Is respect really necessary in marriage?
Nevertheless let each of one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Are you respectfully his?
As women, on the whole, we don't tend to give the idea of submission and respect for our husbands the weight it deserves.
That's because, to us, love makes the world go 'round. Every woman knows that. Love conquers all obstacles. Love turns the drudgery of life into heart-pounding adventure where everyday thorns and dirty dishes and mountains of laundry become roses, rainbows, and butterflies. Love is magical. Love is miraculous. It's sweet. It's romantic. It's a treasure. And if you don't have money, all is still okay, as long as you have love.
Yep, that's the way we women tend to see it. And we live it without hypocrisy. Every woman knows that if she finds the man of her dreams, be he old or young, smart or not, normal or hot, billionaire or hillbilly, if she truly loves him and he truly loves her, their life will be one long procession of hugs and kisses and welcome-home-put-your-feet-ups.
The problem is, this doesn't really take men into consideration. It works just fine as a fantasy, but real relationships must at some point take men into consideration.
Don't get me wrong. Men don't mind love. They like it an awful lot, especially at certain intervals of life. But a man wants more than just love.
A man also wants respect. It might be safe to say, in fact, that a man primarily needs respect. He needs to know that, no matter how the world views him, he has his biggest fan club at home, and his wife is the residing president. When his boss shoots down his latest and greatest idea, he comes home to a wife who thinks that his ideas are brilliant and takes time to listen to them and help him hone them. When his coworkers ridicule him, he comes home to a wife and children who build him back up again, fortifying him against those destructive slurs.
In his home, he wants to be respected. Loved also, yes, and women sometimes have a really hard time doing one without the other, but if you were to ask him, he could probably live without the love as long as he had true respect.
We women, on the other hand, want love far more than we need respect.
Does this quirk make men and women incompatible?
Well, since an all-wise God created us that way, I say no.
And since an all-wise God gave us a canon of Scripture that includes Ephesians 5, again I say no.
We aren't incompatible; we are complementary.
However, we are at times ignorant of the inner workings of what it takes to maintain a thriving marriage.
Some women get this respect thing correct almost instinctively, somehow knowing how to show that respect to their unique husband, and they are richly repaid by a lifetime of love.
Other women, craving love, unwittingly withhold the one thing they can give their husband that would unlock the doors to his heart.
This is all made more challenging for us as women because, not only do we not get to take a course in Respect 101 before we hop into marriage, but men are all different, and what my husband wants and needs may be quite different from what your husband wants and needs in the area of respect. Every husband is unique, just as every wife is unique.
But the thing that is a constant is the need for each one of us as wives to hone our ability to respect our husbands and to show it to them. We aren't alone in this process: husbands have to work at loving their wife and showing it to them. Marriage takes work. But the blessings of a good marriage, filled with mutual respect and love, are glorious and well worth the effort.
The grass is always greener where you water it.
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Laura Berrey and her husband Tim are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.