Last Sunday I had the honor of sharing a message with our precious church congregation. I thought I would post this message for you my dear readers. I hope that it will bless and encourage you.
It is no surprise that women and men are wired differently. Today we are going to discover what men need the most. First, I’d like to share this video with you all. This is the story of a husband and a wife. The wife is always running late, “Just a minute dear,” she calls out, as her husband struggles to hurry her along so that they will not be late again for an important appointment. In his mind, the wife is not respecting his time, doesn’t she know how important it is for him to be on time? In her mind she wants her husband to be proud of her, to feel happy to have her on his arm as they enter the room. She wants to give him a reason to love her even more. She thinks that by taking extra time on her appearance that it will make her husband love her even more. The truth is all the husband wants is to be respected by the wife, he wants her to respect his time. So the husband feels the solution is to encourage his wife to keep a schedule. The wife feels pressure from this new schedule and wants to find a way to let her husband know a schedule just adds more stress to her life. So with the help of her best friend they demonstrate how being on a schedule is just not for them. Enjoy the video:
Now this video is a little extreme, but you get the point. This is a classic example of how women and men think differently.
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 5: 21-33
21Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.
22-24Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
25-28Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.
29-33No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.
It clearly says a wife is to honor (respect) her husband, and that a husband is supposed to love his wife so much that he would even give up his own life for her, just like Jesus loved the church.
That is a very heavy responsibility for us all. A survey that one researcher did that really shocked me. Hundreds of men were asked this question: “If you had to choose between: a) being all alone and unloved in the world b) feeling inadequate and disrespected by everyone, which would you choose? 74% of men said “b.” 74% of men said “I’d rather be alone and unloved than disrespected.” Dr. Emerson Eggerich in his book “Love and Respect”, says that he could sum up what men have said to him over the years in counseling this way: “I would rather live with a wife who respected me but did not love me, than a wife who loved me but did not respect me.”
I think if my husband said to me “Stephanie I respect you, but I do not love you,” I would not know how to act. I know I need to feel Scott’s love, I thrive on his love. But, now knowing that men in general have more of a desire/need for respect than love, well that just blows my mind. Scott knows I love him, I tell him often, and I pray my actions demonstrate my love for him as well, but you know what? I have never once in almost 15 years of our married life sat down and said, “Scott I respect you, and here are some reasons why…” until this past week.
As I was preparing for this teaching, Scott sat down on the bed and faced my direction, I was sitting at a table in our bedroom that is our “office space” with my laptop. I turned around to face him and said, “You know Scott, I thank you all the time for the things that you do, things like bringing home chicken noodle soup when I get a cold, but I have never once told you that I respect you as a husband and a father. I respect you for getting up early every single day to provide for our family, then even working overtime most of the week, I respect you for being an excellent father to our son, Seth, and raising him to love God, and love to others. I respect you Scott, and I love you and I’m really sorry I have not told you that before now.” Well let me just tell you that he sat on the edge of the bed, and just looked at me, he did not say a word. I knew I had shocked him, and I also knew that he knew I was being totally genuine with him. That is all that mattered to me in that moment. Now he knows I really respect him for the man of God he is, the husband that he is, the father that he is, and the person God made him to be.
Some may ask, “How can I respect a man who doesn’t EARN my respect, isn’t respect supposed to be EARNED?” Well you are right, we have always been taught that if you want the respect of someone, you must EARN their respect. But, think about your job, when you first started you automatically respected your boss, at least you did if you wanted to keep that job. He did not earn your respect, you gave it unconditionally because he is your boss. Now I’m not saying your husband is your boss, but I am saying if you have given automatic respect before, why not try it again? Especially if it will make your relationships better.
If we would think of Unconditional Respect like we think of Unconditional Love it would be easy to respect others, especially the men in our lives. Mother’s unconditionally love their children, no matter what mistakes they make, or how they act, a mother’s love cannot be diluted.
Respect and Love – It’s a cycle, if we as wives will show our husbands unconditional respect, then he will be more apt to show and demonstrate unconditional love. Since we thrive on being and feeling loved, when we receive love from our husbands it makes us want to respect him more and more. However when respect is absent, then showing love becomes harder and harder for our significant others. And it becomes fuel for arguments, and instead of talking through the arguments he retreats to the mancave and she finds the next thing that needs attention on her task list, and the issue, the real issue of respect and love is never fully satisfied. Instead, it stays dormant until the next argument. How do we break this cycle?
We break the cycle, by choosing to be the bigger person. By being unselfish. By determining in our hearts and making an intentional choice to respect our husbands unconditionally. When he does do something nice for us like washing the laundry even if he mixes lights and darks, we need to learn to hold our tongues and say, “Thank you honey,” instead of getting upset and informing him of how now we have more work ahead of us because we much bleach out the whites. In the long run, does it matter? So what if it is a little extra work, at least he is trying to demonstrate his love for us by taking a task off of our To Do list. We have to choose our battles with wisdom. We need to remember no matter what the difference between us that our husbands do not deserve us belittling them, or tearing them down. Why do we hurt the ones we love the most? We as wives must remember to preserve their dignity, and respect them even when we do not agree. We need to realize that in our weakness God is strong, we need to ask God to help us to be the wives he created us to be for our husbands. It is so much easier to live life leaning of the Lord then it is to try and handle it all ourselves. I am so guilty of trying to handle everything myself. It’s actually comical when you think about it, I mean the Creator of the whole universe wants to help me, wants me to ask Him for help to be the person He created me to be, and I in all my wisdom say to the Creator of Creation, I got this God, I can handle this. How patient and loving He is with me, Thank you Lord. Everyday I am learning that it is okay not to be able to handle it all, to give it to God, and trust in Him. When we as married couples, or even as individuals draw closer to God, He brings a new dynamic to ALL OUR RELATIONSHIPS. Our Heavenly Father shows us through His Son Jesus how to Love, and be loved and how to Respect.
So where do we go from here? First we pray and ask God for help, we realize that we need help just live this life everyday. If we need to humble ourselves and ask god to forgive us of our attitudes, or wrongful deeds, or hurtful words, we need to ask, we need to believe that Jesus made a way for us to approach our Heavenly Father to talk with Him. He made us, what is important to us, is important to Him.
Next, we start taking actions that are deliberate and intentional. Such as unconditionally respecting our husbands. Here are some ideas that can help us:
- Listen – intentionally without distractions.
- Curb your reactions, stay open minded
- Message vs. Emotion – what is being said may be less important than how it is being said.
- Put them first, give them full attention
- Avoid conflict, be the BIGGER person
- Be considerate, preserve their dignity
I know God can help us all to be better people, if we will just trust Him, trust His Word, and trust that He wants the very best for us in life, and in love and relationships. After all He did create us, and we are His children, and He loves us all unconditionally.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Thank you for reading.
All the best to you and your spouses.