I must admit that before I married Trent, I really did not understand men at all. He will verify. Maybe you read the title for this post and your mind automatically went to the obvious. You know. We are both thinking it. Trent and I have a code word for it at home- peanut butter (Don’t tell our kids. We’ve already changed it when Trent mentioned the previous code “making biscuits” in a sermon at church, of all places).
In our culture, it’s easy to see why most of us believe that what men want most is peanut butter. That’s what I thought too. Yes, it’s a great need that God created within them in his careful design, but there is a greater need inside that man of yours.
The thing is, we have to look past the tough exterior, his distracted NFL mind, his weaknesses, and his unwillingness to share his heart to see it. That’s what love does, right? Looks past the mess for the real need?
Don’t we expect that from men? We want them to overlook our drama, our need for 50,000 words per day, the shopping habits, and our Pinterest obsession to know exactly what we need. We want to be known, to be loved and cherished without having to tell him how. We don’t play fair, do we?
If we think that what our husbands desires most from us is peanut butter, a clean house, quiet children, or gourmet meals, we have missed it. Not to say that those things are not enjoyed or appreciated by most men; they are. But just as our greatest need is not new shoes, jewelry, and an empty trash can, men are wired by God to seek something deeper.
I want to be known and cherished by my husband. Trent needs my respect. He feels love through my respect in a way that a home-cooked meal or even peanut butter cannot convey. It is not an egotistical, power-hungry need for control. Respect is not that at all.
Respect looks like appreciation, encouragement, and a belief that he can accomplish hard things. Respect is honor that lives within our words, both in his presence and when we are just with our girlfriends or our children. I loved reading, “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge, and I learned a man needs to know he has what it takes. So many times my actions and attitudes have not sent that message to my husband.
This is not about men deserving our respect; how easily we make respect something that must be earned by our husbands. Yet, we do not place the same requirements on the love we need from them. We both need love and men feel love most through respect. The love that is from God is not conditional.
We said, “yes” to imperfect men, messy and unfinished men. We ourselves are broken and flawed, and so we are called to walk this crazy and sometimes awful path together. We walk hand in hand, together, and if we want to make it, we love each other along the way. Loving each other how we need to be loved strengthens us for the challenges ahead, unites us to better face disappointments, and brings hope when we struggle.
Giving respect to our men can open a door to healing. Our confidence, trust, and belief can be an extension of God’s love, dispelling fear and providing the courage needed to step toward change. When a man knows that his wife believes in him, he walks a little taller and breathes a little easier.
Today, I realize that I am the person God chose to speak life and hope into my husband’s life. He picked me to love Trent and cheer him on in this life. There are days when I see that as an honor and days when I wrongly withhold my respect. I pray that God will remind me moment by moment the gift that Trent is to me and how much he needs my love, He needs a love from me that looks like respect, a love that is birthed and grown in the light of God’s grace to me.
It is true that he who has been forgiven much, loves much. Maybe as wives, we first need to look deep into our own mess and see the beautiful grace that has been poured over it. Then with that grace we can respect our men.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33
For more insight and practical ways to respect your husband, read this great post on Family Life.