Every marriage has its bumpy roads. Our parents can easily say “we’ve been there!” without you even finishing your story as to why you were crashing on their couch one weekend.
Mike and I had a bad start this 2017 too. After being tired during the holidays, he got sick for days and got sour the week after that. If you are a hands on, stay-at-home wife like me, you would understand how hard it is to lose a teammate for a moment. As much as I am glad that he was home 24/7, I also resented the idea that I have to give him a 5-star treatment when at the same time the kids decided to be zero cooperative. To make the long story short, it was kind of a hellish New Year for me.
When he finally got better, I was expecting he’ll be back on his feet helping me at home once again but I think he got used to a 1st class service and decided to overstay. Of course, like any other tired and overwhelmed woman would do, I easily transformed to Mrs. Grumpy and shoot the sarcasm gun all over the place. It wasn’t long enough until he fired back insensitive comments and then found ourselves spending a lot of time arguing. Well that’s not very nice! How will the chores be ever done?
Meanwhile, the solution is just sitting on our living room for two years now (that is if we are referring to the arguing part). But seriously, our Love & Respect book has all the answers on having a healthy, enjoyable, blissful (and all sorts of adjective) marriage.
Time and time again we study this book. Over and over again we quote this book and tell people about it. But repeatedly we forget to practice the principle.
The author, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is a senior pastor who devoted his life in building healthy marriages. He cited on the book that he would counsel couples all the time and found out that all marital problems rooted in this so called Crazy Cycle: Without love from him, she reacts without respect; without respect from her, he reacts without love.
Husbands need respect.
The world got it all wrong. We think that what our husband needs is a non stop affirmation of how much we love them but isn’t that already given when we married them? What we don’t know, more than anything in this world they need R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Eggerichs has a good illustration how men get motivated by respect. Having been educated in a military academy, he had an interest in military leadership. He said that great leaders motivated their troops through unconditional honor.
When a general respects his men and believes in them more than they believe in themselves, these soldiers want to improve, they want to get better, they want to fulfill that potential this general sees in them.
These men are not only willing to serve but they are also willing to die.
To make it more simpler, he gave the basic truth about life as an example— a human being needs food and water to survive but we can live longer without food than without water. It is the same for husbands, love is like food and respect is like water.
The way to fully love a husband is to respect him in ways that are meaningful to him
We need to give them respect not because he is the head of the family or arrogant but because this is how God constructed them.
Wives need love.
What about us? It’s no-brainer! All women around the world need love! We love love! We all like to be swept away by our husband’s constant courting and affection.
Women are locked into love. Love is their mother tongue
Call us hopeless romantic. Accuse us of watching too much drama on the Tele, all we know is that once in a while you must give us flowers, open the car door for us or just simply lie down beside us and place your arms around us without having any sexual motives. Love is our fuel. Love is what keeping us go especially on days that we are angry with the world (and we don’t know why!). I tell my husband about this whenever I’m complaining about the chores which isn’t changing by the way, there are those days where it feels like life is heavy but I know I can handle all but I just simply don’t have the energy it’s because I am running on an empty tank. And what must be done?
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
It has been concluded that women react the way they do: critical, contentious and disrespectful because we are crying out for you to love us simply because this is how God created us.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Make the move.
Whenever a wife is complaining, criticizing, or crying, she is sending her encoded message: ‘I want your love!’ And whenever a husband is speaking harshly or sometimes not speaking at all, he is sending his encoded message: ‘I want your respect!’
Now the billion dollar question is, “who should make the first move?” It is human nature to be conceited and everyone likes to play the victim but Eggerichs said, the one who sees himself or herself as the most mature should make the first move.
1 Peter 3:11
They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
It was explained that holding back because you demand for your husband to love you won’t work because the attitude itself is disrespectful and it will just keep the crazy cycle spinning away but caving in and practicing the principle will slow it down.
What to do?
It isn’t rocket science but it is not easy getting off the high horse, being the one to throw in the white flag but this is exactly why we should do it more— we need to stop the crazy cycle!
So I did a 2-week experiment applying the Love & Respect principle. I set aside my pride and gave Mike the respect men need but sometimes don’t deserve. I shut down the sarcasm, I did not roll my eyes, I ask him what he wants instead of deciding on my own and responded to his kisses and caressing. (Note: it is very normal for men to be sexual because they release stress through sex in the same way we release stress through ranting)
How did I know this is exactly what he wanted? In conjunction with this book, I would also like to encourage married couples to read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman and know how to communicate to your spouse. We studied this book couple of years ago and I found out Mike’s primary and secondary love language which are: Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch.
In return I got a husband who fills up my love tank by speaking to me with kindness and gentleness, a husband who enjoys spending time with our kids, and my choremate is back on his feet helping me out! Just today, Valentine’s day, I didn’t expect him to give me anything because I told him not to but still made a way to surprise me by preparing my breakfast (which the kids ate). But I know he put in so much effort because the Strawberries on the waffle were perfectly stemmed and sliced. Mike doesn’t know a single thing about cooking except when I taught him how to fry simple meals and because of this, I know he got a whole bunch of boards on Pinterest about cleaning Strawberries! Ha ha!
1 Peter 2:17-18
Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God…not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
What if it doesn’t work?
You are worried, I get it. I was too. I never wanted to lose my pride thinking he got nowhere to go anyway and sooner or later he will surrender and give me the love I demand. But isn’t this the start of broken marriages? This is the beginning of unhappy union which leads to cheating and divorce.
1 Peter 3:1-2
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
Do you know what is in God’s heart? God’s desire is for the husband and wife to be one. Therefore if this is his will, why would you doubt?
Furthermore, the book suggested to actually Pray. Many people depict Prayer as making a list of what you need God to do for you. Maybe it’s time to know what Prayer means. Praying is actually talking to God, our Father, the same way that you would talk to your earthly father. Confessing to him, thanking him, asking him and in the end letting his will be done. Remember, God is not a genie, in fact, there is no genie!
(If you want to study about Praying, see Too Busy Not To Pray by Bill Hybels)
You do not have because you do not ask God.
Pray selflessly and fervently!
If anything is heard in heaven, it is the unselfish prayer, based on the heart of God.
If all else fails.
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
Do this for God and make this your goal. The book ends with this reminder that although you are doing this to please your spouse and get something in return, giving glory to the Lord should be our priority. Because when we do, we are following God and his will for us. Our action is a simple demonstration of our obedience and trust in the Lord in the face of an unlovable wife or a disrespecting husband.
His love blesses regardless of her respect; her respect blesses regardless of his love.
Lastly, we should be eager to become desirable to our spouse. By desirable I don’t mean we need to have a 36-24-36 body but someone who is easy to live with. We need to appreciate our spouse more and actually help each other out, pray for each other, love her, respect him and live enjoying God’s blessings.
PS, why not say to your husband tonight “I respect you” instead of “I love you” and let me know the changes!