Why Showing Your Spouse Genuine Respect is Important


There are many superstar athletes out there that have let their ego take over and have ruined their chances to be part of a team. They seem to forget that respect is important in order to be successful. There are some lessons we can learn about marriage from their mistakes.

For example, consider Antonio Brown. He’s a talented football player. I doubt that anyone would deny that fact. But he let that talent go to waste by deliberately breaking the rules and being disrespectful to team members and coaches. Brown was selfish, which broke up the teams and spoiled the chance they had to do something special. 

After causing problems with the Pittsburgh Steelers, they traded him to the Oakland Raiders. Once pre-season started, his insistence on using a helmet that was no longer approved by the league led to a public argument with the NFL. Basically, Brown threatened never to play football again if he couldn’t have his way. He believed that he was so important to the sport that they would have to let him use the helmet. That didn’t work for him. After an altercation with the General Manager of the Raiders, he was fined $215,000, and then released.

In what seemed to be just a little too convenient to me, Brown signed with the Patriots within hours of leaving the Raiders. He played one game and was released after accusations of sexual assault came to light. Even after this, Brown kept insisting that the NFL needs him because of his incredible talent.

Respect is important on a team, whether it's football or a marriage.

As of this writing, he wants to come back. He’s asked the Patriots to take him back, claiming to be the best receiver in the NFL. People accuse the NFL of trying to keep him sidelined. I just think that no team is willing to take a chance of his toxic attitude destroying the community and the teamwork of their players. 

His social media presence has clearly shown that Antonio Brown needs to learn to park his ego at the door. A football team does not exist because of just one player. 

A professional football player like Brown brings a specific skill set to his team, but without the rest of the team, they can do nothing. They need to remember that they are a “we” not just a “me.” 

With marriage, it’s the same way. When we think only about what we need in the relationship instead of what is best for the marriage, the team, our marriage, will suffer. 

We, Not Me

Remember the “There’s no I in team” commercial? This is still one of my all-time favorites. 

When we don’t think in terms of we in marriage, we end up looking like Leon. Losing, but blaming everything on the other person.

You and your spouse are a team. In fact, you are more than just a team. You are, according to God’s Word, one flesh. It’s mentioned in the Bible more than once.  

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? Matthew 19:5

and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Mark 10:8

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31

Always consider yourself as part of the team. You have to change your mindset to think of yourself as part of this team first and an individual second.

The World’s Misconception

The world tells us that success in marriage is gauged by what you are getting out of the relationship. People expect you to be selfish, and they say if you are not getting what you need, then you are “entitled” to get out and find someone else who will meet your needs.

Selfishness, though, is the opposite of love.

As it says in 1 Corinthians:

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Notice the things Paul says love does not do. It doesn’t envy or boast. It is not arrogant, rude, irritable, resentful. Love doesn’t insist on its own way! Doing those things indicates that you are looking first at what you want and need.

One of our Seven Mindsets for Marriage Success is Preference. When you show a preference for your spouse, you indicate that they are your favorite person. They are the one you make a choice to be with. You want to work through life together.  

Show that respect is important by helping your spouse in any way they need.

Antonio Brown has not shown any respect for the teams he has played for, nor the people he played with. Now he doesn’t have a team. He can be the best wide receiver in the world, but he can’t do anything with that skill without a team.

So, how do you create a feeling of teamwork in your marriage? First, you need to show respect. Demonstrate respect for your spouse’s thoughts, feelings, and needs by looking at the things you say and do concerning them.

How to speak to your spouse with respect

If you want to show your spouse your preference for them above all others, you need to guard your words. Respect is important, so show it whenever you are speaking to your spouse. 

Death and life are in the power of the tongue… Proverbs 18:21

Here are some things to keep in mind as you evaluate how you talk to the one you should be choosing to love.

  • Don’t threaten divorce. It will trigger abandonment issues and other insecurities that pretty much everyone faces. The need to feel secure is universal, and throwing around the word divorce as an ultimatum will only create more problems. 
  • Don’t tell them they are just like their (mother, father, sister, whatever fits), especially if you know that they don’t want to be like them. They will feel like you are putting them down. 
  • Don’t say, “You always…” or “You never…” Those are absolutes, and they are not valid. No one acts a certain way all the time or never does something for the relationship.
  • Don’t call them a liar. If you suspect they are lying, try to get to the bottom of it and make sure you have all your ducks in a row before saying anything. If they are not lying, and you accuse them of it, you are making your relationship even less stable. 
  • Don’t tell them how they should react to a situation. Everyone has a history that determines our reactions, and often the response is automatic.
  • Don’t dismiss their feelings. These emotions are part of them, and when we tell someone they shouldn’t feel a certain way, it makes them feel like they should be able to do better. 

How to Act Toward Your Spouse

Respect is important not only in what we say but in the actions we take. There’s a reason people say, “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s because they do. 

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Respect is important to travel through life together.

Check out these ideas for showing respect in action. How many of them do you do? Should you add any of these to your relationship playbook?

  • Give and take. Compromise. Don’t always demand your own way.
  • Be considerate and thoughtful of your spouse’s feelings when making decisions.
  • Recognize that your spouse has free will. Give them the freedom to be themselves in what they think, say, and do. You can advise, but they make the final decisions for their lives. 
  • Be trustworthy. Don’t give your spouse any reason to distrust you. Set and keep Godly boundaries.
  • Be willing to listen to what your spouse has to say and to take their advice in situations.
  • Do small acts of kindness regularly. You can build up a positive feeling about you in your spouse with consistent actions. 
  • Work with your spouse to define your family vision and rules and then act according to those rules. 
  • Be patient with them and accept that they are a unique human being with a set of specific personality traits and life experiences that may cause them to act differently than you would expect in a tough situation.

What to say about your spouse

When a team loses a game, reporters will often ask players about the mistakes of other players on the team. Athletes with class will never throw teammates under the bus. Don’t do it to your spouse, either. If you are going through a “losing” period in your marriage, keep the details of that to yourself. Don’t try to get back at them by rehashing what you perceive as their wrong behavior with all your friends. 

Respect is important to the security of your spouse. Don't talk badly about them or share their secrets.

Here are some things you should NOT be discussing outside of your marriage:

  • Anything he or she has told you in confidence 
  • The details of your last fight
  • Issues in the bedroom
  • Your partner’s fears or insecurities
  • Embarrassing habits.
  • That they cheated on you
  • Their past relationship failures

Keep these topics between the two of you. Adding extra people, even your mom, will just complicate matters. What happens in your relationship is only up to you. 

What are your priorities?

I read a comment in an online group recently where a man was resistant to the idea of having a joint Facebook account with his wife. She was obviously feeling very insecure about their relationship. Whatever builds up your relationship is the correct answer. 

When you are making a decision of any kind, no matter how small, that will affect your spouse, ask yourself, “Is this a win-win?” Respect is important when making decisions because it will affect both of you. 

To build your marriage and create a team, you must be willing to look beyond your own interests to what is best for the team. Antonio Brown couldn’t do it, and now he’s without a team. If you want your team to win, you need to think of, “We, not me.”

What is one way you can show that you are part of the “we,” and not only interested in the “me?”