Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
I discovered a secret — a secret hidden in plain sight! A husband does not lack the knowledge that he is to love his wife. What he lacks is motivation.
The secret is this: A husband is motivated to be loving in response to a wife showing him unconditional respect. That’s a big truth hidden in plain sight. After hearing it, it still seems foreign to many!
Peter reveals that a wife’s "respectful behavior" motivates a husband — even an undeserving one — to open his heart to God and by implication to his wife. "“Even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your … respectful behavior."
Paul, as well, shares God’s secret. "The wife must respect her husband" (Ephesians 5:33b NIV). This is his summary statement on marriage to the wife in the most significant treatise on marriage in the New Testament.
Did you know that God does not command a wife to "agape" love her husband? Only the husband is commanded to agape love. Agape is God-like unconditional love.
The Mysterious Island
Why is a wife not commanded to agape love? God designed a wife to love. She loves to love. For this reason, a husband does not doubt his wife’s love. What he doubts is her respect for him. During an argument, if she shouts , "I love you a ton but don’t feel any respect for you!" he’ll become an island unto himself. A mysterious island.
That is equal to a husband shouting, "I respect you more than any other human being, especially since you received a million-dollar inheritance from your old man, but I don’t love you and never have." What wife would jump in the air and click her heels over that comment? Any wife would be devastated by such a remark from her husband.
As a wife needs love like she needs air, so a husband needs respect like he needs air.