Please Don’t Make This Mistake in Your Marriage

Having been married, mostly happily, for 34+ years, certain observations have been made along the way. My husband is a pastor. He has performed dozens of weddings and dealt with the aftermath when the couple spent more time planning the wedding than learning about marriage.

This particular mistake that I’m warning you about seems very common among young wives, but it runs rampant in marriages of all ages. It’s responsible for a lot of misunderstandings and misery. And it’s pretty easy to avoid, once you’re aware and willing. So please don’t make this mistake in your marriage…

Please don’t shame your husband.

Shaming your husband can take many forms. Making a joke about him, especially one that demeans his masculinity. Ordering him to perform a task. Criticizing how he does something. Disagreeing with how he disciplines a child. Stepping in to “save” your child from some work your husband has asked him to do. Rolling your eyes or saying “whatever” at his suggestions.

Do you realize that shame is physically painful to men? Just as fear and rejection are physically painful to women.

What’s the result of women shaming their husbands?

It cools the man’s feelings for his woman. There’s certainly no incentive to cherish her tenderly when she just made him feel like a fool, especially in front of other people–and most especially in front of other men. He’s not going to knock himself out to do something special for you when he is feeling shamed.

He will often react in anger. Have you ever made what you thought was an innocent remark and found yourself puzzled at your husband’s angry reaction? You probably shamed him in some way. His anger is triggered by a feeling of vulnerability and men don’t like to feel vulnerable, dumb or helpless. Women don’t like it either, but it’s particularly painful for a man who is designed to protect and lead.

It won’t take long for him to give up trying to please you. If he feels like he can never do anything right, why would he want to try?

The very worst shame is to ridicule his masculinity. Even in a joke. Please don’t. He might not show it, but it makes a man shrivel up inside and it’s excruciating for him.

Most of the time women don’t even realize they’re shaming their husbands. They think he should be able to take a joke. They’re in a hurry or think they know how to do it better. They have a skewed view that their husband should put up with anything indefinitely, because they’re tired and stressed and, for heaven’s sake, hormonal.

So taking it out on him and expecting him to man up when they cut his very soul with their words seems like…not a big deal. But it is.

Women want to be loved. We fear not being loved and wanted. Men want to be respected. They fear being shamed.

When women respect and honor men, men respond in love. It lifts a burden for them and even makes their heart sing. They feel loving towards the woman who helped them feel this way, and act accordingly.

Turn up the volume and listen to yourself as you speak to and about your husband today. Are you treating him as a respected man or a naughty five-year-old? Do you expect him to do what you say…and then put up with your moods, too?

Purpose in your heart to never knowingly shame your husband. You might be surprised at how often you have been and by what happens when you no longer do.


  1. Teress Murray says:

    Amen Charlotte! Respect is very important to a man. Thanks for this reminder! And thanks and encouragement go a long way:). Blessings, Teresa

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      So true, Teresa. Most men will blossom with that encouragement!

  2. Absolutely. I would have said that my husband and I had a very good first 12 years of marriage, but I definitely wasn’t respecting my husband as well as I should have. And in return I was scared that he didn’t really love me like he said he did. Things came to a head with one big argument and then we decided we needed to do some work on our marriage. We read Love and Respect together and both changed our actions and words. 5 more years down the marriage road and we are happier than ever.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      That is great to hear, Kayla! So many of us come into marriage without a clue. I’m so glad that you’re so happy together!

  3. Good word Charlotte. I know I have been guilty of this. God help me. Love that book Love and Respect, maybe I should dust it off again, eh?

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Denise, we all need a refresher course now and then! 🙂

  4. Thank you Charlotte for that reminder. I still fall into that trap of impatience and ‘knowing better’ how things should be done. Your timing is always perfect as I’ve recently begun rereading Fastinating Womenhood because I felt myself slipping into my old mindset and unfortunately, my husband’s attitude is what reminded me. Thank you for bringing up a difficult subject.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Would you believe that I was personally certified by Mrs. Andelin as a Fascinating Womanhood teacher years ago? She has since passed away but I will be forever grateful for the things I learned in that book when I had been married just a few weeks!

  5. True word! Very important message; thank you for speaking up. Thank you for so clearly defining this harmful habit.
    No one likes to be shamed or embarrassed. The Golden rule applies. I believe that it is more damaging to men and subsequently the marriage.
    Interesting and sad that some believe that it’s OK or somehow not harmful to their marriage.
    Children are sometimes the recipients too, and that’s also very sad.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      You nailed it, Ang–some women justify themselves and think it won’t hurt their marriage. Sad.

  6. Theresa Wagar says:

    Be careful what you ask for in prayer. After yet another argument this morning with my wonderful husband who just got home from another 12 hour midnight shift, I was praying for God to show me what I needed to change. And here was your post! Yep, you’re an answer to prayer. I never saw the shaming as the opposite to respecting. Sometimes learning what not to do helps me learn what to do. Thank you Charlotte for the God given insight.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      The timing is all God’s. He is so amazing to give us wisdom liberally and without reproach. Great things are ahead for you and your hubby, Theresa!

  7. Thank you so much for this today! It’s just what I needed to hear. We’ve been having some arguments lately and now I see it’s mostly because of the way I’ve been treating him!

    Thank you for opening my eyes!!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Yayy for open eyes! We just don’t realize what we’re doing sometimes!

  8. Yes, this was much needed for me today. That MUST be what I am doing, although I must be blind to the ways that I am . Do you know of any marriage/help book that gives specific ways, words, phrases or things to look out for? Sometimes I say things that I would have NEVER thought would have sounded disrespectful but my husband will get defensive and say I’m bringing him down etc. I am so shocked sometimes because I would have never thought that.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      There’s an old book called Fascinating Womanhood by Helen B. Andelin that might help. Parts of it are corny, but the principles are still true.

  9. TinaJEwel says:

    Thanks so much for speaking up about this! So very needed.
    A book I read recently that helped change how I related to my husband was Trust or Control by Dorcas Stutzman Might help you to share this with the ones before they get married!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      That looks like a great book, Tina! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Donnella Looger says:

    Thank you for this reminder today, Charlotte. Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday and I vow to show him respect in a tangible way every day for the next year.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      I love that, Donnella!

  11. I learned this lesson long ago. You said it so well and succinctly. I wish everyone could read your message and take it to heart. We are at a point in our marriage where it is so sweet and wonderful. I have always tried to do the opposite of what you are talking about here. I try to brag on him to others, especially when he’s listening. I learned this from my mother. She used to belong to a quilting group and the other women would sit around and demean their husbands to each other. She wasn’t having any of it, so she would always try to find something good to say about my Dad.

    What happened was that the word got back to my father. He became very devoted to her. She had to be careful in what she said to him, for if she indicated she liked something, he would move heaven and earth to get it for her. It wasn’t always that way, for they had some very rough patches in their marriage, but they worked at it and at the end had a wonderful life together. They are both gone now, but the lessons that were taught reverberate through my family.

    1. Julie Young says:

      Gloria, what a beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing.

    2. Charlotte Siems says:

      Very sweet and inspiring, Gloria! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Julie Young says:

    Guilty. Convicted. Repentant. I didn’t even know. Thank you.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Forgiven. Loved. Hopeful for the future, Julie!

  13. Excellent advice. It took me a long time to recognize that my husband took certain expressions and words to heart. I am so grateful that I learned. Wonderful article. Thank you.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Lessons learned for all of us, Diane!

  14. Hi Charlotte, thanks to my bloggy friend, Elizabeth, I am visiting your blog for the first time. I’m so glad she let me about your blog, because I love this post. I think it’s so easy to miss how deeply a disrespectful attitude toward our husbands can discourage them. Thanks for sharing such an important message and I’ll be visiting your blog again!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Nice to *meet* you, Beth! And I’m glad that you enjoyed the blog!

  15. Hi Charlotte, First time visitor here. What a great post and 100% accurate. Sometimes we (women) can say something and not realize it was so hurtful and disrespectful to our mate. Words can take years to undo if we are not careful. So glad to meet you.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Glad to *meet* you, too, Kim! It’s almost scary how much influence we have over our husbands!

  16. Hi – I came here from “Yes, they are all ours”, to which I was referred by Beth Steffaniak at Messy Marriage.

    If you don’t mind a male perspective – yes respect is important. However…without self=respect, men (and women) are crippled anyway.

    There’s no “respect tank” to fill; if the initial feeling of self-worth is absent, nothing will really help.

    And, conversely, if one has self-respect, a disrespectful spouse is an annoyance, but nor shattering.

    I do appreciate it if my wife is respectful, but it does not destroy me – or the marriage – if she isn’t, because marriage is far more about fulfilling a promise, and about duty, than it ever was about fulfillment.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Andrew, I agree to a point, but as a person with a difficult childhood, I can say that my husband’s refusal to criticize or shame me over the years contributed greatly to my healing. Many people, male and female, have been emotionally wounded and are not at a point of having the self-respect and confidence you have. I am not counseling that wives are fully responsible for restoring the self-respect of their spouses. But they are responsible not to tear down or shame their husbands, for those things cause further hurt. It is a good thing for spouses to love one another in a way that feels safe and respectful to both.

    2. Anonymous says:

      I really, really appreciate you saying this. My husband came from a devastatingly abusive childhood and has a severe learning disability. He has always had extremely low self-respect. We’ve been married 17+ years and have gone through some hard times together, much of which I think was my fault. I’ve always believed that if I had respected him more in the past, he would have more self-confidence now. (I’m no picnic myself – I have my own issues I’m working on.) I believe if I was a better wife, he would be a stronger man. 🙁

  17. I agree that men want to be respected. I think women can be demeaning without really even realizing it. We need to be cautious because not only does it demean and shame our husbands, but our children catch on that it is o.k. to act this way. Very thoughtful post. Thanks!

    1. Anonymous says:

      So true about our children watching, Elizabeth. It affects their respect for their Mom, too.

  18. Teresa Murray says:

    Hi Charlotte! Here is a ttapp question for you. I have been doing ttapp for a year now and see results, but not much in my hip area. (That is where the weight shows on me)
    Is there an exercise that targets the hips so I can see some better results? My daughter is being married this April:). You get the idea! Ha! Thanks, Teresa

    1. Anonymous says:

      Hi Teresa,
      Shoulder-to-hip alignment is huge for lower-body inch loss. Make sure you’re not leaning back when you hear “shoulders back.” Bring your stance in closer–about four fingers apart, which is closer than it shows on the DVD. You’ll feel that more!

  19. Awesome advice, Charlotte, and very well-expressed. No married woman will ever regret taking note and applying this “law” constantly in her life.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Glad it rang true for you, Dee Dee!

  20. Enrique Casas-Barrero says:

    Thank you very much fo such a great article.
    Blessings from Barcelona, Spain

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