Wednesday, May 16, 2012

[ Women & Relationships : Part II]

A while ago, I began a blogging series regarding Women & Relationships. This stemmed from a panel discussion that I was asked to be on where women would ask the questions that were burning a hole in the hearts, and then men asked us questions. Both had great questions. Questions that made me think. Questions that made me want to dig into the Bible and figure out why and how and when. Questions that I decided to tackled via blog. First, I wrote about the time old question of: How do you know when you've met Mr. Right? Despite the fact that this question has been around longer than I have or even my parents have, men & women are still asking it. The age old answer, "You just know." seems to be a good answer. I like it, but I like to get knee deep in relationships and wade through the trickier answers.

Here comes the next question and I'm ready to dive right on in.

Is it true that a man desires respect above love?

Noun: A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
Verb: Admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Noun: An intense feeling of deep affection: "their love for their country".
Verb: Feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone): "do you love me?".

I am not a man, but over time as I have grown up with a strong father figure, played sports under male coaches, had male friends and finally married a wonderful man. I am a woman and do understand my need for love, something that I think helps me understand the "other side". In college, I made the mistake in a male figure in my life that I had no respect for him as a man. I had no idea what I was saying. I had no idea that to a man, respect is tied into his very being. It has been through the very patient loving of my husband that I have come to understand that love and respect are mutual partners. If I do not respect my husband, I cannot love him. If I don't love my husband, I won't respect him. Men often define love differently than their wives, while women often don't know how to define respect. If both you and your spouse have these needs, but don't know what they are, how can you satisfy each other? Without a definition, it's like trying to throw a dart at a board but you don't know where to aim.
Love and respect, despite the differing importance to the different sexes, are mutually important. And here's why...

"A guy named John Gottman runs something called the Love Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a Jewish guy who has spent years studying relationships. One of the things he does, as explained on the video and in the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell is the idea that our faces tell a story about our future. The idea of reading facial expressions is a crucial part of his research (if you've ever seen the USA Network show Lie to Me, it's based on this research and very interesting). Basically what Gottman does is to interview people and record the dominant facial expression that a husband and wife are displaying as they interact in the lab regarding their marriage.

Here's what I find interesting. Gottman says that there is a primary emotion in a husband and in a wife (different for each) which, when it is the dominant emotion, he can tell in advance that their marriage is in trouble. Interestingly, it is not the same emotion. In a wife, he is looking for the emotion of "disrespect" - in other words, when a woman no longer respects her husband, she will have trouble remaining married to him. In a husband, Gottman is looking for the emotion of "apathy" - in other words, when a husband becomes apathetic and no longer active in his love and pursuit of his wife, he will have trouble remaining married to his wife.

Here's what I find even more interesting. I've always wondered why Paul in Ephesians 5 commands a woman to "respect" her husband and a husband to "love" his wife. I think Gottman helps me understand this. Gottman is onto something that comes from God's own heart. God, in directing and inspiring the Apostle Paul on what to write in his letter to the Ephesians, nails this very issue of what Gottman has discovered via his research. Women struggle to respect their husbands and men struggle to actively love their wives." [Thoughts from the wise Dr. Matt Boda]

So what does this mean? As a married woman, what I feel whether I acknowledge it or not, will be displayed to my husband and vise versa. This is where the most crucial part comes in, learning to love from God's heart. If I am loving my husband the way that I know how- as a woman- I am going to fall short. If my husband respects me the way he knows best- unfortunately, he's going to fall short. Our marriage is going to be a rocky one, as I am struggling to respect because I only love and he is struggling to pursue and love as he seeks to give respect. Paul in Ephesians writes from God's own heart, the only heart that knows how to love both men and women within the full realm of love. If I am not pursuing God, I can't pursue my husband as he needs, giving him the respect needed to love. If my husband is not pursuing God, he can't give me the love and pursue-ment that I need. God is essential.

Back to our question, is it true that a man desires respect above love? For a man, they are the same.

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