Back when my husband and I got married, my parents gave us a copy of Love and Respect to help us build a strong foundation to our marriage. Of course, with the distractions of life, it took us a while to get around to opening it up. But now, 13 years and 3 kids later, my husband picked it up and started reading through it.
I haven’t had a chance to dive into it yet, but my husband has been telling me about it and video blogging what he’s been learning. Although he’s talking to gamer dads, there’s a lot we can learn as busy moms, too.
Respect is a Big Deal
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is how important respect is to men. My respect towards my husband directly affects the way he loves me, which affects the way I respect him and so on. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (the book’s author) calls it The Crazy Cycle:
As my husband shared in his What’s the Crazy Cycle? vlog, Dr. Eggerichs drew this principle from Ephesians 5:33, where Paul writes husbands should love their wives and wives should respect their husbands.
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Love and Respect as an Antidote
A lot of the way we communicate our love or respect for each other is through communication, which is why it’s important to remember that what you mean may be different than what he says and vice versa. I think it helps to think of it as your spouse speaking in code. They may do or say something from a place of love, but you perceive it completely differently.
In my husband’s What’s the Antidote for a Contemptuous Relationship? vlog, he gave an example of a husband holding his tongue and walking away during a heated discussion. He might be trying to be honorable by not saying something that will hurt you, but you might feel like he’s saying he doesn’t want to engage with you and resolve the issue. Women often hear the silence as hostility and end up feeling unloved–the opposite of what he’s trying to do.
Similarly, you may be trying to voice a concern and offer another way of completing a task, but men often hear criticism as contempt. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever criticize your husband, but think about how you do it. How often do you offer criticism? Is it in front of other people? What words are you choosing? Instead of being really blunt, can you soften the approach? Maybe instead, explain how you’re feeling and offer a suggestion or give him an opportunity to come up with a solution, instead of just jumping into criticism mode.
It takes effort on both sides of the relationship to decipher what we’re trying to communicate, but it’s important! It’s well worth the time and energy to think about how are words and actions are perceived by our husbands. Is your tone respectful? What about the words you choose?
Our Kids Are Watching
One last thing to mention is that the way we respect our husbands and the way they love us affect our children, too. The way we model our relationship will stay with them and affect their relationships in the future, too (romantic or platonic). Our kids are watching.
We’ll never be perfect at respecting our husbands–and they’ll never be perfect at loving us–but working on this mutually loving and respectful relationship will help our kids pursue healthy relationships as they get older too, even if they don’t realize it.
How to Show Him Respect
As my husband and I started talking about this concept of love and respect more, I realized I didn’t really know how to show him I respect him. This is something I’m working on, but here are a few things I’ve been learning:
- Flat out tell him. For example, “I really respect how you handled that challenging situation at work,” or, “I respect how you handled our child’s outburst just now.”
- When he voices an opinion or suggestion, show him you respect him by doing it his way rather than brushing him off and doing what you want.
- Ask him how you can do a better job of showing him how much you respect him.
This is an area I’m still learning as well. If you have more suggestions, drop them in the comments below!