What is Unconditional Respect?

Posted on 09/07/2012 by


For a little background, the Peacefulwife had asked me about purchasing For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn. If you know me, I am a flea market junkie and when it comes to purchasing books, Amazon is a lot like a flea market for books. So as I started studying all of the possibilities for purchasing the book, I had choices for new, used, paperback, hardback, kindle, and audio recording. The Peacefulwife likes to write all over the sides of all of her books and underline and star all of the important stuff, so I needed to get one with real paper. As I was going through the choices, I noticed that the Feldhahn’s also had a title called For Couples Only for only $4 more that was a boxed set that included both the For Women Only and For Men Only. I didn’t know if I would be that interested in reading For Men Only or not, but that seemed like a deal to me and I could probably buy some street cred with the Peacefulwife by ordering it.

Once the books came in, she went to town on it and knocked it out in a couple of days. So, the natural thing for her to do was to take For Men Only and read through it. I obviously had not started to think about getting around to reading the book at this point, but the Peacefulwife told me a few days later, “Oh yeah, by the way, I read For Men Only and I decided to tell you exactly how each part relates to me and how I think about each section. I wrote down my thoughts in the margins and where I underlined.” I read it sometime shortly after that and having the Peacefulwife’s thoughts there as I was reading was extremely helpful. It was also very helpful when I decided to do the series on it in the Respected Husband Blog. To be able to say what she was thinking on any of the points I covered made it very easy and personal. So, I thought it might be a good idea for me to go through For Women Only and give you some of my thoughts along the way.

If you aren’t familiar with For Women Only, the basic premise of the book is that Shaunti Feldhahn was writing a Christian fiction book and wanted to get some real insight into the way men and women think so she conducted a lot of surveys of groups where she spoke and traveled. She used the findings of the survey to help her write her book and it didn’t turn out to be a big seller. She then started going over some of the findings she had discovered in the surveys and people were fascinated. She collected this information and put it all together in this book which has been a huge seller. We are going to start out with a fair bit of discussion on Respect.

Shaunti uses an example of going to a Relationship Retreat shortly after college and the leader split the men and women on different sides of the room. The leader then asked the question “Would you rather feel alone and unloved in the world or would you rather feel inadequate and disrespected by everyone?” Shaunti thought that this wasn’t really a choice, “Who would ever choose to feel unloved?” The leader then turned to the men and said “Who here would rather feel alone and unloved?” To Shaunti’s astonishment a large majority of the men raised their hands. This is when it first occurred to her that respect and affirmation is so important to men that they would rather feel unloved than disrespected or inadequate. This was one of the actual questions that Shaunti used on her survey. She later found out that many men had a hard time answering this particular question because they felt the choices were basically the same.

The basic truth here is that if a man doesn’t feel respected he cannot feel loved. Your husband needs to know that he is respected for who he is by you to be able to accept your love. Guys aren’t big on words and they aren’t big on expressing their feelings and this can be really frustrating to women. Showing a lack of respect can be things that you do not intend at all. It can even be gestures that you think are helping. In fact, the “helping” is often times what is the disrespectful part. It often comes across as “I do not feel that you adequate enough to accomplish the goal” or “you aren’t doing it the right way so I will just do it myself.”

Let’s look at how a man handles being disrespected. He is probably going to handle being disrespected by getting angry. He isn’t going to say “You are disrespecting me!” during a conflict. He will just shut down and has a hard time expressing his feelings. You can pretty well assume that a man is feeling disrespected if he is angry. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs has stated that, “In a relationship conflict, crying is often a woman’s response to feeling unloved, and anger is often a man’s response to feeling disrespected.”

Every woman would like to be loved unconditionally by their man. If a man could learn to pour out a little more love when their wife was particularly unlovable they could take care of a lot of their wife’s emotional needs. A man on the other hand needs their wife to give them unconditional respect. Unconditional respect means that you are able to accept a man for who he is and keep that separate from what he does. That is a pretty hard to understand definition. A wife can show her husband unconditional respect in three ways: believing in him, liking him, and trusting him. If a man’s wife gives him confidence in those three things he will serve his wife with his all.

The Bible is pretty clear in Ephesians 5 when love and respect is explained: A husband is told to love his wife and a wife is told to respect her husband. The passage does not mix the two roles to say that the husband should respect his wife or the wife should love her husband. It is important to understand that the husband feels respected by feeling that his wife chooses to trust and honor him. He will put out his best effort to meet his wife’s needs above his own when he feels this.

Respect is a choice. A wife chooses whether or not to demonstrate respect to her husband. Likewise, men can choose to demonstrate love toward his wife. Respect is something a man needs to feel. This is very much how a woman feels when she doesn’t hear her husband tell her he loves her. It is not that a wife doesn’t respect her husband or that he doesn’t love his wife as much as they need to be able to feel it. When the Peacefulwife first started learning about Love and Respect, she would often say that she never considered that she really was not submitting to me. When she read the verses in Ephesians 5, she would say I am a Christian wife and check the box. Now would be a good time for you to consider how you are doing with God’s design for your role as a wife. It is very easy for a wife to take control of the home and family, but are you following God’s design or have you made him and your husband very small? For me, it was very easy to let the Peacefulwife have control, she did a good job most of the time and it was then her responsibility. Respect is a choice. How are you doing?