It would seem that with all the evidence supporting the fact that wives need love and husbands need respect, that there would be more people applying these principles to their marriages. It seems that a concept this simple would be easily applied and all would be better for it. The problem is that the very foundation of this principle; men and women being designed and wired differently, creates a divide that is often times quite difficult to narrow.

 

Once a couple realizes that they have been communicating in code, the ability to efficaciously decipher the code is not easily obtained. Listen to what one of Dr. Eggerich’s clients had to say.

 

“Thanks for all your suggestions and support. [But] I remain perplexed at the chasm that exists between my perception and reality. When I began this endeavor, I had hope but low expectations, and I was happy to see how quick and positive the effects of “loving” behavior are. It was not difficult to bite my tongue and not “fight back” when I prepared myself for it. I think that while I felt apologetic, I can easily be humble and pretty much take anything that comes my way.

 

The difficulty begins when I begin to see things return to normal. When I let my guard down, I begin to talk or share and it turns out that underneath things are very volatile and sensitive. When things started to go bad last week, it happened extremely fast and I was surprised to hear how all the same issues remain at the same raw and grim level. I hate hearing that I am her enemy. It is painful to hear her ask, “Why do you want to crush my spirit?” It is extremely difficult not to explode in despair when I hear her say that she doesn’t believe that I love her, or that I will never change, or that she made a mistake and I am not the man she thought I was.

 

It sure makes it seem that the road is long and possibly fruitless. Amidst getting angry, and blaming her, and the gambit of contorted emotional upheavals, I hear you saying that it is rarely the content  but rather the manner of delivery that causes problems and I cringe at my inability to communicate effectively. Things have gotten so grossly out of shape and I feel ashamed that I’ve been blind and let them get so bad. I also feel a little overwhelmed that all this effort and tolerance will only get us to some point of mediocrity, and that at the slightest perturbation everything will come tumbling down again.”

 

Dr. Eggerich’s points out the fact that very few men are capable of articulating their feelings as lucidly as this man has. Most men simply become frustrated. The disciples, after hearing Jesus speak of the issues and requirements of marriage said, “…If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” (Matt. 19:10 NIV)

Jesus had just explained that divorce was not an avenue of expediency in dealing with a troubled marriage and that the violation of the marriage covenant had severe consequences. Make no mistake about it; marriage is an institution that requires true and unwavering commitment.

It is not commitment when its based on circumstances and other transitory variables. The marriage requires your all even when you do not feel like giving it. Marriage demands sacrifice when every fiber of your being is telling you to preserve your own existence

 

Is Unconditional Respect an Oxymoron?

 

In a society where almost from birth we are taught that respect is something that is earned, it seems quite the oxymoronic statement to say that the wife is called to unconditional respect. Actually the command is to demonstrate respect, not feel it. The wife is to demonstrate respect and reverence for and toward her husband even when she does not feel as though he deserves it. In the same way the husband is required to demonstrate unconditional love toward his even when he feels that she does not deserve it. Why is this? First of all, what is deserving of love and respect is a relative concept. Each person has their own view as to what it takes to earn their respect and love. This command removes the individual perception out of the equation. Secondly, human emotion is often reactive instead of responsive, which is its true design.  Instead of allowing the emotions to be a responsive mechanism that alerts one to the truth of any given situation, most have learned to allow their emotions dictate action based on a perceived truth. Anger, when it is healthy, is an emotion that alerts one of a wrong of some sort. This is where anger’s job ends. Anger should never be the determining factor in responding to the wrong. This command alleviates the human inclination to withhold what is required when angered or disappointed.

Unconditional respect is diametrically opposed to the very essence of the woman’s design. This is why she is commanded to demonstrate respect toward her husband, because it is unnatural and it makes no sense to her whatsoever. Now the wife understands unconditional love, she has no problem with that at all. It makes sense, since she is wired that way. Now on the other hand, when you say unconditional respect to the wife, it does not register as she attempts to reason with it.

The wife has a mindset that the husband must meet certain criteria in order to receive respect. It seems that wives fail to give serious consideration to Peter’s exhortation to wives to maintain their chaste and respectful behavior, even when their husbands are being disobedient to the word (1 Pet. 3:1-2). Peter’s reasoning is that through her respectful and chaste conduct she will win over her husband and he will begin to live as a Christian husband should. The wife’s chaste, respectful, and affirming behavior has the power to transform her husband. This is diametrically opposed to the wife’s natural response to her husband’s waywardness; to browbeat him into submission. As you can see by the escalating divorce rate, that approach is working like a charm.

This in no way implies that the wife is not to address her husband’s waywardness and it definitely does not imply that she should endorse it. However; the wife can express unconditional respect in the manner in which she engages her husband at all times.

On the other side of the coin, husbands have a great difficulty in grasping the concept of unconditional love; just as the wife with unconditional respect, the husband is not wired to naturally demonstrate this virtue. This is why he is commanded to so. Men are extremely objective in the focus of their love where women are subjective. What does this mean and why is important to understand this? What this means is that the husband’s sense of love is based on who he projects his love upon. He is responsive to the object. If he feels that the object is not deserving of his love it is very difficult for him to demonstrate love toward the object. The wife (woman) is subjective in her love; her love flows from within. She is wired to love even when she is not being loved in return. She is a giver by nature. Unconditional love for the wife is a no brainer; what other kind of love is their?

The point that both the husband and the wife seem to miss is if they carry out their responsibility it actually motivates and encourages their spouse to carry out theirs.

Tomorrow we will focus more on the husbands command to love and we will draw the correlation between his command to love and the power within it to hold his marriage together.

Remember, “Husbands love your wives, and wives respect your husbands (Eph. 5:33)” is a simple concept and command. Getting there; however, requires true commitment.

 

God bless,

 

Bishop Rick Wallace

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