Love and Respect – Part 3
Submitted by Jarvis Howe, M.A.
If you have been tracking with me so far, last week I wrote about how husbands can show love to their wives. Men and women both understand the importance of this, even if men sometimes (often) fail to give their wives as much love as their wives desire. The idea that I want to try to convey today is that more than love, husbands need to feel that their wives respect them.
One of the most important ways a man identifies himself is by his work. Man has been working ever since he was expelled from the Garden of Eden. One of the first things men ask other men is “what do you do?” Working and providing is one of the ways in which men show their families how much they love them. How are some men thanked for their hard work? I have spoken with some couples where the wife harps on her husband for working too much and not spending enough time with the family. Working too much is a separate issue, but the first problem I see is how the wife is approaching the issue of the husband working too much. Criticizing or nagging is rarely effective in initiating change in others. Her heart is in the right place, she wants more time with her family, but her husband sees her approach to the situation as her being critical, unappreciative, and disrespectful. He is putting extra time in at work to provide more for his family and is catching nothing but grief for it at home. “Where is the gratefulness?” He says. How does he respond? If he’s like a lot of husbands, possibly by spending even more time at work to escape the nagging. It’s amazing what a different approach may do for the wife in this situation. Expressing how much you value his work effort and his providing for the family and how much you respect him as a man will soften his heart and make him want to spend more time at home instead of less.
One of the most important things a woman can do is to believe in her husband. I am currently in pre-marital counseling with my fiancée and we recently had the assignment of listing three things that the other did that made us feel loved. Her top response was when I do little things for her, like make her something to eat or buy her favorite snack at the store. My top response was that I feel loved because she believes in me. She supports me, and she would be there for me no matter what. It is hard to put into words how much that means for me and men in general. Often women lament how their husbands stop doing the little loving things for them after years of marriage. For men, the equivalent of this would be a wife who stops being his cheerleader like she was in the beginning of their relationship.
One of the most important, and most difficult, concepts for many women is respecting her husband’s God-ordained responsibility to lead. In his book Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs tells of a time when he was speaking at a conference on the subject of male leadership, and a wife in the room said, “I want my husband to be the head; I want him to be the leader. I just want to make sure that he makes decisions in keeping with what I want.” The room broke into laughter as the woman apparently had not realized the implication of her accidentally amusing statement: she isn’t truly comfortable with her husband’s leadership. Ephesians 5:22-24 are not exactly favorite verses among feminists. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
It is important to note that this is a responsibility, not a perk. It doesn’t mean husbands are to take a “my way or the highway” approach. Rather, a wise husband should listen to the counsel of his wife. In a Christian marriage as God designed it, men are not to take advantage of their responsibility to lead by wielding it as a tool to dominate their wives. Respecting your husband’s responsibility of leadership is one of the fastest ways to his heart.
Women, how awesome is it when your husband gives you a love card or writes you a love note? Whether it’s scrawled out on a sticky note or he let the people at Hallmark do most of the hard work, you feel loved when you he takes the time to think of you and makes you feel special. From a man’s perspective, love cards are nice, but they just don’t touch us the way they do women. I haven’t saved all the love cards or notes I’ve received from my fiancée, but she has a shoebox full of every one I’ve sent her. Dr. Eggerichs has a great idea for all the women out there. Write your husband a “respect card.” Similar to a love card, a respect card lays out how much you respect your husband and why. Make sure to sign it “with all my respect” as opposed to “with all my love.” That is a card that will move him. That is a card that men will hang on to. Why? Because now you’re speaking his language. Men know their wives love them. However, they’re not always sure they respect them. Women are more open about what they need and are better communicators than men, generally speaking. Men know that women need love. However, men don’t always verbalize their need for respect. Talking about how much you respect your husband might not come naturally, just as talking about emotions and love doesn’t come as naturally to men, but it is so important.
May God bless you and your marriage.