I was introduced to the book Love and Respect from a sermon at the church I attended in Calgary. The pastor actually did a month long sermon series just on this book and the love and respect concept. I am sure it was in response to the over 50 % divorce rate within the Church (which I was included in at the time, another story). I bought that book and it blew my mind; wishing I had read it 6 years prior. It is based on Ephesians 5:33
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Basically, the author believes, and experience would prove that the reason God put this very command in the Bible is because we need to be commanded to do it in order to do it. Huh?
The Bible does not say "wife you must love your husband" or "husband you must respect your wife"? Why? We naturally do that because we love how we want to be loved. To explain, here is a quote from the author Emerson Eggerich :
What is Love and Respect? We believe love best motivates a woman and respect most powerfully motivates a man. Research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts when feeling disrespected and a wife reacts when feeling unloved. We asked 7,000 people this question: when you are in a conflict with your spouse or significant other, do you feel unloved or disrespected? 83% of the men said "disrespected." 72% of the women said, "unloved." 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!
Oh my goodness, right? I had to share that with all my friends. The reactions were almost all the same. "Really?!!" Dr. Eggerich mentions telling your husband you respect him for certain things. Like, actually saying something like,"I respect you for the way you handle our grouchy neighbour" or "I really respect you for the hard work you put into the home." I remember thinking, "That's way too obvious, as if he would like that." Then, when I had the opportunity to use it, I tried it and IT WORKED! Ryan stood up straight, he almost glowed when I began to tell him how I respected him. I could have told him that I cherished him and loved being around him all the time, but he just wouldn't have received it the same. Another suggestion he gives is showing an interest in what your husband is doing. For example, sit with him while he plays his favourite video game and genuinely compliment him on his skills. I called Ryan one day while he was at work and asked him to play something he was working on (he was a radio producer at the time). "Really?" he asked shocked. When he did, I went on and on about what I liked about it and how he was so good at being a producer (i meant it because he is really great at what he does). I asked him questions about how he made that one sound affect and so on. He loved it!!! I got a text a couple minutes after we got off the phone telling me how much he loved me and he couldn't wait to come home to me!!! Seriously!
However, this also means that when I am not showing him respect that there would be the opposite effect. This would be when I make put him down in front of people or correct him in front of the kids. In times where I have shamefully done such a thing, I have seen the immediate deflation of his spirit. We women are good with our words and I don't think we realize how much they can cut men. Of course they wouldn't admit or show it the way we would, but it happens. I remember when I shared this concept with some newly married girlfriends, one of them really struggled with the idea. As much as she loved her husband, she felt that at times, he was just too cocky and needed to be put back in his humble place. "That is not your job though," I said. "Your job is too make him feel like he is the smartest, funniest, strongest man that you know." It was hard for her to take and I admit, it is often hard for me. However, as someone who has a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I have to trust that He will talk to Ryan about the areas he needs to work on so I just pray. There are times when I feel God telling me, "You need to tell him how you feel when he says that/does that." That's when I pray and approach Ryan, doing my best to keep respecting him.
There are times when I have to ask myself if I am showing respect to Ryan. When life gets hectic, it seems that I start reacting and that is when my tone is sarcastic, my thoughts are bitter and my loving behaviour is conditional. It is something that needs to be kept in check. I guess that's why it is in the scriptures...as a kindly reminder. I am so glad that I learned this little treasure and I am sure Ryan is too.
"What about the guy?"you ask. Well, there is a whole other side that teaches men how women feel loved and how we need that to be communicated. It is great and if you read it you will be nodding continuously, saying, "Yes! You tell him!" It also gets into how if the man does not feel respected he will not love his wife well and if the wife does not feel loved she will not respect the man well and so goes what he calls The Crazy Cycle. However, he encourages each person to do their part and to not demand the other person do theirs. We are only responsible for our part of the vow. He says that often times, when we are focusing on loving our spouse the way we are supposed to, they will respond with the kind of love that we need. There are always exceptions, of course, which makes me sad. He addresses that too.
If you have some stories about how this concept has worked in your marriage, please share with me.
Here is the link for the book. There are some great resources on the site, as well as testimonies as to how Love and Respect has saved marriages. This is just one of them.