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.