If you have never seen something, it can be hard to visualize what it looks like.Since submission in marriage is as rare as an honest politician, it can be difficult to know what it looks like and therefore hard to achieve. And yet, that is what God calls us to be as wives to our husbands.

Ephesians 5:22-23Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body.”Amplified version

I’m not claiming to be a marriage expert. However, I’ve learned a lot during my 33 plus years of marriage about what to do- and especially what not to do— if you desire an exceptional marriage. I’ve found that when my focus is on getting my needs met, they rarely are.However, when I show respect for my husband and seek to meet his needs, I get what I really want—a joyful, harmonious marriage!

Some tips for demonstrating respect for your spouse, which is a key ingredient to a successful marriage, are:

  • First, open up the lines of communication.With humility and a non-defensive posture, ask him how you are doing as a wife and how you can improve. Have him rate you on a 1-10 scale. Be prepared to receive feedback that you may not wish to hear, but which you need to hear and to take to heart, if you are going to have the marriage you truly desire.
  • Make sure you implement his suggestions.My husband recently shared that he wanted me to clean off my kitchen desk, which has a tendency to “grow” stacks of paper.I had many things on my “to-do-list”, and that certainly had not been on it.However, out of respect for him I moved it up to the top of the list.I recognize that it’s not always possible to immediately do what he asks, and if it’s not, it’s important to communicate why it isn’t and to let him know you’ll get to it as soon as you can. Then, just make sure you do it.
  • Instead of telling your husband what you are going to do, ask your husband if he is O.K. with you doing something.For example, rather than declaring, “I’m going out with my friends tonight!” ask, “Would it be all right with you if I go out with my friends tonight?” Just by asking him, you demonstrate respect for him.
  • Try not to infer that you know what he is thinking.A good idea is, “When in doubt, check it out.” For example, if he says “no” to you going out with your friends, it may be due to financial reasons or his desire to be with you. Do NOT argue with his response or nag him into saying “yes” to your request (I have done this too many times to count; never once has it improved our relationship). You may ask him in a respectful tone the reason for his position, as long as it is for greater understanding and not so you’ll ultimately get your way. As with any relationship, being in right relationship is of far greater importance than you being right.
  • Look for ways to affirm your husband. If he is a handyman, let him know you appreciate his fixing things. Or, let him know you appreciate his being a wonderful provider, or a great Dad, or awesome storyteller. I often tell my husband that he’s got the greatest laugh (which he does!) and that he brings so much joy into my life.I realize it can be very challenging to find something positive if your relationship is strained, and yet that is the time when affirmation is most needed. Ask God to give you His heart for your husband, and to give you His eyes to see him the way that He does. Keep in mind that God uniquely created your husband—just like He did you. He loves him and made him to be the very fit helpmate for you. If you look, you can always find something about him that you value. Share that with him; I think you will be amazed at how your view of him and your relationship will change when you focus on his positive qualities. Remember— good or bad—what you focus on will expand.

What are you willing to do to have the marriage you truly desire? Are you willing to submit to God’s will in order to have an exceptional marriage?

Written by Julie Van Gorp