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The best of relationships can quickly descend in to a mud-slinging match with insults and dishonour flying back and fourth. But for some people it is not that the relationship has taken a turn for the worst it’s that this type of constant dishonouring of one another is normal.
It’s the husband who does not respect or value his wife and putting her down publicly, treating her as a thing rather than a person without even being aware of the destructiveness of what he is doing.
It’s the wife who is embarrassed by her husband, forever apologizing to all they meet for his attitudes and jokes. A constant undermining of who he is and doing so front of others.
A put down, being embarrassed, cutting them short or even just the way you look at your other half; it all shows what is really going on inside. Is there a culture of honour, which leads to love and trust or is there a culture of dishonour which leads to the breakup of even previously good relationships.
So what does it mean to truly honour a husband or wife?
1. Look with love.
A gaze across the room says it all, it can be full of dishonour or love and respect. The latter helps the other person feel safe and be the best they can be.
2. Verbally and publicly affirm.
Let your words in private and public be ones that build up the other person. If you have not got anything good to say then now is the time to find something good to say while you still have a marriage.
3. Desire the best for your other half.
If you desire the best for your other half then this will motivate you to support and encourage them. Perhaps most importantly you will want then to succeed in everything rather than being the person who holds them back.
4. Decide not to be embarrassed, even when they mess up.
People mess up all the time, if you die inside on their behalf when it happens how does this help them? We can support in such a way that is honest about failure yet does not do embarrassed on their behalf.
5. Choose to love the person in front of you.
Sometimes couples can start to love the dream of the other person. Someone they hope the other would become over time. Ultimately this is destructive and is not love at all. But choosing to love the person in front of you helps them be the best that they can be.
6. Give feedback privately.
We know that public discipline with a child is unhelpful. But somehow in a marriage feedback can become public, a quick put down in front of others. There will always be times when we need to give feedback, it is best done one to one, face to face and with much grace.
7. Live the same in private as in public.
The danger of all this advice is that a public persona is developed as a couple that shows the world that all is well. But the public life and the private life should have the same qualities. If it begins at home then it will overflow in public.
How would you rather live? Dishonoured and breaking or honoured and loved? You can choose!
Mark Searle, 11/03/2012
St Mary Magdalene Church, Union Street,Torquay,
Devon, TQ1 4BX