7 Ways to Clean Up Being Disrespectful to Your Spouse

Disrespectful Spouse - Beth shares about a time when she was disrespectful of her spouse and offers 7 ways you can clean up a mess like this in your marriage. Click to read more! #disrespectfulspouse #disrespectinmarriage #communicationinmarriage #marriagemesses #messymarriage #springcleaning

Recently, I was disrespectful to my husband while we were at our small group Bible study, of all places! It was just that the direction my husband was taking during our discussion just got under my skin. So I sat there stewing—thinking of what I would say to him later in a private moment.

Disrespectful Spouse - Beth shares about a time when she was disrespectful of her spouse and offers 7 ways you can clean up a mess like this in your marriage. Click to read more! #disrespectfulspouse #disrespectinmarriage #communicationinmarriage #marriagemesses #messymarriage #springcleaning

Apparently, the look on my face spoke volumes. He even asked me what I thought about a question he had directed generally to the group just minutes before.

I tried to evade his question, but he kept pressing me for more! The nerve of him! 😉

At some point, it all came spilling out in a rather negative way, regardless of my efforts to keep it bottled up. As soon as I realized what I had said, I also realized how disrespectful I was being.

Ironically, my quiet time earlier that day had been about how Jesus wants us to clean the inside of the “cup”—meaning “heart.” So I had made a commitment earlier to prayerfully examine my heart for sin in tempting and tension-filled moments of my day.

But did I think to do that during that moment? No, siree!

[bctt tweet=”I just sat there confused about what to do or say.  Head to MM to find out what confused me. #slowlearner #springcleanyourmarriage #respectmatters” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

Sadly, I missed a golden opportunity to grow in my faith and respect my husband in the process.

Thankfully, I didn’t let this major misstep go on without taking responsibility for my careless actions and hurtful words. I decided to immediately apologize to the group. And later after my husband and I headed home, I apologized to him one more time for good measure.

A few days later, we talked about how to deal with this kind of situation better in the future. I didn’t dodge my guilt then either, and told my husband that I still was feeling guilty for how I had treated him.

[bctt tweet=”That was all it took to heal the wound I had inflicted to his heart. Head to MM to find out what I did to bring healing! #donotdodgeguilt #dodgeabullet” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

I say all that not to point out how great “I” was to apologize and take responsibility. It’s just that each step I took shows how to clean up and navigate out of a disrespectful moment.

7 key ways to clean up a disrespectful reaction …

1. Recognize the damage your words/attitude cause.

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  —Proverbs 12:18

Stop and really imagine this for a moment! Every time you speak disrespectfully or recklessly to your mate, it’s as if you are stabbing his/her heart! How awful!

Instead, we can bring healing by doing the next step …

2. Ask God to guard your lips.

“Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.”  —Proverbs 16:32

We develop greater patience every time we prayerfully rely on God to guard our lips. He uses our patience to make us as mighty as a city-conquering warrior! That means we can gain access to our mates’ hearts, when we carefully consider what and how to speak to them first.

And if what we want to say to our mates is not beneficial, we might want to zip our lips altogether!

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  —Ephesians 4:29

3. Listen to understand, rather than trying to be understood.

When we focus solely on what we understand of a situation, rather than first considering what our mate understands, it blocks our view. Not only that, but it fuels our anger!

Consider James 1:19-20

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

Once we show deferential interest in our mate’s understanding, the blockage gets removed. Plus, we gain the much-needed perspective for navigating toward a resolution. That’s something God always desires!

4. Look to God to meet your unmet desires.

Consider James 4:1-2 …

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.”

This describes a battle over unmet expectations. We need to remove this burden from our mates and give it to Jesus instead. He has the broad shoulders to carry our burdens effortlessly.

So when you feel that ache rising up in a moment of conflict, reach out for God to meet your desire. If it’s a need that your mate can and should realistically help you with, pray for clarity on when and how to discuss this with him/her.

5. Ask God to conform your desires to His.

James went on to clarify another important step in this process …

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  —James 4:3

Discontentment with our mates stems directly from asking God for the wrong things. Instead, we need to ask Him to change our wrong motives to right ones. Whenever I ask God to conform my desires to His, He gives me a peace that passes all understanding. And He will do the same for you! No exceptions!

6. Cover your spouse’s faults with love.

This miraculous act of applying God’s love to the hearts of our mates and others is discussed in Proverbs 17:9 (hover over to see the verse).

So when all else fails, land here—allowing God to love your mate and cover their sin through you.

[bctt tweet=”When all else fails, land here—allowing God to love your mate and cover their sin through you. Find out where to land at MM! #beautifulexchange #springcleanyourmarriage” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

7. Always apologize for your attitude soon after!

“[If …] you have been trapped by the words of your lips the words—ensnared by the words of your mouth. Do this, then, my son, and free yourself, … Go, humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor.”          —Proverbs 6:2-3

My husband and I have adopted this as our default and commitment no.matter.what! We both apologize as soon as our hearts soften.

And I’ve discovered that the more often I do this, the easier it becomes because my heart grows softer with each effort.

Bottom line: I wish I could say that I won’t ever return to this tactic in the future. It seems to be part of the landscape that comes with being an outspoken person in a marriage where we both speak our truth much more than stuffing it.

But, trust me! I won’t back down from taking this lesson to heart. I will also keep these principles and steps active in my life moving forward. How about you?

Please feel free to click on the image below and download the prayer printable at the “…” in upper righthand corner. I hope it will be a prayer that strengthens your resolve to clean up every disrespectful moment, as well as showing greater respectfulness with your spouse moving forward.

Prayer to Respect Spouse - This prayer printable is available at messymarriage.com. Begin praying it daily to improve your ability to remain respectful to your mate. #respectmate #communication #communicationinmarriage #Bibleverses #Scriptureprayer #prayer


What is one way you’ve “cleaned up” a disrespectful response you showed to your mate? 


Which of these 7 ways do you need to incorporate the most into your marriage and life?


Be sure to join me next week in the “Spring Clean Your Marriage” series, when Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor and Vacuum will be sharing how to clean up a sloppy attitude towards sex in marriage. I hope to see you then! Check out the graphic below to discover the other fine bloggers joining me in this series …

Spring Clean Marriage - In this blog series, you'll discover ways to clean your marriage and attitude toward your spouse. Click to find out more! #messymarriage #springclean #springcleanyourmarriage #newattitude #marriageconflicts

Here are some other lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Kingdom Bloggers, Literary Musing MondaysTea and Word TuesdayPurposeful FaithTell His StoryRecharge WednesdayPorch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies WednesdaySitting Among FriendsDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementGrace and Truth Faith and Friends Faith on Fire FridayFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday


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29 responses to “7 Ways to Clean Up Being Disrespectful to Your Spouse”

  1. Thanks for sharing this story–and your clean up process afterward!
    I’ve reached a point in my self-understanding that I know there are certain times when I need to just be quiet. No opinions; no monologues. Just quiet–particularly when I’m tired. I find that if I’m patient, I can say things in a much better way after I’m rested and have put some distance between me and the event.


    1. Great insights, Michele! I especially like the “no monologues!” That’s one temptation I tend to fall for every stinkin’ time! Lol! But I’m learning ever so slowly to trust God to work in my husband’s heart. He is so much better at that than I am! Thanks for adding to the discussion, my friend! Have a great week!


  2. Once again you have spoken such great truths!! I feel every marriage faces this from time to time. I desire to have a marriage that points others to Jesus. So many in our life have been observing how God is changing us, individually and in our marriage. These points will no doubt come to mind when I’m faced with a situation where I need to bite my tongue 🙂 #inspirememonday link up


    1. Yes, so true, April! We must never lose sight of how our lives are on display for others to learn from–for good or ill. It’s something I often forget in the heat of the moment. But I’m learning to slow my reactions and calm my inner dialogue in prayer, though this time I failed miserably at it! Lol! Thank you for your encouragement! I so appreciate your support and friendship!


  3. Beth,
    I really need to work on listening to understand vs. to be understood. I am too often thinking up my defensive retort than really focusing on listening. I also can be the queen of unmet expectations so I’m convicted about taking those desires to God instead of placing them on my spouse. All good stuff here that I definitely need to work on!
    Bev xx


    1. I’m right there with you on these two weaknesses, Bev! I think this comes with the territory of our wiring as teachers and ministers. When we take matters into our own hands, the worst side of this wiring comes out. When we leave it in God’s hands, the best side can come out and makes all the difference! Thank you for coming by, sharing so vulnerably and for being a great bloggy friend!


  4. Very well said, Beth! We ALL mess up in this at times….something hits us the wrong way, we’ve left something unsaid for too long, other things have been impacting us, we’re tired, etc. Suddenly the disrespect shows up and sometimes in places that we especially would not prefer. It can happen for wives (raising my hand) and husbands (fell into that in front of close friends at our home for dinner recently). We need Jesus at every turn and more grace than we can even measure.


    1. You so deftly pointed out all the ways we end up falling for this temptation, Pam! I guess that’s because you’re an insightful counselor! Thank you for that and for reminding us that Jesus makes all the difference in these challenging encounters! Thanks for coming by, my friend! Have a great week!


  5. A great list of to-dos! Our responses can be so habit-forming; critical or kind. I want our marriage to be a safe place where respect is abundant.


    1. Thank you, Traci! Yes, that’s so true. I sure wish the reverse were more my habit–being respectful in tempting moments. But I’m like you, I want my marriage to be a safe place, so I will double-down and let God work this weakness out of my life in His power. Thanks for coming by and encouraging me!


  6. I so appreciate your willingness to share your less-than-stellar moments with us. It’s encouraging to read about “real-life” situations and how you deal with them.

    Listening is the big one I’m working on lately. I’ve realized I’m not a great listener when I’m thinking about how I want to respond after my husband is done talking! *covers my face in shame* This is a pride issue that needs to be dealt with from the inside-out!


    1. Thank you, Jana! I know how putting “flesh and bone” on an issue and challenge we all face in life really deepens the impact of my words here. I sure hope it helps others to find their way out of these messy moments in life and marriage!

      Yes, listening is hard for me too–especially when I am angry. But then, when I don’t listen, I end up fueling my anger more! Let’s work on this pride in our lives together, girlfriend! God will help us find our way to better, more respectful choices and actions! Hugs to you and know that I continue to pray for you, my friend!


  7. Brilliant and bravely transparent post, Beth, and a true service to your readers. I think e’ve all been there, but most of us – I sure did – made excuses, and didn’t dare delve deep.

    Living in cancer’s demon-walk,
    it’s hard to have respect
    those who have soft lives and talk
    of the blessings they expect.
    I am in a spinning gyre
    of pain the never ends
    and do not have what I require
    to understand my friends.
    Their world contains tomorrow
    while mine is simply Now,
    and I feel a stinging sorrow
    at a field that I can’t plow.
    In my contempt I see the danger
    when jealousy turns into anger.


    1. Thank you for your kind words, Andrew! Yes, it’s so easy to make excuses or to apologize and never really change. But I’m trying to right this wrong in my life while I have the strength (in the Lord) to do so. I know that if I were in your shoes, I’d lose my cool far too much. There’s just something so daunting about feeling sick and in pain that makes this soooo much harder to do!

      Thank you for your gift of poetry too. You truly are talented and insightful in these. Have you thought about publishing them? They seem to be flowing from you now in ways that can only be described as miraculous!


  8. I really try hard not to be disrespectful to my husband, and especially not in public. But yes, I’ve done it too. 😦 It helps that he is not disrespectful to me in public. I ache when I hear other couples who degrade each other in public. I wonder how much worse it might be in private.

    We all have our weak spots so these are great tips, Beth. “And I’ve discovered that the more often I do this, the easier it becomes because my heart grows softer with each effort.” Yes, thank God.


    1. Sounds like you have a wonderful guy, Lisa! And I’m comforted in knowing I’m not the only one who has done this–though I sure don’t want to be glad about your failures! Lol! Thanks for being vulnerable about it!

      And yes, I hate it when I see this being done by others in public as well. If I could remember how I feel when this happens, I’d likely zip my lip a lot more often!

      Thank you for your encouragement too! I really mean every word of it and I thank God right alongside you!


  9. I’m so glad I could be helpful at a critical moment, Crystal! That’s the best encouragement I could receive! I hope you don’t beat yourself up over your failure, but quickly lean into God’s grace for your heart, as well as finding grace to apologize and listen well to your hubby as well.

    One post that has gotten a lot of traction for me on this subject is: https://messymarriage.com/how-to-validate-your-spouses-feelings/

    And another is: https://messymarriage.com/7-ways-to-develop-empathy-and-gain/

    I hope you find these to be helpful for you! Thank you for being such a great friend and supporter here! Have a great week!


  10. This is so convicting. My husband so often gets the short end of the stick. I love him so much and he deserves all the love in the world – never misplaced anger or even properly placed anger. Thank you for this!


    1. I’m so glad to hear your husband is understanding and self-controlled in how he relates to you, Brittany. That’s always so good to hear! Thank YOU for being so encouraging to me and I do hope it helps us both to do better with our spouses in the future! Hugs to you, my friend!


  11. Such wonderful wisdom! I’m working on apologizing sooner. I recently heard that talking raises your blood pressure and listening lowers it. I’ll have to remember that next time, and really listen! Pinning and sharing!


    1. Thank you, Anita! I appreciate your kind words. You and me both! I want to be able to apologize sooner and sooner.

      And I’m not surprised about that statistic! Just one more good reason to listen before responding. Thank you for sharing, my friend! Hugs to you!


  12. yes, sadly, guilty as charged. i’ve been there, done that, this whole passive aggressive tactic.

    not much any more. i think i’ve learned a lesson or two along the way.



    1. Glad to know I’m not the only one who has fallen for this trap, Linda! But I’m glad to hear that you’ve wised up over the years. I’m, as I said above, a sloooowww learner! Lol! Thanks for coming by and supporting me here, my friend! Hugs to you!


  13. Hey neighbor at Sue’s. Hope you are well!


    1. Hey Susan! Nice to see you here. I’ll be hopping over to visit you next! And yes, I am doing very well!


  14. Thank you for this vulnerable story and post, Beth. I wish I could say I can’t relate in even the tiniest way, but that wouldn’t be true. 🙂 The truth is, I’ve fallen prey to giving my husband harsh looks, harsh tones, and harsh words more times than I care to admit. I love and need all seven ways to clean up respect, but particularly listen to understand vs. being understood. I seem to have this great need to be understood. I’m asking the Lord to change this about me in relation to my husband.


    1. I’m glad it blessed you, Karen! And also glad I’m not alone in this, though I don’t wish this on anyone! Thank you for pointing out what meant the most to you. That seems to be the one that people are relating to the most. I know I do! I will join you in asking God to help us each in our marriages to do better moving forward. Thanks for stopping by, my friend!


  15. “tempting and tension-filled moments” are the worst! Husbands do this too of course. I am a lot better than I used to be at *not* blurting out that extremely witty observation. I’m also a lot better at taming the “here she goes again” response. In fact I now use that as a signal: if I feel the response rising up inside me, that is a signal that my wife needs special attention, and I put everything aside and devote my attention to her.

    Of your seven key ways, 4 & 5 are a constant struggle for me. I use no. 6, “Cover your spouse’s faults with love”, a lot!


  16. Great advice, Beth! I wish I could say I don’t need it, but God only knows just how much I do. So thankful for His patience and loving understanding, and praying that I’ll share that more and more with my husband. Trying to understand how he understands a situation is one area I’m trying to focus on right now. Blessings!


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