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The Surprising Reason Your Marriage Might be Failing


Love RespectIt could be you.

Now before you get defensive, let me say this. It could be me too. This article is for the wives. Any one of us at any time could be at risk for a failing marriage if we miss this big point:

Love Isn’t Enough

This is the part where I tell you what’s wrong with America. We tell girls that being “loved” is the most important thing in the world (after being beautiful, right?). We show them fairy tale romances and doting, chivalrous men fulfilling their every whim. In the U.S., more women do the leaving, a striking 2/3 of the time!

The reasons vary of course from infidelity to money problems, and issues of abuse or addiction. But one reason marriages fail is from a “lack of love.” No one should be in a loveless marriage, right? Of course not.

Here’s the rest of the story. Love is only half of the equation. And the other half of the equation isn’t so popular: RESPECT. There isn’t a holiday for respect, nor are there greeting cards for it. Oh, we sing about it and talk about it, but are we about it?

All people want and need respect. Men thrive on it; exactly the same way we (women) thrive on love. We have to have it. Men have to have it too. But for someone reason, wives showing their husbands respect has become very unpopular. It’s as if there is this not-so-subtle message from society telling us that submission of any kind is wrong, and therefore respect is wrong. We tell people that they deserve love but the have to earn respect. To society, respect is a conditional feeling. But should it be?

Here’s how it plays out in many marriages: Think about your arguments with your spouse. Ladies, your hubby hurts your feelings (making you feel unloved), you pull away from him or lash out, and he feels disrespected and un-liked. He will probably return the insult to his manhood with a cold shoulder or another biting comment. Yikes. This is going to be an all-nighter…

I didn’t make this stuff up. I’ve learned about it a few ways. First of all, I’ve had a marriage fail, and I didn’t know the first thing about respect at the time. But oh, was I an expert on love and my needs. Also my church has taught about it for years. The first time I heard the message, light bulbs were going off! Why didn’t someone tell me this before? Years later, I am still having light bulbs go off as I realize the far-reaching implications of this concept. Thirdly, my husband and I lead a small group/study group for marriage based on the book and video series called Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  But Emerson didn’t make it up either. He got it from 2 things: science and the Bible. I will focus on the latter:

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Eph. 5.33

Are we not to also respect women and love men? Put simply, yes. But our needs are differently balanced and the differences between men and women are a huge source of frustration and heartache! If I expect my husband to treat me lovingly when I speak to him disrespectfully (in ways that insult his intelligence, parenting, or abilities), I will be completely let down. If he expects me to respond respectfully to him if he hurts my feelings or responds unlovingly, then he is equally dense.

Whether you are the husband or the wife reading this, the bottom line is you have to act first! Whether you feel loved or respected does not change God’s command for us. There are no “if’s” or “in case of’s”. It is clear: She needs love. He needs respect.

Wives: If you disrespect your husband with your words or actions (or lack of) then you are putting your own love at risk. Husbands: If you do not show love towards your wife with your words and actions, respect will become and endangered species. If you are tired of arguments that go in circles, yelling, crying, silent treatments and the divorce threats, know that there is hope for your marriage.

Study this verse. Commit it to memory, and commit to its commandment for the sake of your marriage. And the next time your spouse pushes your buttons, just stop and truly think about how you want the rest of your day, week and marriage to go. If you want it to last, and be enjoyable, then consider saying or doing the thing that will make your spouse feel loved, respected and supported.

*Some marriages are dangerous due to violence and abuse. Some marriages need some outside help through professional or church-based counseling to help you deal with issues that are weighing you down and bringing you pain. If your marriage is on the brink of failure, get help.

†How can I pray for you? Please email me at

About Kris Wolfe




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