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The comment was one of those things that stick with you for the rest of your life. It was so simple, yet so profound.
I was counseling a couple who was making great strides recovering from a very deep crisis. In one particular session, the wife was describing her desire to have her husband allow her to use electronic banking in paying the bills. As she expressed it, she wanted shared information as it related to the finances. The husband, as it turns out, liked the “control” of having the information himself by writing the checks and mailing the checks (some people just like “control” ~ more about that in another blog!).
Later in the session, the husband was describing his desire for his wife to give him the respect he desired (and, in this case, he went on to describe that he meant more physical intimacy in the bedroom).
And, then, there it came ~ The thought that would change the trajectory of their relationship forever. The wife, in a moment of amazing insight, blurted out: “Well, you CAN have “control” with regard to the checks (meaning you can do it your way), OR you can have “control” with regard to the bedroom (meaning, you can have my respect in the bedroom), but you CAN’T have control in both places”! WOW!! There it was. What the wife was saying was that the amount of respect she felt for her husband was linked to his willingness to meet her needs. It was that simple, yet that profound!!
I let the comment set in for about 10 seconds. Then, I looked at the husband and I said, “OK, you heard your wife. You can have control with regard to the checks or you can have control with regard to more respect from your wife. Which one do you choose?”
And, without hesitation, the husband replied, “I choose more respect from my wife. She can do the online banking”.
And, as time went on, this simple understanding changed the dynamics of their relationship for the better. The husband developed a more profound desire to meet the legitimate needs of his wife. The wife, as a result, developed a more profound desire to meet the respect needs (which included physical intimacy) of her husband.
From where I sit, this is the dynamic that is at work in so many marriages.
Wives, because of the current societal pressures and expectations, find themselves juggling so many balls in the air (career, house, children, meals, etc) that they are literally exhausted. Often, the one thing that they really need is for their husbands to be tuned into their “attentiveness” needs and focus time and energy in meeting those needs. In the dating days, it was flowers and candy ~ now, it’s helping with the dishes, putting away the laundry, helping with the kids, and allowing the wife to do online banking!!
Husbands fight the good fight in the workplace all day long. When they come home, they are looking for respect that is shown in tangible ways (often through praise and physical closeness in the bedroom).
Over 2,000 years ago, the Bible hit the nail on the head when it declared in a summarizing verse in Ephesians 5:33, “…each one of you (husbands) also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband”. So, there they are ~ the two most important things ~ Love & Respect. Simple ~ yet so profound.
If your marriage is like mine and so many others, you don’t really need to think too long and hard about what to do to make it better. Husbands, why not, for the next seven days, just pick one thing you can do DAILY to LOVE your wife and meet her attentiveness needs. And, wives, why not do one thing DAILY to RESPECT your husband (say an encouraging word, tell him about all the things he is doing right, etc).
If you do these things, my guess is that you may be changing the trajectory of your relationship forever. For at least one couple, all it took to get the changed trajectory started was to go to online banking !!!
If you have trouble thinking about seven things you can do for a week to love your wife or respect your husband, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve got a list (from personal experience!!) that can most definitely help.
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