Respecting Your Husband

Showing Respect When You Think Your Husband Is Wrong 

Robert Harris
Version Date: September 30, 2013

This article presents some sample scenarios about how wives sometimes respond to their husbands when the husband makes a mistake. Examples of both disrespectful and respectful responses are given. Wives who want to have a happier, more satisfying marriage are encouraged to use the respectful responses as models.

1. Husband: I see uncle Joe is here. That’s his car.
Disrespectful Wife: No, it isn’t. Uncle Joe drives a blue car.
Respectful Wife: It is? I thought he drove a blue car.

What would you say in this case to your husband or man friend?


Comment: Direct contradiction shows lack of respect. Asking a question for confirmation is a polite way of prompting the husband to think about what he just said, and suggesting the right answer helps him connect the dots. Many times this will result in self-correcting.
Think About: Many wives complain that their husbands are not very communicative. When a wife frequently corrects her husband, he is less and less likely to talk to her. And remember that men tend to remember the general impression of social events, while women attend to and remember details.
Happy Relationship Tip: The purpose of casual conversation is to build relationships, not to define reality in as exact terms as possible. Cut your spouse some slack. You need not correct every insignificant error. In this case, the most respectful wife would respond with, “Oh, great. We haven’t seen uncle Joe in a long time.” Who cares about the color of his car?
Scripture: It is better to live in a desert land Than with a contentious and vexing woman.—Proverbs 21:19


2. Husband: [to a group of friends] Last week we ate at a restaurant called Le Monde, which is Italian for “the mountain.” And believe me, they serve a mountain of food there.
Disrespectful Wife: Honestly, Fred, you can’t get anything right. Le Monde means “the world,” not “the mountain,” and it’s French, not Italian.
Respectful Wife: Yes, they do serve a mountain of food at Le Monde. Fred had a French crepe so big he could hardly finish it.”

What would you say in this case to your husband or a man friend?


Comment: Negative generalizations (such as “you can’t get anything right,” “you never,” “you always,” and so forth) are indications of contempt, not just disrespect. In this case, too, adding unnecessary direct contradiction (“not ‘mountain’”) rubs in the disrespect. The Respectful Wife agrees with the part of the husband’s statement that is correct and hints about the fact that the restaurant is French by adding that word to what he ate.
Think About: Fred could have been answered with, “Wasn’t that a French restaurant? Remember, you had French crepes?” But the question to ask yourself is, Just how important is it to be sure that chit chat conversation is precisely accurate? See the next example. To Fred, the important thing is the amount of food he was served at Le Monde. To correct his errors would be to spoil his story. To affirm his story (“they do serve a mountain of food”) supports him.
Happy Relationship Tip: When your husband tells a story that involves you, find something in it to reinforce what he is saying, even if it’s just a simple Yes. (Husband: "We went to apple country and we had a great time.” Wife: “Yes, we did.”)
Scripture:  An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.   –Proverbs 31:10-12

3. Husband: When we drove up to the lake last year in June, the weather was perfect. The sky reflected on the water and made it a deep blue.
Disrespectful Wife: We drove up in May and it was freezing. I don’t ever remember being so cold.
Respectful Wife: The water was super deep blue and you could watch the clouds mirrored in the surface because the water was so still.

What would you say in this case to your husband or man friend?


Comment: Respectful Wife knows that no one cares whether they were up there in May or June. And whether the weather was perfect or cold is a matter of a personal memory of a personal experience. The weather might have been perfect to him but cold to her. Since this is his narrative, he is correct from his perspective. Additionally, it doesn’t matter whether it was sunny or stormy that day. Weather is so unpredictable that a precise account would not give the hearers of the story any useful information about what weather to expect should they go up in May or June, so there’s no need to contradict the husband.
Think About: Constantly correcting small errors or disagreements over unimportant facts quickly creates an emotional wound. Then, even one new correction or criticism a day rips the scab off and reopens the wound.
Happy Relationship Tip: Criticism is felt more deeply than praise. It has been suggested that several praises are needed to counterbalance one criticism. What’s your ratio of praise to criticism? Listen to yourself when you talk to your husband and calculate the ratio. Then see how a 10 to 1 ratio will make both of you happier.
Scripture: The contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.—Proverbs 19:13b

4. Husband: Where have you been? You said you’d be here at 4:30 and its almost 5:30.
Disrespectful Wife: [rolling eyes] No, you weren’t listening to me. I clearly told you that I would leave the house at 4:30—which I did. It takes 45 to 50 minutes to get here from home, driving normally. I’m not going to drive like a maniac like you.
Respectful Wife: I’m so sorry, darling. I thought I said I’d leave the house at 4:30, not to be here at 4:30. I apologize for the miscommunication. Was the wait really bad? How can I make it all better?

What would you say in this case to your husband or man friend?


Comment: Rolling the eyes shows such contempt that it seriously harms a relationship and puts it in danger of complete failure. Lecturing the husband like a child adds to the insult. On the other hand, when Respectful Wife says she’s sorry, she is not acknowledging guilt or taking responsibility. She is just feeling sorry that the situation has caused hurt feelings. (If your friend tells you that her cat was run over by a truck, you say, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” You are sympathizing for the emotional hurt, not claiming you were driving the truck so that you now need to apologize.) And apologizing for the miscommunication is simply offering a peace branch by accepting whatever blame for the consequences the lack of clarity caused.
Think About: If you have miscommunication problems, take steps to solve the problem rather than to criticize your husband. Here are some suggestions:
•    Get eye to eye contact when you ask him to do something
•    If the task is critical, say something like, “This is very important.”
•    Write a note or send a text message (“This is the bluebird of happiness reminding you that I will leave the house at 4:30 and head on over to the restaurant. See you about 5:15 or so.”)
Happy Relationship Tip: Learn to apologize even though you don’t think the problem is your fault. (Yes, put your pride down, look at your husband, and apologize sincerely.) This is especially effective when your partner is upset.
Scripture: A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. –Proverbs 15:1

5A. Husband: Hi, honey. I’m home.
Disrespectful Wife: Where is the dry cleaning? Don’t tell me you forgot to pick it up.
Husband: Oh! I did forget. Darn. Sorry.
Disrespectful Wife: “Sorry” isn’t good enough. I needed that outfit for work tomorrow. Now I’ll just have to pick it up myself. I obviously can’t rely on you.

5B. Husband: Hi, honey, I’m home.
Respectful Wife: Hi, darling. Welcome home. Did your remember to pick up the dry cleaning?
Husband: Oh, drat! I forgot. I’m sorry. [Really Good Husband: “I’ll go get it right now.”]
Respectful Wife: That’s okay. I know you have a lot on your mind. Could you get it tomorrow? Or would you like me to pick it up?

What would you say in this case to your husband or man friend?


Comment: Disrespectful Wife makes a negative generalization and does not offer her husband the opportunity to make good. Respectful Wife forgives, sympathizes, and offers her husband another opportunity to pick up the cleaning as well as the option for her to do it.
Think About: If you value your relationship and want it to get better rather than worse, accept the “repair attempts” offered by your husband when he forgets something or otherwise goofs up. Rejecting an attempt to make things right is hurtful in both the short and the long run.
Happy Relationship Tip: In a situation like this, why not take the lemon and make lemonade: “Honey, why don’t we run over to the cleaners together and then stop by Sandwich World and get something for dinner? We could bring it home and eat it in front of the fireplace.”
Scripture:  An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.  –Proverbs 12:4

When Accuracy Really Matters
6. Doctor: When was your last surgery?
Husband: Oh, about June of 1986 I think.
Disrespectful Wife: No, Doctor. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He had a hemorrhoid operation in April of 2009.
Respectful Wife: Honey, didn’t you have a hemorrhoid operation in April of 2009? OR Darling, does the hemorrhoid procedure you had in April of 2009 count as an operation?

What would you say in this case to your husband or man friend?


Comment: Even when accuracy is important, correcting the record can still be done by framing the correction in the form of a question. And note in this example, Disrespectful Wife addresses the doctor as if she is certain of being correct and the husband’s acknowledgement doesn’t matter. Respectful Wife addresses her husband to allow him to confirm the information.
Think About: Wives who act as if their husband is always wrong or “doesn’t know what he is talking about” might as well wear a T-shirt that says, “I’m with Stupid,” because that’s the message they are sending to their husbands and to anyone else who hears them talk. And, sadly, those who hear this talk think less of the wife than of the husband. They are not thinking, “That poor wife. She has such a lame husband.” Instead, they are thinking, “That poor husband. He as such a prideful, overbearing, know-it-all wife.”
Happy Relationship Tip: It’s very difficult for a woman to love a man whom she is always criticizing, contradicting, or correcting. And it’s very difficult for a man to love a woman who is always criticizing, contradicting, or correcting him. On the other hand, paying attention to your spouse with a servant’s heart will improve the mood of both of you.
Scripture:  So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.  –Romans 14:19

General Comments.
1. When you are ready to say something to your husband, especially something critical or correcting, first ask yourself:
•    What do I expect to accomplish by what I am about to say?
•    Will what I am about to say strengthen our relationship or weaken it?
•    If it will weaken it, is it worth the cost?
•    Will my comment make my husband happier or less happy?
•    If it will make him less happy, is it more important in this case for me to be right or for him to be happy?

2. Remember that men
•    have eggshell egos that are easily broken
•    look to their wives for emotional support
•    sometimes take longer to heal from hurt feelings
•    do not have social support networks to help them explore their feelings
•    cannot read women’s minds
•    are wired toward solving (emotional) problems with immediate practical action rather than exploring issues through lengthy discussion and analysis
•    are often not in touch with their feelings, and cannot tell you accurately just how they feel (which is why you get those blank looks or an “I’m okay” when you ask a man how he is feeling right now)

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. --Colossians 3:12-15


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About the author:
Robert Harris is a writer and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the college and university level. RHarris at