Have respect for your spouse

wedding rings

Charles Brammall on what to say when they are not there

I have noticed a sad thing that sometimes happens when married people get together, and their spouses are not there. But wives and husbands seem to criticise their spouses to others, rolling their eyes, winging about them, finding foul, etc. Sometimes, this is in jest, but even then, I think it’s unhelpful. I think we should champion our spouses to others, praise them, and express gratitude for them. Get their back, be their biggest fan, I am by no means an expert in this. I continue to make every mistake in his area. Welcome to sinful humanity. “Come LORD Jesus!”, Rev 22:20.

Is there a better way? I think so. If you’re in a group of married people and your spouse is not there, don’t whinge about her. Have their backend express gratitude (even to God) for them. Champion them (and if you’re a single person, the men or women in your life). Take delight in them and praise them. Please don’t bring them down, but compliment them to those you’re with.

British-American self-proclaimed misogynist kickboxer and influencer Andrew Tate (article in Wikipedia) is the bane of my existence among many boys at my school.

Tate has said:

• “I think the women belong(sic) to the man.”
• “Females are the ultimate status symbol. I’m running around with these b_ _ tches just so everyone knows who the don is.”
• “I go out and f_ _ k and I come back… and I don’t care about her. That’s not cheating, that’s exercise.”
• “I was getting on a plane, and I could see through the cockpit that a female was the pilot, and I took a picture and I said, ‘most women I know can’t even park a car; why is a woman flying my plane?’ and they banned me.”
• “I had one girl, and she got too drunk one day, and she threw up in my apartment. I told her to clean up, but she refused. So, I took her stuff and threw it out the window.”

In contrast, my friend Peter Wrench’s attitude to his dear wife has encouraged and challenged me for many years. Whenever she has a need (a cup of tea, a drink of water, or a cardie because she’s cold), he jumps up cheerfully that instant and meets her needs as quickly and fully as he can, even if it means interrupting something important he’s doing himself. It seems second nature to him, bless his heart. This has been radicalising for me.

It’s refreshing when people hear us praising our spouse rather than whinging about them. There is a completely legitimate place for challenging, rebuking, and expressing your disappointment to your spouse, but not in public. My wife Chiq does this appropriately and lovingly when she needs to (which is often!)

Secondly, apologise to your spouse multiple times a day, especially if you’re a husband (because we will wrong our wives numerous times a day). Even if we’re “in the right”. Who cares? (This is true of wives too.) Especially if you’re in the right, as this is when we are most susceptible to self-righteousness. There are more important things than “winning” an argument or discussion, like restoring the relationship. If your spouse is hurt, even if you think you did nothing wrong, try to put it right as quickly and comprehensively as you can. Every second of silence that passes before you apologise only makes it worse. The clock is ticking, and their memory of feeling threatened is only growing. 

Apologising if you don’t think it was your fault is not a weakness or being a pushover or doormat. Unless you are sinlessly perfect, you will most likely frustrate, irritate or hurt your spouse multiple times a day without even trying to or knowing you did. Remember your spouse has different thresholds, needs, boundaries, fears and loves for you. They are a completely different person (which is a wonderful thing!)

I forget this about Chiq often, to my shame. 

Ironically, I think it’s partly for a good reason – because we are so close, and one unit (Gen 2:24) “… and they become one flesh.” I sometimes forget we’re two different people, but subconsciously think we’re the same person.

If you have offended, hurt, or disappointed your spouse, you “broke it,” so it’s your responsibility to fix it – even if you think they are being unreasonable in continuing to be hurt. Try not to say things like, “I’ve apologised, what more do you want?” “! Can’t you just get over it?” “What do you expect from me?” Restoring the love, trust and safety in your relationship is more important than “being right.”

Recently, I did an inconsiderate thing to Chiq and others. A friend recently entered a new relationship, and we were pleased for them. Their new partner had an FB profile. We asked our friend if it would be okay to request friendship with their new partner to reach out and be warm. Our friend said, “Not just yet if that’s okay. I just want to see how things go first.” Chiq (sensitive and considerate as she is) agreed to their request. But in the meantime, I was inconsiderate and forgetful and went ahead and requested friendship with our friend’s new partner, against their wishes. Their partner graciously accepted. In hindsight, I realise they probably did this out of surprise and feeling pressured rather than volitionally. When Chiq found out she was justifiably disappointed in my insensitivity, and so she should have been. 

At this point, it was crucial for me to apologise to both Chiq and our friend and their new partner. Which I did, and they were all gracious. But I didn’t deserve it—God is kind. But I “broke” it, so I had to fix it whether or not Chiq was justified in feeling annoyed (and justified she was!).

So be considerate of your spouse, and try to anticipate what will hurt, frustrate, or irritate them. And likewise, what will give them joy and pleasure. “Become an expert” on them, ”study their handbook”, and what makes them tick. (Stan Tatkin’s 6 CD series “Your Brain on Love” is excellent regarding these issues.)

Image Credit: Mark Johnson / Flickr