So today, I had a discussion with someone at great length about how she can’t possibly respect her husband – he needs to earn it, he hasn’t done anything worthy of it…etc. Problem is that she’s not a Christian, so I had to approach her from a different angle…she didn’t want to hear anything about God’s point of view in the matter. In a nutshell, here’s what I told her:
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 communicate interest, compassion, care, kindness, etc. that facilitate the growth of trust. There is also a body of research that demonstrates that ONE person can turn a relationship around – so based on what we know about physiological brain differences and communication behaviors associated with gender, 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 – get this: respected. Research conducted as recently as 2003 demonstrates that men would rather feel respected by their spouse than loved by them.
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, and specifically 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 counsel or help with public speaking, until I got the respect piece right. I think by communicating that I respected him, he then in turn, respected 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 18 years, I can’t believe the difference it has made.
Obviously whoever is the most grown up and the best communicator in the relationship should start the small turnings.
Honestly, based on the research I’ve read and what I’ve seen in the workshops, it’s my take away that the concept of “trust” is the foundation of all solid marriages – the really amazing thing is that for the most part, 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, obviously it’s at that point that the relationship really blossoms.
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 it in his natural language. He is learning how to be more flexible, too, but communication occurs most easily between us when I speak his language. As the more mature person in the relationship, obviously I should be taking those steps to guide and teach him. In a marriage, because women are more verbal and statistically more relationship oriented than men, I encourage wives to deepen the intimacy because they are already more equipped to do so.
I pray this is a dialogue that continues and draws her nearer to Christ. After all, God’s Word is true, regardless of the context, right? 🙂
What do YOU think?
Blessings to you,