My friend Sandy slipped a package into my bag.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Love and Respect. It’s a book my husband and I have been reading and it’s changed our marriage.” Sandy, knowing I was getting married in a few weeks, was taking no chances. I was going to experience this marriage-changing book.
Even before Sandy and the secret package, I knew the truth that was taught in Sunday school classes and Wednesday night meetings all over the country.
Women need love.
Men need respect.
And Roger and I have worked hard at both of those things in our marriage. But here is the other secret that I’ve learned over the past several years:
Both of us need both.
The books will tell you that all your husband needs is to know you honor him. But my man? He also wants me to show him that I’m still the girl who fell madly in love with him.
Certainly, he wants to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when I’m talking about him to my friends, I’m speaking with honor and respect. He wants to know that I, his wife, am proud of him.
But, according to my husband, it also is really great to know that I’m crazily, madly, and unreasonably in love with him.
What I’ve come to understand is that love and respect are intrinsically mixed.
I’ve come to learn that I am not always easy to love.
Take this morning, for instance. In my heart, I wanted to bless my wife by doing a Starbucks run. Starbucks is our mutual love language. But I had a few tense emails going back and forth with my office, so my head wasn’t necessarily in the same place as my heart. Irritated, I burst into Kathi’s office and declared, “So what do you want from Starbucks?” with all the demeanor of a sullen teenager who is asking how many more minutes he needs to do chores until he is released from his incarceration. I asked her as if I was doing her a huge favor.
Hm. Not the subtext I had intended.
I spent the next ten minutes trying desperately to correct my obvious gaff. Fortunately, Kathi knows that not only do I love her, but I respect her like crazy. So while she was taken aback by my gruffness, she was able to ask questions (“Um, did I miss something? You seem frustrated with me.”) to clarify the situation.
When both love and respect are present in a relationship it helps us see things in a better light, and it opens us up to forgive more quickly, asking questions instead of assuming wrongs. As I finish this article, I’m going to take one more sip of that cup of coffee, sweetened with love and respect. Delicious!
Want more tips for a happy marriage, as well as some cool project ideas you and your spouse can do together? Check out Kathi and Roger’s Happy Habits for Every Couple!
Kathi and Roger Lipp have been happily married for ten years and are the parents of four young adults. Kathi is the author of twelve books and is a national speaker at retreats, conferences, and women’s events across the US. She is often featured on Focus on the Family, MOPS International, and Crosswalk.com. Roger is a sought-after teacher on personality types in marriage and in business. His expertise is in team building, both in the tech world and on the home front.