Updated: Dec 14, 2018
The seam on the edge of my mattress wasn’t.quite.far.enough from my husband Saturday night. Then, in his sleep, he rolled onto his back, relaxed his head toward me and began to “puff” his exhales in my direction. Really? As if I wasn’t already feeling invaded by your neglect today. And now you have the nerve to assault me with your "puffs"?!
The anger and hurt from his unloving responses built throughout the day beginning with my expressed excitement when I shared an event only to be met with, “Cool,” as he walked away while I was still talking. My anger was further fueled buy his lack of eye contact as we planned our Bible Study. I wanted to scold him like a child, “Look at me when I’m talking to you! Do you hear me?!” But instead I withdrew and stuffed my hurt.
So what do I do? Retaliate of course! Not consciously, but somewhere in my subconscious parental mind it was time to launch an assault. So I began by pointing out all the areas where he falls short and what he needs to change: eye contact, connection, talking, taking an interest in ME! He, of course, got defensive and sent a few under-handed zingers my way...and we were off!
Often our hurt is expressed as anger…it’s so much easier to get mad than admit we’re hurt. Am I talking to anyone out there?
As a diligent student of Love and Respect I know that I was probably disrespectful-you know, that tone, that look, that snarky remark, and the oh-it-feels-so-good silent treatment?! At least I feel like I'm in control of something!
When it comes to getting our needs met, men and women require very different things.
We women like to talk, talk, talk—to share our day, to connect with our hearts, eyes and words. And we most often need non-sexual expressions of love with a touch or a tone that says i love you.
Guys, on the other hand, typically would rather sit shoulder to shoulder, don't need eye contact or face-to-face connection (that’s why God invented fishing and hunting, you know: shoulder-to-shoulder, little face time, and not-so-much talking). They get completely energized when we sit with them, and don't say a word, while they do a project . Try it!
We have to learn as Emerson Eggerich teaches in Love and Respect, "Not good, not bad just different."
Ephesians 5:20-33 teaches that a man MUST love his wife as Christ loved the church, and a woman MUST respect her husband. MUST. Did you hear that? Hmmm. We live In a culture that bashes men in Hollywood in ads, sitcoms and movies. It seems to be the norm. Yet, we are deeply disrespecting men. I've found that we women have a lot to learn to uphold God’s command of us, myself included.
When I first heard about respect I had no idea what that meant. In fact, as my husband and I have lead the Love and Respect studies, we've learned that most women don't know what respect looks like. What about you? Was that modeled in your family of origin?
There are times when I want to correct or criticize my husband, or shoot him a sharp look, but God calls me to respect him. I can tell you when I let it go or handle it lightly and respectfully, telling him in the moment what I need, I get a much more loving spouse. And at night, I don’t find myself hugging the seam on the side of the mattress instead of my husband.
WOMEN: Pay attention to the way you respond to your husband in tone, facial expressions and words. Take time for shoulder-to-shoulder time. You'll be amazed at the changes in your marriage just paying attention to these things.
MEN: Take time for eye contact, encouraging words and loving gestures without sexual advances. Spend time daily in face-to-face conversation with your wife-even if it's for five or ten minutes! You'll be amazed at what follows!
PRAYER-Lord thank you for my spouse. Thank you for our differences. WOMEN: Help me respect and honor him for all he does for me and our family. Help me speak my appreciation of him. MEN: Help me show love to my wife with eye contact, meaningful conversation, and to resolve conflict all the way through. Help me embrace what each brings to our marriage and remember that, together-with our differences-we are a great team! Guard my tongue when it’s not helpful to speak. Energize our marriage as we obey the commands you’ve given us, to love AND respect. Amen