The Respect Deficit

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.

  1. Not giving a man respect each day is equivalent to a man telling a woman he doesn’t love her each day.
  2. A man has to work harder at loving because he was made to focus on respect, and vice versa.
  3. 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.