Devotion: Love & Respect from a Jail Cell

The stories below appear in Love & Respect.

“On a Saturday evening, I threw a dish in anger that hit my wife in the face and left a small cut. She called the police and I was handcuffed and taken off to jail. A magistrate thought it best for me to sit out the weekend there and held me over on a LOT of bond. I wouldn’t pay it…[and] after about four hours on a steel cot the novelty wore off and I really started to think hard about why I was there. With nothing to read, no place to go, and not able to sleep any more, I basically paced and prayed for two days. One single scripture stayed in my mind the whole time: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church…”

For two days, God replayed memories I had of our arguments and in each one I was acutely aware of how I had failed to love my wife. It was like pausing a video and having someone point to it and say, “See, right here you could have reached out to her and reassured her, but you were too busy trying to prove your point.”

At one point I was seeing her face, all distorted with rage as she screamed at me, but totally without any sound…the mute button had been pushed on this memory, and then little by little the sound came up so I could hear it. Only the words were not what my had been screaming at me. Instead, they were replaced with other words that I needed to hear: “I want you to LOVE me, why won’t you LOVE me? I’m afraid and insecure and I need you to hold me and LOVE me…”

And that is when I began to weep. All this time I had been so totally wrapped up in my own needs—to demand respect, to be right at any cost, to win a petty argument—this hurt our priceless relationship. I had been so caught up in the words that I had totally missed her heart, her need.

This was my epiphany, and this is why Scripture commands me to love my wife as Christ loved the church. In my conversations with men since then, I have seen the color drain from their faces as I tell them about my experience, and I see the dawning of their own awareness as they realize how they have blown it, too.”


Another couple came up and told us this story. It seems they had just built a brand-new home, and another couple asked if they could take a tour. The new homeowners said, “Of course; come one over.” Soon they were taking the couple through the beautiful new home which had every feature imaginable—lovely fixtures, granite countertops. They had spared no expense.

Halfway through the tour, as they were coming down the steps from looking at all the upstairs bedrooms and the many adjoining baths, the wife in the visiting couple turned to her husband and said, ‘You need to get a second job.” The couple giving the tour of their new home were stunned by the woman’s remark. They both could see the spirit of the husband sink before their very eyes. The visiting couple left a few minutes later.

What is doubly sad about this story is that the wife who made the remark to her husband needing a second job probably didn’t even realize what she had done. She was simply commenting on the grandeur of the home they were touring and never thought through that what she was saying would hurt her husband’s feelings. But hurt them she did because she just didn’t understand her husband or the need to show him respect.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:33

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7

We love because He first loved us.

1 John 4:19


  • Why do we tend to withhold love when feeling disrespected or vice versa?
  • While your stories may not be as dramatic but what are subtle ways you fail to show respect to your husband or love to your wife?
  • What are tangible things you can do to show respect to your husband or love to your wife?
  • If you have taken Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages, which is your mode of expressing love? What about your spouse? When was a time you found yourself trying to express love for your spouse but it was misunderstood?
  • Why do you think love must start with God’s love for us first?

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