Marriage Myth #4: Respect Must Be Earned

By: Jon R Anderson

I can’t remember the movie, the actor who said it, or even exactly how it was phrased. So, forgive me if I get this all wrong but I remember a scene in which a junior soldier was being told to salute someone above him, whom he did not respect. He was told, “you salute the office, not the officer”.

All of us homo sapiens hold an office… the office of human being. Also, the office of child of God. None of us did anything to earn this office. It was bestowed upon us at birth. That office, in and of itself, demands respect. We have an obligation to show respect to one another simply because we all hold that position!

Now, I know that some of us are better at serving in that position than others. Admittedly, it is easier to show respect to those who are relatively upstanding human beings than to those who disappoint us, over and over again. But the key word here is “relatively”. Our human tendency is to bestow respect on those we believe are doing as good or better than ourselves, in their office of “being a person”. So the standard then becomes our personal opinion of what “doing well” is.

I like to play basketball. Most who have played with me would question whether or not what I do on the court is actually basketball. On my average day I will probably miss 3 out 4 shots, throw a couple of passes directly to an opposing player, and, have the ball stolen while I attempt to dribble down the court. But, what I like to focus on is the one rebound I got and the fact that the guy I was guarding didn’t score more points than myself. I like to tell myself that I was a valuable member of the team.

I tend to do life the same way. You may be a better steward with your finances than me, but, I want to point out the $25 donation I made to the charity you seem to ignore. You display better self-control than me, but, I tell myself that I am unencumbered by guilt and regret (not). You take the time to engage people with a warm and friendly phone call or Facebook comment, but, I don’t have time for such fluff because I am neck-deep in marriages that are falling apart. What a hypocrite!

So you may be thinking to yourself, “Jon, we’re not talking a few degrees here or there or personality differences. My spouse has a serious issue that is destroying our marriage! He or she does not deserve to be put up with like I have been doing all this time.”

Guess what? You’re right!

They don’t deserve to be put up with. I don’t deserve to be put up with. You don’t deserve to be put up with. None of us do. That’s the message of grace. That’s the message of forgiveness. Things that are bestowed upon us, not because we have lived a life deserving of them. But, precisely because we haven’t, don’t, and, will never live a life deserving them.

So how about this thought: I will choose today to give my spouse respect because I, myself, don’t deserve respect but God grants it to me anyway.

If your marriage is greatly lacking in respect, get to our next Love Reboot. Click on “courses” above for more information. If you know of a marriage that is struggling, send them to our site.