Love and Respect
“He does not make me feel loved,” and, “She is disrespectful and a nag,” are common complaints I hear often. Interestingly, these two things all spouses desire from each other, love and respect, are the exact two commands given to us in God’s Word. A man is to love his wife and a woman is to respect her husband (Ephesians 5:25 ). With these key components missing, there’s no need to ask why marriages are falling apart. We should ask why we cannot overcome the repetitive failure in delivering to one another.
The answer is two-fold; our hearts get hardened (Mark 10:15) followed by lack of knowledge to what each of those commands mean. We believe we understand what love and respect are but many marriages do not recognize that they fail at giving love and respect in their day-to-day doings and communication. This leads to a sinking ship.
No ship is beyond rescuing, however, because if the Lord offers grace to us, we can offer it to our spouses. You and I are told to forgive as we are forgiven (Luke 6:37). Without compromise and giving from both sides we can not expect change and restoration. If only one spouse is willing to break the cycle of miscommunication and ugliness, then it is a good place to start.
From personal experience, I testify that there have been times when I have been less than kind in my response to my husband because of my annoyance at him. Yet, when his response to my attitude was a loving one, I softened my own heart then became humble and regretful instantly. Proverbs 15:1 states that a kind word turns away wrath but a grievous word stirs up anger.
Let’s begin working. What does the love a wife needs look like? Love is expressed differently including verbally acknowledging that the wife is pretty, desirable, and smart. The more a woman is cared for, the more she will give back because she feels good about herself.
Helping around the home is always a sign that the man cares. Some couples have assigned responsibilities and the man may say, “She stays at home; I work outside of the home, she needs to take care of this.” This may be true, but love can be expressed by the sacrifice that the husband offers unconditionally. At times both spouses work and his willingness to split the house work speaks volume.
Very importantly, find out what makes her feel special. Not all people have the same love language as Gary Chapman states in the Five Love Languages. Some women feel more loved receiving gifts, or, when the husband shares public display of affection, or when he compliments her in public. However, a husband should not assume what makes her feel loved because most of us will express our love to one another how we would like to receive it, not how the spouse needs to receive it.
A woman needs more than a wink to become available to her husband for intimacy. Loving a wife is expressed in the way her husband considers how she is wired. This means preparing her for intimacy does not begin the day the man anticipates oneness. Wives do not like feeling used and unloved by the lack of attention she gets before love-making. For best results, ask her how, when, where, and how long.
A childhood friend of mine mentioned, “My husband helps around the house with chores I don’t need help with. I could use help outside mowing the lawn and killing ant piles.” She should have used her words to communicate that, also; it would have been more affective if he asked what she needed from him. In summary, asking what the spouse really needs could solve many problems. If every time you want to communicate, things get heated, invite an objective mediator who understands God’s Word regarding love and respect, and doesn’t not favor one or another.
As for the famous “nagging” charge against wives, meaning, when she repeats herself, she does not feel heard. Eye contact followed by words of acknowledgment cause her to feel understood and reassured that the husband cares about her concerns and feelings. More times than not, the issue at hand will be put to rest.
I asked a couple before they divorced two years ago what they fought about. I expected to hear it was addictions, even adultery. Sadly, it was an accumulation of anger and frustration over communications between the two, but they made him feel less than the leader of the home.
Often, she directed him to get breakfast for the kids, proceeded to tell him what to feed them, including the types of foods, drinks, and well ladies, you know where I am going. Men feel respected when we ask if they can handle something for us, rather than instruct him. “Honey would you pick up some milk on the way home?” works much better than, “I need you to pick up milk after work.” Yes, they do mean the same thing, but to a man, it means two different things. One is a request, the other a command. Wives with strong leadership abilities express these tendencies more but like a counselor once said, “God gave you a leadership ability to use outside of the home and needs to be turned down when dealing with your husband.”
Another husband would often remind his wife that she made more money than him and he seemed to resent her. Most of us would probably think he needed to overcome that insecurity but it was deeper. He interpreted this message by her prior comments on being able to do well enough alone. He didn’t feel valued, respected, or needed.
Men are emotional beings too and need to know they are valued but in different areas than women. They are wired to desire hard work and be proud of their accomplishments. Remind them what a great job they do at providing. If both spouses work you can still remind him of his great efforts such as his handiness around the home, caring for the lawn, they way he loves on his children, and his attention in satisfying you.
Sex is emotional for men, not just physical. They express themselves physically and they desire to connect with their wives. It is healthy for wives to understand the needs of their husbands as a God-given desire and not just some random act to pass time with. Couples should honor one another with their bodies.
Now that each spouse has been given a glimpse of love and respect, why not start fresh making it your “New Year’s Resolution” to shape your marriage up and avoid the sinking ship?
Teresa G. Lusk is the author of Good Enough to be a Homemaker and CEO, a motivational speaker, and has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Religion, and Christian Counseling. www.homemakerceo.com