So, husbands/men need respect in marriage. Women need love. (based on the commands of the Bible, and also experience!) For many years I tried to give my husband LOVE not RESPECT - and it didn’t work very well! I tried to ask him what he needed from me – and he couldn’t really tell me. It was really frustrating for me and for him.
THE CRAZY CYCLE AND THE ENERGIZING CYCLE
According to Dr. Eggerichs in “Love and Respect,” without love>women react>without respect> men react>without love… and on and on, “The Crazy Cycle.” The good news is, if a husband begins acting in love, he can break the cycle. If a wife begins acting with respect, she can break the cycle. Just ONE spouse can break this cycle and get the marriage back on track! Thankfully, there is hope! His love >> motivates >> her respect >>motivates >> his love – “The Energizing Cycle”
A NEW LANGUAGE FOR WIVES
But if you are like I was a few years ago, I found out that I really didn’t understand what respect looked like to a husband. I wanted to give what was needed, but I thought/spoke/breathed love and was blind to the whole male realm of respect. Thankfully, this is a foreign language that can be learned!
FIRST CUT OUT ALL DISRESPECT!
Men can be very sensitive to any hint of disrespect. Part of being respectful involves stopping even unintentional disrespectful communication. Some things that could communicate disrespect to a husband include:
- Asking “why?” (for a detailed explanation, see Shaunti Feldhahn’s “For Women Only”) ie: “Why did you…?” “Why would you…?” “Why didn’t you…”
- Using a “mother-is-not-happy” tone of voice (sounds condescending, critical, judgemental, unaccepting).
- Having an angry/impatient/unfriendly facial expression regardless of the verbal content of a woman’s words.
- Telling him what to do.
- Giving unsolicited advice.
- Any hint of being demanding/needy
- Don’t expect him to be your best girlfriend. He’s a man! Men are very different from women. When we expect them to act/think/talk like women, we get ourselves into big trouble!
- Too much verbage and emotion can overload a man. Try to censor things down to basics. If it takes more than about 10 minutes to explain feelings, it’s time to wrap up the conversation with, “Thanks so much for listening to me! I feel a lot better just being able to talk to you about things.”
- If we say things like, “You never spend any time with me!” That comes across as an attack and will send a guy running for cover! But if we say our simple feelings, “I’m feeling lonely, would you hold me/listen to me/sit with me, please?” or “I miss you!” when he hasn’t been home as much as you would like. Then we are being true to our feelings without casting blame, and we are a lot more likely to get what we want and need! (Laura Doyle’s “The Surrendered Wife,” and Bob Grant’s “The Women Men Adore and Never Want to Leave)
LEARNING RESPECT IS A PROCESS, LIKE LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE AND IT TAKES TIME!
These lists are not exhaustive! Just some ideas to get us thinking and appreciating a man’s perspective in marriage. And there are some things that will be specific to your particular husband. It’s ok to ask him, “Is this respectful?” “Was I disrespectful just now?” As soon as I realize that i have been disrespectful, I immediately apologize, without comment. As Laura Doyle points out in “The Surrendered Wife,” if you apologize for being disrespectful, and then add any “ifs” or “buts” to your apology, you will then have to apologize again for being disrespectful again. Just a straight apology with no commentary or explanation gets the job done respectfully!
SOME THINGS THAT DO SPEAK RESPECT TO MOST HUSBANDS
- Give him genuine, brief (cause guys aren’t into words as much as we are!) verbal/written communication about anything he does/says that you admire/appreciate/are grateful for at least a few times a week, or any time you notice him doing something you like.
- Try to do things he asks you to do. Guys don’t talk to vent. If it is a big enough deal for him to mention it, that means it is a priority for him. Doing things he asks (unless they are morally wrong or illegal) are a great way to show respect for him and to show him that he is important.
- dolling yourself up, making an effort to fix your hair/makeup and dress nicely. (don’t have to be a model or a size 0 or spend 2 hours/day, definitely don’t go into any kind of food addictions/exercise addictions to accomplish this), but just the effort of making yourself look well kept speaks volumes to your man about your value for yourself and for him. Try wearing feminine clothing, things you know he loves to see you in.
- Be feminine: soft, receptive, friendly, smiling, gentle.
- Make time to take care of your own spirit/heart/body. He loves to see you happy. But ultimately, we are each responsible for our own happiness. If we are exhausted, depleted, overworked, and irritable – only we can give ourselves a nap, or proper nutrition, or time with God to pray and read the BIble and get our balance back. Then when we are well-cared for, rested, well-nourished, and spiritually centered, we can properly show delight for all the little things our men like to do to bring a smile to our faces!
- Have a friendly, smiling expression whenever you can. And have a friendly, accepting, warm, welcoming, inviting tone of voice.
- Expressing “pure desires” as Laura Doyle describes in “The Surrendered Wife.” ie: ” I want to eat out tonight,” or “I want to fix up the kitchen,” or “I want to do something together as a family this weekend, “I want to go to the beach this year”… Then our husbands have a chance to be the hero and decide when/how/where to do something to delight us. We get much better results this way than, “You should paint the cabinets tonight.” “Our house looks awful, why don’t you ever work on it?”
- “Accept his choice of socks and stocks” as Laura Doyle puts it. When he feels accepted just as he is and knows I am not trying to change him, that opens the door to intimacy! Then a guy knows he can let down his guard and it is safe to be himself and to share his heart.
- Have a willing spirit with a tendency to try to say, “yes!” to your man.
MEN AREN’T WOMEN. THEY HAVE DIFFERENT NEEDS AND DIFFERENT WAYS OF LOOKING AT LIFE. THAT IS OK! WE CAN EMBRACE AND ENJOY THESE DIFFERENCES AND BECOME STRONGER!
As we learn to appreciate and understand the way men think and what they need (and it is VERY DIFFERENT from our own ways of thinking about life), we can do a much better job meeting our husband’s legitimate masculine needs. And when a husband has “affection, appreciation and attention” (as Dr. Laura explains in “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”), “he will lay the moon and the stars at your feet for your pleasure.”
Praying for healing in the marriages of my friends! Marriage is HARD! And it can be soo painful. But God can use our marriages to make us more like Christ and to help us grow closer to Him, and to our husbands. I am praying for vibrant, healthy, romantic, wonderful relationships for you all! But even more than that – I am praying for all of us to become more and more conformed to the image of Christ.