Insert clever title here

Ephesians 5:33–However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].

So, first, let me just comment about the fact that this is the Amplified Version.  I’m trying it out.  I’ve gone through the NIV, New King James, and now I’m trying this.  I just want to shake things up sometimes.  You can feel however you want to about your preferred translation, I just like to get a different perspective occasionally.  For me, if I read the same translation for too long, then the verses start to seem familiar and I start scanning instead of reading.  It’s okay for The Chronicles of Narnia, but not for the Bible.

Now, on to what this post is really about.  I mentioned here that I was going to try to read more during my 30-day TV fast and one of the books I’m reading is Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs.  I think the quote that sums it up best is this: “Women need love. Men need respect. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.”  Wow, is that true, or what?  Admittedly, I am only three chapters into the book, but there have been a lot of things that have already spoken to me in those three chapters, so I thought I would share.

God, in the verse I shared above, tells us that men need to love their wives and wives need to respect their husbands.  Note what it doesn’t say.  It doesn’t say wives need to love their husbands.  God made women, so He knows that they will already do that.  It doesn’t say husbands need to respect their wives.  Again, it just isn’t necessary to say, because it is less important to women than love (I know some of you are thinking, “What about R-E-S-P-E-C-T?”  To that I say, “Did you know that song was written by a man?  Yeah, Otis Redding.  Look it up.”).  Instead, it says that we should give our spouses exactly what they need, not what we think they need.  It’s easy if we just follow God’s Word, right?

I wish that was true.  I wish that I could say that I knew this simple truth from the beginning of my marriage.  I didn’t, though, and I know that there was a lot of pain that could have been spared us had we followed this simple command.  There was some hurt, some misunderstanding, some regrettable acts.  I will go into enough detail here to make my point, but not so much that I embarrass my hubby (so you can relax, hubby).  Luckily, I did discover this truth fairly early on in our marriage (only a few years in), so we did avoid a lot of hurt that could have been.

Our troubles started pretty early on, mostly (I think) because we didn’t know each other very well (or very long) when we married.  We loved each other, though, and made a commitment right from the start that whatever came up we would deal with it and never even discuss the “D-word.”  I confess that I was pretty passive-aggressive, so we didn’t really fight in the traditional sense of the term, but there was a kind of battle going on that was being fought mostly in my mind (I’m sure my husband was going through struggles, too, but I can’t speak for what was going on in his mind).  The battle looked something like this:

Hubby did/didn’t do X.  I don’t want him to feel like I don’t love him, so I’ll just keep it to myself and secretly resent him for not reading my mind and knowing this is a problem.  It isn’t that big of a deal, anyway, except that it is.  So, since it actually is a big deal, I’m going to just hold onto this hurt/anger/etc. and bring it up later when all the things I’ve been just holding onto build up enough to explode and leak out of my mouth and eyeballs.  Then, as an added bonus, I’ll make Hubby sit with me in our “serious talk spot” and suffer through my emotional breakdown with me.

Eventually, we would work out whatever it is that was going on at the time, and things would be great again.  Sometimes we would get to the real root of the problem (which, a lot of times, ended up being my depression or low self-esteem, or my holding people to too high a standard problem). Other times we would get to what we thought the real problem was, only to find out later that the same issue resurfaced because we didn’t get it right.  Thank God for His goodness and grace because I don’t know how we would have made it through some of this stuff without Him (marriage is hard enough with Jesus at the center of it; I don’t know how people do it without Him).

There was even a time when I started thinking about the “D-word.”  [I didn’t tell my hubby at the time and only told him later when we were talking to somebody else who was going through a similar struggle (one that had a different outcome than ours, unfortunately).  He was actually surprised.  I guess I’m better at hiding things than I realized at the time.]  I can look back on those times and see exactly what was happening in me that caused those thoughts and feelings.  There are some common themes to all of those struggles, which were:

1.  Selfishness.  Those times when things were going wrong, I can usually pinpoint some way in which I thought that I was being wronged by my husband, but that was, in actuality, just me being selfish.  As an example, at one point I went back to school and was pursuing a second Bachelor’s and planned to get a Master’s (maybe even a Ph.D.).  I had it all figured out.  There were jobs everywhere for what my hubby does, so he could just follow me.  I can go to the best programs no matter where they take us.  Then, I’ll get a job in my field and I’ll be amazing.  When I was telling my hubby about these plans one night, though, he said to me, “What about starting a family?  I thought we wanted to have kids at some point.  Where does that come in?”  Ouch.  I think it took me a couple of weeks (or less) after that conversation to decide that I was moving in the wrong direction because I was moving away from my hubby.

2.  My High Standards.  I have mentioned this more than once, but I want to give an example of how this almost led to the “D-word.”  Before we were ever married, we discussed how I (I’m pretty sure we said “we” at the time, but it was really me) didn’t really fit into the traditional mold of the worker bee.  I’ve never enjoyed working for money.  I have, at various times, enjoyed working hard, but I’ve enjoyed it for the sake of doing a good job, not for the fact that I made money doing it (the one exception to that rule is when we were getting out of debt, then I was glad to work for money because it meant that I wouldn’t have to work in the future).  We threw around ideas of going into the mission field, joining the Peace Corps, working for or starting our own non-profit, and other things along those lines.  Well, I held onto that, so when it didn’t happen, I resented my hubby because all of those conversations felt like a promise to me, even though my husband thought that they were just conversations.  I was lucky to have a godly woman ask me how things were going at exactly the right moment, so I asked her for prayer because I knew God didn’t want us to separate, but I also felt like I was being pulled in a different direction than the one we were moving in.  I was unhappy and thought that the only way out was the “D-word,” but God changed my heart and showed me that He wanted us together and that my thinking was wrong.

3.  My walk with God.  Pretty much every time that we have ever had issues, I can guarantee that I wasn’t doing my daily reading or praying or any of the things that help to protect us from these attacks.  Sometimes I didn’t read my Bible because I was depressed and I didn’t want to do anything (even though, deep down, I knew that if I would read my Bible, I would come out of my depression).  Sometimes I didn’t read my Bible because I was lazy.  I frequently didn’t spend time in prayer because I wasn’t comfortable with it.  That pretty much covers that reason.  If I’m not right with God, then I’m usually not right with my hubby, either.

Those are pretty much the big three.  There are other things that have caused us issues, but those are the ones that stand out in my mind.  What is common to all of them is the fact that, due to my personal issues I would show my husband disrespect, which would cause him to (sometimes) act unloving toward me, which would lead me to thinking the “D-word.”  I look at the stories in this book and see myself in them.  I would embarrass or disrespect him, he would react by acting unloving, I would start having those thoughts.

Praise God that He has changed that cycle.  These days, if we have issues, we are quick to discuss them, do so respectfully and lovingly, and address them in appropriate ways.  If I disagree with something, I state so respectfully.  He takes that information and responds to me lovingly.  It is a beautiful thing (I have to admit that I sometimes try to discuss things that we might disagree on just so I can see this in action…sorry, Hubby).

So, to get back to discussing the book, there are a million marriage books and seminars and conferences that focus on unconditional love, but very few even mention unconditional respect.  I will write more about this later, as I read more of the book, but try to think about when things have been not so good in your marriage (or somebody else’s if you aren’t married) and look to see if there was disrespect or unloving behavior that perpetuated (or caused) the problems.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linden Wolfe
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 19:12:02

    Great stuff! Edifying to me, for sure!

    Reply

  2. twincessmamma
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 04:57:21

    “If I’m not right with God, then I’m usually not right with my hubby, either.” …. Wow, this is so true, thank you for pointing it out!

    Reply

  3. twincessmamma
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 05:05:18

    Please have a look at this link about Narnia?
    http://www.heavenisopen.com/narnia

    Reply

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