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Marriage is Healing, Part IV--Respectful Communication

alec vanderboom

(Make sure you read part one and part two and part three first.)

(Special note: everything contained in this series of posts are pre-approved by my husband. It's hard to find the narrow way when speaking about your marriage on the internet. I didn't want to come across as a glib "we're perfect and have no problems, isn't God great?", but I didn't want to disrespect my husband's and my real need for privacy either. I tried to find the middle way. God's healing mercy is real. My prayer is to give Hope)

This is the part that Amy asked me to write about --respectful communication with my husband--and honestly, I don't have it yet. I just know there is a piece of the puzzle missing for me.

I love my husband.
I enjoy his company.
I admire his virtues.
I find him hot in both baseball caps and in sweater vests.
I believe in his leadership of our family because I see the Holy Spirit working in him.

Yet, I can not seem to keep this annoyingly disrespectful tone out of my voice when we're talking about something I disagree with him about.

I can't even tell you what I'm doing wrong yet--I just see his sudden "nails on a chalk board" reaction to my voice, and I know now to quickly stop, say "I'm sorry for disrespecting you" and wait until the air is fully clear.

I'm only at step one of learning how to respect my husband unconditionally (meaningfully apologize when I screw up)--but that one step is huge. I'm getting new love letters on the kitchen table! So I'm just really motivated to keep going. I really think this "Respect for my Husband" is huge and sort of applies to everything from healing our disunity to our Bishops to Better Knowing the Lord, My God.

If anyone has ideas on how to better respect our husband jump into the comments, or better yet, write your own post and link to us. Husbands, if you have thoughts on "Respect" please chime in.
(Remember personal anecdotes are awesome--that's how I remember new concepts--but always check with your beloved spouse before airing private moments in public!)


(To briefly recap for new readers)

So--watching the movie Fireproof helped me kickstart a conversation with my husband about "What 3 things can I do to show you respect." He picked tithing, doing evening prayer together, and not using my father's credit card. Three months later, those tasks are much easier for me.
I also learned that chronic complaining about my hard days with our kids was a form of disrespect to my husband. I'm now working on ironing his work shirts and keeping hand towels in the kitchen (acts of service). Respectful communication itself continues to elude me.

Reading this book "Love and Respect" helped. (I checked it out of my local library)

This book is wordy, you just need to read the first chapter. There is a picture of a "Conflict" Cycle. In theory, couples are always in a "race to the top" for outdoing each other in showing love or respect--or in a downward spiral. Basically she feels unloved (or overwhelmed I'd add with childrearing) so she acts disrespectful, then the man feels hurt and this ugly race happens. Things can get ugly really fast.

The stuff in the a blog post by the Author sounded like Greek but also somehow made sense to me.

"The secret is this:  A husband is motivated to love in response to a wife showing him unconditional respect.  

Paul, as well, shares God’s secret.  “The wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33b NIV).  This is his summary statement on marriage to the wife in the most significant treatise on marriage in the New Testament.Did you know that God does not command a wife to agape-love her husband?  Only the husband is commanded to agape-love (Ephesians 5:33a).   Agape-love is that God-like unconditional love.
The Mysterious Island
Why is a wife not commanded to agape-love?  God designed a wife to love.  She loves to love.  For this reason, a husband does not doubt his wife’s love.  What he doubts is her respect for him.  During an argument, if she shouts, “I love you a ton but don’t feel any respect for you!” he’ll become an island unto himself.  A mysterious island.
That is equal to a husband shouting, “I respect you more than any other human being, especially since you received a million dollar inheritance from your old man, but I don’t love you, never have.”  What wife will jump in the air and click her heels over that comment?  She is devastated and would never get over it.
As a wife needs love like she needs air, so a husband needs respect like he needs air.  He is devastated and never gets over the declaration, “Nobody could ever respect you.”
I recognize myself in this, but I still don't understand what "unconditional respect" to your husband means or even looks like in practice. I'm eager to learn. This healing of Eve's sin starts with me!