Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:21, 25, 28, 33 (NIV)
I was away on a trip and had thoroughly cleaned the kitchen before I left. My husband, I am happy to report, is messy and also untroubled by the mess, meaning no matter the state of things, he doesn’t really notice it and doesn’t complain about it. The reason I am glad for his less than neat freakiness is simple. On the one hand, it can be difficult that he doesn’t pick up, but on the other it is good because he will rarely complain it things aren’t perfect. So if you are not up to keeping an immaculate house for whatever reason, he won’t be questioning why things are undone. Yes, I know everyone should contribute to keeping a house clean, but most women keep house regardless of if they work outside of the home, and if someone comes over and the house is a mess, you know the wife gets blamed, even if it is behind her back.
One drawback in being married to an anti-neat freak (would that be an un-neat or anti-neat freak?), which goes hand-in-hand with the ability to tolerate any size mess, means he is not only oblivious to your mess and his, he rarely puts things away. If he gets something out of the cabinet, when he is done with it, he leaves it on the counter (and the cabinet door open). When he takes his clothes off, he leaves them in the floor, and, if he cooks, the whole kitchen will look like a bomb went off. So, after being gone for four days, I expected the house, especially the kitchen, to be in a sad state; however, I was happy to find that the house was very much how I left it.
I was pleasantly surprised, but also touched by his effort to clean up after himself because he showed me respect by trying to keep the house neat. He knew I put in a lot of work cleaning before I left and he honored that by making an effort to clean up after himself. There are many ways to show respect to others that might look like something else on the surface. What my husband did is only one way to show respect.
I respect my husband by avoiding things he asks me not to do. For example, when I turn on the ceiling fan, I slowly pull the chain, waiting a moment in between before gently pulling it again. My natural manner is bam, bam, bam – a quick succession of tugs to get to the setting I want. His point is, the gentler I pull, the longer the fan will last; he’s afraid of wearing it out. I show him respect by doing this when he is here, but even more so when he is not.
There are many other examples, but I am sure you can think of some of your own. Putting someone else’s needs and wishes ahead of yours in some ways shows respect for the person, and for God who commands you to submit to each other. You also personify humility and service, pleasing not just others, but also God. You respect God by doing what He says.