Often misunderstood, God’s call for wives to submit should first be understood as respect. We find the clue to the meaning of submission when we compare Ephesians 5.22 and Colossians 3.18 (where wives are instructed to submit). This submission is explained as respect (Ephesians 5.33). In today’s verses, Peter echoes Paul’s teaching about submission by calling wives to respectful behavior.
It is one thing to talk about respect, but another to give it unconditionally. Many feel love should be unconditional in marriage, but see respect as something to be earned. God’s plan for marriage is different. It calls for unconditional love and unconditional respect.
Just like love, respect always requires work. It is not enough to merely attempt to give respect; we have to act in ways that will be perceived as respectful. We take responsibility for making our husbands feel respected. Included in this is respectfully pointing out things that are unloving. For some of us, respecting may be extremely difficult. It certainly is counter-cultural.
Central to the book of Colossians is Jesus and the new life of the Jesus-follower. A new life involves a different view of marriage. Today, as you consider the call to respect in marriage, take the hard step of asking your husband how you make him feel disrespected and how you make him feel respected.