Fight the 'Norm' of Disrespect

Fight the 'Norm' of Disrespect

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Over the past few weeks, I have grown to enjoy the TV show "The Amazing Race." My delight started with an interest in where the contestants traveled and the challenges that awaited them at each location. My husband and I act as if we are in the game — deciding who would do what and give play-by-play maneuvers of how we would complete the tasks. But recently, I realized how interesting/entertaining it is to watch the communication within the two person teams. Father-son, best friends, hockey buds, newlyweds, etc., are all thrown into extreme circumstances involving critical thinking, physical exhaustion and just plain weird things they have no experience doing. In these moments, tempers flare, emotions explode, and the relationships’ true colors shine bright.  

This past Sunday I watched the couples in amazement. They all had a sense of respect for each other in the thickest moments, except for one pair — the newlyweds. The challenge was to zigzag a race car around several orange cones, switch drivers and repeat the course — all in less than 83 seconds. The pairs encouraged and cheered as their partners attempted the slippery course. Most didn’t have too hard of a time, except for the newlyweds. And boy, did the camera love the arguments that went on in that car. The young couple couldn’t quite make the required time on the supposedly “manly” challenge. Each time the husband would get behind the wheel, nothing but venom escaped his new bride’s mouth:

“You suck at this! Aren’t you supposed to be good at driving?”

Failed attempt.

“Ugh, you keep fishtailing.”

Failed attempt.

“Who would have thought? The girl is doing better than the guy.”

Fail.

“You are killing us!”

Finally, they completed the course in 83 seconds.

No hugs or congratulatory kisses.

“Ugh, everyone is going to be so far ahead of us!”

I realize it is only a game, a game where everything is magnified and glorified by the cameras in the contestants' faces, but my heart broke for the man whose self-esteem was crushed by his bride on national television. I don’t wish to speak into a marriage I know very little about, but her verbal daggers revealed an easily ignored norm portrayed in our culture — bossy know-it-all wives, disrespecting and crushing their husbands' leading spirits.

As a new wife, I have been there. I have said those words and watched my husband’s shoulders fall. Little jabs and undercuts seem harmless and necessary in my mind, but when they escape my mouth, I realize instantly the words said only tell my husband I don't trust or respect him. It isn’t easy being a submissive wife, but it is rewarding. It is how God created us to be, and He knows we will truly thrive as couples when we choose to act according to His instructions.

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear (1 Peter 3:1-6).

If you are single, I challenge you to meditate on this passage and prepare your heart for the future. If you are a woman, begin by showing honor and respect to the men in your life now. Wit and humor are entertaining, but ensure your words aren’t damaging others around you.

If you are engaged or seriously dating, go on a coffee date with your significant other and discuss these passages: 1 Peter 3:1-6,  Ephesians 5:22-23, Matthew 19:4-6 and Colossians 3:18-19. Ask each other what you believe these passages mean and how you can begin building your relationship on these principles. Believe me, it will make your transition to marriage an easier one.

True love cannot be expressed without true honor and respect. Don’t let the media paint your picture of marriage; instead, fight the “norm” of disrespect.  Find a married couple who does this well, and spend time with them. You will quickly see the fruits of their marriage and how God’s instructions are not bias, but beautiful.

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  • Comment by TC:

    I'm a big fan of the show. On the first episode (I believe) of the new season, that newlywed husband praised his wife for her "attitude" and said that other folks had better watch out for her. So he seems to have a good idea of what she's like. It isn't right, but it sure seems like he condones it, from what I've seen.

  • Comment by Jo:

    I totally agree with your point about respecting and building up one's spouse (and more broadly, each other in general). But I kinda think the second half of this post confuses encouragement and respect with submission. Encouragement and respect should work both ways in a relationship, and there's nothing you described that doesn't apply equally to husbands. It doesn't require a complementarian approach to marriage to practice mutual respect and encouragement, so I think it's a little confusing to link the two issues...

  • Comment by Stephanie88:

    I agree with Jo. Respect is a two-way street. It would be just as sad to see a new husband tearing down his wife. In any case, it certainly wouldn't be loving.

    However, I also see that it's easier for the author to write from a woman's perspective.

  • Comment by Mrs. Ashley (the original flavor):

    Jo is right on the money. I just recently wrote about this on Matt's "The Best Kind of Work" thread.

    Further, I'd say that it applies even outside of marriage is is... at the heart, mostly unrelated to submission of any kind.

    How does the bible say that people who are not believers will know that people are followers of our faith? "By their love for one another."

    Further, I think it's really important that we look at the Colossains passage which immediately preceeds the oft-quoted "wives submit to your husbands." It reads like this:

    Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

    WHOA! That's a whole lot of instruction that comes right before how to relate to your family! Maybe those ideas are related? Maybe if you're doing the first half, the second half will more easily fall into place? Let's zero in here:

    holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

    Wow, that sound a lot like 1 Corinthians chapter 13 right? Love is patient, love it kind... etc, etc.

    And this isn't directed at *marriage* per se, it's directed at how we interact with and treat people in our family AND outside of it.

    What if we made it a habbit of not only not criticizing our spouse, but rather, of trying to build up EVERYONE around us rather than tearing them down?

    Wouldn't that be a great habit to get into as a single? Wouldn't that be an awesome way to equip yourself with a good skill that will make you a better, stronger parter in your future marriage if you have one and a better, more fun person to be around for everyone else in the meantime?

    Finally, yes, wives are to submit and be a helper to their husbands -- BUT their husbands are to love them as Christ loved the church -- and it's a system that ONLY works if both people are doing their parts. We find safety in the arms of Christ because he is a good, loyal, faithful partner who wants to see us succeed and live in harmony with the father. If that's not what you want for your wife, OR if you place conditions on her happiness and success ( for example: "Of COURSE I want my wife to be happy and succeed! I want her to stay at home and be happy raising our kids! that's living the dream, right?" -- without ever asking or considering what SHE might desire or want) then you need to take a moment to consider that perhaps the breakdown is not on the side of the submitter but maybe on the submitee. We focus a lot on the feminine side of marriage because the masculine side is MUCH more difficult to quantify and MUCH more difficult to implement. It's much much easier to say "My contentious wife won't submit" than it is to say, "My wifes hopes, dreams and aspirations have never been discussed in our marriage. She is unhappy and I've never talked to her about what she might want to feel more valued and fullfilled. I could take more time than I do to try and meet her needs."

  • Comment by K.L.:

    Wow, really??? How can she be so mean like that to her husband? Somebody needs to slap that girl upside the face.

  • Comment by Lindsey:

    Love that Colossians verse Ashley-that was our wedding verse that is inscribed in our rings and that was read in the ceremony. I think it speaks so much to what is required in a marriage-kindness, humility, patience and forgiveness especially.

    And I was confused about the link to a wife's submission in the main post as well. But my husband and I are much more egalitarian and mutual submission is how our marriage works best-and mutual respect and admiration.

  • Comment by Lover of God:

    Indeed, absolutely right about the wife's individual needs and aspirations, too.

    Thank you for treating women as actual individuals, not merely subordinates, "helpers" as meaning "servants" of their husbands etc. There are 2 persons in a relationship, and the man is the head; but he does not rule or lord over the submissive wife, who forgoes everything about her just to help him in whatever vision of dream he has, supposedly from God. That is no loving relationship, but one mastering the life and person of the other=the woman. And the ONLY Person that leads a human is GOD. He is the Lord and Master, not the "leader" - husband.

    Leading is one thing, authority and headship with inter-personal interdependence is another thing. Just because the head is the head it does not mean marriage is all about himself.

  • Comment by Julie S.:

    You said, "Little jabs and undercuts seem harmless and necessary in my mind, but when they escape my mouth, I realize instantly the words said only tell my husband I don't trust or respect him." SO TRUE! I've been married a bit over two years now and we have a strong foundation of respect, but every now and then something snide or I-told-you-so will slip out, and man, it does not put me on top in the power struggle like I think it will. It just causes a little rift in our connectedness that needs to be addresses and apologized for. I like your observations in this post, Chelsea.

  • Comment by H. Nicole:

    I don't think her point was to say that women should only respect their husbands and that respecting them is equal to submission... simply that one area of submission is respect and that being harsh and critisizing is not respectful!

    Sure women are called to respect everyone in their lives, and sure men should respect everyone too. But a woman's respect finds SPECIAL meaning in the husband-wife relationship as an aspect of having a submissive heart attitude.

    I found myself disrespecting my fiance in ways I NEVER would have directed toward another, and this was related to his unique leadership role in my life. If my friend does something I see as wrong or unwise, it doesn't threaten me and I can fairly easily control my reaction. But when my future husband whose decisions affect me directly makes a mistake, wow!

    I just started noticing the lack of respect in my words toward him recently, and I've been really convicted that it stems from a lack of submissiveness in my heart and peace that even if my fiance or husband makes legitimate mistakes, God is in control. I don't need to point them out in a harsh and belittling way.

    God calls us ALL (but particularly wives) to be submissive like Jesus, who even when he was being convicted unjustly didn't lift a finger in response, and by his Godly submissiveness he gained our souls (1 Peter 3). I really loved her point about how submissiveness is rewarding. The 1 Peter passage goes on to link unsubmissiveness with fear. It makes sense, because submitting to anyone imperfect is a scary thing. Truthfully, women have a lot to fear from ungodly men. But the God of the universe promises us he will be with us and it will be rewarding, and I'm trying to believe him more! :)

  • Comment by H. Nicole:

    (And p.s., I should mention that truthfully, my fiance is usually doing the right thing. :P It's just my sinful perception that everyone but me makes inferior decisions!-- that also is something God promises. He doesn't ask wives to submit to husbands and then withold wisdom from the husbands! He's a very good, generous God after all!)

  • Comment by Keith:

    Um,

    I really don't think that comment #5 is appropriate - no one deserves to be physically harmed under any circumstance.

    When it comes to disrespect I think one problem that many women have is that they jump to conclusions about something very quickly without looking at all the evidence or considering alternative explanations. They see something and immediately conclude something negative about the man and then become angry and disrespectful.

    When something bad happens, all of us should stop and think and ask ourselves some important questions: Is this person really or entirely to blame for this? Are there other explantions? Am I at fault? Am I putting someone down for something I myself struggle with?

  • Comment by Diana:

    KL

    I'm going to assume you're joking when you suggest "Somebody needs to slap that girl upside the face."

    But jokes like that are not funny. Suggesting even humorously a violent approach is not okay. Respect cannot be commanded by fear. If a woman/man believes he or she will be struck upside the face if respect is not given, that is not love it is abuse.

  • Comment by K.L.

    #11 and #12:

    Yes, it was a joke. Sort of. A figure of speech, rather. Have neither of you ever heard anybody say that before? It's basically like saying, "somebody needs to knock some sense into that girl." I say both of those phrases all the time. No violence intended. My friends and family say them. Maybe it's just where I'm from. It just means somebody needs to set that person straight. Teach'em some manners. And that girl on the show could DEFINATELY use a lesson in Love & Respect 101.

  • Comment by Nick:

    I agree with the author. I felt for the guy whose new bride is tearing him down publicly. But I root for the couples who celebrate each other and help each other, rather than tear down when things don't go their way.

    Seems I notice it more when it comes from the girls (maybe because I'm a guy) but I remember from two season ago - Ernie and Cindy - she constantly criticized and belittled him. Definitely not the thing that helps a marriage grow.

  • In one way it is pretty simple. If you don't respect someone, don't marry them. You are doing both of you a disfavours, not matter how good the short-term "chemistry" is.

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