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Does Respect Mean No Questions Asked?

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Q: My husband has given me reasons to not trust him. Am I now being called to trust without question, because my questions show him a lack of respect?

Dr. E says: To answer this, let me clarify the meaning of respect. In the book Love & Respect we address the importance of respectfully confronting issues. We never say you have to ignore or feel respect for the bad behavior of your husband.

No, asking questions does not show a lack of respect. But our word choice and nonverbal communication can be disrespectful if we communicate disdain, contempt, and blame through our words and body language.

None of us like to be questioned in that way, whether we are guilty or innocent.

Address your concerns respectfully.

Instead, as a woman of dignity you can respectfully address your concerns. You may at times want to punish him with hurtful words, but this always backfires, so I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do this with respect! Share your feelings and concerns in a calm tone of voice that is not accusatory or harsh. Soften your facial expression and watch your body language.

What does unconditional mean? 

Most of us understand what it means to unconditionally love the person, despite their behavior. We don’t have a problem separating the person from their behavior when it comes to love. But in our culture, respect must be earned.

However, what does the Bible say? When husbands are told to love their wives in Ephesians 5:33, the command is given whether or not the wife is lovable. And when God commands a wife to respect, in the same verse, it is in the same way – whether or not her husband is respectable.

In other words, there is nothing a person can do to get us to stop loving or respecting them unconditionally. Unconditional means that you give the person the gift of love and respect as you confront the issues.

But again, unconditional does not mean you go along with bad behavior. Unconditional does not mean you remove all the healthy conditions that make a marriage succeed.

Facts vs intuition.

But there is another side to your question. You are wondering if you are allowed to question your husband’s suspicious behavior, given he has broken your trust.

The short answer is yes, but with caution. In other words, questioning everything he does will only drive him away, especially if your suspicions are not based on facts.

When trust has been broken, there is a strong tendency to read into inconsistent behavior, or to rely too much on intuition, or “gut feelings.” Your intuition can be correct, but the courts do not allow a person to give testimony based on intuition. You must deal with facts. This is very hard for some to do since feelings seem so real.

God won’t let you down.

This creates a lot of anxiety for you, understandably! If inappropriate behavior is going on, do not look the other way. Deal with it respectfully and if you need help, seek out wise counsel from a trusted pastor or professional.

You will need the help and support of your Heavenly Father during this difficult time. He is completely trustworthy and safe. He would never lead you down a path to fear. When fear strikes your heart, rely on Him to lead you with wisdom. He has your best interest in mind when He calls you to respect your husband, and He will not let you down.


Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

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