This past February my husband and I went away for the weekend for the first time ever! That may seem like a big deal until I tell you that we have been married for over 17 years!! My church has an annual couples retreat in Gatlinburg and thanks to some awesome friends of ours we were able to attend this year. Having now gone away together it is something we will for sure plan again!
The speakers were Scott and Elizabeth Sheppard, and they were fantastic! I took a ton of notes which I will be referring to for this article. It was all about respect and love and I wanted to write a little about what I learned so you guys can have a more awesome relationship with your spouse.
The main lesson was that men need respect and women need love. When the man doesn't feel respected by his wife he does not show love and when the wife doesn't feel loved she will act disrespectfully. See the problem? We create a vicious cycle that we can't escape. The only way to end cycle is for one of the adults to actually act like an adult and show love when they feel disrespected or show respect when they feel love. I will be real honest here and tell you that this is the exact problem my husband and I have had in our marriage. We haven't intentionally done these things, it just happens. I don't think you could find a couple more opposite than my husband and myself. Our love languages are very different and every other aspect of how we respond to life is different. The great thing is that we are in this together and we keep learning more about each other. We want to be better together.
Here are some points we learned that weekend:
1. We love and react different not wrong just different.
2. We need to hear what is in each other's heart and not always what their words or actions are showing.
3.You cannot be disrespectful to motivate love, and you cannot be unloving to motivate respect.
4. The one who sees himself or herself as the most mature moves first. Regardless of who's responsible.
Some of the mistakes couples make are thinking that he can be unloving and get respect and that she can be disrespectful to get love. A man's greatest need is to be respected by his wife and family. He needs it like he needs air. If she is putting him down and not letting him be the man of the house the vicious cycle starts. He won't in turn show the love his wife desperately needs and craves. Same is true in the opposite. If the husband is indifferent and unloving to his wife she will not desire to respect him. Again the vicious cycle starts.
Here are a few tips from the other couples who attended the retreat on how to keep your marriage on the right track were:
1. Communicate-Don't be afraid to tell the truth.
2. Honesty-always be honest with each other.
3. Watch your body language. It can say so much.
4. Replace selfishness with selflessness
5. Always speak highly about each other in front of others.
6. Do not compare yourselves to others.
7. Celebrate wins and losses together.
8. Be intentional with your time.
You are responsible for your own response. You cannot blame your emotions on someone else. When we are mad and feel unloved we lash out. It is our responsibility to keep our words in check and our emotions under control. Show respect regardless how what you are feeling. Is this easy? No way!! I still haven't mastered it completely! I do know though that fights are much shorter when you aren't both yelling and disrespecting each other. I want to make my relationship with my husband a goal for my children to strive for when they are married. I want them to also know how they should be loved and treated.
Giving your all to your spouse is so hard. You are giving them your heart and they need to protect, honor, and not drop it. You are also not a mind reader so ask your husband what specifically makes them feel respected. Guys, ask your ladies how do they feel loved. Do you know their love language? I highly recommend the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Husband's your job is to bring out the radiance of your wife. Wives when you are genuinely concerned about your husband they will become radiant. Remember respect is shown in our words and our actions.
In order to stop the cycle someone has to be the "bigger person" and not react with an emotional response. You have to decide that this marriage is more important than this fight. One tip that was given was to have a time out that you can use during a fight. If you see that you are arguing and your point is not being heard or your spouse is completely misunderstanding you, then call a time out. Determine the time before hand and step away. For instance you decide upon 10 minutes so you walk away, during that time you think about the argument from the perspective of your spouse. This can give you each a chance to cool down and see from their point of view.
Wives, you have to respect even when he does not deserve it. God never ask us if we are deserving of being loved or forgiven he simply does it. Who are we to not do the same thing? Being submissive is a Godly strength. We are different, but equal and being submissive does not make you less than your husband. You will be judged on what you do not on what your spouse does. So if they are being unloving and you are being respectful through it all God will notice. He sees you attempts. He hears your cries. He knows the desires of your heart.
Men, love your wives with every ounce of your being and wives respect those husbands every second of the day. It may take time, but your marriage will benefit from this.
Ephesians 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.