– Respect that is unconditional. The old adage “He has to earn my respect” doesn’t work in a marriage. Megan talks me up to our friends. She never makes me feel small even when she disagrees with me. This isn’t about fragility. I handle disagreements and attacks daily, but If I felt like the person I was going to invest my life into didn’t respect me I would have been less likely to continue the relationship. Men feel love through respect. It’s that simple.
– Love that is also unconditional. It’s given freely. There is no holding it back. Find out how to love your significant other and do it. A lot. Megan always gives me the benefit of the doubt. She touches the back of my head while driving. She talks about how handsome I am. She makes me feel like there is nothing she wouldn’t do for me. It took time for us to learn how to love each other the best way possible, but it was well worth the investment.
Everything else falls into these two basic categories, but here’s the rub.
The way Megan and I experience love and respect are completely different.
Megan feels most respected when I’m expressing my love to her. I feel most loved when she’s expressing respect. We’re not the exception, we’re the rule.
It’s how men and women are created. When I feel like Megan doesn’t respect me, (this happens occasionally) I start to withdraw love. It’s not a conscious thing, it’s automatic. When Megan feels like I don’t love her, she starts to withdraw her respect.
It works the other way too. If I’m feeling like there’s a lack of respect coming from Megan, the first thing I do is examine how I’m loving her. I may not have valued her opinion or her time, or possibly just haven’t shown her affection (dates) in a while. I could have left her out of a big decision where she should have had a voice. Whatever it is, I know I need to correct it to get back on course.
If you examine the lives of other long term relationships you’ll see this same thing over and over. Two people that have learned to share love and respect in a language they can understand.
Wayne Tingle is a husband to an amazing wife, father of two amazing kids, and missionary in Central America. When he’s not building schools in needy areas he’s working on being a better man.