Category Archives: Relationships
I am writing this to let you know why I won’t date you. It’s not because I don’t like you. I do. I really do. And it’s not because I don’t care about you. That goes without saying. In fact, it’s because I like you and care about you so much that I would like you to know why I can’t and won’t date you.
I know a decision like this is open to so much misunderstanding. I sincerely hope and pray that you won’t misunderstand me. I’ve thought hard about this and would like to share with you what are not the reasons why you and I can’t have a romantic relationship:
1. It’s not because I am judging you as a non-believer.
I know it may seem so judgmental that I would exclude you as a potential partner over the issue of belief or non-belief. But please hear me that I don’t think less of you because you’re not a Christian. This is because being a Christian doesn’t make me or anyone superior in any sense. We recognise that we are all hopelessly broken before God and it takes the generosity and grace of God for anyone to be a Christian. I can’t judge you any more than Jesus judged those who were considered by his contemporaries to be on the ‘outside’.
2. It’s not because I don’t think you can change for me.
I do believe that a degree of change and compromise is possible and necessary in any intimate relationship. However, to expect you to change the most fundamental orientation of your heart to embrace Jesus as a believer is something that takes more than just superficial adjustments. It’s neither fair nor loving for me to put that pressure on you or to give you the impression that you have to become someone you’re not in order for our relationship to thrive.
3. It’s not because I’ve been pressured by my Christian friends.
The Christian community (church) I belong to has lovingly taught us about the kind of relationships that God wants for his children. However, I have not been pressured or guilted to make a decision like this. My Christian support network are there to help me and I am glad that they are doing what’s most loving, both for me and for you, in helping me make a decision like this. But this is no cult. It’s not brainwashing. It’s not control. It’s simply my wonderful church family giving me the strength to make a decision I am personally convinced is the right one.
I hope that clears up some of the potential misunderstandings. Those are not the reasons why I won’t go out with you. Let me now share with you what are the reasons why this decision is important for both me and you:
1. Dating is not an end in itself. Marriage and family are my goals for a romantic relationship.
I’m not going to date anyone just because it’s a bit of fun. That would be selfish of me and unloving to you. No. My view of dating is on the road towards something more permanent and more wonderful: God’s gift of marriage and children. For me to date you with the condition that I would marry you only if you became a Christian would be a way of ‘using you’ in the meantime for my own romantic indulgences. You need to know that for me, dating is the beginning that has an ending.
2. There are choices that you won’t want me to make when we are married.
As a Christian, Jesus isn’t just a part of my life: he is my life. He is my first love, my greatest joy and the source of my identity and happiness. Were we to have a successful and happy marriage, either I would have to put Jesus beneath my love for you, or I would have to put you beneath by love for Jesus. Unless we both share a love for Jesus, it cannot be both. I take it that you don’t want me to have to make a choice like that every single day of our lives together as husband and wife.
3. While you may be happy just being supportive of my love for Jesus, I want more than support to make a family work.
I have no doubt that you won’t get in the way of my faith. In fact, I know that you’ll even make the effort to occasionally come to church with me. I have no doubt that my Christian friends will love and accept you as one of their own. But consider this: one day we will have children. As a family, I don’t want my children to be confused about the importance of Jesus in our lives. I can only be a good parent if I am lovingly leading my children to share in my passion for Jesus. As any parent knows, children know how to ‘divide and conquer’. If our children know that Jesus is important to me but not to you, they will use that to their advantage. I don’t want to fight you every Sunday when the kids don’t want to go to church and cite our difference of beliefs as an excuse. I want us to work together for the growth of our children: not just physically and educationally, but spiritually as well.
I know that perhaps from where you’re standing now, these aren’t going to seem like insurmountable problems. It’s because you like me and are attracted to me. And nothing seems insurmountable at this stage. But I want us to take a longer-term view of our relationship. What happens when the attraction wanes and the grind of making a marriage work sets in? What happens when your willingness to go along with me to church now is tested by busyness, career, tiredness and hobbies? I don’t ever want to have a niggling sense that my spouse wishes I were someone else or had different beliefs or was less passionate about Jesus. Conversely I don’t ever want you to think that I would love you more if you had different beliefs or could be more accommodating to my beliefs.
In the end it comes down to something I already mentioned: Jesus is my life. He’s more than a religious conviction; he is everything to me. If I am to grow in my passion for him when he isn’t your all-consuming passion, we will necessarily grow apart. How can I lovingly and knowingly subject my future spouse to increasingly occupy the fringes of my affections? I can’t do that to you and won’t do that to you.
So please understand why I’ve decided as I have. I would love nothing more than for you to one day share in my love for Jesus, but I don’t want to make that a condition for our future life together. That is a decision that you have to make independent of any pressure from me. That’s why it’s a decision you are most positioned to make if we weren’t already in a romantic relationship.
With love and prayer,
I’m going to get straight to the point: unmarried Christian couples holidaying alone together is a really bad idea.
Before I go on, let me clarify. I am talking to Christian couples. I assume that Christian couples are committed to sexual purity before marriage. If you are reading this and not Christian, this isn’t a word for you (though by all means keep on reading). I am also talking about unmarried couples. That includes engaged but not-yet-married ones. Furthermore, the issue is holidaying alone. I have less of an issue if they are with other Christian couples and definitely no problem if they are holidaying with one of the couple’s family, or if there’s a chaperone. No problem there.
Okay, now that’s settled, let me keep going…
I know all the arguments for this practice. And it seems to me that it’s growing in popularity among young adults in churches. Some of the reasons I’ve heard are: “It’s not like we’ll be sharing a room.” “Don’t you trust us?” “I know couple x and y and they did it and they were okay.” “Where in the Bible does it say we can’t do this?” etc. etc.
Here are some reasons I would still strongly advise against it: (And at the risk of sounding harsh, I may actually remove someone from leadership if, against all advice, they still went ahead and did it.)
- Don’t trust yourselves. Friends, the heart is deceitful beyond all things (Jer. 17:9). The devil, your flesh and the world are against you. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that ‘your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ In sum, no, I don’t trust you and neither should you trust yourself. Don’t trust yourself that, in a place of no accountability, under some beautiful starry moonlight night, when you’re both tired and maybe had a few drinks, you’re not going to seriously compromise your sexual purity. Don’t trust yourself.
- God doesn’t want us just to be minimalists in obedience. The ‘how far before I cross the line’ mentality behind these kinds of holidays is flawed to begin with. This is what the Pharisees did. In contrast Jesus called on them to go for maximum heart-obedience. You might set all these artificial lines for yourself, such as: ‘If we were sharing a bed/room, then that wouldn’t be okay; but if we’re not sharing a room, then it’s okay.’ Jesus said, ‘If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.’ (Matt. 5:29-30) Elsewhere, we’re called to flee temptation (2 Tim. 2:22). Friends, don’t be a legalist and a minimalist. Figure out the kind of life that pleases the Lord and pursue that maximally.
- We are called as Christians to be above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 2:7-8). This is a call for church leaders in particular (and that’s why I may remove someone from leadership over this). Our reputation with outsiders matter… a lot! When your unbelieving friends hear that you’re holidaying alone together, their assumption is that you’ll be sharing a room, having a ‘romantic time’, sexually compromising in all sorts of ways. Now of course you can take the time and effort to explain: ‘No, we’ll be sleeping in separate rooms; we’ll keep our hands off each other; we’ll have a curfew; we won’t get drunk…’ But are you going to be able to explain that to all the outsiders you know? Furthermore, is it going to be convincing, or just sound to them like you really want to do what everyone else does but want to save a little bit of moral integrity? Again, why not aim for ‘above and beyond reproach’? Your Lord Jesus’ reputation is on the line. Why not instead give no one any cause to whisper or doubt?
- You can wait. You really can. Our generation is particularly bad at ‘delayed gratification’. My fear is that God’s people are, on this issue, just becoming more and more like the world. Why can’t you wait for marriage to have that holiday alone? It really is much more gratifying then, believe me! You can share a room, share a bed, share lots of romantic moments, and (sorry for the crassness) ‘go at it like rabbits’… all for the glory of God! Is waiting a year, two years, however long, really that much of a problem given you might have a lifetime together?
- Fight the idol of pleasure at any cost. Yes we Christians are being sucked into the hedonism of our world. And we need to actively fight the idolatry of pleasure, which in recent decades, because of wealth and cheaper airfares, is this thing called ‘travel’. Travel isn’t wrong. There are lots of good and pleasurable things about it. But any good thing becomes a ‘god-thing’ when you are willing to sacrifice more important things for it. What are you putting on the altar of this false god? Your reputation? Your purity? Your example and model to younger Christians? Friends, it’s not worth it. Know that there is a greater pleasure in waiting and pursuing God’s will for you with all of your heart.
Okay, over to you. Comments?
I came across two unrelated articles in the Herald this morning. Both of them got me thinking about the nature of apologies and how often we say we’re ‘sorry’ but try to protect ourselves in the process.
The first relates to a series of racist tweets fired off by a South African model (here). After the remarks on Twitter that cost her sponsorship and an award, she tweeted back her ‘sincerest apologies’, but stated that it was ‘not in her nature’ to be racist. However, according to the Herald, this incident was not isolated and the twittersphere erupted with the discrepancy as soon as she tweeted it.
The second relates to a slanderous tweet by writer Catherine Deveny about Cardinal George Pell (here). The context was the Q&A debate where Cardinal Pell had paused between saying “We were preparing young English boys”, and, ‘for Holy Communion”. Deveny pounced on that paused and insinuated in a tweet that Pell condoned pedophilia. As a result, Pell threatened to sue Twitter, at which point Deveny issued an apology. However, her apology seems to me to be loaded with hidden barbs. Read it for yourself:
“Clearly it was significant enough hurt and embarrassment caused for him to lawyer up and spend the Catholic Church’s money to pursue defamation action against Twitter and me,” she wrote.
“There must have been deep deliberation over the decision to spend thousands of dollars of parishioners’ money on legal fees.
“Spending money that could have been spent feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless or alleviating suffering, instead of on defamation litigation, clearly illustrates how serious the breach I allegedly committed was in the eyes of Cardinal Pell.”
In both incidences, “sorry” does seem to be the hardest word (thanks Elton John). Why couldn’t the South African model just apologise unreservedly? If racism wasn’t it her nature, then where did it come from? It’s not good enough to assert, as she did, that it happened when she was frustrated and angry. I would have thought that it’s in times of stress that our true nature comes out. Clearly, racism was in her nature and she should have just stopped with a repentant ‘I’m sincerely sorry and I have no excuses.”
In the other case, why couldn’t Deveny just swallow her pride and say an unreserved ‘sorry’ without simultaneously taking a swipe at the Catholic Church once again? To me, her apology was so passive-aggressive that I commend the graciousness of Cardinal Pell even to accept it.
All of this turns the question back to us: do we apologise with a series of ‘but…’s and excuses? How many times have I apologised to my wife only to subtly (or not so subtly) defend myself in the process? In so doing, not only are we undermining the sincerity of our apology, we’re also heard as saying “it’s your fault”, or, “you (or the situation) made me do it”.
Those who have been liberated by the gospel to receive God’s grace don’t need to make excuses. As Tim Keller is often quoted: ‘We are more wicked than we ever dared believe but at the same time more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope.” When we sin, whether against God or others, we ought to come with unreserved apologies: “I’m sorry. I have no excuses. This was in my nature and my broken nature needs God’s grace and yours. Please forgive me.”
Jesus calls that spirit of mournfulness and brokenness ‘blessed’ (Matthew 5:3-4).
Thinking aloud here:
- Discipline is different to punishment.
- The goal of discipline is restoration and growth; the goal of punishment is retributive justice.
- Therefore discipline, when exercised correctly, is always in the context of grace, regardless of how harsh it may appear to be.
- It is grace because restoration of relationship is always the goal. Justice does not and can not take into account relationship, or it would not be just.
- Discipline stops when a person is restored. Punishment only stops when justice has been served.
- The God-given role of government is primarily that of retributive justice (and therefore ‘punishment’). There may be disciplinary and restorative elements built into a compassionate legal system, but justice must be its primary function. Cf. Romans 13:4.
- God’s stance over his children is always grace, and therefore he does not punish us for the sins that Jesus has already paid for but disciplines us for our good. This is not in opposition to grace, but because of his grace. If God were to punish us, then there would be no possibility of restoration and he would simply ‘give us over’ to our sins and let us suffer their consequences (cf. Romans 1:18-32).
- Part of God’s discipline for us may be for us bear the legal ramifications (i.e. punishment) of our actions (e.g. when we commit a crime), but as far as God is concerned, he is exercising grace in his relationship toward us, because he is seeking our repentance, restoration, and growth.
- Church discipline and parental discipline are mirrored on God’s discipline. We don’t punish our church members or our children for the sake of justice, we discipline them out of love. This is grace. Cf. 2 Corinthians 2:5-11.
- To ask: ‘How do I show grace in discipline?’ is the wrong question. To discipline is to show grace. Seeking a person’s restoration after an offence is always more than that person deserves.
- Therefore parents and church leaders need to remember that the same hand that deals discipline is also simultaneously dealing grace. They are not in opposition to one another; and you do not undermine discipline by showing grace, nor undermine grace by exercising discipline.
This was an email Sydney Morning Herald blogger and columnist Katherine Feeney received from her blog “City Kat“:
Long time reader and sometimes commenter of your blog. I have a topic I would love you to talk about as I need some advice from your readers.
Basically, male prostitutes, or escorts for women.
Let me tell you a bit about my situation. I’m a 21-year-old female who has never had a relationship, thus, I’m a virgin.Whilst I have put away the thought of meeting someone sometime soon, I still crave intimacy.
I would love to experience what most people have by my age, and it’s safe to say I have been thinking about sex EVERY single day for the past maybe six years. I watch porn often and want to try out so many things…
Thing is though I do not like the thought of casual sex or one night stands. I don’t think I’m unattractive, but I never seem to be able to pick up or meet new guys, and only really have a small group of friends.
So that’s where I have been doing a bit of research for male prostitutes. And from what I have read it sounds enticing.
These men are paid to make a girl feel special and ensure she gets the best out of the encounter. A lot also specialise in a girl’s first time.
So what better way for me to experience what I have missed out on?
I know I probably won’t go through with it – I’m a bit shy – and it is totally out of character for me.
However I can’t seem to get the idea out of my head and I know I don’t want to be a 25-year-old virgin.
What should I do guys?
The SMH blog then went on to ask readers the question “is it okay to commoditise sex?” and how the readers would respond to this letter.
So it got me wondering: how would God respond to a letter like this? Maybe a little like…
I love you and I am saddened to read about your confusion.
In your letter, you wrote about wanting to experience sex. But you were honest enough to admit that you want sex because you want something deeper than sex. You want intimacy and you fear you’ll never find it before it’s too late.
I see your longing; I acknowledge your pain; I sense your fear.
And so I want you to know first of all, that I love you more than you can imagine. I created you. I watched over the formation of every cell in your body. Not one hair on your head has fallen out of my watchful eye. I love you.
And that’s why I also want you to know that your longings for intimacy and security and love can’t ever be met by anyone else. Though you might one day find a man, a lover, or a husband, even the best man can’t fulfil that longing you feel in the core of your being.
The reason is because that longing was created for relationship with me, your Creator. I gave you a God-shaped hole, and only I can fill it. Sin has kept you away from me; I sent my Son into the world to die for sin and rise again so that you can come back to me. Only that can fulfil your longing. Only I can give you the satisfaction that you seek.
So yes, you’re missing out on something and you’re missing out on someone, but it’s not what and whom you think.
I want you to know that I created sex, and I created it to be immensely pleasurable. But I created it to be only fulfilling and only satisfying within committed and covenanted marriage relationships. Sex is far too great a gift to be squandered in any other way. You’re far too precious to be giving yourself away to a male prostitute, or even to a lover. Sex in those situations won’t give you the joy and intimacy you seek. Rather, it’ll rob you of future joys and intimacy with someone whom you one day may marry.
Finally, I want you to know that you’re not defined by your sexual experiences or lack-thereof. You’re not defined by being a virgin, or not being a virgin. You’re not defined by being popular, outgoing and as someone who has a boyfriend, or alternatively, less popular, shy and single. I am offering you an identity that’s more permanent, more wonderful, more satisfying than anything this world can offer. You can have my Son Jesus give you his wonderful identity in the place of yours. You can be royalty – a daughter of the King of kings. You can have the unfading beauty and identity as an heiress of eternal life.
So will you?
Your loving Creator,
Okay, you probably don’t want to read a post from me gushing about my beautiful wife of ten years, and you might be thinking: ‘How is this going to help me in life and ministry?’ Well read on.
Yesterday Karen was cleaning up the kitchen at around 11.30pm (and understandably exhausted) and discovered that I had left my coffee machine area grotty and messy again. Now instead of saying to me: ‘Pete, you always leave this area messy. Why can’t you just clean up after yourself!’, she very naturally approached it in a way that marriage experts Gottman and Silver in their book Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work recommend.
She said: ‘Hey Pete, I really appreciate it when you clean up the coffee area after you make coffee.’
Wow, huh? This is what Gottman and Silver call ‘Softening Your Start-Up’.
Immediately, I understood what she meant and didn’t feel defensive or accused or unloved or nagged or disrespected or any of those things that we can often feel after a harsh start-up. So I very quickly and willingly apologised and said, ‘I know I’m supposed to. Sorry! I’ll do better next time (though I’ve said that at least a dozen times).’
Now at this point Karen could have said, ‘Yeah, you’ve said that a dozen times!’, or worse yet use sarcasm: ‘Yeah right!’ Now as you can imagine, that would have unnecessarily escalated the conflict and made me feel cornered and accused.
But instead the lovely and wonderful Karen said with a laugh: ‘There’s probably just as many things that I always do that annoy you too!’
Again, wow! That’s what Gottman and Silver call a ‘Repair Attempt’. Once again, it communicated what she meant without allowing the tension to rise. I knew with that ‘repair attempt’ that she was annoyed with my constant forgetfulness in cleaning the coffee area but yet at the same time I didn’t feel accused or belittled at all.
So what do you think? Is some of this helpful for your relationship?
BTW if you want to hear more about Gottman and Silver and other great marriage advice, you have to come to Regenerate Marriage in early 2011! Stay tuned!
I preached a sermon last Sunday on James 1:26-27, where pure and faultless religion consists of ‘looking after orphans and widows in their distress’. In the process of thinking about what were modern-day examples of vulnerable social groups in distress in our society, I came across this study done in 2008 by the Parenting Research Centre on single mothers:
- 1 in 5 families with children under the age of 15 is headed by a single parent. 87% by single mothers.
- Single mothers are providing 70% to 100% of their children’s care, with the majority responsible for 66% to 97% of the costs of raising their children.
- 75% of single parents are raising children on incomes below $20,000.
- Because of the challenges and isolation, they are twice as likely to experience depression as women who have partners.
Let me quote some more bits from their study:
Research highlights that the initial transition to becoming a single mother can be one of the most challenging periods for single mothers and their parenting. For many women, becoming a single mother is a time of tremendous upheaval and life-changing circumstances.
Most people find it harder to parent when they are feeling stressed and anxious. Day-to-day parenting, like coping with sleeplessness or their children’s behaviour, is the same for single mothers. The difference is that single mothers are on their own and usually can’t rely on the daily support of the other parent in providing time out from parenting, affirmation and support with decisions.
The transition to becoming a single mother can carry considerable personal and parenting stresses, such as moving house, changing jobs, changing work hours, having less money, taking on more domestic and child-care duties or losing neighbourhood or friendship supports. Single mothers also tell us that there are complexities in dealing with the legalities and paperwork required by their new status. And many single mothers whose relationships break down are escaping from violence (25% separating women victims of physical or sexual violence).
Our community (and might I add: our churches!) can sometimes be harsh and unsympathetic towards single mothers in their role as parents and providers, and single mothers tell us that stigma and discrimination are an additional burden for them and their children.
1 Corinthians 13:3 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
For a while I was taught and had been teaching that ‘love’ isn’t just about feelings. It’s reasoned that you can love someone, perhaps particularly an enemy, without feeling any love toward them at all. The important thing is to act in a loving way towards them and that equals love.
I think it was D.A. Carson who pointed to this 1 Corinthians 13:3 verse and raised the question of whether it’s valid for us to reduce love to mere actions like that. This verse seems to be saying that you could act in loving ways and sacrificial ways and yet still be found wanting when it comes to love.
So is there an irreducible element to ‘love’ that simply acting in a loving way doesn’t quite capture? What is this irreducible element? Is it motive, emotion or affection?
How does God’s love for us in Christ shape our understanding of love? Jesus didn’t just sacrifice himself and act lovingly towards humanity. He was actually motivated by a deep love for us… But what is that love?
And how does this affect how we ‘love our enemies’? It’s not enough just to act kindly towards them. That’s difficult enough. But if there’s some other irreducible element to love – perhaps something internal, something on the level of desire or motive – then it truly does take something supernatural to cause someone to love their enemies.
But maybe that’s Jesus’ exact point.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.
In preparation for my Mother’s Day sermon at church, I wrote to an old friend, who is a mum of two young ones (with another on the way), asking her why and how God changed her view of motherhood over the years. This is what she wrote. It’s a huge encouragement to me and I hope it is to you too:
I went to an all girls private school which was awesome, but unfortunately also shaped my thinking very much to be that women can achieve anything and be ‘so much more than just a mum’. So my life through high school, uni and working was very much anti-’stay-at-home mum’. I honestly thought women who stayed at home had no ambition or probably only did it cause their husbands made them and they have no backbone to stand up for themselves because of their culture of personal situation. After getting married I still viewed kids pretty negatively. My biggest thing was that I thought kids would be a HUGE inconvenience (and they are!!!!) to travel and life.
My husband always wanted kids and so we really only started trying because biologically I thought we should when I turned 30. My plan was to have 2 kids and go straight back to work. I actually wanted twins to get it all out of the way in one go!!!! And I thought: I have no idea how to be a mum so why not leave it to people who are professionally trained to do so? At least in day care the kids are looked after by people who want to be there and people who are well trained to do so – much better than me who is totally unqualified for this job.
Thinking back now, I was so incredibly selfish and thoughtless in so many ways.
When we fell pregnant, I read Psalm 128 and some other verses in the Bible which really confused me. I couldn’t understand why the bible and God saw children as a blessing and as a gift. To me I could only see them as a hassle. I tried to understand why God saw them as a blessing, but I just couldn’t. And so I came to realise that my view on kids must be so so wrong and so worldly and selfish if I couldn’t even fathom how they could be a blessing.
So I just prayed lots and lots. I prayed that God would change me and change my point of view. That he would help me see kids as a blessing.
And all I can say is that He has. I really do now see kids as a HUGE blessing from God. They are so incredibly adorable and so precious. I just love my two kids so much and I can’t imagine how stupid I was to not want them!
The decision to stay home full time is a hard one though. I do it ‘coz I love being at home with my kids. I really do love it. It is so tiring and unrelenting most days. But they are so much fun and I just think that the time from now till they go to school is so short so I may as well be with them as much as I can.
I don’t think being at home is the right decision for everyone. I can’t really explain why I do it. Also we are lucky enough that my husband earns really good money so I can afford not to work. And also cause I delayed having kids a few years I am at the stage in my career where I can find reasonable part-time work at good pay if I really want to. But also, I do think for me career as a priority and importance has just dropped away. It’s not that I don’t care about it but I think there is a season in life for everything: a season to advance your career, and a season for family. And right now the season for me is to look after the kids.
That’s kinda all I can really say. Not sure if that is helpful and I do feel quite emotional about this (maybe that is the hormones though!!!!). I can’t give all my reasons for being at home full-time but I do believe that through prayer God has changed me.
He has changed me from being someone who couldn’t fathom why kids could be a blessing, to being someone who now sees kids as a HUGE blessing and treasure from the Lord.
Most people associate the song R-E-S-P-E-C-T with Aretha Franklin. What they don’t know is that a man, Otis Redding, wrote it.
My wife and I have been reading a book called Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs (only Americans can come up with names like that!).
This book is a gem and a must read in particular for women.
You see, what women don’t realise is that for the majority of men, they need respect more than they need love. It’s true. Ask most men if they would rather be alone in the world and unloved by everyone, or not be alone in the world but despised by everyone, the majority would choose to be unloved rather than despised.
You’ve heard of the 5 love languages. I think this is just as important. If you like, ‘love’ and ‘respect’ are the syntax (or grammatical rules) behind the various love languages of men and women. In other words, different men might have different love languages, but all of their love languages share the same syntax: respect. And the same goes for women, only their syntax is ‘love’.
A lot of the times women wonder why it is that their men are frustrated when they give and show them so much ‘love’. What they don’t realise is that you can speak love but not respect. If you mother them, boss them around, nag at them, put them down (especially in front of others), take sides with your own family (read: parents) against them, don’t empower them to make their own decisions, don’t affirm their career choices, make them feel inadequate to lead… all these might be motivated out of love, but to a man, it’s incredibly hurtful because it’s read as disrespect.
Ever wondered why your man was so romantic and considerate and proactive during early courtship but not so much now? Maybe it’s because early on their girlfriends oozed respect and admiration for them. Now that they know their men better, often that respect is lessened and years into marriage could even be replaced by an unspoken contempt. A man will shrivel in those circumstances and God-forbid be tempted to be unfaithful with other women who admire them and adore them like you used to.
Please note: I’m not saying that it’s ever right for a man to be unfaithful. A married man has made vows and needs to honour those vows, regardless of how they’ve been wronged or treated. His wife’s lack of respect is no excuse before God for cheating on her. I’m simply trying to explain why it is that some men are tempted to cheat.
Eggerichs makes a good point: we always speak about ‘unconditional love’. What about ‘unconditional respect’? A woman would hate it if a man only loved her when she earned his love. And yet, most women communicate to their men that they are to be respected only when they’ve earned their respect. That’s not only inconsistent, it’s unbiblical. Ephesians 5:33 says:
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
And a final helpful point I might mention is this (really, go out and buy the book, it’ll be great for your relationships): if a man receives the respect he needs, he’ll give the love you need. It’s true. When men feel empowered and respected and affirmed as leaders, they go out of their way to protect, cherish, adore, be considerate… love the women who are in their lives.