. When your wife hands you the trash you forgot to take out and complains that your ex-wife just called asking for more money that you don’t have, the feeling of disrespect may rear its ugly head.

Thank your wife for being your biggest fan.

You feel respected when your wife puts you first, ahead of the kids, her phone calls, her friends, or her work. You are the head of your household, called by God to provide for it and protect it. But if your wife was a single mom before you two married, she may have been used to looking out for herself. Learning to live under your headship may feel unnatural, and you may interpret her discomfort as disrespect. As a remarried husband, you will need to work with your wife to define each of your roles in the home and distribute the balance of power so that you feel respected, and your wife doesn’t feel stripped of her identity or purpose.

When men feel disrespected, their natural tendency is to do one of two things: 1) shut their hearts down or 2) lash out in anger. Neither reaction is healthy, and both can do serious damage to a marriage. When remarriage occurs, the feeling of disrespect can be compounded because both spouses bring some of the emotional baggage from their former marriages with them. If you are a remarried husband who experienced divorce, you may have felt disrespected by your former wife for years, so you may approach every encounter with your new wife with built-in wariness that she is not going to respect you. You may also be battling a loss of respect for yourself because of the damage divorce did to your children, the financial comfort that was stripped away, or the behavior you displayed in your angriest moments. You may not respect yourself because you were unfaithful or did things in your past you are not proud of, and that can create very shaky ground in remarriage. The walls around your poor, disrespected heart may be high and almost impenetrable. It will be a top priority for you in remarriage to start dismantling those barriers and reveal the real you to your wife.

When you fell in love and remarried, part of what you fell for was the mirror image you saw reflected in your new spouse’s eyes. She adored you, and that felt great. It made you stand taller, forget your mistakes, and once again feel like you could conquer the world. When the routine and pressures of remarriage set in, you may think the stars in your spouse’s eyes have faded and she can’t possible respect you, the man she lives with everyday. You have to ask God to remove the lie etched on your heart that your wife does not respect you and replace it with the belief that she deeply respects you—and that as a husband now living for God and his family you are worthy of respect.

Your wife also brings her emotional past to your marriage, and she may speak to you or look at you in ways that come across as disrespectful, especially in times of conflict. A disdainful look or sarcastic tone violates your code of honor as a man, and your heart clamps down. You will have to be vigilant in remarriage in guarding your heart from hardening when you feel disrespected. It is also important to determine whether your wife is truly acting disrespectfully or if you are seeing her actions through the lens of your past.

In a time of non-conflict, talk openly with your wife about what specific actions, facial expressions, body language or speaking tones set you off or cause you to shut down.

You and your wife need to learn to recognize what triggers feelings of disrespect in you as a remarried husband, so that you don’t fall into the same unhealthy patterns that reigned in your former marriage. When you feel respected, your heart can remain fully open and engaged. You will experience more satisfaction and will want to love your wife more.

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