Monday, November 8, 2010

Love and respect...

Welcome to my new soapbox, friends! :) Let me explain. I'm reading the book, "For Women Only" by Shaunti Feldhahn, with my mentor. I don't think I would have picked up the book otherwise. Not because I didn't want to learn or read what is for me, as a women, only. But basically because I don't choose to read much :)

The things I'm reading about respecting your husband are humbling, convicting and blowing my mind. Truly. I find myself shaking my head at myself as I read something that I've done or something that I've said that has shattered my husband's ego. I think every married woman would benefit from the information provided in this book.

As a society I think we have simplified men. In so many ways, but emotionally and mentally for sure. I remember being newly married and a handful of people told me, "All your husband needs is food and sex and he'll be a happy man". I would heartily agree with this, although I would add the word "physically" to the end of the statement. And then add a lot more after that :) If all I give my husband is dinner and sex, he may be physically satisfied - but what about his heart, his mind and his ego? A marriage may survive on food and sex alone, but it won't thrive. And, friends, I want a thriving marriage. I didn't say "I do" to the most incredible man alive to simply survive.

Our men are not simple creatures, ladies. They are the very men who God designed to lead, provide for and protect our families. Certainly they deserve a little more than food and sex! So often the things we say come across as downright disrespectful and hurtful. Even if we have no clue. One example in the book talks about a woman being with her husband and friends and says something like, "Oh my husband tried to fix the dishwasher, but you know he's not really a "handy" man." Something meant as just a tease just shattered her husband ego and made him feel disrespected, incapable, and incompetent. I think that our "teasing" can be compared to sarcasm. It's said with humor and a smile, but there's really some truth to what we are saying. When, truly, we should have said nothing at all.

Now, I don't say any of this with pride. I, in no way, think I'm the perfect wife - at all. I know that I've probably caused the most damage to Patrick's ego, more than any other person in the world. But I also know that I've done his ego the most good and that I'm capable of doing his ego good everyday!

This all makes me think of the "I will, even if you won't" motto. Meaning, in marriage, you should be willing to care for, serve, love, respect your spouse even if they won't. I think in most cases when you "do" and do out of love, your need will be met eventually. This may not be true for everyone, but I think there's no reason to excuse yourself from trying. There's a reason, in Ephesians 5, that God says for "husbands to love their wives" and "wives respect your husbands". It's give and take. It's "I will, even if you won't". It's self sacrifice. But when you think about it, your "sacrifice" will end up giving you want you need. Don't you think?

I think all marriages would do well to have a crash course in humility. Mine included. If you can be humble and sacrifice and be respectful to your husband - you'll reap great things. If our husbands would be humble, sacrifice and love their wives - they, too, would reap great things. It's one big circle. Love. Respect. Repeat. If our men don't feel respected (and in turn loved, needed, confident, capable, worthy) by us, then where are they going to find respect? At work? With another woman? In hobbies? In my marriage I'm not willing to find out.

Stop thinking about what you need. What does your husband need? How can you change your actions, or words or thoughts about him so he will feel your respect? Maybe you just need to stop talking. Maybe you need to talk more. How can we change so our husbands can be the leaders and providers and incredible men God has called them to be?! What a powerful ministry and responsibility we have as wives. These questions have been stirring in my mind and have led me to a lot of conclusions.

One thing I've learned about marriage is that it's always changing. I suppose this is true for all things, though :) The way Patrick needs to be respected today is greatly different than how he needed to be respected six years ago. Same goes for how I need to be loved. There's always work involved. There always has to be a selflessness and humility to figure out the new need, the new direction of your marriage. There's a constant desire for our marriage to come back to it's roots, it's foundation - biblical love and respect. And when you continually seek the Lord, His glory, then how could you not want to be humble and respect your man with all you have? If not because you love your husband, than surely because you love your God.

Please, don't take any offense to this (unless you need to ::Grin::). This is all processing and thinking through these things on my part. I hope I've stirred questions and desires and convictions in you (I know this book has certainly spurred me on to question and change). Not because I think you need it, but because I think we all do.


alanreynolds said...

Ashley, we read these books right after we got married (For Men Only and For Women Only). They were great. We were reading them at night in bed, and we kept interrupting the other going, "Is this true!?" It was great. And, I recommend them both to every couple I know who is getting married.

Your thoughts are wonderful. If Patrick hasn't read For Men Only, I'd encourage him to do so. There were a few things in it that I still count on today (5 years later) to help me understand my wife. Some of it was earth shattering, for sure.


T@R@ said...

I read this book several years ago (before Jamie and I got married) and recently have been reading the book "Love and Respect"...I found some of my notes from "For Women Only" and they completely echoed the message of "Love and Respect" and were a great reminder for me. I think unconditional respect is a hard concept for me but one that is as essential to husbands as unconditional love is to wives. I'm a work in progress still but have definitely seen a difference when I choose to respect my husband and submit to his leadership