Though we all need love and respect equally, the felt need differs during conflict, and this difference is as different as pink is from blue!
As a wife, you notice a man and a woman walking hand in hand.
Hand holding is invisible to men. Men trip because they try to walk between two people who are holding hands. They don’t even realize what happened.
You see a couple sitting together in the park, talking face to face on a bench.
You beam all the way through your friend’s wedding.
As you pass the hospital, you see new parents coming from the maternity ward, and your mind races back to the birth of your child and what you felt as a couple.
You look at the world through pink sunglasses. (Forgive the stereotypical color pink, but it serves the biblical point I want to make.)
We don’t stereotype by color. Just by behavior.
As a husband, you notice matters of honor.
The movie Saving Private Ryan, about the invasion of Normandy, tears you up as you fixate on the incredible heroism.
You cried at a movie? Pansy.
You follow the world champion sports team, feeling part of these guys who say, “We respect one another more than anybody on the planet. We’d do anything for one another. One for all, all for one! We’re going to be number 1 again!”
Sports (aaahhhhhh!). You’ll be good at them. It’s an energy drink for men. Menergy! These aren’t your dad’s puns, these are energy puns. Turbopuns!
The note from your growing son that says, “Dad, I respect you more than anybody” penetrates your heart like few things. That card is kept as gold.
Your son said…what? Seriously? Who would put that on the card?
The Purple Heart you won in the Gulf War sits on your shelf.
A picture of your war buddy who gave his life that you might live is center stage in your home study.
You’ve had the worst, now try the thirst…quencher.
These things are about “strength and honor,” the phrase from the movie The Gladiator. God designed men to be so moved by honor that they give their very lives. Men serve and die for honor.
Now with preposterous amounts of testosterone. Preposterone!
Feeling overweight after the holidays, Michelle complains to Adam, her husband. He listens quietly. The next day at the bookstore, Adam sees front and center the book, Dieting for the Christian Woman: Post Holiday Menus. He purchases it. When he brings it to Michelle she goes ballistic! “I can’t believe you! This is unreal. You don’t love me for me but only if I look nice. You’re despicable!”
A Lifetime Original film.
I discovered a secret – a secret hidden in plain sight! A husband does not lack the knowledge that he is to love his wife. She tells him that she needs to feel his love. What he lacks is motivation.
The secret is this: A husband is motivated to love in response to a wife showing him unconditional respect. That’s a big truth hidden in plain sight. After hearing it, it still seems foreign to many!
Remember, if your husband doesn’t love you, it’s your fault.
My wife Sarah would like to subtitle the Love and Respect Marriage Conference, “The conference men want to attend.” We believe this is a fair and balanced approach for both husbands and wives.
Through RESPECT TALK you can……
- Re-kindle moments of closeness in the midst of stress
- Open your husband’s closed spirit when he feels everybody respects him but you
- Counter the misperception you are trying to be his mother
- Give him hope that you view him equal to you, not worse than you.
- Re-energize his deflated ego in the midst of outside factors that are discouraging him.
Because wives who don’t show enough deference are just trying to be your mother.
You’ve already observed how this feeds into stereotypes: Women are silly and emotional and all they ever think about is weddings and babies; men are tough and like sports and, for some reason, all of them are wounded veterans.
The really damaging part of a sweeping generalization like this is the great unspoken question: What if I’m not like that? If I don’t fit into your astoundingly binary pigeonholes, then what? Is it wrong? Am I sinning by desiring respect as well as love (or love as well as respect)?
This kind of approach encourages people to act according to the prescribed formula rather than learning what approach works for their significant others. Husband acting distant? He must need more respect. That doesn’t work? He must need even more respect. But every person is different; every person wants and needs different things. Only by learning about your spouse as an individual can you hope to treat him in the way that he or she wants to be treated.
Also notice the use of “honor”:
These things are about “strength and honor,” the phrase from the movie The Gladiator*. God designed men to be so moved by honor that they give their very lives. Men serve and die for honor.
“Honor” is used, roughly, to mean “something deserving of respect,” which seems accurate. Thus it is a male trait, because males need respect. But honor can be earned. You can act honorably; you can be deserving of respect whether respect is given or not.
Love, on the other hand, can only be given. You can’t deserve love; there is never an amount of love due to you because of your actions nor nature. Men need something that they have earned; women need something that you give by your own choice. It all comes back to control and dependency.
*Men watch Gladiator and think about strength and honor. Women watch Gladiator and think about how The Fall of the Roman Empire was way better because it had both Alec Guinness and Christopher Plummer. Seriously, you have not seen epic until you have seen that movie.