Have you seen the new TV ad for Spectrum cable? The husband, who looks sloppy, sleepy, and unkempt in his open bathrobe comes into the living room. His wife—with her arms crossed across her chest—announces in no uncertain terms that they are changing cable companies because she lost the connection again in the middle of her show. Enter the friendly, tidy new cable company guy who shows the couple the free features of the new system. The husband mocks, “Free.” With disdain his wife asks, “Shouldn’t you be getting ready for work?” as though talking to a child and he walks off looking shamed. The punch line comes when he emerges in his work uniform: He works for a satellite company.
The ad shows the wife as mature and in-control and the husband as a rude adolescent. Unfortunately, this seems like the rule—not the exception—in what is being shown in the media. The modeling has bred a contempt for men in our society—a contempt that has crept into our homes. Researcher John Gottman observes that contempt (or disrespect) often manifested by mocking, sarcasm, or long-simmering negative thoughts is the #1 predictor of divorce. I believe the more we see a behavior modeled, the more we believe it is the way life really is.
So, what can Christians do to combat this trend and its consequences? Start by recognizing displays of contempt when you see them. Point them out to your children when you witness them together on TV. Ask God to show you the ways in which you communicate disrespect to your spouse in words, actions, or thoughts.
Then, demonstrate respect for your mate. What are the words and deeds that would communicate to him or her that you admire them and that you think of them tenderly rather than from a position of superiority or disgust?
We believe Ephesians 5:22-33 says it best: Wives, respect your husbands. Husbands, show your respect for your wife with a self-sacrificing love.
The God Who designed marriage knows how to preserve it and keep it strong.