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Love and Respect FOR A LIFETIME
By Emerson Eggerichs
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Emerson Eggerichs
All rights reserved.
THE WISDOM OF LOVE AND RESPECT
A woman needs love like she needs air to breathe. A man needs respect like he needs air to breathe.
The first question some folks ask is "Don't women need respect and men need love?" Absolutely. We all need love and respect equally. However, Ephesians 5:33 says that a husband must love his wife and a wife must respect her husband. Apparently there is a felt need in a wife for love and, in a husband, for respect. Assuming this to be true but wanting to validate it, we asked seven thousand people this question: During a conflict with your spouse, do you feel unloved or disrespected? Eighty-three percent of the men said they feel disrespected, and 72 percent of the women feel unloved.
When your spouse's spirit deflates during a conflict, your wife is feeling unloved and your husband is feeling disrespected. Not always, but frequently. When a husband chooses to do or say something loving—and that includes saying, "I am sorry for coming across in an unloving way"—he energizes his wife. When a wife decides to express herself respectfully—and that includes apologizing for her disrespectful attitude—she energizes her husband.
Oh, that couples would discover the power of love and respect!
Love and respect are like oxygen to a suffocating person, and this is one reason why God commands a husband to love and a wife to respect!
What do you want for your marriage? Do you want some peace? Do you want to feel close to each other? Do you want to feel valued by each other? Do you want to experience marriage the way God intended? Then why not try some Love and Respect? It will change the way you talk to, think about, and treat each other. It will change your marriage!
Here is the secret to marriage that every couple seeks, and yet few couples ever find ...
Unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her.
It's the secret that will help you achieve a brand-new level of intimacy.
Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
—Ephesians 5:33 NIV
You're the only person in the world who can meet your spouse's deepest need for love and respect in marriage. After all, you alone are married to your spouse!
When you touch your spouse's deepest need, something good almost always happens. The key to energizing your spouse is meeting your spouse's heartfelt desire.
The woman absolutely needs love, and the man absolutely needs respect. It's as simple—and as difficult—as that.
Respect is a man's deepest value. I have had numerous men tell me, "I would rather live with a wife who respected me but did not love me than live with a wife who loved me but did not respect me."
These men are not saying that they are indifferent to love. They know they need love, but they need to feel respected even more than to feel loved.
Your husband needs you to love him, but he also needs you to like him as a friend.
When you come home after you have been apart, the first few moments of reconnecting will set the tone for the rest of the evening.
When his wife shows him unconditional respect, in most cases a husband will feel like a prince and be motivated to show her the kind of unconditional love she desires. She is not a doormat or a slave. She is a princess who is loved and, by the way, respected also.
She wants him to bring flowers. He would rather fix the faucet. He needs to see that she wants flowers. She needs to see and appreciate that he wants to fix the sink.
A wife has one driving need—to feel loved. When that need is met, she is happy.
A husband has one driving need—to feel respected. When that need is met, he is happy.
When either of these needs isn't met, things get crazy with conflict.
AS DIFFERENT AS PINK IS FROM BLUE
Together, you and your mate reflect the image of God on earth.
I remind couples of Genesis 1:27 that "male and female He created them" and that we are as different as pink is from blue. I also remind couples that Genesis 1:27 states, "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them." In other words, together in marriage, a blue husband and a pink wife reflect the image of God. Interestingly, when we blend pink and blue, they form the color purple, the color of royalty, the color of God.
In other words, togethera wife and a husband reflect the royal image of God on earth. God is not pink. God is not blue. God ispurple. When two become one, they have the potential of displaying God's attributes and character.
Amazingly, many married people have been blown away by this imagery. "The first thing that revolutionized my thinking and paradigm," says one wife, "was that the issues are not so much a 'Jim and Pam' thing as a male-female thing. That realization caused me to weep. It freed me so much to know that our differences of pink and blue will become purple as Jim and I surrender and depend upon the Lord as we work through our issues."
God created man in His own image ... male and female He created them.
Women look at the world through pink sunglasses, while men look at that same world through blue sunglasses—and, believe me, they do not necessarily see the same thing!
The differences between men and women were established from the beginning. Women tend to be relationship oriented, and the family is their primary place for relationships. The deepest question you can ask a woman—a question she asks herself quite often—is "Are you loved?"
Men, however, tend to be achievement-oriented, and their "field" is the primary place for achievement. The deepest question you can ask a man—a question that he asks himself quite often—is "Are you respected?" No wonder, then, that in a marriage the wife wants her husband to be more loving, and the husband wants his wife to be more respectful.
The Lord made women (Pink) and men (Blue) with differences, and He expects us to recognize and deal with those differences in a loving and respectful way.
Why is communication between husbands and wives such a problem? It goes back to the fact that we send each other messages in "code," based on gender, even though we don't intend to. What I say is not what you hear, and what you think you heard is not what I meant at all.
Men and women both need love and both need respect. But the cry from a woman's deepest soul is to be loved and the cry from a man's deepest soul is to be respected.
Couples practicing Love and Respect learn that their communication styles are markedly different. In order to understand these differences, they need to realize that they send each other messages in code and they must learn how to decode each other.
For example, one wife wrote to share this decoding experience with us:
[My husband and I] were traveling in the car on our way to a movie. He was quiet and smiling smugly. I said, "What are you thinking?" He replied, "I was just thinking how critical you are."
My natural instinct was ... how dare him! But I thought, This is a good-willed man. Maybe he means something else. So I asked, "What does that mean, that I'm critical?" He replied, "I mean our family couldn't exist without you. You are so critical to us."
It is crucial for husband and wife to see that neither one is wrong, but that both of them are very different—in body function, outlook, and perspective.
Pink and blue perceptions not only affect seeing; they affect hearing as well. Women hear with pink hearing aids and men hear with blue hearing aids. Even more important to understand as you and your spouse seek to gain better communication, you can hear the very same words, but each of you will hear different messages.
Let's see how this plays out at home as a couple is getting dressed to start the day:
She says, "I have nothing to wear." (She means, she has nothing new.)
He says, "I have nothing to wear." (He means, he has nothing clean.)
Research and experience prove that men and women see and hear differently. Recognizing these differences and adjusting to them is absolutely necessary for reaching mutual understanding and better communication.
In one national study, four hundred men were given a choice between going through two different negative experiences. If they were forced to choose one of the following, which would they prefer to endure?
a) to be left alone and unloved in the world
b) to feel inadequate and disrespected by everyone
Seventy-four percent of these men said that if they were forced to choose, they would prefer being alone and unloved in the world.
Every man does what he does for the admiration of one woman.
When a wife feels unloved, it can be such a shock to her heart that she is oblivious to her disrespectful reactions toward her husband, though any man watching could see it plainly.
When a husband feels disrespected, it can provoke him so quickly he doesn't see his unloving reaction, which would be obvious to any woman. Words of wisdom for all husbands and wives are these:
WE EASILY SEE WHATisDONE TO US BEFORE WE SEE WHAT WE ARE DOINGtoOUR MATE.
God's way of communicating in marriage is to talk with words of unconditional love and respect.
That's why the one secret to speaking your mate's language is to understand that unconditional respect is as powerful to him as unconditional love is to her.
Your spouse can have a need you don't have and that's okay.
SHE NEEDS LOVE
You don't have to give your wife ten million dollars. Just give her your love.
"Over the years," says one husband, "my wife dealt with her insecurities through behavior I described as 'controlling.' Each time she engaged in this behavior, I reacted by withdrawing physically and emotionally. For years I complained about her controlling behavior, but the light-bulb moment came when I understood that she was really just trying to connect with me and deal with her insecurities. She was seeking my love! This realization prompted a fundamental paradigm shift in my thinking."
He gets it! Using Ephesians 5:33, I explain the Crazy Cycle this way: When a wife feels unloved, she reacts in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband, and when a husband feels disrespected, he reacts in ways that feel unloving to his wife. This dynamic spins, and the relationship can get crazy!
So I point out to every husband that when he sees the spirit of his wife deflate, she is probably feeling unloved. When that happens, he needs to recognize that his wife is reacting defensively because she is feeling unloved. Unfortunately, she ends up offending him with her disrespectful words and actions. Instead of reacting in an unloving manner, he needs to decode that she is saying, "You are the only man in my life who can meet my need for love, and I need to feel your love."
A wife feels strongly that if her husband loves her in his heart, he will communicate that love.
This does not necessarily mean that a husband must shower his wife with romantic poetry daily. But she expects him to somehow, sometime tell her of his love if it is in his heart.
It is no coincidence that early on in the Bible—in describing the first marriage in human history—there is a living definition of the meaning of closeness. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24 KJV).
When Scripture speaks of"cleaving," the idea in the Hebrew is tocling, hold, or keep close. Two are joined together face to face, becoming one flesh. Your wife will feel loved when you move toward her and let her know you want to be close with a look, a touch, or a smile.
Connecting is what women look for in any relationship, and especially in marriage. Your wife will feel loved when you move toward her and let her know you want to be close with a look, a touch, or a smile.
One way to picture your marriage is with a line that has the word Involvement at one end and the word Independence at the other:
Involvement _________________________________ Independence
Typically, women will lean toward the "Involvement" side while men lean more toward the "Independence" side. But when a man moves toward his wife and shows her he wants to connect in even little ways, this motivates and energizes her.
Being close costs nothing— but your timeandlove.
The tension between involvement and independence is another illustration of the difference between pink and blue.
As a man, you will probably not be able to be as involved with your wife as much as she may like. You are a man, and your wife loves you for being a man, not a woman. She doesn't expect you to become feminine, just like her girlfriend. But when you move toward her, when you show her you want to connect in even small ways, watch what happens. This movement will motivate her. It will energize her.
Do you realize the power of just holding your wife's hand?
Your wife will feel close to you when ... you hold her hand and hug her. you spend time alone together. you suggest the unexpected ... get takeout and eat on the beach.
If a marital conflict exists, it affects a woman's entire being. When she believes there is a problem, her spirit iscrushed. That's why most wives prefer to talk about marital problems on a daily basis to keep the relationship "up-to-date." They feel that being open like this prevents any major problem from developing.
As the church places her burdens on Christ, so a woman needs to place her burdens on her husband. When she shares with you, don't assume she is asking you to solve her problem.
Ask your wife, "Do you want a solution or a listening ear?"
How can you be an understanding husband?
The most powerful weapons you have are your ears. Just listen to your wife, and she is much more likely to feel understood.
To "just listen" is usually not a husband's strong suit. He is better built to analyze, give answers, and "fix" the situation. The unaware husband doesn't readily decode the messages his wife is sending when she comes to him with her problems.
The truth is, you really don't have to fix her problem; generally all she really wants is your listening ear. As a husband, if you can grasp that you don't always have to solve your wife's problems, you will take a giant step toward showing her empathy and understanding.
You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
–1 Peter 3:7
You show your wife understanding when ...
you don't try to "fix her problems" unless she specifically asks for a solution.
you try to identify her feelings.
you don't interrupt her when she's trying to tell you how she feels.
For any husband who wants fewer ongoing arguments, the path to peace is plain. He must learn to simply say, "Honey, I'm sorry. Will you forgive me? I didn't mean to do that."
When a husband asks his wife to forgive him, he is giving her a gift of love.
Excerpted from Love and Respect FOR A LIFETIME by Emerson Eggerichs. Copyright © 2010 Emerson Eggerichs. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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