There’s an old idiom said to have originated in the Aesop fable, The Fox and the Lion: familiarity breeds contempt. Aesop was a smart guy.
Who are you more familiar with than your spouse? Is your familiarity breeding contempt?
Sometimes husbands and wives speak to each other in tones they would never use with a neighbor, or someone from church, or even a perfect stranger.
Why do we give more respect to people we barely know than to our own husbands and wives? Is it acceptable? Does it do any harm? After all, we want to be ourselves in the privacy of our own homes; don’t we?
Yes, of course, we do. But does “being ourselves” have to mean being impolite or even down right rude?
Do you say please and thank you to your mate? If you’re a man, do you open your wife’s door? If you’re a wife, do you thank him when he does?
Good manners and polite behavior are as important in a marriage as they are anywhere else, and they set the tone for your relationship.
I have to admit that I wasn’t as good at this in my first marriage as I am now. I’ve learned a great deal from the wonderful man I married three years ago
Peter is one of the gentlest men I’ve ever met. He has a servant’s heart. He loves to help people in need. He treats everyone with respect and kindness—even his wife. Especially his wife.
He never goes to the kitchen for a snack during a commercial without asking, “Can I get you something?”
He thanks me for doing his laundry and cooking his meals and getting the mail. If he asks me to do an errand for him, he thanks me before I do it and when it’s done.
And do you know how that affects me as his wife? It makes me want to do things for him.
This winter has been the coldest we’ve had since I moved to Nevada. I lived in Arizona before we married, so the cold and I don’t get along very well.
We don’t heat the house at night. We use an electric blanket. My husband usually gets up before I do, since he goes to work before the sun comes up.
Because Peter is so good to me, I find myself looking for something I can do for him. This winter I started getting up early and turning the heat on. I also went out and started the car, so he wouldn’t have to scrape the windows.
I’m constantly on the watch for something I can do to make him happy.
We seldom argue, but when we do, we don’t raise our voices or say ugly things to one another, and we always settle things before we go to bed.
Being polite and kind has other benefits, also. Who wants to make love to someone who talks to you in a demeaning way?
In the book of Ephesians, the Bible covers how a man and woman are supposed to treat one another.
Ephesians 5:33 However, let each man of you (without exception) love his wife as being, in a sense, his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him; and that she defers to him praises him, and loves, and admires him exceedingly] Amplified
The man is to love the woman as he loves himself. What does a man say when he hits his thumb with a hammer?
“I’ve been watching you all day, thumb. I knew you were going to mess up. You never do anything right.”
I don’t think so. He holds onto that thumb, trying to press the pain out of it. He coddles it and dotes on it. He kisses it. That’s what a man is supposed to do when his wife is not up to par.
And what does it say about the woman? How is she to treat her husband? The list is long: she is to notice him, regard him, honor him, prefer him, venerate and esteem him, defer to him, praise him, love and admire him EXCEEDINGLY.
How does it affect your children when you’re impolite to your spouse? Manners set the tone for your entire household. If the kids hear mom and dad using good manners and polite speech, born out of love and respect, they are more likely to do the same.
Manners are not a strong suit for the typical young person these days. They need a good example at home.
Most of you probably agree with what I’m saying, but you wonder how you can change the caustic atmosphere in your home.
Let it start with you.
If you’re a man, and your wife seems disrespectful and ungrateful for all you do, start loving her and doting on her. How do you do that, in light of her behavior? You don’t want to be disingenuous. And believe me, she doesn’t want that either.
Look at the inside. She’s hurting, just like your sore thumb. Treat her like you would like to be treated. See if there’s something you can do to help her out. Watch the kids, and give her a shopping day. Tell her that you appreciate what she does both inside and outside of the home.
I remember something my late husband said once, and the affect it had on me. He said, “I know I don’t tell you enough, but I want you to know that I’m very proud of you.”
That meant more to me than him saying he loved me. You can love people and not be proud of them.
And women. Seek every opportunity to do something for your husband, to show him that you appreciate him.
Your behavior will affect your spouse’s behavior. It may take a while, so don’t give up and say, “I tried, but he didn’t appreciate my efforts at all.” Just keep doing your part to change the way you interact with him.
How would you talk to your spouse if Jesus were standing by? Well, He is. And even if your husband is rude and unkind, if he’s a believer, he’s Jesus’ brother.
In Matthew 25, Jesus says that whatever we do to the least of His brethren, we do it to Him.
Let’s allow that to guide our attitudes and our speech.
Lord, help my words be words of love and life. Help me to treat my spouse like I want to be treated. Thank you for helping me.
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