I can’t think of a better example of honor between husband and wife than the biblical account of Queen Esther and Xerxes, king of Persia, in the book of Esther. The young queen was faced with a terrible dilemma: Her people, the Jews, were to be killed as part of a ruthless plot concocted by one of the king’s most powerful nobles. Yet by law, no one, not even the queen, was allowed to approach the king without being summoned.
Esther relied on the principle of honor to protect her in this predicament. After fasting and, I’m sure, praying for three days, she went to the inner court of the palace. Rather than barging in, she waited patiently in the king’s hall. When the king saw Esther, he invited her in. She showed further respect for Xerxes by touching his scepter when she arrived. When the king asked her why she had come, Esther did not answer immediately. Instead, she invited the king to a banquet she had prepared, thus paying further tribute to her husband. At the banquet, she invited the king to yet another banquet the next day. Only then did she finally make her request known.
Every time Esther addressed her husband, she conveyed sincere respect. She used phrases such as “if it pleases the king”; “if [the king] regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do”; and “if I have found favor with you, O king.” Xerxes responded by honoring his wife—and granting her request! Through her courage and conduct, the Jews were spared a holocaust. In fact, King Xerxes went further: The evil noble was hanged, and the Jews were given new privileges and rights in the kingdom.
Our nature as humans is to criticize our spouse or complain about his or her shortcomings. Yet there is something attractive—and very compelling—about approaching each other as husband or wife with the deep respect and honor we would show royalty. I urge you to try approaching each other in just this way—even when you do not feel particularly close. Your reward will be a home environment that is more loving, positive, and enjoyable than you ever thought possible.