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Marriage Chronicles: How I Learned to RESPECT My Husband More

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me…” Oh yeah, we’re all familiar with Aretha Franklin’s song "RESPECT." After reading the lyrics of this song there is one particular line that immediately grabbed my attention which was the line you just read in the opening, "Find out what it means to me...."

It's easy to see Aretha Franklin is ALL woman who emphasizes the importance of RESPECT. We all know it doesn’t matter, whether you are male or female, both genders require RESPECT...period.

However, I’ve always been intrigued why men seem to require RESPECT more than women. Hey ladies, have you ever wondered this as well? Even the bible spotlights the need for us wives (& future wives:) to “RESPECT” our husbands. Read it for yourself.

“However, each one of you also must LOVE his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must RESPECT her husband.”

{Emphasis mine} Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)

With this in mind, I have something special to share with you today. Usually, I’m all about the “research ministry” meaning I’m looking for answers on the internet or my books, but I thought to myself “who else would know this topic better than the man of my house?” I mean why not? It’s about my Marriage Chronicles and obviously he is my husband who can speak from a man’s perspective.

Here’s how the interview went.

We’re sitting on the barstools in our kitchen. I’m working on my upcoming blogs (including this one), he’s a CPA so he’s working on his client’s financials, and our daughter, Kori is eating chicken nuggets while watching Bubble Guppies. We’re talking about our day and then I proceed to tell him what I’m preparing to share with you all so I just come out and ask him about the topic of RESPECT. As we began to dialogue I say to him, hold up! Let me just interview you! I’m all excited and animated of course! LOL

Me: Babe, so how do you define respect?

Hubby: [He pauses for a minute…]

Respect is anything that does NOT antagonize my position of being a leader, innovator, a protector, and a provider. If you were to do anything physically, verbally, or emotionally that would threaten my ability to accomplish those areas of my position, that would be a sign of disrespect.

Me: Wow babe! Okay that's good. Three years in our marriage and I never knew you specifically defined it in that manner. [We both laugh and of course in the back of my mind I’m taking this all in…LOL]

Me: Okay, here’s my next question. Why do you believe men require respect more than women?

Hubby: God created man with an internal mechanism to lead. It’s very similar to the way he designed women to help (innate helpers/nurturers). To be an effective leader you must have the ability to recognize and receive respect. So, at any moment, if a man feels disrespected you're basically saying to him you don't see him the same way God sees him.

Me: [I bust out and say…] WOOOW BABE! That is REAL GOOD! LOL Okay continue on….[as I have clearly interrupted him with my excitement!]

Hubby:[He continues as he smiles…] Think of the ramifications of that. Generally when a man is disrespected, his first reaction is one of anger and he lashes out. So if God created Him with the intent to be a respected leader, then God would also arm him with a protection mechanism when that very thing God created him to be is threatened. Hence, a man's reaction to being disrespected is not because his “ego is fragile.” It’s the “internal automatic protection mechanism” whenever you threaten the very thing God created us to be.

--Okay y’all so this is heavy. LOL I’m listening to my husband share what all of this means but I’m eager to learn more so I continue with our conversation.

Me: Okay Babe, now tell me more about this protection mechanism. What are you protecting?

Hubby: It's pretty simple actually. A leader has 5 fundamental principles. He's able to inspire, command, provide, protect, and think clearly above all others in the midst of chaos. A leader has the fortitude to bring into fruition a result that otherwise would not happen without him. It’s what separates him from the ordinary. For whatever reason, one I cannot fathom, GOD saw something in men to be these type of difference makers. To be that cement in the foundation, the cornerstone of any structure, the lynch pin that keeps the wheels rolling regardless of the road conditions. Simply put, he endowed us to be EXTRAordinary.

We often say “God will never take you where his grace won’t keep you.” Imagine the honor of having the GOD of all gods, the LORD of all lord’s, Supreme Ruler of all we know, bestow upon you such an epithet as “LEADER.” Therefore, when GOD appointed men to be the head of our families, communities, and relationships via His will, His GRACE also armed us with the wherewithal to defend that title with all that we have.

Think of it like this…many of us love to watch a great boxing champion defend his title with ferocity. So if Muhamad Ali was willing to risk Parkinson’s disease to defend his man given championship against anyone willing to threaten his position, imagine how much greater the fight when a man's championship belt (given to him by the Almighty) is challenged? You ask what I am protecting? It's the championship belt that GOD gave me and all the accolades & responsibility that goes with it. That’s what I’m protecting.

Me: Lord have Mercy Babe! Why didn’t you tell me this day one?! We could have eliminated my “sometimes” struggle with respecting you had you said it like that in the beginning! LOL

Me: Okay so you know I have to ask and please be transparent with me so I can openly share this with others. Do you believe that as your wife I have given you the respect YOU need in this marriage?

Hubby: I do. You understand the fundamental principle of leadership. You recognize a man is appointed to be the leader of his family. However, although I was born with the internal need and ability to lead, it has to be harvested and trained properly. So every man is born to lead, but not every man embraces his ability to lead. Some never harness it, feed it, and properly develop it (leadership) to maximize its full potential.

As a help meet, women have an internal mechanism to recognize leadership. However, she too has to embrace and develop her internal leadership radar in order to recognize a quality leader when she sees one. You have that incredible ability! You have the ability to recognize leadership and have the trust that I will never, ever make you feel like you are beneath me. You know I can only be the best leader I can be if you are given complete “carte blanche” (complete freedom to act as one wishes or thinks best) to help me. There can be no ME without YOU being encouraged to be all you were made to be.

Okay…so ladies (and gents) can you imagine how floored I was to hear my husband speak on the topic of RESPECT? I mean like WOW! It definitely challenges me to step up my game for him. Honestly, I have never heard anyone speak on MEN and RESPECT from that perspective. Have you?!?

By now you’re probably thinking, “Okay Dr. E, just how did you learn to respect your husband more?”

Simply put, because I ASKED HIM…

I thank God that even 3 years in our marriage (6 years together total) I’m learning more about my husband and how to love and respect him better. It’s better late than never to ask the most important questions to maintain a healthy marriage.

Aretha said it best: “Find out what it means to me.” As a wife (or wife to be) ask your husband or your future husband like I did…”Babe how do you define Respect? What does it look like to you? Am I respecting you? If not, how can I respect you more?” Find out what it means to “him.”

We know generally what it means to “RESPECT” someone, but what it means to a man is wrapped up in his personhood. It may be defined differently for every man, but RESPECT is the essence of his being and a source which gives him life. God has innately put something in a man that reflects His image because we were all indeed “made in His image.” But for a man, my husband said it best: God created man to Lead which means he is to develop these 5 things well: Inspire, Command, Provide, Protect, and Think Clearly above all others in the midst of chaos. How powerful is that? As a man, what can you do to develop your innate quality to LEAD?

Ladies, here’s my two cents as well:

Here’s what I’ve discovered: “RESPECT is unconditional.” You don’t need a man to prove anything to you before you RESPECT him. Now, obviously you must respect yourself and you both must respect each other, but for the sake of this topic I’m speaking of having an unconditional respect towards a man who respects himself. Think about it like this ladies, we want “unconditional love” and understanding even when we don’t make the best decisions as wives right? (The scripture above even commands the husband to LOVE his wife life himself.) So why can’t your husband (or future husband) receive “unconditional respect” when he makes a mistake?

I’ve always said it like this, clearly my husband and I have disagreements and moments of “heated fellowship” (i.e. arguments…LOL) but how crazy would it be for me to not make him dinner because I’m mad at him? He doesn’t STOP working or providing because he’s mad at me! I would still respect his position and my role to serve him even when there is “chaos” going on. Is it difficult at times? Oh absolutely! But that is where you must rely on God’s word and truth to be your guide during those unfavorable moments in your marriage.

As a wife who has this amazing husband, I am so inspired by his responses and I hope you are too! I’m so glad God led me to write about the topic of RESPECT because I initially didn’t have any intentions in sharing this with husband, but look at what came of it!

It’s evident. When you follow God’s lead, He will always reward your obedience. My prize and reward is to STUDY my husband’s definition of RESPECT so I can learn to be the wife God has called me to be for him.

Now ladies, go do your homework so we can study together…Let me know what you come up with should you decide to share!

Get ready to embrace “A NEW ME: Transparently, Abundantly.”

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