I have tried to portray that I have a generally passive personality. I am very patient. I don’t talk anymore than I have to. I don’t really like to get into situations where there is much conflict or “noise.” I get energized by working independently and work to accomplish my goals in a very logical fashion.
Well, my wife is kind of…..not any of that.
There are strengths to each of our personalities that work great for our marriage and for each other. There are also weaknesses. A lot of times something I am weak at she is awesome at. Likewise, there are things that I am good at that do not fit well with her personality.
Sometimes, though, there are times when we are together where both of our weaknesses come together. In math, you can sometimes take a negative and multiply it with another negative to get a positive result. In real life this often just creates a bigger negative.
Ephesians 5:33 says that, “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
So, back when my wife picked up a copy of Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs several years ago and said, “Honey, this says that husbands need respect far more than they need love. Could that possibly be true?” The astonished, jaw-dropping look on her face when I told her that the book was absolutely correct was quite surprising.
Over time, she has worked really hard at learning how to give me the respect I need and it has made a huge difference in our marriage. It has changed many things in our marriage and helped to bring me out of being a passive, non-engaged husband and become a leader in our family. I do not pretend to be the best husband and I still have to work really hard at being a better husband.
Dr. Eggerichs says that Ephesians 5:33 is saying that, “A husband is to obey the command to love even if his wife does not obey this command to respect, and a wife is to obey the command to respect even if the husband does not obey the command to love.” He goes on further to say that, “A husband is even called to love a disrespectful wife, and a wife is called to respect an unloving husband.”
It occurred to me, that one of the things that happened with my wife was that she was really good at loving me. This was pretty easy for her. The problem was that sometimes her love didn’t do anything for me. She knew how she wanted to be loved and freely gave that to me in tremendous measure. What I really wanted was respect, though. Respect for the things that brought out my strengths and limited my weaknesses.
So, over a few years she worked really hard at this and has gotten really good at this. I mean…..really good at this. Not perfect…..but pretty close.
Occasionally, though, my wife will say to me, “Honey, it would mean so much to me if you would send me more emails sometimes and if we could emotionally connect more this week, please.”
It is in those times, that my mind tells me to revert back to being a passive husband. It might be saying, “Run!” For the purposes of this post we will say that this request from my wife causes great fear. I am not good at words. She wants words. She needs words. You know what I am good at. I am good at respect. Maybe, I can show her some respect and she will be fine. Maybe she needs some space and a little time and she will feel better. Well, it turns out that none of those worked. All of those things would make me feel better. What she wants is to feel loved by me. To her, giving space feels unloving.
Why does it seem like I am so good at respecting my wife but lousy at loving her? Just as my wife could have the best intentions in the world to show me love when I needed respect, I can equally fall victim to giving her respect when she really needs to be assured of my love for her. Sometimes, it is easy for me to give her what feels good for me and not what she really needs.
Dr. Eggerichs says that “God ordained that wives respect their husbands as a method to win husbands to Himself. As a husband opens his spirit to God, he reopens his spirit to his wife.” I believe that as a husband learns to show his wife unconditional love it opens her heart to her husband as well.
I am not going to go into how a husband can make his wife feel loved in this post, but I will leave you this link here from a previous post. If you would like to look at a post about unconditional respect you can view it here. I am going to take a look at Dr. Eggerichs book Love and Respect during the next several posts and I hope to try to explore some topics discussed there.