I spent Friday afternoon with one of my favorite young men. Together, we discussed how his need for respect, and his young lady’s need for love, weren’t actually mutually exclusive concepts. We talked about how the two needs really complement each other when both young people are passionately pursuing their own relationship with Christ, first.
We also talked about how those two needs can, instead, really complicate each other when one, or both of the young people, are looking out for themselves, rather than intently focusing on loving Jesus and filling each other’s needs.
It’s so easy to give good counsel to someone else.
It’s second nature at this point to identify biblical principles and refute faulty thinking.
It’s no problem to hold someone else to a higher standard.
It’s not so easy to do those things myself!
I walked away from our time together encouraged and hopeful about the future of my friend’s relationship with his young lady. I also walked away challenged and convicted about my own relationship with my “old man!”
Love and respect… Love and respect… We write about it, we speak about it, and together, Steve and I travel across the country teaching others about it. But, how am I doing right here, right now, and in my own “love and respect” relationship? Am I showing respect to the man I call husband? Or, am I busily going about my day making sure my needs are met, but carelessly disregarding Steve’s need for affirmation and respect?
I’ll be honest. The questions aren’t particularly hard to answer; the difficulty comes in my refusal to even ask myself those hard questions. I don’t necessarily want to know the answers. I don’t necessarily want to dig that deep. And, truthfully, I’m not sure I really necessarily to make the changes required to fulfill what I know needs to be done; to change what needs to be changed.
Fortunately, God cares enough to meddle in my life and fortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to let Him meddle and then, to quickly get on with making changes! No more delayed obedience for me! (Well, at least most of the time!)
Here’s what I discovered as I went to the Lord in prayer and sought clarity regarding my own displays of respect for Steve…
Respect for Steve doesn’t necessarily look the way I want it to look! I love to serve Steve. I love to think ahead and get things done so he won’t have to worry about them. I love to make the foods he likes and keep an orderly home so that he feels relaxed and peaceful.
Don’t get me wrong… Steve loves when I do those things! But, those “things” don’t equal respect in his mind. For Steve, service and respect are not the same thing… Honestly, I think he’d prefer respect without service, rather than service without respect.
Showing Steve respect is not without sacrifice on my part. I would love it to be easy for me to show respect, but my own independence and my own sin nature oh so quickly get in the way. For Steve, respect is shown through verbal and non-verbal communication. I can’t escape this truth. What I say to Steve and how I say it will either communicate respect or disrespect.
For someone with the gift of a snarky sense of humor, (It is a gift… right?) this reality is an uncomfortable truth. For me to show Steve respect, I will have to bridle my tongue, swallow my sarcasm, and control my eyes, shoulders, and huffing undertones. Wow! That’s just a lot of work! And, it’s work that, for me, takes forethought and self-control.
Showing Steve respect is worth the effort. When I am focused on respecting him, rather than making sure that he adequately loves me, the benefits are immeasurable. On the contrary, when I focus on myself, first, the consequences are unpleasant and time consuming, as I try to make right what I’ve thoughtlessly communicated!
When I show respect, through my words and non-verbal communication, Steve is more loving toward me. Did you catch that? When I’m busy doing my part, he naturally does his part. It’s a win-win and we are both blessed. When I show him respect our relationship flourishes, conflict subsides, and our marriage is just plain sweet.
You’d think I’d get it through my thick head!
What demonstrates respect to your husband? Is it words, or affection, or encouragement, or admiration? Does he feel respected when you keep your home orderly, or when you make him breakfast, or pack his lunch, or clean the car? For him, is respect a gift, or a card, or a hug, or a snuggle? What is it that clearly and consistently lets him know that your respect his position, his role, and really, who he is as a man?
Will you ask yourself those questions, today?
More importantly, will you seek God for clear answers to the questions and will you purpose to do whatever needs to be done to see biblical change in your home?
Trust me, God is aching to bless your obedience! As you say “No” to self and “Yes” to respecting that man God gave you…
You’ll be blessed in the process!