It Began with Simply Deciding to Respect

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It truly warms my heart to receive letters such as the following. I share it with you now, wondering if you might be able to relate with the writer’s personal story:

Emerson,

My parents divorced when I was thirteen, and I have struggled with my relationship with my dad ever since. I see the importance of healthy marriages, especially for the kids involved. It is my belief that if we can get our marriages to a healthy spot, then we can continue to move forward doing what God has called us to do together as husband and wife, to join Him in His kingdom work!

At my church we have a team of leaders for your “Respectfully Yours” study and have served many women. I personally have lead over sixty women through this study and have lots of stories. A couple short ones are: Just the privilege it is to answer the phone and have one of these dear ladies say, “I had to call you because I knew you would tell me the truth, and right now, I need truth!” Or when gals call with excitement and say, “We were on the crazy cycle, but I knew how to stop it, and I did!” I have often said that I would love to video-tape the gals during Weeks 1 and 2 and then have them listen to themselves by Weeks 7 and 8 to see how much they have grown. It is a lot like Christmas anticipation because I know what is coming and the gals have no idea how much this can change their lives!

I have been able to see relationships improve between husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, and mothers and sons! I love this study! I have been so honored to walk alongside these women through some really rough patches in life. I, of course, can’t possibly stay in touch with every woman after the class is done, but for the eight weeks that I am with them, I have been unbelievably blessed! I have had the distinct privilege of staying in the lives of a couple of gals that I really clicked with, which has led to several coffee dates, reading a book that one gal has authored, going to the hospital to see quadruplets that were less than four weeks old, loads of laughter, plenty of tears, and lots and lots of chocolate!

Last, but certainly not least . . . my own marriage. For the first seven years of our marriage, I steamrolled my husband. I watched my own mother pick herself up after my dad left, run her own business, and continue raising her three kids on her own with no help from my dad. I saw a woman of strength. I thought that I was supposed to be the same way . . . just do it yourself! I was very disrespectful to my husband. During years 8–20, while raising our four kids, we had an “okay” marriage. During that time, I was headed down the road of an emotional affair with an old boyfriend, but thankfully, God didn’t allow it. Shortly after that, my husband started taking his place as head of the household, and I started respecting. We didn’t really get it, but we were getting there simply because we were growing spiritually. When I went through this material for the first time, I thought . . . “this is it!”

I started implementing the principles and being obedient to my Lord and Savior, my husband began loving me as Christ loved the church, and we have been blessed with a GREAT marriage! I couldn’t imagine doing life with anyone else. I am proud of what we have and the example we can be to our children. Our marriage is truly a gift, and I believe the principles you have in the study and, of course, God’s command to unconditionally respect, are the reason for it. Thank you for writing this study and making it your life’s work to improve relationships!

Thanks again for all you and Sarah do! God bless you!

-Dr. E

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you agree with the assessment that if we have healthy marriages, then we can join together to do God’s kingdom work? Why or why not? Why would God want us focusing on our marriage first, before He uses us on this earth for His kingdom-building purposes?

  2. Unfortunately, like with this writer, we have far too many people being raised by single moms today. Though many of these moms are setting great examples for their children in the way they pick themselves up and become strong caretakers, how can this environment also help lead to problems in the children’s marriages, as it did with the writer?

  3. As was the case with the writer’s marriage, how does the husband and wife each individually growing spiritually in their relationship with God affect the health of the marriage? What does one have to do with the other?

  4. What does “unconditionally respect” mean to you? Is it dependent on how well your husband is loving you or leading your family?