Growing up, my parents taught us to give respect in order to get respect. As much as this made sense to me, at some point, I became too respect-hungry to remember the first part.
Our Sunday school class is currently learning from a series called “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. This past Sunday a few things really struck a chord with me and I feel compelled to share them.
- Not giving a man respect each day is equivalent to a man telling a woman he doesn’t love her each day.
- A man has to work harder at loving because he was made to focus on respect, and vice versa.
- Applaud respect for the desire to do well, not just for achievement.
As a part-time trainer, full-time Stay-At-Home-Mom I have been hungry to hear how appreciated and respected I am because a big paycheck doesn’t come to tell me that. When I don’t feel respected, I don’t give as much of it to my husband as kind of a tit-for-tat scenario. Since he does get a good paycheck, I have felt like it would be at best redundant, at worst a submissive admission, to praise him; as though praising him somehow tips the scales in his direction, away from me.
My husband has often offered his opinion that the feminist movement overcorrected, and I have come to agree with him. Rather than simply achieving equality so we would be offered the same opportunities, pay, etc., we’ve pushed “girl power” to the point of often belittling what our male counterparts do. Pushing them down is exactly what we’ve fought against, thus not a great example of what we want from them.
I want my husband to meet my needs, so I have to meet his. If respect is his love language, and I speak it, he will feel good, and that will benefit me ten times out of ten. From there, my children will see us both respecting each other, and they will learn to show respect. With any luck, this will keep them from sassing teachers, police officers, and their future spouses. My hope is that respect is contagious.
I say all this to open up my own thought-process, as well as my feminist fears since I’ve certainly seen and experienced oppression. It is only possible to achieve equality if we give respect across the board, regardless of race, gender, religion, etc.. The hardest part is that you have to give it the most when you are not receiving it. As difficult as that is, I believe the more you put out there, the more you will eventually get back, and the more will exist so when the scales balance it’s because all sides are full.
Ever had this conversation?
“Tell me what you want me to say.”
“But if I have to tell you, it doesn’t count.”
When we imagine what our partners dream of us doing for them we imagine grand gestures, expensive trips or gifts, things that are difficult to afford or give; but, more often, the deepest desires are simply for words 0f recognition and appreciation, or a helping hand.
If you’re reading this, there’s a chance your spouse wants to hear one or all of the phrases below. There’s an even better chance you need to hear them, too. All of the words/requests below came from people I know, who will remain anonymous, but I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t have their day improved with any one of them. Try some on. If one fits, I have a feeling it will make your house an even happier one.
What he/she needs to hear:
- You are such a great mom.
- You are sexy. Not just beautiful; sexy.
- What do you need?
- You’ve been so amazing working on your health and fitness. Let’s start doing that together.
- Tell me what you need from me.
- If I had to do again, I would still marry you again in a heartbeat.
- You’re doing a great job.
- My parents will be here in a minute to watch the kids. I’ve packed your bag and planned a getaway.
- I trust your judgment.
- You sleep in as long as you need to feel rested. I’ll get up and take care of the kids.
- I’m making dinner, cleaning up and bathing the kids tonight. Go have some “you” time.
- I know you can do it all, but let me help.
- I know the game is on tonight, so I can manage everything else while you chill.
- I’m proud of you.
- I know you could have achieved as much success as me if you hadn’t chosen to stay home and raise the kids.
- I took the liberty of hiring a maid.
- Thank you. You work so hard for us.
- I love you more today then I did on our wedding day, and I thought I loved you then.
- I could never be the person I am today without you next to me.
- You’re my best friend, and I love you even when I’m really pissed at you.
- I feel the most at ease when I’m with you.
- Nothing I can do will ever truly show you how much I love you, but I’m willing to keep giving it a shot if you will.
- Let’s go talk to a counselor just for preventative maintenance.
- How can I help?
- You work incredibly hard. I’m inherently impressed.
- I’m home, your shift is over, relax.
At work, employees are reviewed annually (if not more frequently) to discuss performance, areas of opportunity, and if a raise has been earned.
What if this same approach was taken at home?
Perhaps I should narrow the focus even more, because I’m only talking about reviewing a marriage. Children are “reviewed” very frequently already since the assumption is for required growth and discipline; rather than equal, mature partners.
This blog is assuming you respect your spouse as much as you do your boss, and are aware that marriage requires work. Hopefully those are 2 easy boxes to check, otherwise you really should not have gotten married.
This blog also acknowledges I am not a relationship expert; just your average married person with a keyboard, access to the internet, and (occasionally) an audience.
How would this work?
Marriage reviews are touchy because the hierarchy is muddled, as is the raise structure; not to mention the sensitivity surrounding how roles and tasks are weighted in order of difficulty and importance.
We’ve acknowledged that this won’t be easy, but, think of why it is important to connect and check-in with your spouse.
- A certain employer probably isn’t a forever relationship, but marriage is.
- If there is room for improvement, wouldn’t you rather know? Furthermore, wouldn’t you rather find out when you are emotionally prepared to engage rather than hearing the dreaded, “We need to talk.”?
- Don’t you have things you would like to address at an appropriate time, without spilling every grievance during a heated argument?
What about a raise structure?
- No one wants to hear criticism “just for fun”, but everyone loves an incentive, so make hearing each other out a rewarded behavior.
- Rewards are ideally based on each other’s love language(s), and they all start on the table. If someone dishes it, but can’t take it, something comes off the table.
- Schedule the review for a time when you can address thoughts distraction free, and, ideally, sober.
Put your big kid pants on for this. If you can sit through a review by a boss who you are not in love with, you can certainly open your ears, mind and heart to your spouse. It will sting more to hear criticism from a loved one, but work and tough love comes with marriage-territory.
If you can’t manage this on your own, enlist the help of a counselor of some sort. You do preventative maintenance on your car, and it didn’t make any vows to you about sickness and health, etcetera; so be open to doing the maintenance on your marriage.
When I’m working on a project, I have a one-track mind. I’m efficient, but oblivious. When it’s multiple projects, turns out I’m a multi-tasker with her priorities out of whack.
We’ve had a pretty wild few weeks.
We moved to Tennessee from Hawaii, our senior dog (my fur baby of almost 12 years) passed away in transit, I’m in my 3rd trimester with baby #2, we found and put in an offer on house, and we kicked off festivities for my sister’s wedding later this year.
Aside from the tragic event of my sweet Mason passing, everything has been exciting and happily endured, but I have a head that just won’t turn off. If I can overthink it, I will, and if you think it’s something I can’t or shouldn’t overthink, I’ll prove you wrong, just give me a minute to overthink how. Amazingly, I miss the little things while using all that brain power.
That thing I missed #1…my husband
My husband has been amazing through all the chaos. He’s stepped up as I’ve slowed down. He’s been doing more than half the share of parenting, packing, cleaning, house management, endless home buying research, calls, forms, etcetera. He even let me fly first class while he sat in coach with Aidan on our flights. Selfishly, my initial thinking was that I deserved the special help and attention because I was doing all the same stuff – while growing a baby.
It took being away from him for a night for me to realize I’d been unfair. I’d been forgetting to love him. I’d been saying I loved him, but I hadn’t really been loving and appreciating him the way I should have been; the way he deserves. The good news is realization was the first and only step to full repair mode. I came home, confessed my mistake,
blamed it on the baby siphoning my brain and laid on the compliments, affection and attention.
All was right again in the world until… my toddler pushed and swatted at his baby cousin. We were appalled!
We promptly blamed the daycare. Our first instinct was to enact punishment. We told him it was wrong to hit, push, etc., tried time-outs, reinforced sharing and gentle-touch… all to no avail. Our sweet, happy boy was suddenly acting out unpredictably.
That thing I missed #2…my son
It’s easy to miss a child under stress when they can’t verbalize it to you. We’d spent the previous weeks changing locations constantly, going from having a pet to not, leaving the only home he’d ever known, and taking every opportunity to pass our little boy off to friends and family so we could take care of business. Never did we sit down and talk to Aidan about all that was happening, we just toted him along assuming that it would all be over his head and therefore not worth mentioning.
Our little guy had his world rocked, and we put him in time-out. It seriously hurts my heart just to type that.
Thankfully, children are resilient, and I have no memories of anything before the age of 5.
A couple days of talking and explaining (respectfully, as though to an adult), loving him up, making sure he knew we were right there with him, he was safe, loved, and a priority, and we have our happy, sweet, affectionate boy back. He’d been so flexible changing time zones, fighting off a virus, being a trooper in planes and on long car rides, we’d forgotten his needs during what must be a really confusing time for him.
I’m so blessed to have such adaptable, understanding men (big and small) in my life. Sometimes they’re so good at being awesome it goes right over my head. I’ve come to accept and expect it. I get busy and selfish and forget that, without them, there’d be nothing for me to be awesomely busy about.
For all the things I convince myself are important, things that I allow to consume me, the only thing that really matters at the end of each day is who I am to them. It’s the one-track I need to stay on.
Actual conversation from last night:
Me: I’m trying to only have a glass of wine OR chocolate if I want a treat at night.
H: A good wife has wine AND chocolate with her husband.
Can you say spouse-pressure? Lucky for me, my husband was (half) kidding, but family intervening in healthy decisions is a larger problem than you think.
When you’re single, it’s easy to make a diet/lifestyle change, because it only affects you. The more people it affects, the more resistance you encounter.
Shockingly, even someone trying to lose weight and improve her health – changes other family support in theory – can be stopped in her path when other family members aren’t on board with how it affects them. It’s tough to stick to your guns and avoid temptation when it’s in the house, whether it’s there because you want it, or because someone else wants it.
If there is chocolate in the house, I will eat it, if there isn’t, I won’t. Period. If I decide to not have chocolate in the house, my husband can’t have any either. No chocolate for me equals no chocolate for him.
Removing processed, junky food from your diet means removing it from the house, just as going to the gym often requires encouragement from an entire household. If you are trying to eat more vegetables and hit the gym, but your partner is asking you to hangout on the couch with a bag of cheetos, he is not supporting you.
Ask your partner about his/her behavior. Maybe…
- He knows he needs to make changes, too, but doesn’t want to, so your healthy behaviors are an unfriendly reminder/suggestion to him.
- She doesn’t want you to lose weight because of the attention you’ll get. (Sad, but true story.)
- He can eat whatever he wants and not exercise, and he never gains a pound.
- She doesn’t realize she isn’t supporting you.
Making healthier choices is a lifestyle change for your entire support system. Just as people need support to fight addiction and remove negative behaviors, they also need support instigating new, positive ones. The people in our lives bring us up or down, and they aren’t always aware of it.
Make healthy behaviors a family affair, and speak up when you need better support.
Typical relationship steps (as if there’s a typical relationship):
- Boy meets girl.
- Boy and girl date.
- Boy and girl date exclusively.
- Boy and girl analyze everything about each other.
- Boy and girl either break-up, or wait until each thinks they’ve been together long enough, and tie the knot.
Cut to a baby’s first relationship:
- Baby enters world.
- Baby meets family.
- Baby is instantly part of the most serious, long-term relationship he will ever be in…forever. Hello, family!
It’s both beautiful and scary at the same time. A baby is assigned parents, for better or worse. There’s no Parent-Match.com.
On the one hand, there’s instant, unconditional love, without anyone needing to lie about likes/dislikes or put on makeup before the other wakes up. On the other hand, if it isn’t a great match, you’re stuck.
Funny, but true.
Marriage vows try to mirror this same ideology, but it’s unrealistic to expect two adults to skip the analytics and criticisms that come with age, knowledge and experience, and fall perfectly into true, unconditional love.
Babies need parents in a way adults typically don’t need each other. It’s the same with pets. A dog knows who feeds it and takes it out, and that’s where we get the old adage, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
When the idea for this blog sparked, I thought it would just be funny to mention how babies are thrust into relationships without the usual dalliance. Now that I put it all down, I can see a more serious moral to the story. Without need, relationships are conditional and disposable.
It’s not all about passion, love and sex. It’s about focusing on improving someone else’s life, and scratching an itch they otherwise can’t reach. Without the right partner, one could itch incessantly.
This blog stems from a recent discussion with my dad. He has lots of good stuff going on in that head of his.
If you could be anyone else in the world, who would you be?
Up until 5 years ago I might have said any number of people, but then I married my husband and became more content being me. Thirteen months ago, I officially decided never to be anyone else.
I’m Aidan’s mommy. People should seriously want to be me. I’m straight up VIP in this house.
For all you parents out there, I’m sure you see where I’m coming from and feel the same (at least most of the time, with the exception of during tantrums or the teenage years).
A lot changes when you decide you wouldn’t rather be someone else. Even though I couldn’t actually trade places with someone else before, the desire kept me from a certain level of contentment.
Now, I fantasize about who I may become, and what all my friends and family will live to see, achieve and accomplish. There’s an entire world out there to experience, and it all requires me being exactly who I want to be. Who I am. Me.