Rationale for Respect
Several years ago, I had a discussion with a woman who adamantly refused to demonstrate respect towards her husband. She felt he hadn’t done anything to deserve it. She’s not a Christian, and wouldn’t appreciate God’s point of view in the matter. So, I took an academic approach.
Research done at Washington State University indicates that a relationship can be held together and grow intimacy based on something called, “small turnings.” These are little things that couples do to facilitate trust (i.e. communicate interest, compassion, care, kindness, etc.). Other research demonstrates that ONE person can turn a relationship around. So if the man begins to demonstrate these “small turnings,” the woman feels loved and responds in kind. If the woman demonstrates small turnings, the man feels respected.
Research conducted in 2003, demonstrates that men would rather feel respected by their spouse than loved by them.
By-Product of Respect
Obviously if both partners are working on the relationship, change occurs at a more rapid rate. In my own marriage, I have seen mutual respect emerge once I began the small turnings. I simply started asking my husband, “What communicates respect to you?”
I have coached CEO’s and executives around the country, but my own hubby wouldn’t come to me for help with public speaking, until I got the respect piece right. By communicating my respect for him, he began to respect me and I’ve become one of his most trusted advisors. We were married for 10 years before I started to figure that out, and now, at 26 years, I can’t believe the difference it has made.
Start the Change
Obviously whoever is the most grown-up and the best communicator in the relationship should start the small turnings.
Based on the research and what I’ve seen in the workshops, it’s plain that trust is the foundation of all solid marriages. Interestingly, men experience this trust via the language of respect, and women experience this trust typically through the language of love. When both partners learn to speak the other person’s language, the relationship can blossom. It seems the Bible unlocked this fact centuries earlier.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Said a different way, I have a son who is a very “kinesthetic learner.” It’s easier for him to hear my communication when I speak in his natural language. As the more mature person in the relationship, I take those steps to guide and teach him. In marriage, women are more verbal and statistically more relationship-oriented than men. Because of that, I encourage wives to deepen the intimacy because they are more equipped to do so.
Next week, we begin a new journey through The Respect Dares. We will revisit a new dare each Monday. It’s best if you complete the dares in a small group – so gather your married girlfriends or invite them to join you in an e-course. God has equipped you to make the “small turns” that can have a big impact on your marriage.
Blessings to you,
Want the new resource to accompany your Respect Dare journey? The novel “DARE TO RESPECT” weaves the story of 6 wives who are unhappily married and make a turn towards respect and hope.
Take a parallel journey through 40 parenting dares for your tweens / teens.