One thing I have been able to put across to my readers, especially last week, in this column is that the primary needs of husbands and wives differ due to the way God wired them. For a man, his greatest need is respect, while for a woman, her greatest need is love. The complaints of wives about their husbands not being caring or giving them attention is simply a cry for love. While on the other hand, the husbands’ remark that “Are you talking to me like that?” is a cry for respect. It is their inability to meet each other’s needs that often lead to conflicts between husband and wife.
It is inevitable to understand how a wife should communicate respect for her husband and how a husband should communicate love for his wife therefore if there will be marital harmony.
Things to note if they will adequately communicate respect and love for each other:
That a man needs respect from his wife to motivate him, and that a wife cherishes love from her husband to motivate her not his or her fault, but due to the way God wired them.
Respect and love for each other should be given unconditionally. That is, you don’t respect him because he loves you. Rather, you respect him because that is what will motivate him for higher performance. Likewise, you don’t love her because she respects you, but because love is her primary need as well as the motivation for her high performance.
Understanding these two points makes it easy for both of them to speak each other’s language of respect and love. The usual and natural thing that husband and wife do for each other is “do me, I do you” that is, if you don’t love me, then I won’t respect you, and if you don’t respect me, then you don’t deserve my love. Simply put, both are saying that they must earn respect and love. So, when the husband feels disrespected, he responds by acting unloving towards her. Likewise, she responds to her feeling of not being loved by acting in disrespect towards him, the end result of which is regular marital conflicts.
When husbands and wives react this way, instead of being pro-active, they come across to each other as being unloving towards the wife, and disrespectful towards the husband.
Therefore, if husband and wife will communicate respect and love to each other, they need to do the following:
They both must think about the situation before they act. When husband and wife don’t think through the situation before they act, they are blindfolded as to what the real issue at stake is. A correct assessment of the situation, if carried out at all, is blurred by feeling disrespectful and unloving. That is, her need for love blindfolds her from seeing his need for respect as being behind his action and vice versa.
Also, husband and wife should avoid moving from being defensive to being offensive when they are speaking in code to each other. Let me explain this with this story as told by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs in his book, “Love and Respect.”
According to him, a husband, in an attempt to celebrate their wedding anniversary, mistakenly bought a birthday card for the wife. The wife reacted by accusing him of being uncaring saying, “it was an honest mistake, all right, because you just don’t care.” The husband, reacting said, “Hey, I made an honest mistake, all right? Give me a break.
Good grief!” The wife responded, “You buy me a birthday card on our tenth anniversary, and you expect me not to be upset? I’d rather you hadn’t bought me any card at all!” The husband storming out of the room said, “You know what? The way you’re talking I’m glad I got you a birthday card for your anniversary!” What a way to celebrate a tenth anniversary.
(To be continued).