R-E-S-P-E-C-T

img_1232749751779_151I didn’t have to hear the words the young woman tossed at her husband to know they hit their target. The muscles in his jaw clenched while his eyes dropped to the floor, embarrassment etched onto his face as clearly as if it were written in indelible marker. I didn’t have to hear the words, because it wasn’t necessarily what she said, but how she said it, a tone used to wound—one I had perfected in my previous life.

If I had to choose a catch phrase from my youth, it would be my mother’s oft-used phrase, “It’s not what you say but how you say it.” Unfortunately for me, my tone and attitude isn’t something I out grew. It took the power of the Holy Spirit to convict me after I chose to die to self in order to live for Christ. It took the humility after the failure of a long-term marriage and a vow to not make the same mistake twice for me to search inside myself to see where my fault lie.

We often hear in scripture the importance of love, and we have become a society who values love among all else. We think that if we just love enough, we can fix anything. We have equated love with success in marriages, and equated the need for it to be universal among men and women.

However, Ephesians 5:33 states, Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Let me repeat for emphasis: the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Herein lies the crux of the problem. Of course we all need love and respect, but it is apparent, through God’s Word, that women have an overriding need to be loved, while men have an overriding need to be respected. We know what love looks like, and if we don’t, we need only pick up one of several well-known books, both Christian and secular, that will tell us. But this is only half of the part that makes a whole.

While woman have demanded respect through equality in the business world and help at home, we have lost sight of the intricate need of our spouses—a need imposed by God—for the respect of their wives. When my first husband left me after twenty-two years of marriage, he told me that he didn’t believe I loved him. This made no sense to me, as I felt I’d shown love every day, not only with my words, but with my actions. If he didn’t feel it, I felt it must have been because of some deep-seated issue on his end.

But when I remarried, and Chris and I took part in a marriage study titled Love and Respect based on the book by Emerson Eggerichs, it was like my eyes were opened for the first time. Chris told me that he was never able to put a name to his ex-wife’s attitude toward him until then—disrespect. And I realized that had been my attitude toward my ex-husband, as well. It was then I was able to understand my own sin and culpability in the demise of that marriage.

Since that revelation, I have tried to be more aware of what my tone, body language and attitude convey to my husband. I may say I respect him (and I truly do) but he needs to feel that respect every bit as much as I need to feel loved by him. It’s not always the big things that will destroy a relationship, but the seemingly small, insignificant interactions to which we rarely give much thought—until it’s too late.

One thought on “R-E-S-P-E-C-T

  1. Beautiful sentiment, Jennie. And very true. I think we all have things in our life we know we could have done better. Your ability to convey life’s lessons…and point one to Jesus as our way to grow out of things is really great. Thank you for all the effort you put into sharing.

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