It was a few months before our wedding when we attended our first marriage conference. I was excited...a giddy bride-to-be, pen in hand, ready to absorb every last bit of information.
But let's be honest, I thought I had this whole marriage thing in the bag. I knew this man, and I knew that I loved him through and through. That was enough, right?
While I sat through the first day of lectures at this conference something new was unlocked for me. I found out that love wasn't enough for my man. All the love in the world would fall flat if one thing went absent.
Preach it, Aretha. Preach it. Who knew the woman was a marriage expert?
Undoubtedly the single most important paradigm shift for me as a young bride. My man didn't want love as much as he wanted respect.
Love is an easy one for us girls. We know it through and through. We're built with it, its ingrained in us, it's a part of our God-given motherly nature, it's just who we are. We love to love and be loved in return.
Guys? Come to find out their wired just a bit different. Shocker, I know.
Turns out a thousand "I love you"s pale in comparison to one "I respect you." Respect is a different ball game. It's a bit of a different currency. Respect is the love language of men, so to speak.
It's been a seven year journey, and I'm still learning every day, but here are five ways I've learned to respect my man:
Sing his praises in front of others.
Well, not literally sing. But come to think of it, that may not be a bad way to show him your devotion. :)
If there is one thing I've learned that can fill my hubby's tank, it's bragging about him in front of others. Now this is something that your man may not want to admit, but talking him up in front of others is a sure way to show him your respect.
Practice speaking highly of your man out in public. Whether at a party within earshot of your man, or just hanging with the girls, focus on speaking good things about your guy. It could be a story of his latest handiwork around the house, highlighting his recent accomplishments at work, or talking up the latest fish he caught (make sure to mention how HUGE it is).
Speaking good things about your guy in front of others = your man feeling ubber respected by you. Score.
It's as simple as this: there is no stronger way of communicating disrespect to your guy than disagreeing with him in front of others.
I've seen many a girl miss this one.
I'm not exactly sure what it is about us ladies ... or just human beings in general, but sometimes we feel the insane need to correct those around us. Maybe it's too many years as a mother, but I find myself quicker to correct than overlook.
All I know from experience is that disagreeing with DJ in front of others is a sure soul killer. So, here's a couple of things that I have tried to commit to:
Don't interrupt him to correct details in a story he is telling. Does it really matter if it was 3 miles or 4 miles? If the fish was 12 or 16 inches? When you correct him mid-story, all you're communicating is that the details are more important than him.
If your hubby is doing something that is embarrassing you or him when you're in a group setting, hold your tongue in the moment, and tell him later. He will be much more receptive to private feedback than public attack. No one likes to be put down in front of others.
If you disagree with how he said something or treated someone at a gathering, wait until afterwards to talk it through. He'll appreciate you waiting to tell him in private.
Tell him, "I respect you."
Nothing will communicate respect like coming out and saying it. Just like we ladies like to hear that we are loved, our guys like to hear that they are respected.
Instead of telling him you love him throughout the day, try throwing in a "I respect you" every so often. It may feel weird at first, but keep doing it. It will pay off.
Acknowledge his hard work.
Guys are wired to work hard for their ladies and families. And thank God for that one. Whether it is laboring at their job, building shelves in the garage, or mowing the lawn...our men feel a sense of satisfaction in working hard.
I know that I often take this one for granted. Instead of stopping to think of all the great ways my hubby has worked hard during the week, I often focus on what my contribution has been.
It's as simple as telling him something like, "Hey sweetheart, I really appreciate how hard you work to provide for our family. It means a lot to me that you go to work every day. We have such an amazing life and I'm so thankful you've worked to provide that for us."
Appreciate his differences.
No, he isn't the same as you. And yes, that is actually why you fell in love with him in the first place. Crazy, right?
I find that many women's complaints about their hubbies largely center around how different their man is from them. Well, I hate to break it to you, but that ain't gonna change, sweetheart.
I once knew a girl who fell in love with a laid back, carefree, and adventurous boy. After being married for a couple of years, she found herself becoming on edge because her husband was so undisciplined, overly carefree, and had a hobby for every day of the week.
Um, yep. Guilty as charged. That starry eyed girl was me. And somewhere along the way, I forgot how much I loved my husbands fun-loving nature. One day as I was journaling about this crisis and I realized I didn't actually want another me in the house! Can you imagine? That would be a complete and utter disaster!
I LOVE how he doesn't stress about the details, I LOVE how he follows God even when it means risky life adventures, I LOVE that he is confident enough to act like a goofball in front of others, I LOVE how he keeps me grounded to what really matters, I LOVE that he pursues hobbies with reckless abandon, which include (but are definitely not limited to) fly fishing, mountain biking, hunting, and basketball.
When I appreciate WHO HE IS ... not who I want him to be ... or think I want him to be .... then I communicate that I respect him. I communicate to him "You are valuable for who you are. All of you. Right now. You don't have to be or do anything to earn my respect. I respect you just as you are."
Buckle your seatbelt, ladies. Because that thinking will change your marriage.
And what marriage post would be complete without us showing what complete and total dorks we are?
I'm thankful for a guy that keeps me laughing.
Happy midweek, dear ones. Go give your favorite guy a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T this week.
P. S. What other ways do you respect your man? I'd love to hear!