Years ago, I knew a man who was an FBI agent. He lived in one of our previous wards. One of his duties was transporting prisoners on planes. You’ve seen it: Plainclothes officers transporting handcuffed men and women on airplanes.
These people he transported really loved him. The reason why is because he would listen to them, show an interest in them and their families. Sometimes they would volunteer confessions, sometimes they would see him later in the courtroom and want to give him a hug.
Why? Because he would show them respect. Even though they had committed serious crimes, he showed them kindness and respect. He honored them, in spite of their actions. He showed them that they had worth, even though they had broken Federal laws and were headed to long prison terms. In this, he followed the example of our Savior.
Several stories in the New Testament show how kind Jesus was to those who, by the world’s standards, did not deserve it—for example, the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4:4-19) and the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11). He treated these women with the greatest respect, even though in Jewish cultural such would often be ignored or treated as outcasts. He did not respect their sins, but he respected individuals in spite of their sins.
Jesus did not base his respect and kindness on the actions of others. He based his treatment of others on the principle that every child of God is worthy of respect, no matter what they have done.
So, even though your wife has disappointed or annoyed you, you can show her respect. Even though your husband has done something you disagree with, you can show him respect.
Now, to be sure, we should be expressing our feelings every day. Don’t stuff those feelings or box them in. Let them out. Don’t let pressure build until you explode and then say and do things you regret. Express your feelings openly and honestly, but say those things with respect and deference. Don’t complain, whine, accuse, blame, prod and poke. Just express what you feel with respect. Completely acknowledge and honor one another’s feelings, even though you don’t fully understand those feelings. It takes practice. Years of practice. It takes strength and virtue. But you will feel so much better, and you will live so much more happily in your home.
Respect is the cornerstone of love. The husband and wife who continue to show respect, even in the face of disheartening words and choices, walk in the footsteps of the Master. No other path leads to lasting peace and happiness.