Last time we looked at the concept of unconditional respect. As we continue to look at the book, For Women Only, by Shaunti Feldhahn, we will look at four ways that a man needs to feel respected. Let’s call them the Respectations.
It is important to understand that your husband is your best source for understanding how he needs to be respected. He may feel a strong sense of needing one of these ‘respectations’ or he may need a little of all of them. Another really amazing thing is that you may have to work with him to figure it out. When the Peacefulwife started learning about Love and Respect she began to ask me if I felt respected by this or did I feel disrespected by that. Frankly, it had been so long since I had felt really respected that I had a hard time knowing what respect was or was not. I had stopped thinking about whether I felt disrespected a long time ago. As we worked together the path became clearer for both of us.
The 1st Respectation: Respect His Judgment
Your husband needs you to “respect his knowledge, opinions, and decisions”, which we can shorten to say his judgment. This seems like this would be easy and as long as you are both in agreement about how something should be done it probably is. The problem comes when there is more than one way to accomplish something. A man is very logic oriented went it comes to problem solving and he will tend to come to a decision by weighing multiple options. A woman is very much black and white oriented and will see one right way while everything else will be wrong ways.
With my work I am involved in several groups where multiple agencies are working together to make decisions. It so happens that the breakdown of these groups usually entails about a quarter of the group being female. I have seen it happen over and over that the male portion of the group can compromise and develop an adequate path forward for a decision only to have the female portion of the group refuse to compromise. These particular groups run on the principle that all decisions are unanimous or that there is no decision made. Many times I have left meetings after days of work and discussion with no path forward on a project because one person could not compromise.
Your marriage is very much like this situation. The decisions that you have to make in your marriage are in essence unanimous or no real decisions are made. If the husband is not given the authority to make a decision when there are differences then no decision is really made. This does not mean that as a wife you should not have valuable input into decisions. This just means that for there to be peace in the marriage – acceptance of the decision allows the unity to be maintained. Your husband has the responsibility to love you with a servant’s heart and should be making the decision in an unselfish way. I cannot promise that he will, but the more he sees that you respect him the more he will strive to take care of you by his decision.
The other thing that should be discussed about judgment is that God’s design for marriage relies on the husband to show Christian leadership in his home. Every time that leadership is ridiculed or questioned, you are putting doubt into your husband’s mind about his direction. The more trust he sees that you put in him the more confident his decision making will be. It is very much a Marriage Trust cycle and your ability to put your trust in him can be the catalyst for a better marriage.
The 2nd Respectation: Respect His Abilities
A man interprets unrequested help a lot of times as distrust. Men like to figure things out for themselves. Unfortunately, a lot of times they even like to figure things out without a map, instructions, guide, or compass. A man takes a lot of pride in his “abilities of learning, application, fixing, rebuilding, repair, etc.” By accomplishing everyday tasks a man feels “affirmed, excited, encouraged, and alive.” To a man, the journey is a part of the adventure and if it is not the most direct path to the problem that is sometimes okay.
Your husband will look at how you respond to his daily adventures and see that you either are on board and trust him or you are holding the lifesaver and showing him that you distrust his direction. It is the everyday things that can make a huge difference to your husband. In his view, if you don’t trust him in these circumstances how can he expect you to respect him in a real situation?
What does a guy really want his wife to do in these situations? It is probably one of the hardest things for you to do. He wants to feel your support. By support he needs to know that you are there for him – not telling him how to do things or pointing out a “better” way. If he sees your support he will gain confidence and work harder to gain your trust. Don’t get me wrong here ladies, your husband may have a hard time figuring out which end is up in a donkey costume, but if you can support him he will thrive.
The 3rd Respectation: Respect In Communication
A husband’s world can be totally changed by how his wife communicates with him. If he comes home and she is down, that casts a cloud over his whole day no matter how good a day he had at work. On the other hand, if his wife has a joy in her voice, that can make a bad day disappear in a heartbeat. A wife’s communication with her husband goes well beyond her words to her tone, her demeanor, her body language, her countenance, and her intent. A wife’s words are a playground for disrespect both intentional and unintentional.
So, what does a husband hear?
He Hears Disrespect – A man can feel disrespected any time he hears his wife say that he cannot do something, lacks the knowledge, or needs her help or another man’s help.
He Hears Disappointment – A man can feel disrespected any time he is reminded about something that he said that he would do. While there may be some issues that a husband may ask for help remembering, a reminder that something has not been completed is like telling him he has failed.
He Hears Attacks – A wife can often times have a bunch of issues on her plate at one time that she needs to remove and sometimes her husband is one of the only people that can help with that. She will often times come at her husband very directly with her issues, but this comes across as attacking. He would be willing to listen and help if the approach was softened. I know it sounds bad for the guys here, but you have to remember that coming directly at a guy with a bunch of words is just like firing a bullet at him. His response is going to be to hit the ground and flee.
Shaunti makes a very good point to end this Respectation when she states, “It’s all about loving each other the way the other person needs to be loved.” It is really an exercise in learning to communicate in your husband’s language. You want your husband to communicate with you in your love language, so it only makes sense that you can show respect for him by exercising his respect language.
The 4th Respectation: Respect Him in Public
Every portrayal we see of a husband or father on TV, movies, or radio is of a complete failure who is a weak leader, weak husband, and weak provider. While women’s groups, gay rights groups, or any other rights groups would call for firings, apologies, and protests if one of theirs was portrayed this way; men sit by idly and quietly. While this is a horrible fate for men in general, the one who most damages a husband is often his own bride.
Your husband probably has something that he has a lot of bravado about. There is probably something that he carries a lot of pride about and likes to inflate his ego with. The problem is that below that tough exterior is a glass figure that is very fragile. Below the surface a husband often times has a huge feeling of inadequacy. If you are in the company of others, men or women, any teasing or comments that could lead others to look at your husband as weak or incapable is like taking an ice pick to his heart.
A guy has a guard up at all times because of his role as a protector and leader. You, as his wife, are probably the only person that he truly may let his guard completely down for. What may seem to you like fun and good teasing at the time may really sting him. This is true for not only friends you may be around, but especially around his coworkers or any family members.
Even if your husband is not around, don’t fall victim to airing your dirty laundry in public. Wives are very prone to airing their husband’s dirty laundry around their close married friends and this leads to encouraging both of them to wash a whole load before they’re done. A husband instinctively knows that if he hears his wife talking about her friend’s husbands problems that his problems were probably also shared.
On the other hand, going out of your way to praise your husband in public is like when your husband comes home and gives you the biggest hug, tells you “You look beautiful”, and then tells you, “I love you so much!” I have to give the Peacefulwife some credit on this one. She goes well out of her way to make sure that only my best is presented to anyone else. I know there are some weird hobbies or habits that I may do that she may not totally get, but outside of the home she is only supportive of those things. Showing your husband’s best side in front of others also has a strange way of getting others to want to share the best side of their husbands as well.
The 5th Respectation: Respect Him with Your Assumptions
A lot of times the problem may not be something that your husband did at all. It may be that you assumed the worst about your husband from the start. It is probably best to actually have a conversation with him before assuming how he’ll respond about an issue. The Peacefulwife used to be angry with me sometimes when I would come home because she already decided exactly what I was going to say. I didn’t stand a chance – my decisions were already made for me before I even got home. Why should I even try?
If you say something like, “He needs to be reminded,” a guy will take this repeated reminder as a jab from his wife that she thinks he is incapable of accomplishing the task but even more so he hears, “I don’t trust you” or “I expect the worst from you.”
Is there anything where you have assumed your husband is choosing to not do something to help you like a chore, an errand, or assist you in some way that seems just incredibly obvious to you? Chances are that he hasn’t chosen to ignore your need; he may just not recognize it. Just because your husband hasn’t done a certain thing to help you doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you or that he is trying to hurt you or make you suffer.
Lastly, when a guy has been disrespected he is going to withdraw a little bit and is going to be unloving. It may not be safe to assume that his unloving state is his fault. It may be that his wife did the damage, but she wants to blame him for his emotional withdrawal. She may never know he is feeling disrespected, and he may not tell her how deeply she has wounded him.
How To Respect Your Husband
A man’s wife holds the key to making him feel respected. What are the key things that you can do to keep him in a respected state?
- Always assume the best of your husband.
- Never humiliate your husband in public.
- Tell him how proud you are of him.
- Remind him that you trust him.
- When you screw up, admit it and ask for forgiveness – no long explanations, just a simple apology and move on.
- Feeling your support makes him better at home, work, and play.