When we were married in 1983 it was nearly 100 degrees outside. Inside the church building, every member of the wedding party (including us!) was dripping with sweat. A day after the wedding it was discovered that the heat had been on for the entire wedding day!
As we stood (sweating) before God, the minister, our family and friends, we said our vows just like you did. One of the things we committed to was to “honor” each other, but we really had no idea what that meant.
Through over 35 years of marriage, we have learned how important honor is to a healthy marriage relationship. Through selfishness, lack of intentionality, and sinful choices we have felt the pain when honor is missing. Perhaps you have experienced similar pain in your marriage.
As a result of our pain, we have become students of how to honor each other. Here are four ways to honor your spouse:
1. Stay faithful
Keeping your emotions toward the opposite gender in check honors your spouse. Staying pure from pornography, from sexual innuendos, from subtle flirtations sets you apart for your spouse only. Those boundaries keep you far way from adultery—the greatest dishonor you could show your spouse.
The Bible says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure.” (Hebrews 13:4) Honor your spouse by being fully devoted to them and to your marriage.
2. Accept fully
Early in our marriage we worked hard to change each other into what we thought the ideal husband/wife should be like. Repeatedly we were showing that we did not receive who God had given us. We were actually expressing rejection of each other.
Make the decision to love your spouse as they are. There’s a difference between conversations about what they do and who they are. You spouse need to know that you accept them as-is and love them for who God has created them to be.
3. Affirm often
We tend to focus on the negative, don’t we? Those are the things that become glaring and once we start, that’s all we seem to see!
Look for the good in your spouse, especially in their character and personality. Let them know what you see and appreciate. Write a couple sentences on a post-it and leave it for them to find. Tell them verbally. Tell others in their presence what you love about your spouse.
Focusing on your mate’s positive traits reinforces in your mind and heart the wonderful person they actually are. It’s an active retraining of our thoughts in expressing honor.
4. Show grace
Your spouse will sin, make mistakes, or let you down in some way in the days to come. Make the decision now that you will show grace and be gracious toward them. Even if it’s a situation that needs discussion, choose to discuss without accusation, without contempt, and without shaming them.
Choose instead to show the same grace God has shown to you through Jesus. As you show grace, you will show honor and value to your spouse.
You may come up with more ideas for how to show honor, but these four keys lay a solid foundation. Keep the vow you made at your wedding and honor your spouse as you build your marriage!