“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  Luke 6:31

Even a young child can quote that verse.  In schools, we call it “The Golden Rule”.  We all know it.  And secretly, deep down in the selfish places in our heart, we don’t want to live by it.  At the very least, we’d like an escape clause – “Do to others as you would have them to do to you UNLESS . . . ” But there is no such clause.  We can’t get out of it.  As if that statement alone wasn’t enough, Luke goes on to clarify!

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do that.  And if you do good to those that are good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do that.”  Luke 6:32-33.

Wow.  That one kind of stings.

I want the right to pout and be snippy if my darling hubby hasn’t been particularly loving.  I want the right to snap at those who have been thoughtless toward me.  I would like an excuse to not be good to others. Please?!  But there isn’t one.

I’m re-reading a book I’ve worked my way through once – The Respect Dare.  As I’m on my second “go-round”, I keep coming back to this concept again and again.  I know, it’s weird to apply the Golden Rule to marriage.  But respect matters A TON to my love.  Way more than it does to me.  He respects me?  That’s nice.  But my deepest need is to see evidence that he loves me unconditionally and forever.  For him, the “I love you’s” are nice but I can destroy any good they might do if I’m being disrespectful.  My love means exponentially more to him if he sees evidence that I respect him as well.  And if I take the concept I discussed above and connect it to focus of The Respect Dare –

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Eph. 5:33

then I really don’t have an out.  I am called to respect my husband the way I would like him to love me – unconditionally, even on the worst day, and without reservation.

I know, I know.  We live in a culture that says respect must be earned.  But I KNOW it’s a deeply felt need in my hubby.  Love is a deeply felt need in me.  But let’s be honest – there are days I’m not very lovable!  I can get tired, cranky, grumpy, pouty, stressed, etc . . . and none of that is very lovable, I assure you.  I need unconditional love.  Hubby needs unconditional respect.  Knowing that and knowing the principle of the Golden Rule, I need to offer him what he needs unconditionally.  Didn’t say it’s easy.  But it’s what I need to do for him because I value him above all others.  Some days it is easy to do things that show I respect him.  Other days it’s hard.  Sometimes it’s really hard.  But if I’m honest, there are days I’m easy to love and other days that I’m barely tolerable.

So I choose to meet his need.  No conditions.  No excuses.  No escape clause.  I wish I could say I’ve got it down REALLY well.  Truth is, I’ve got LOTS of room for improvement.  But I’m not giving up.  Why?  Because I chose him 25 years ago and I still choose him today.  It’s that simple.

Look Before You Leap

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Ephesians 5:31-33

Imagine this scenario – a husband calls his wife shortly after arriving at work to let her know how much he loves her and cherishes their relationship.  She is pleasantly surprised by the unexpected loving gesture and thanks him for his kind words.  This behavior continues throughout the day with text messages, phone calls, tags in his tweets, etc.  She feels fully enveloped in his love before lunch!  When he arrives home, he has a bouquet of her favorite flowers with a note saying “Just because I’m grateful you are mine.”  He insists on taking the family out to dinner so mom doesn’t have to cook or clean up after the meal.  When they arrive home after dinner, he makes her a cup of her favorite tea, sits down next to her and proceeds to engage her in conversation for the majority of the evening.  Suffice it to say, this man has connected significantly, showing love to his wife in numerous ways over the course of a day.

Evening comes and they adjourn to the bedroom.  As they are preparing for bed, a piece of paper falls out of hubby’s pocket, unnoticed by him.  He heads to the bathroom to get a glass of water and she picks it up. When she unfolds it and reads it, she is heartbroken.  At the top of the page is the title “To Make Sure The Wife is ‘In the Mood’ Tonight”.  What follows is a step by step agenda of the day she has just experienced.  She’s devastated.  His declarations of love, his thoughtful gestures, his tender words . . . they were all just a means to an end.

I know many females – myself included – who would be extremely hurt by such an experience (and yes, it’s completely fictional!). But if we set out to show respect to our husbands so that they will behave more lovingly towards us we are doing the exact same thing.

Let’s face it – the Beatles were not quite accurate where marriage is concerned when they sang “All You Need is Love”.  I am very aware that my greatest need in my marriage is love.  But my hubby’s greatest need is respect.  In fact, he can’t feel loved by me if he feels disrespected!  And he doesn’t want to be manipulated by my use of respectful behavior any more than I would want to be manipulated by his use of loving behavior.

Choosing to respect my husband – or trying to get better at it since I am still a work in progress! – is not a decision to make lightly.  I won’t lie – I have attempted such a behavior change in the past because I wanted to get something out of it.  So many books encourage women to be more respectful and hint that this behavior change will, almost without fail, get their hubby to behave more lovingly in return.  In fact, some books stop just shy of offering you an iron clad guarantee!

I’ve learned that there is no such guarantee and it’s wrong to look for one.  I am choosing to work on this respect “thing” because I want to be obedient.  Look at the Ephesians passage again.  “A wife must respect her husband.” Oh, how I wish there was a clause there – “so that her husband will be more loving.”  Or maybe “and then she gets to demand that her husband behave more lovingly”.  Nope.  It just tells me to respect my husband.  No clauses, no exceptions, no guarantees.

He may not respond lovingly.  In fact, if you’ve done well with the respect thing for a few days, your first slip up might earn you an explosive display of temper from your dear hubby.  But that doesn’t give you an out.

I am learning SOOOOO much from Nina Roesner’s book, The Respect Dare.  And the toughest lesson is this – hubby may not respond more lovingly just because I behave more respectfully and it’s not my job to make sure that he does.  I can offer him respect out of a desire to obey God’s plan for marriage but it ends there.  I don’t get to have any expectations of him or the overall tone of my marriage based on my conduct.

This post is not about my relationship specifically.  It’s about a very tough truth that wives need deal with if they are serious about living in a way that is obedient to the passage of scripture quoted at the beginning of this post.

Side note – lest you think this is all one-sided, husbands who choose to behave more lovingly to their spouses in obedience to this verse don’t get to make any demands of her either.  I’m just focusing on wives because . . . well, . . .  I am a wife!

I would highly recommend wives read “The Respect Dare”.  But only if you are serious about changing YOU and not looking for ways to use respect to change your husband.  All that does is make you manipulative and him resentful.

On the Face of It

I received a bit of a surprise last night, thanks to a conversation inspired by “The Respect Dare.”  In the particular dare I happened to be working through, I was challenged to ask my hubby how I am doing regarding my speech.  Does he feel I talk down to him?  How could I improve?  You get the idea.

My first thought was, “Nope. Not doing it.”  After all, the book did say I should do it if I was feeling brave and I couldn’t exactly say that was the case.  But after a few moments of dragging my feet, I took the plunge.  You see, I’ve got a history.  I have a pretty wicked barb for a tongue when I am in a mood so I was afraid I would hear that I hadn’t made any changes.

To my delight, hubby assured me that things had been going much better and for a decent amount of time.  Don’t get me wrong – I still need to work on consistency but I was thrilled to hear that steps are being taken in the right direction!

Then he kept talking and I’ve been meditating on what he said ever since!  He told me that he often knew how the conversation was going to go before I even opened my mouth. Want to know how?  My eyes.  Yep, he said the look in my eyes could either draw him in or cause his defensive mechanism to kick in.  He’s told me more than a few times that my eyes were one of the first physical traits he noticed about me back when we met.  Now it’s the first place he looks when I approach him because he will know in an instant whether I am earnestly seeking a conversation or simply seeking to shred him.

There was a phrase that he used that stuck in my head – “seasoned with grace”.  He was referring to the look on my face.  Not my speech, my countenance!  My heart aches a little when I think of the times that he has “interrupted” what I was doing to speak with me and I gave him an exasperated/irritated/frustrated face.  So much for letting him know how important he is!

So my challenge to myself is to make sure that I approach him with a look that is, as he so aptly put it, “seasoned with grace”.  That means I have to make sure everything about my approach is grace-filled and focused on relationship building, not “winning” some ridiculously useless power struggle.  And I’m betting this approach will work with others in my family as well!

Does Your Husband Seem Distant? (Reblogged)

Check out some wonderful advice from Nina Roesner over at The Respect Dare Blog.  I wish I could say that I always do well in this area but the sad truth is I let life get busy and I just “forget”.  Okay, I don’t exactly forget because I never really think to do anything in the first place!!  So I’m challenging myself and you to become intentional in this very important area.  What important area you ask?  Click the link below and find out.

Does Your Husband Seem Distant?.

Fun Opportunity! Or is it a Big Responsibility?!

For quite some time now I have followed a blog entitled The Respect Dare.  (There is also a Facebook page by the same name!) It’s allowed me to connect with other like-minded women as we seek to be obedient to the command at the end of Ephesians 5:33 – “the wife must respect her husband.” It’s not always easy to do but it’s a deeply seated need in nearly all of the men I know!  Reading the blog and checking in on Facebook keeps the issue in front of me consistently and increases the chances that I will get it right more often!

So I am THRILLED to have been chosen to be a part of the launch team for Nina’s book by the same name which is being released soon by Thomas Nelson publishers!  I have gotten my advance copy of the book and have started working my way through the dares.  I don’t want to give too much away but I love the format!  It’s worth reading the introduction to really get a sense of where the author is coming from.  Then you get to the chapters, each of which contains one dare.  The chapters are nice and concise so it won’t take you long to read one.  Don’t get me wrong – the dares themselves are challenging!  But the chapters are a quick read so you can get to the important task of working on the dare!

Stay tuned for more information on the release date of the book, where you can get your copy, etc.  And I will continue to share my impressions of the book (without giving too much of the content away, of course!)