How many times have we heard the saying, to get respect, you need to give respect? But have we ever heard the saying, to get love, you need to give love? I know I haven’t. Here’s what I’ve learned – unconditional respect goes along the lines of unconditional love.
I don’t know about you, but I grew up with the basis of to get respect you must give it, and I think that, that is something that is pretty common in today’s society. I also grew up knowing that I should love everyone (although I have failed in this aspect many times). I don’t think anyone would disagree with the concept of unconditionally loving others, but what about unconditional respect? I think the respect factor seems to fall through the cracks most of the time.
So what has the loss of “the respect factor” done to us? Well what I have learned is that in a marriage love and respect are the two MOST IMPORTANT aspects, but they are very different to men and women. Did you know, that nowhere in the Bible does God command a woman to love her husband and, likewise, God does not command a man to respect his wife (I have to thank Pastor Dave McMurry for pointing that out to me)? And I believe that it is because respect is hard wired in the brain of a man and love is hard wired in the brain of a woman. Now, if you’re anything like me, this fact is like a slap in face. How can I respect a man who may not always respect me? Or how can I respect a man who, I feel, doesn’t unconditionally love me? But then I started to think about it…I love my husband, with all my heart and soul; it is because of him that I have given birth to two beautiful little girls and because of him that I am able to be a stay at home mom. I get the luxury (and even though some days it may seem overwhelming and stressful, it is a luxury) of staying home to raise our kids, to watch them grow every day, and to be there for them at any moment – not all mom’s get that luxury. I am one lucky woman.
Men and women were made differently, for different reasons, and with different desires. Although both genders were made in the image of God, we were both made to portray something different about Him. The desires inherent in all men show us God’s strong side and that God wants to fight for us and protect us – we are, after all, His children. But where this goes wrong in a man is where a man becomes either too aggressive or too passive. The desires inherent in all women show us God’s loving and nurturing side and that God wants to nurture our growth and that He loves us unconditionally. But women too often becoming dominating or manipulative. So you may be wondering what I am getting at?
Here’s my point – Ephesians 5:21-33 22 for wives, this means submit to your husband’s as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husband’s in everything. 25 for husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 in the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30And we are members of his body. 31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
I know many women who would say, “Submit to my husband? Yeah right! He doesn’t own me.” And you’re absolutely right, he doesn’t. But if you want to feel your husband’s unconditional love then you need to show him unconditional respect and the same can be said for a husband, if he wants his wife’s unconditional respect, he must show her unconditional love.
I know, at least for me, sometimes it is hard to give my husband the power he rightfully should have as a husband. Because I didn’t not have a good example of that while I was growing up all I know is the picture of a self-sufficient woman (which is by no means a bad thing) who is not dependent, in any way, on a man. I have learned that my husband needs to feel respected, after all who wants to be the lead of a home where he always criticized and put down? And simply put (because we all know that we women are WAY more complicated than our husbands, lol) all I want is to feel loved. I want to know that my husband loves me unconditionally and that he will protect and fight for me and for our kids. For a long time, I thought that, that desire was illogical and even kind of ‘fairy tale’ like. But it’s not, it is a desire that God created all women with. And quite frankly, ignoring my deepest desires is getting a little exhausting and I’m tired of it
So here’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to bring the respect factor into my marriage and to show Robert, on a daily basis, how much I respect him. Love may be of utmost importance to me, but once I started to think about it, I began to understand that respect means to him what love means to me. Respecting my husband is not some archaic value that Christianity is trying to force into marriages – it’s simply the most basic way for me to show love to my husband and get him to respond.