Love and Respect for a Happy Marriage. What does that even mean? What does it look like? I’ve been married for 20 years and to be completely honest, marriage is hard. Here are two people coming together with all their stuff. All the past baggage of hurts, failures and insecurities. Trying to work through all of that and meshing together can be cumbersome.
I came into my marriage as the strong and independent type. I didn’t have a great childhood, so life had made me tough.
My husband came into the marriage wanting to be the head of the household, the spiritual leader, the man. But when someone like him marries someone like me, it can be a disaster. Being the strong, independent type, I can do things on my own. I don’t need help and if I do, I will ask for it. I didn’t come into marriage thinking I needed a leader. I wasn’t from a christian home so, a spiritual leading husband was never modeled for me. I didn’t understand what it meant or what it looked like. So we fought.
We fought about sex, we fought about the kids and we fought about money.
He had a pre conceived idea on what it would be like to be married in relation to our intimacy, but once we had kids, things really changed in that department. As a new wife and mom, I was way too tired and stressed out to meet his needs. As a new husband and dad, he was way to stressed to know how to help. We didn’t communicate. We just argued and ignored each other. It really was an awful way to live.
In November 2013, my dad died and life felt completely out of control. So much so that when I came home from Idaho, I told my husband that I was done. I didn’t want to live like this any more. The kids are almost grown and I wanted out. That revelation didn’t sit well with him. He left the house and went to have a long talk with our pastor. He showed my husband some areas that he could improve as a spiritual leader, husband and dad (Eph 5:25-27). My guy took all that too heart.
We spent the next few weeks talking. Late nights became the norm. He asked me to stay. He asked me to think about marriage counseling. At first I was against it. I didn’t want to fix things. But as I saw small unselfish changes in his behavior and attitude toward me and our two teens, I figured, “why not?”.
To make a very long story shorter, we learned some things about our personalities. About how we were raised and how that affects us in marriage. Some interesting facts for sure. We had some homework to do and as time went on, we became friends again.
My husband had wanted to do a devotion together. I had one from years ago, that he showed no interest in at the time. We starting working through it, but neither of us felt as though it applied. So I had mentioned the Love and Respect devotion. I told him my boss’s church did the seminar a while back and it sounded interesting to me. So we hit the christian book store and bought the devotion.
LOVE and RESPECT
We are about 3/4 of the way through the devotion. So far there are few things that have really struck a cord with me. First, learning that God made women to desire to be loved. And He made men to desire to be respected. That knowledge helps when trying to learn to work together as a couple. Also, knowing that a woman won’t respect her husband if she first doesn’t feel love from him and vise versa. Love and respect go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. A marriage will simply fall apart without both.
PINK vs BLUE
Women are pink and men are blue. Meaning we are completely different. We think different, we feel different and we see and hear things different.
If a woman says she has nothing to wear, a man will most likely hear she has nothing clean. When in reality she means she has nothing new. lol
Generally women are emotional creatures and men are analytical creatures. Generally. In my home, we are both emotional, in different ways. I am girl emotional (you understand, because you are most likely female) and Jeffrey is sensitive, wearing his heart on his sleeve.
Jeffrey is very analytical. I am not. I am more realistic. I see things and take things generally at face value. He will analyze them over and over.
The goodwill marriage is basically always assuming your spouse has good will toward you. And making sure you always have your spouses best interest at heart.
For instance if Jeffrey comes home from work. He’s had a busy, rough day and is kinda snappy at me. I don’t snap back in anger. I simply ask him how his day went. I listen to him. Assuming he isn’t mad a me.
In turn if I seem distant from Jeffrey, assuming it’s not about him makes a huge difference. If he assumes I’m distant because he’s said or done something then he pulls away. This action puts a wedge between us right away. Then his mind starts going crazy. Making up all sorts of reasons why I am distant from him. In reality, I’m either sad or stressed and just want to be left alone. If he were to ask me how I’m feeling today, he’d learn that I’ve been thinking of daddy all day and it was just an emotional day. I just want to be left alone. Or I need him to snuggle with me and let me talk a bit.
This has been tough for us, but we are getting better at it each day.
If we think about our marriage truthfully, 80% of the time marriage is good and things flow well. The other 20% is when we have a rough patch. There may be some bickering or days that just don’t flow well. Maybe goodwill isn’t in the marriage those days. Think about your marriage for a minute. Is your marriage 80/20? Really think about it and be honest.
I can tell you, when I was ready to walk, I felt it was more 20/80. But as time has past and things got better, I can look back over the last 20 years and see that is was more 70/30. Which is still good. Better than I thought before. Now I’d say it’s 90/10.
NEGATIVE SNAPSHOTS vs POSITIVE MOVIE
The negative snapshots are the times or days when there is bickering or life just doesn’t flow. However, keep in mind that it’s just a moment in time. It doesn’t have to disrupt the marriage as a whole. The basic marriage movie is positive.
Being able to focus on the positive marriage movie as a whole will help with he 80/20 concept. Letting go of the anger and hurt feelings. Forgiving each other as God has forgiven you, makes the marriage movie positive. So when you look back over the years, you only remember the good stuff.
This chapter was a great one for me personally. Like I said earlier, we both came into the marriage thinking differently about our intimacy. This chapter was a good reminder that our bodies are not our own. We are to mutually submit to each other as God’s word says in
1 Corinthians 7:3-5New International Version (NIV)
3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
That scripture doesn’t mean a husband or wife can manipulate or be abusive to get what they want. Many women have an issue with the word submission and I was totally on board with that for years. But now, I know that my husband has my best interest at heart. His desire is to love me as Christ loved the Church.
So, when an evening comes along were both of our teenagers are out for hours. Jeffrey will make it know what his interest are. However, if I’ve had a long, stressful day and have no interest, if I’m not careful I can hurt his feelings. So, the best way to handle this is to communicate verbally what I am feeling. That way, he can be understanding. We will either wait for another night or I might change my thought process and we end up being intimate.
In the old days, he would have gotten mad and we would have ended up fighting for hours or even days over the subject. Why? Because he didn’t feel respected and I didn’t feel loved.
So, as you read this, what did you think about? Does your marriage have a Love and Respect balance? If not, did this post give you encouragement and hope for a more balanced marriage and future? If you’d like to share, please do so in the “leave reply” link at the top of this page.
My hope and prayer is that it does. I know some of this content can be a bit personal, so if you have questions or comments you’d like to bring up in private, please email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS. This post is from my perspective only. Jeffrey and I have talked it over and he will write a post from his perspective. I think it’s good to hear both sides and see what each has learned. So if this post has touched you and you’d like to hear his side too, please sign up to receive Genuine in your inbox at least once a week.