Love and Respect
Love and Respect
Words of Faith 4-19-2021
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2021
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
In this simple verse, the Apostle Paul summarizes a powerful key regarding the mystery of marriage and finding joy in this most amazing relationship that God designed. Simply put, the greatest need of a man is respect and the greatest need of a woman is sacrificial love. Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
When a woman realizes that she is loved unconditionally and sacrificially by her husband, this creates a haven of security and safety in which she can give herself fully to her husband. When a man feels honored and respected by his wife, he responds in sacrificial love in ways very different from his natural tendency to be selfish. Selfishness on the part of a husband creates deep insecurity and fear in his wife that she will be dominated, used, or abandoned. Respect calls forth the very things in a man that reflect the image of God in Him and the character of Christ.
Put another way, love is what best motivates a woman, and respect most powerfully motivates a man. The negative aspects of this truth are revealing as well. Research by Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D shows that during marital conflict, a husband most often reacts when feeling disrespected and a wife reacts when feeling unloved.
Other studies have shown that a key predictor of divorce can be observed in the pattern and tone of communication between husband and wife. If a wife speaks to or about her husband disrespectfully or with contempt, this reveals significant marriage trouble. If a husband speaks with selfishness or dominance, this is a critical condition.
John Gottman, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington, spent 20 years studying 2000 couples. His breakthrough study received international attention because of his ability to predict with 94 percent accuracy who will stay married and who will divorce. A staggering statistic! In his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, he writes, "... most couples I've worked with over the years really wanted just two things from their marriage - love and respect."
But we knew that. God told us about this mystery some 2000 years ago. The Bible reveals that a wife's respect for her husband is as powerful as her husband's love is to her. Good things happen when a wife obeys God's call on her life to respect her husband, both before and after marriage, and a man obeys God's call on his life to love his wife sacrificially, both before and after marriage.
Though a husband may not deserve respect and a wife may not feel any respect, contemptuous speech never touches the human Spirit in a positive and lasting manner. A husband needs to feel respect for who he is in the same way a wife needs to feel love for who she is. When a husband's need for respect is met, he responds. Though a husband's response tends to be less sentimental than a wife's, the depth of that man's response is similar.
The truth is that when two imperfect people marry, those imperfections do not disappear. But troubling temperaments and tempers are dealt with effectively through love and respect. A husband's love softens his wife's disrespectful reactions. A wife's respect softens her husband's unloving reactions.
So how do we do that? By both speech and action, both talk and walk.
Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs commend something they call "respect talk" as a way of breaking an impasse in marriage. It is not a magic wand, but it can make a huge difference. Applying respect in words, facial expressions, and tones can re-kindle moments of closeness amid stress, open a husband's closed Spirit when he feels everybody respects him but his wife, counter the misperception his wife is trying to be his mother, give him hope that he is viewed as equal, and re-energize his deflated ego in the midst of outside factors that are discouraging him.
In the same way, "love talk" and "love walk," which clearly demonstrates that to a woman that her husband is totally and sacrificially committed to her to the point that he would die for her. Unloading the dishwasher also goes a long way in building the security she needs. Even more than words, respectful behavior can be a powerful change agent.
Father God, show me today how I am to strengthen marriage in my world. Help me to be a support, encouragement, and an example. Show me the way of love and respect in life and help me to teach love and respect in marriage. In Jesus' Name.