If a husband has been feeling quite disrespected, he may be particularly sensitive to a wife’s unsolicited advice and suggestions. When a husband feels truly respected, he is usually much more open to his wife ideas, but wives may want to learn how to share their suggestions at the right time and in ways that feel respectful to their particular husbands. And, if the subject is an area of his expertise, he may be less receptive to suggestions if you are not well versed in that topic.
Husbands, you are welcome to share your ideas, suggestions, insights, and masculine wisdom with us on this issue. When and how might wives share suggestions in ways that feel respectful to their husbands? (I may share your suggestions in future posts or in a future book anonymously – so, if you do share, you are giving me permission to share your ideas in the future. A reminder, I am unable to publish comments from the manosphere, per my husband’s request.)
** This post is probably the best fit for women who tend to be outspoken, Type A, super helpful, assertive, etc…
MEN AND WOMEN THINK SO DIFFERENTLY
Women often give suggestions and unsolicited advice to others because we believe that is the loving, helpful thing to do. We don’t usually intend to communicate that we think the other person is incompetent, we just want to share ideas so that our friends can have all the possible options and solutions available. We also often jump in to help others without being asked because we believe that is the loving thing to do. If a friend is washing the dishes and trying to calm a crying baby, many of us would say, “Hey, I’ll handle the dishes, you go take care of the baby,” and our friend would probably appreciate us stepping in to help when she was feeling overwhelmed.
Men don’t tend to give unsolicited advice or suggestions to others out of respect for them. (Gentlemen, you are welcome to expand on this for us, whether you agree or disagree.) They respect that others can handle things themselves unless they ask for help. For a man to swoop in and take over when someone didn’t ask for help would be to imply that he thinks the person is incompetent and unable to handle the situation. A man waits until someone asks him to help or until someone asks him for his expertise and advice. Then he is happy to help.
THIS ONE ISSUE CAUSES A LOT OF MISUNDERSTANDINGS
When a woman is feeling overwhelmed and juggling too many chores and responsibilities, she may expect her husband to jump in and help her without her having to ask for help. She may assume that he is unloving and uncaring if he sits and watches TV while she struggles to get everything done around the house and with the children. Meanwhile, her husband is treating her with respect, trusting that she is able to handle things herself and that if she cannot handle things, she will ask for his help.
If she doesn’t ask for help, he assumes she wants to handle everything herself and may be completely shocked when she is angry that he didn’t help her because she never asked him for help.
What Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says in “Love and Respect” is that sometimes women think they are being loving and helpful, but their husbands may interpret their motives, words, and behavior as disrespectful. And men may treat their wives respectfully, but their wives may interpret the respect as a lack of love. This is what helps us to get on the “Crazy Cycle,” where a wife’s disrespect fuels her husband’s lack of love, and his lack of love fuels his wife’s disrespect.
We can get back on the “Motivating Cycle” by wives purposely doing things that feel respectful to husbands or by husbands purposely doing things that feel loving to wives. Then a wife’s respect can motivate her husband’s love and a husband’s love can motivate his wife’s respect.
But, even if our spouse is unwilling to cooperate to get off of the “Crazy Cycle,” one spouse can seek to bless the other, regardless of the outcome just to please and honor Christ.
A HELPFUL TEST FOR WOMEN
Before saying something to your husband – giving an idea or jumping in to help – consider whether you would be appreciative or offended if the most controlling woman in your life did the same for you?
Your baby is totally healthy and having a great day when he suddenly starts crying. Your mother (who tends to be rather controlling) jumps in to say,
“Did you feed him this morning? You never feed him enough, you know. The poor thing is probably starving.”
- How would you feel about this particular suggestion from this particular person at this moment?
- Can you hear how she is undermining your ability as a mom and that she is disrespecting you as a mother?
- Does this suggestion (criticism) make you feel loved and supported by your mom or resentful and angry?
- Would you appreciate her allowing you to assess the situation and take care of the baby yourself before she criticizes your parenting or jumps in to make suggestions?
- What could she have done that would have actually been helpful?
This is how husbands often feel when wives jump in and say things like, “Well, did you test the car battery to see if it is dead? I bet that is the problem.” – when the car won’t crank. Many husbands would very much appreciate us giving them time to work through a problem themselves – this feels respectful to them – unless they ask us for our suggestions, particularly if it is something that falls under their list of responsibilities in the family.
Then when they DO work through the problems, we can thank them and show our appreciation for being the hero!
Don’t we tend to do this to God, too? (Check out the comments for more on this.)
What Is Respect in Marriage? – husbands share what is respectful to them
When the Van Battery Died – how I handled that situation