Don't leave just yet. Besides these articles, sometimes I send out extra special stuff. Don't miss out. Sign up here.
people are love and respecting (now).
Join the movement.
I just finished reading “Love & Respect”—I am a single woman who has been broken up from a significant other for a year. We were talking of marriage before the break up. In the relationship, I thought he was being a little too sensitive the times when he’d ask me to sit with him and watch a movie that I had absolutely no interest in watching, so I would refuse, or when he would want me to sit in his kitchen with him and watch him cook, though I preferred to watch television instead. Sometimes I gave in, but other times, when I refused, he would get quiet on me and not talk to me. The only thing I could think was that the man was crazy. Then there were times he’d get mad at me for something I said. It would puzzle me that he got so upset, when I didn’t even mean anything hurtful by what I said. I now realize that without knowledge of what I was doing, I had disrespected him.
I never stopped loving him, and would like to have a second chance with him. So, I decided to tell my ex how much I respect him (not only because it is true, but because I wanted to put the respect principle to the test). I think I knew in my heart it would work, but I was not prepared for how well it would work. His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. A big smile spread across his face, then he thanked me and gave me a hug. Knowing that a big need is for respect, could the love and respect principles (if not all, then some) work on restoring my relationship with my ex?
Great story! I think our word choices and actions are so influential when communicating with the men in our life. It was cool for me to be reminded of how easily we can misjudge someone else’s sensitivity as childish or off-the-wall just because it isn’t our own area of sensitivity.
While Love and Respect will give you principles that help you have a deeper understanding of yourself and the person you are in relationship with, it isn’t a formula. You will need to start paying attention to those times when he “goes quiet” or, as my father says, when you “notice his spirit deflate.” It’s in this space you can learn to seek understanding of where the other person is coming from instead of becoming defensive.
Many fights are due to misinterpreting the other person’s verbal or non-verbal cues—signals that they often didn’t intend.
And as far as learning how to understand his desire for your admiration and respect, it’s sometimes easier to focus on how you can be aware of what feels like disrespect to him. In the same way he probably unintentionally hurts you, you probably aren’t aware of the things that are like a little knife in the heart to him. The word “refuse” came up a couple times in your email, specifically about things that, in marriage, you DEFINITELY want to find compromise.
Most men place “friendship” as a very high priority in what they want their wife to be in relationship to them. As my father talks about in his book and Dr. Deborah Tannen points out in her research, men are often energized by shoulder-to-shoulder activities. So the fact that you “refuse” to watch the movies he likes and “refuse” to sit with him while he cooks could communicate that you have no interest in being his buddy.
And if I were a man (just for clarification, I’m not), that would make me shut down.
If sitting in the kitchen hanging out with your boyfriend while he cooks is less appealing to you than watching TV on your own…then it’s odd to me how you could be in love with the guy.
When I’m in love, I’m content just watching him braid his beard.
So before you invest anymore into this relationship, or try to win him back by using this “respect formula” that seems to be working for you, make sure you aren’t just “in love” with this guy because he does all the things you want to do. If that’s the case, you aren’t becoming one in a future marriage, you’re signing up to be in charge.
I hope (for both of your sakes) he “refuses” that set up.
From my heart,
P.S. You might also find it helpful to watch the Respect State of the Union series I did a few years ago. In it, I answered a number of questions on the topic of respect and had a group of single and married men chime in with their thoughts. It might help you figure out what does and doesn’t “work.”
Men, do you prioritize friendship in your significant relationships? Would you feel disrespected if your girlfriend/wife always “refused” to do what you were doing?
How can we find compromise and balance in our relationships?
Don't leave just yet. Besides these articles, sometimes I send out extra special stuff. Don't miss out. Sign up here.
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.
Brittany, this man sounds like he cant communicate clearly and has passive aggressive anger issues.
I believe it is up to him to communicate his desires. If he cant and becomes silent and hurt over unintended slights, I can imagine years of non communication and silent withdrawal from this man.
It is wise to be self-examining and proactive to fix a relationship, but does he believe this also, is my criteria in a relationship.
Absolutely! It was not always that way, for years I felt like I was a friend only when there was no one else available, but we learned a lot from “Love and Respect “. This is an honest endorsement, because we now make a committed effort to deepen our relationship. My wife understands that, and while I am aware some things are not fun to her, I feel her friendship is validated by her company. When I am fixing the brakes in the garage, she sits there, and I think “there she is, trying the love and respect thing”, but I feel awesome. I know she tries, and that encourages me to try. She probably thinks the same when I sit and listen face to face to her.
Would I feel disrespected if she refused to join me on what I like? Of course! Would she feel unloved if I refused to hold her hand, talk to her, compliment her? I think she would. Ladies, men like compliments, but not more than we love your company.
I think finding compromise and balance can be done by learning to understand each other, Joy, I loved your response because you make it clear that we need to assume the other person’s perspective. Understand where they are coming from.
We also need to know that we value different things. If I want to have a wife who is my best friend, I need to make sure I am the guy SHE needs (not the one I THINK she needs). It is never an easy and flowery road, but it is worth it!, our marriage has been way better since we learned these things.
Friendship is very important to me; without quantity time together, there will be less quality time together. Granted I do not expect my spouse to do everything I enjoy, but it is great to have someone there shoulder-to-shoulder for 90% of my activities. I often claim to be a very independent person, but when I have someone there shoulder-to-shoulder, the activity becomes a highlight!
I would not feel disrespected if my spouse/girlfriend was to “refused” to do what I was doing; it would make it a very lonesome activity though. As I think about it, it would deflate me quite a bit. Not sure if it is disrespect I imagine as much as loneliness.
One way I have compromised in the past was to find something I liked doing in what she liked doing. Granted I did not always like going to the mall, but the free petting zoo (pet store) was always a highlight. Not to mention, as she was big on receiving gifts, I knew what stores were good to get gift cards from. As a man, you should almost never buy clothes for your female friends. I would lean very hard against the NEVER side of that too.
What a great email about a very real and applicable situation.
Great thoughts Joy! Man oh man am I learning this right now! Restpecting my boyfriend has opened up our relationship to new depths. My boyfriend and I have been talking through a lot of this because unfortunately I am Miss My Way or the Highway! My boyfriend is very kind and even says that most of the time I am right, but the way I shut down his ideas or thoughts, or try to change the way he does something, is so hurtful that for awhile he wasn’t even sure if I truly like HIM. The best part and shift for me was that he told me. He started standing up to me more and more. As Joy cautions, it is important thtat he is able to tell you no, and you can receive it. It took me a bit but I started seeing the fruit of listening to his direction…I started respecting him more.
I know I sound like Cruella Deville (Sp?) but being independent and overly aware of everything, I tend to be sharp or cold when my desires are challenged. The great news is that God, really really does want to change me. And He has. ANd He continues to! As time has gone on and I have allowed my boyfriend to be himself, it has been fun to jump on board with his things, and participate in his ideas and conversations. This has also opened him up to actually hearing mine and valuing, arther than feeling like I am just challenging him.
Respecting him, for me, has meant allowing him to be him even when I can’t possibly understand why he doesn’t think my way is better. What is fun, is that as I have really trusted God with my boyfriend’s heart and actions, God has changed my heart and actions toward him. I really enjoy a lot more activities with him, because I like getting to know HIM not my version of HIM or the conveinant parts of him.
What is admirable here? Brittany is single and pursuing concepts such as love and respect! Bravo! Kudos to the Eggerichs family for blazing new trials and creating platforms to discuss these God-inspired principles. God knows that L&R makes for a better world in so many ways! Choosing these good paths come with blessings too. That’s good news for Brittany. The first baby steps of exercising love and/or respect is practicing with it in wise ways. I was glad to read she communicated that to her old lover in such a way that his face lit up! As women, we’ve seen guys experiment with love and it makes us happy and a little crazy too. We know it’s something very basic that will bless them. Love is something to mature in not continually “play” or “toy” with too. Likewise for respect. Men live it, breath it. It’s part of their very fiber. It’s a huge part of their universe. To an untrained woman, respect can feel like a new toy. “If I push this button… what happens” she wonders? She might experiment with, “if I practice expressing appreciation how then does that make my boyfriend feel? She has to connect the dots in order to see the big picture. Brittany was pleasantly surprised with respect like some children are with a jack-n-box or a finished dot-to-dot drawing. I get the feeling she is more of an analytic kinda girl than a warm fuzzy kinda girl too. Because Brittany’s old boyfriend’s heart is not a science project to be experimented with, she needs to guard against abusing this new respect-idea. When men understand the power of love and continue to toy with it at the expense of another, it can make us feel objectified. So goes it with the understanding of respect. It’s not something to be used to manipulate or control her lost-love. So what is the next milestone of growth for Brittany? I would challenge her to nurture the desire to grow in the nuances of respect…speak it, walk it, dress it, live it make it a part of her very fiber. Why? Because she will learn what pleases God first of all. Then she will learn how to be a better friend. Respect will become her as person and as a mature woman. I suspect her relationships with people in general will improve and it will open up a whole new world of mutual understanding. It will bring balance to many areas in her life b/c that’s the nature of respect. My advice to Brittany is: go the extra mile when it comes to desiring to grow in love and respect.
Based on her description, I would also like to expand on three qualities I see in her ex-boyfriend that she may have under-appreciated which are: 1) Get on her knees and thank God -Her boyfriend cooks! Over-time, cooking skills develop into areas of nurturing, servant -leadership, creativity, generosity, hospitable, and being romantic. All good honorable qualities especially in husbands and daddies. 2 ) He wants to spend time with her!! Quality time may very well be his love language-(do read up on Love languages Brittany) this is very affirming in most peoples’ book. 3)He is willing to give the grace (unmerited favor) and the time to listen to her a year later. This is a patient man. Another decent quality to savor. Brittany, do your best to express more gratitude in the little things and don’t take them for granted. All the best to Brittany and thank you Joy for all that you do!
“When I’m in love, I’m content just watching him braid his beard.”
Statements like this keep me coming back. [Your good advice helps too]
I love the shoulder-to-shoulder activities idea. My husband and I are newlyweds and starting to find the roles that keep us in companionship, but also allow a little bit of freedom from only paying attention to the other’s interest. When Josh is in charge of dinner, I usually sign up as sous chef, chopping raw veggies, or loading the dishwasher. When I’ve got the plan for dinner, Josh usually preps and grills the meat. The team work aspect of cooking together has been a surprising amount of good fun, and when you create something delicious together, the feeling of celebration is doubled.
Likewise, even though our movie tastes differ (he likes suspense and action, while I love a good British comedy), I don’t feel like it’s wasted time to sit down and watch a show with him. If he’s picked the movie, often I’ll pull out a knitting project or leaf through a travel guidebook or magazine. If I’ve netflixed reruns of Fawlty Towers, he’ll browse homebrew recipes on my laptop. But the shared experience is still there–next to each other on the couch, holding hands or whatever.
This doesn’t mean you have to do EVERYTHING together, though. It is possible for you to be supportive of each other without having to participate in every area whether or not you’re interested in it.
This becomes twice as hard when dealing with people on the Autism Spectrum, myself included. I currently am in love with someone who is trying to grow in their faith, but it’s HARD waiting on God to change them or send someone different into my life. Communication though… That’s one thing that God is using this guy in my life to teach me… 🙂