When my wife asks me to do something, here are the two words my dad taught me to say in order to keep my marriage healthy: “Yes, dear.”
Unfortunately for me, he’s much better at saying these words than I am. I’ve been married for eight years and we have three young kids. Over this relatively short time, I have learned a lot about what it means to be a husband and father. But I would also admit that I am not always the greatest at applying what I’ve learned. At times, I instigate arguments. I criticize. I don’t communicate well.
As teaching pastor, Jason Strand, preached about this weekend, the two key ingredients to a successful marriage are love and respect. While men and women both need love and respect, studies show that men tend to crave respect and women tend to crave love.
The apostle Paul, 2,000 years ago, even said, “Each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
While it may be our tendency to correct other people’s downfalls rather than our own, let’s look at a few ways we can become better at showing love and respect to strengthen our relationships.
4 ways men can show love
1. Be curious about her. When you started dating her, you asked a lot of questions. You wanted to learn more about her—you were curious. The longer you’ve been together, the less curious you may have become. Keep getting to know her by increasing your curiosity about how God is shaping her.
2. If you think something good, say it. Don’t assume she knows how you feel and what you love about her. Use words. She needs to know that you notice her and that she’s worth it. Don’t withdraw from the tough conversations and don’t correct her when she talks. Listen well and acknowledge what she says.
3. Prioritize your time with her. Take the lead in clearing your schedule at times to spend quality time together. It might mean saying no to other things. It might mean declaring Thursday nights “No TV Nights” after the kids go to bed to build into your relationship. Whatever it is, she needs you to prioritize her on a consistent basis.
4. Win her over with little things. Don’t stop trying to win her over. Keep pursuing her. Hold her hand, write a note, hold the door for her, drop her a text during the workday, make her laugh. Don’t drift into being just roommates. Make sure she knows how much you love and value her.
4 ways women can show respect
1. Build him up. He wants to know that you believe in him and that you are proud of him. See the best in him and share that he is a great man. Don’t tear him down with what he doesn’t do well. Build him up with what he does right, and he’ll naturally look for ways to improve in other areas.
2. Have his back. Hold him in high regard with your friends and don’t talk poorly about him. Keep the issues in your relationship between the two of you and work it out together, not with others.
3. Avoid absolutes. “You never…” “You always…” It’s hard for any person to measure up to absolutes. When he’s initially told he is doing a bad job because he never does something right or he always does something wrong, it’s a recipe for an argument. Instead, be specific about a time you were disappointed or hurt, and remind him of a time he did really well in this area to build up his character.
4. Show appreciation. He needs the people closest to him to communicate appreciation for him. Thank him and tell him that he did a good job fixing the dishwasher, hanging the mirror, vacuuming the house, shoveling the driveway. Notice what he does and show thankfulness. He needs to feel valued and it’s best coming from you.
Remember, none of us are perfect. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that we can always improve in our relationships. It starts with you. Without expecting anything in return, find ways to be intentional about showing love and respect.
This week, have a conversation and finish these sentences with one another, being open to what God might be saying to you:
Men: I feel most respected when _________.
Women: I feel most loved when _________.
TJ Therrien has been on staff at Eagle Brook since 2008, planning weekend services in various roles. He’s passionate about making church a comfortable and fun place to be. TJ and his wife Melissa live in Blaine with their kids Teddy (4), Tenley (2), and Maisy (10 months).