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Fountain of Life with Taiwo Odukoya: Respect in Marriage



An American singer and author Amy Grant once said, “Every good relationship, especially marriage, is based on respect. If it’s not based on respect, nothing that appears to be good will last very long.”

So what is respect in marriage? In a marriage seminar where the same question was asked, some of the responses were:

  • Treating one’s spouse or partner in a thoughtful and courteous way.
  • Avoiding behaviours that are rude and impolite, such as name calling and/or anything that insults or demeans one’s spouse.
  • Not talking sarcastically or condescendingly to one’s spouse.
  • Not ignoring or avoiding one’s spouse.
  • Putting one’s spouse above one’s friends, extended family and others generally.
  • Viewing one’s spouse’s opinions, wishes and values as worthy of serious consideration.
  • Not taking one’s spouse’s love or affection for granted.
  • Treating one’s spouse as an equal partner in the relationship.
  • Being faithful to one’s spouse.

Simply put, much more than being the absence of negative behaviours, respect in a marital setting is treating your spouse as you would like to be treated. As a matter of fact, the dictionary defines respect as “a feeling or show of honour or esteem for someone or something; to consider or treat with deference or dutiful regard.”

In a lot of ways, respect for your spouse would also mean taking an active interest in his or her life (work, daily activities and interests), and compromising and negotiating with him or her on important issues that affect both of you as well as your family.

Now, to maximally benefit a relationship, respect would have to be necessarily mutual. Although it may not always guarantee a trouble-free or flawless marriage, mutual respect opens the door for effective communication which is the mortar that holds every relationship together. Without respect, couples are not likely to be able to solve marital problems or resolve issues amicably.

It was Jack Ito who once said, “The loss of respect in relationships is probably the biggest reason that people fall out of love. It is difficult to feel love toward someone we don’t respect….” In the words of George Best,“Love is about mutual respect, apart from attraction.”
The truth is, respect is a choice; it is deliberately given. And one thing that can greatly hinder it or disturb its flow is argument. If not curtailed or managed properly, arguments can lead to disrespect and negatively affect your marriage.

Even in situations where a couple have an established culture of respect for each other, it has to be deliberately and consciously sustained as it can slowly erode due to life’s numerous stresses and strains. If you or your spouse are stressed or are struggling with your individual issues, it is possible to become irritable and negative, and vent your frustrations on the other party. This can set off a vicious cycle in which spouses are increasingly negative and disrespectful to each other. It is therefore important that we constantly watch out for little breaches in our relationship that may escalate into serious issues of disrespect and nip them in the bud.

You need to understand that sustaining respect in the course of a marital relationship requires serious and conscious efforts. As human beings, we are likely to respond in kind if someone consistently treats us negatively, inconsiderately, or disrespectfully. This pattern of mutual disrespect therefore feeds on itself. The more one spouse is rude and inconsiderate, the more likely it is that the other spouse will start behaving likewise. Disrespect can then continue to grow in the marriage until virtually all interactions are characterised by sarcastic, inconsiderate, blaming, critical, and demeaning behaviours.

The truth is, a marriage where couples are in the habit of repaying an act of disrespect with another act of disrespect is not likely to be blissful or survive the many stresses and strains of life.This makes forgiveness a must if couples are going to continue to respect each other. Offences will always come, but we have to form the habit of being the first to forgive.

To establish or re-establish respect therefore, each spouse should as much as possible work on changing his or her own behaviour and not try to police his or her spouse’s behaviour. Once some level of mutual respect has been established, couples can then begin to work on how they can communicate more effectively, make requests, solve problems, accept differences and forgive easily.

Now, one mistake often made in dealing with disrespectful spouses is undue accommodation or even acceptance of the acts of disrespect which could be verbal abuse, physical abuse, or threats. Unfortunately, this will not make your spouse come to his or her senses; it will only make him or her get worse. There is therefore a need to confront the issue without necessarily being confrontational. If you know it is damaging to your relationship and you accept it, it will ultimately destroy it.

If you have a spouse who is habitually insensitive and disrespectful in spite of your best efforts, there is definitely a need to see a professional counsellor and be very prayerful. Be assured there is still hope for your marriage as the things which are impossible with men are possible with God. He is able and will touch the heart of your spouse, no matter how insensitive he or she has been or seems to be.
Remember, your marriage is a blessing.

Taiwo Odukoya is the senior pastor of The Fountain of Life Church. He is an avid believer in the role of the Church in the social and economic life of the nation. He is the host of The Discovery for Men, The Discovery for Women, The Woman Leader, and Ruth and Boaz, quarterly meetings that reach out to thousands of men and women from all works of life and denominations. He lives in Lagos with his wife, Nomthi, and children. He can be reached at [email protected]


  1. @edDREAMZ

    May 27, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said..
    Thats gud to knw but in Nigeria nothing like love again bcos the economy has killed that dream for us so nw anybody can buy love and respect with the ryt price….

    • lorenz

      May 27, 2015 at 10:45 pm

      The economy has killed the dream for you! Stop generalizing.

  2. Becca

    May 27, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    If P. Odukoya is going to write so generically can we get Charlie Boy to takeover this column? I’m sure it wouldn’t such a bore to read. It is clear a happy & fulfilled marriage is not dependent on the God factor or blessings and prayers, being a virgin bride having holy sanctimonious sex or marrying a ‘God fearing’ partner whatever that means. I take it to mean according to Matt 18v22 that he/she has licence to cheat and sin against you up to 77 times provided forgiveness is sought for that which you are meant to forgive. Clearly that isn’t going to work unless you are a doormat.

    • Barbie

      May 27, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      You seem a bit angry. Maybe you should talk to someone

    • A Real Nigerian

      May 27, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      Well said, Becca!
      Wish I could give you 100 likes!

    • Aj

      May 27, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      Pls don’t take the bible out of context, if you read your bible clearly you will see that God hates sexual immorality and the last time I checked adultery is sexual immorality and you have permission from God to divorce on such grounds. So before you go misquoting, understand what the word is saying. I can’t believe that you could come up with such a negative comment from a write up that is positive and very insightful. Human beings have issues.

    • Becca

      May 28, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Just goes to show the fallacy of the alleged word of God and why it should never be taken as a standard. If all sins other than those against the HGhost are equal and carry the same’ wage’ there is no grading or categorising of the sin one commits against you, ‘sexual immorality’ carries the same weight as theft, you need to forgive repeatedly 77x. Jesus concludes the passage saying you need to forgive from the heart just as God forgives. So at sin 78 you can then seek the divorce Jesus endorses? In reality no one is keeping a tally and the essence of the message is continuous forgiveness which if followed through would hardly lead to divorce but I’m sure such reasoning goes right over your head.

  3. A Real Nigerian

    May 27, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Tell that to the majority of stupid Nigerian men who seek “submissive” wives and demand respect when they show little or none in return. They just think being the “man” gives them some sort of authority. Shallow, simple-minded people.

  4. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    May 27, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    This may not be related to the article but let me just say this.

    Sometime last month in one of those large capacity churches, the pastor in charge was praying for certain things. When the prayer request for life partners came on and “breaking every unmarried yoke”, the “Amens’ were loudest.

    You see, I think we need to be honest with ourselves and stop blaming “Spirit husbands” wicked stepmoms, ancestral curses. or some spell cast by an old flame. These things exist. But most of us just need to check our attitudes and the lines would fall in pleasant places for us.

    There are so many rude people. And please don’t come with that’s, “Just the way I am line”. We may be blunt and given to speaking our minds no matter what, but sometimes people have rights they should not necessarily exercise. We can change if we want to because we know how differently we act when we are around someone we are trying to impress.

    If we put efforts into “thank you’s”; “No you go first”; “you can have the last piece” It spreads to other areas of our lives and watch as being considerate would help build lasting respectful habits.

    • Becca

      May 27, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      Spirit husband? Lol wth, is that like a guardian angel?

    • Sky blue

      May 27, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      Like OMG… Don’t know who you are but I think we are supposed to be cool friends or something.. I swear I struggle to relate to people in Nig because of hour ride and obnoxious people can get. I was brought to abide by the Ps & Qs but people take it to be weakness. I almost have to be rude to get along.. Don’t get it. Especially the women… So much venom…

      I hope someday good manners will become a compulsory part of the educational curriculum. How hard is it to smile kindly and say please/thank you/have a lovely day????? I tire oooo

    • dayo

      May 27, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      The problem with relationships in marriage in Nigeria is a systemic one that is to say it is in the fabric of our culture and society. The average Nigerian man or woman doesn’t know what true love means. Even in our churches, if you hear the brothers or sisters praying for a life partner, you will be amused. We have been raised to be very materialistic, demanding, self centred ( without even knowing it), and only think and live for the present. Why would a man ridicule his wife and have no regard or respect for women and people around him think it is okay? Why? People in Nigeria equate being derisive and insulting to women as being a real man. I hear the way men talk about women back home, some will say the brain of a woman is so tiny she can’t think logically. The Nigerian girl and woman has been told ever since she is young that all she is good for is sex, cook, bear children and obey her husband in all things! There are many men who don’t discuss important aspects in their lives with their wives. They will go and discuss with people outside their marriage because they feel their wives are not intelligent enough for them to seek counsel from. Now in some cases, the men may be right for thinking this way, but let me ask you a question, how did your wife end up this way? You might say, she has always been this way, but one question I would like to ask is – what have you done through your actions to make your wife to feel so worthless in herself?
      I have heard men call their wives – that yeye woman, oniranu, etc. in front of their children. So anytime they ask the kids to call their moms, they say, please go and call that yeye woman for me.
      Our women nowadays are fighting back, this is what happens when you have been traumatized for too long. The problem now is that the marriage institution is very fragile because we have failed to tell ourselves the truth for too long. The internet has turned the world into a small village, immigration and travelling to western countries is so rampant nowadays and with this phenomenon has seen our women living in other parts of the world and being respected for who they are not because they can ‘submit’. This is causing a lot of problems for Nigerian families in the diaspora because the man who has always felt he is better off than his wife because of his sex, gets to live in countries that are sympathetic to women. The so called yeye woman is now the one adjusting to life very easily in America, Canada, etc. because they don’t consider themselves to be anything before. The Nigerian men who have been made to believe they are the all in all are not finding it easy adapting to life in western countries, because he just can’t find himself adapting to go back to school to study some ‘yeye’ courses, or do some ‘yeye’ jobs. The women can’t believe their new found positions and now start to victimize their husbands or kick him out! ( the case of the bullied punishing her oppressor). If there had been true love and respect before, would this have happened? Marriage is a journey with so many twists and turns, you need a comrade and a partner not an oppressor or victim ( that is why there are so many divorces today).
      I think that a lot of work needs to be done to teach our men and women what relationships are all about. Love each other genuinely, not because of material or anything. Let the pastors teach what the Bible says about love, not what our society defines love to mean.

    • thinkaboutit

      May 28, 2015 at 7:38 am

      amen brother! preach! That’s the profound truth…

    • Martha

      May 28, 2015 at 9:46 am

      1000 likes to your comment Dayo, lets go back to the biblical principles of Love…#Pastor Taiwo thanks for the good writeup…

  5. jymco

    May 27, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    @A Real Nigerian …you came down so emotional like a bitter/hurt woman. Nevertheless, the Writer referred to both Men & Women from the inception till the end. @Bobosteke & Lara Bian, thanks.

  6. yet_dup

    May 27, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks Pastor T, God bless…………….hummmmmmmm respect!

  7. Ify

    May 27, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    Well said!
    you have made a serious point. For a marriage to work there has to be mutual respect between the two people involved.

  8. deluxe

    May 27, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Nice piece Sir, I have found out that constant argument causes disrespect of partners in rshps. Marriage is a continuous work if you want to enjoy it.

  9. bunmi

    May 27, 2015 at 5:35 pm


  10. Tosin

    May 27, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    This is what my father calls taking marriage as a fullll five-unit course. How many essay we go read?

  11. Popular

    May 27, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    @Dayo, i wish all Nigerian men could read your piece. God help us that are yet to marry.

  12. Weather

    May 28, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Many people think ‘respect’ is overrated. It is the key to resolving many marital issues. This article reminds us not to take it for granted.

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