Friday, February 12, 2010

Love + Respect

I know I joke a lot about things on this blog - but this one is serious.

Several months ago, our couple's small group was doing a study on marriage. It was a great study - and we got a lot out of it. Marriage studies are great because they give you the opportunity to discuss various things that you might normally feel weird talking about. I highly recommend them! You can do one in a group, or just buy a couple books to do solo with your spouse.

So this particular study featured various statistics, but one that really caught my eye. It said that something like 90% of men surveyed would rather feel respected than loved by their wives.

When I was doing my homework - and read that - I immediately dismissed it thinking there was no way... they must have had some bad data. Or it was a misprint. So during the session, I brought up that statistic, and we polled all the guys in our group (6 of them) with that same question.

Every single one (who are as different from each other as night and day - from the quiet and sensitive to the loud and strong-willed) of them said the same thing: "I'd rather feel respected." And there was no hesitation from any of them. No "Well, I could go either way" or "I want both." It was "Absolutely. I'd rather be respected."

I was blown away. When Chad said that, I looked at him and said, "Really?!?! Feeling loved by me isn't as important to you?"

And he explained that its not that he doesn't want to feel loved by me, but that he feels most loved when I respect him - stand by his decisions, trust his opinion, ask him for his input. Those are the things that make him feel the most loved. And that he felt least loved when I did something to disrespect him (i.e.: question his judgment, undermine his decisions, etc.).

What insight!

I know a lot of women are thinking to themselves "I don't need to show my husband RESPECT - this is the 21st century!" But hear me out. I'm not talking about a submissive respect. I'm not talking about you need to "respect" when your husband commands you to go fix him some supper barefooted. I'm talking about respecting (and most importantly, standing behind) the decisions they make on behalf of your family. And if you are in a good marriage - any decision your husband makes SHOULD be keeping your best interests in mind.

After learning this, it completely changed the way I think in terms of how I show Chad love. While I still do things that I'd consider "loving" - making him a nice dinner, surprising him with little cards, etc. - I am much more intentional in how I show him that I greatly respect him.

I let him know - frequently - that I appreciate how he takes care of me (our cars, house, finances, etc.). I try my best build him up and let him know that I am always on his side - no matter what. When we have alternative ideas of what the "right" thing is to do, I follow his lead and tell him I trust him in his decisions. And ladies - never utter the words, "My dad has always been able to do _____." or "Let me just call my dad and ask him." Your husband never wants to feel like he's not taking care of you the way he's supposed to... pulling the "dad" card is a big no-no.

And - most importantly - I try my very hardest to never undermine his decisions or... when he makes a mistake... to throw them back in his face. I know for a lot of us (myself included) that is our instinct. When our significant other does something "wrong," we want to call them out on it. But now that I know that my respect of him is so important - and that it makes him feel the most loved - I bite my tongue and show support. It's not always easy, but I promise you our disagreements are a billion times more productive than they used to be - and both of us leave them feeling good.

Of course, women on the other end of the spectrum - I'd wager a guess that 90% of us would rather feel loved than respected. We feel the most respected when our husbands show us love. It is the reverse. And since people usually project how they want to be treated, doesn't it make sense that women try to show men love and affection since that's what they desire, and men try to be respectful of women since that's what they want most? No wonder we often feel like there's something "missing" from our marriages. We're not meeting the other person's needs!

Isn't that kind of crazy?

So go home and ask your spouse this question - without any preamble to it that would influence their answer. And see what they say. And have a conversation about it.

Okay. Got all my serious out. Tomorrow I'll post something ridiculous to make up for it.

That's my Valentine's weekend challenge to you!

And I love you to my Valentine... thanks for being my buddy.

1 comment:

  1. Dee, I found this very interesting. I am not so sure I could have answered this question right away, I would have had to think about it for a while. I believe that "trust" is the glue between love and respect. I am not sure that a relationship can be sustained without all three components of love, respect, and trust. Trust keeps us from looking over our shoulder to make sure that the love and respect is still present in the moment and will be there tomorrow.