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Posted on Jun 21, 2012

How to bring respect back into your marriage

Do you respect your spouse? If so, how do you show it?

In the book “Love & Respect” author Dr. Emerson Eggerichs highlights a key difference between men and woman: women desire to be loved and men need to be respected. It’s a great book with a simple message, and I highly recommend reading it.

Love and respect are two sides of the same coin. They are both primary needs. Neither are easy. Both require work. But the rewards are worth it.

While love tends to be viewed as the “soft stuff” respect tends to be viewed as the “hard stuff.” However, to get to the soft stuff (love), one must often get through the hard stuff (respect) first.

In this regard, Eggerichs proposes that men need to be respected by appreciating their work effort, their desire to protect and provide, to serve and to lead, and to give of his insights.

Personally, I’m not convinced that respect is only for men. I believe both the need and desire for respect can exist in both men and women.

Therefore, as a man or woman, if the elements of respect really appeal to you, you might want to embrace respect as a differentiating value.

The Value of Respect

As a value, Respect has three powerful components: an attitude of admiration or esteem; courteous regard for others; and deference. These are not mutually exclusive and can be embraced individually or together.

In a marriage, the application of respect can occur in three different ways:

  • When one openly admires or esteems their spouse. You might simply make the statement “I really admire you.” Or you might do something as complex as organizing a celebration to honor your spouse.
  • When one is courteous to their spouse. This can be as simple as opening a door for your spouse, to recording their favorite TV show so they don’t miss it.
  • When one yields or submits to the wishes or judgment of their spouse. This is when you stop pushing for your idea or desire and agree to go with the idea or desire put forth by your spouse. Or another way of looking at this is acknowledging your spouse is leading on a particular topic and you agree to support it.

Great, but what if you are not receiving any of these yourself?

Bringing Respect Back

Based on many years of marriage counseling, Eggerichs openly acknowledges the common problem of sowing and not reaping. You might apply all of the elements of respect highlighted above and receive nothing in return. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Should you give up?

Of course not. You need to give it time. And you need to change the reason for doing it.

Don’t show respect in order to receive a reward from your spouse. That’s really just setting yourself up for disappointment.

Instead, decide to show respect because it’s the right thing to do. And as Eggerichs points out, it pleases God, who provides the best reward of all.

If you struggle with the idea of showing respect and receiving nothing in return, consider the following examples outside of a marriage:

  • We naturally show respect when we meet royalty, happy to be in their presence and expecting nothing in return.
  • We naturally show respect when we stand before a judge, acknowledging his or her authority.
  • We naturally show respect to our boss, co-workers, and customers – even if we disagree – to maintain a peaceful environment.

If showing respect to others comes so naturally, why does it seem so difficult in our marriage? We may have unrealistic expectations.

If you want to bring back respect in your marriage, don’t abandon it. Rather, embrace it by doing it. And change your expectations. In time, you may be pleasantly surprised to find your spouse showing you the kind of respect you need and desire.


What other ways can help bring respect back into your marriage?

How can the value of respect benefit your marriage?


Today’s value was selected from the “Fairness-Respect” category, based on the e-book Developing Your Differentiating Value.



  1. I love the part about not showing respect in order to get a reward back coz I think I’ve really been doing that and am truly disappointed.

    Sometimes I jus wonder why it seems I’m doing everything right but don’t seem to be getting anything in return but now I’ve realised that I’ve been doing the right things for the wrong reasons.

    Thank you for the insight.

    • Thanks for your comment Tee. Glad you found this helpful.