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The #1 Reason a Husband is Unloving and a Wife is Disrespectful [Video]

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In the Bible in Ephesians 5:33 God commands a husband to love his wife and a wife to respect her husband.

God’s Command to a Husband

Apparently, a husband is under divine command to be a loving person since he reacts too often in ways that feel unloving to his wife. This is less about his wife being lovable and more about him obeying God’s command to clothe himself with a loving attitude.

Do I hear an Amen from the ladies?

God’s Command to a Wife

Evidently, a wife is under God’s imperative to be a respectful person since she reacts in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband. This is less about her husband being respectable and more about her obeying God’s command to put on respect in demeanor.

Do I hear an Amen from the gentlemen?

Let’s go a bit deeper.

Agape-Love from a Husband

God commands a husband to agape-love in 5:33 because he does not love by his nature to the degree that his wife does. If he did, we must render God’s command in 5:33 as moot.

I believe a wife is not commanded to agape-love her husband because she naturally loves to agape-love at the level of intimacy.

Interestingly, a husband must emotionally wound her to get her to stop loving. She instinctively moves toward him to connect until he ignites fear in her, a fear that he does not really love her. At that point in time, it is natural for a wife to react disrespectfully to the feeling that she is unloved. She thinks, “How can anyone on this planet be so unloving? No one can show respect to him.”

Phobeo-Respect from a Wife

God commands a wife to respect (phobeo) because she does not respect by nature as her husband does, who lives by the honor code. If she did respect naturally, why would God command her to put on respect (phobeo) in a way He does not command a husband? The divine imperative comes to her due to her unwilling nature to be respectful when upset. This Greek word is only applied to her in the marriage relationship.

Interestingly, a wife must maintain ongoing criticism and contempt before a husband stops acting honorably. He instinctively moves toward her as his best friend until she ignites a fear in him that she does not respect who he is as a human being. At that point in time, it is very natural for a husband to be unloving on the heels of her disrespect. He thinks, "How can she violate the honor code? No one can show love to her."

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

I am not justifying his unloving reaction or her disrespectful backlash. In explaining the reaction I am not excusing it.

But hopefully from my explanation:

  • When a wife realizes her vulnerability to be disrespectful, she empathizes and gives grace to her husband’s struggle to be as loving as he ought.
  • When a husband grasps his propensity to be unloving, he extends a greater kindness to his wife when she evidences her proclivity to be disrespectful.

Instead of judging our spouse and justifying ourselves, we react less and relate more.

My Own Marriage

Do Sarah and I extend empathy to each other? Yes, because we have recognized the #1 reason for our unloving and disrespectful reactions.

The #1 reason I am unloving has nothing to do with Sarah being unlovable or disrespectful. It has everything to do with my decision to ignore what God implies in 5:33 about my nature to be unloving. I cannot blame Sarah for my unloving reactions as a way of justifying my disobedience to God’s command. Instead, I must square off with the #1 reason I am unloving: it is in my nature!

Sarah also sees the same when looking at herself. The #1 reason she is disrespectful has nothing to do with me being un-respectable or unloving. It has to do with her choice to turn a blind eye to what God reveals to her in 5:33 about her nature to be disrespectful. She cannot blame me for her disrespectful reactions as a way of rationalizing her disobedience to God’s command. Rather, she must face the #1 reason she is disrespectful: it is in her nature!

Our Gratefulness!

We are so grateful God revealed this to us. His warning serves us. Ephesians 5:33 does not shame us. This truth liberates us from the false idea that the other is some kind of god who makes us unloving and disrespectful. Who wants to be under the spell of this false idea? Sarah and I do not!

This does not mean one spouse cannot hurt the other. We can hurt each other through abuse and betrayal. My dad  attempted to strangle my mom to death and later committed adultery. He hurt my mom. But my dad did not have absolute sway over my mom so that she had no other choice but to sin and disobey God. Even as an unbeliever at the time, my mom did not display disdain. She arose above my dad’s behavior and acted with wisdom and dignity.

In my marriage, Sarah does not cause me to be unloving. I make that choice for myself. On the other hand, I can be a loving man if I decide to obey God. Sarah cannot stop me from loving God and putting on love toward her.

And vice versa, I do not dictate for Sarah to react in disrespectful ways. She elects that reaction for herself. The good news is that she can be respectful in obedience to God, and I cannot halt her. She possesses the freedom to reverence God and speak the truth to me respectfully.

This truth has set us free from the false idea that we are victims controlled by the other! Never!

We are free!

Do I hear an Amen?


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

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