Love and Respect; two very intertwined entities. I decided to address these very important topics because to show just how important they are.
(You see how the man is holding the LOVE card and the woman is holding the Respect card but then if you look closer they both have one hand on the opposite card. That's how marriage should be!)
Regardless to your marital status, relationships need both love and respect, especially romantic relationships. I read a status on Facebook that read: Respect is NOT, I repeat NOT, given! It is... #EARNED
This gave me pause for understanding. Then, I had to look at the person posting. This is a single young woman who probably believes a man has to prove something to her. I thought about relationships in general. Many relationships tend to not last for many reasons, but I think one of them has to do with the fact that women have made respect optional, while retaining the need for unconditional love. I will admit I was one of those women; I was raised around women who thought and believed such things, just like the young woman who made the comment.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)
Paul instructs wives to respect their husbands and husbands are told to love their wives as they love themselves. That is powerful! Think about the implications of these words. Husbands when they love, they will do just about anything – move mountains for the woman they love. However, I've noticed that women tend to take a privileged role when they love; they tend to take their significant other for granted. I know this because I was one of those women who took my husband's love for granted. I knew he loved me so I cared, but I didn't put forth the same effort I did when we were first married. Now, I realize that as I want my husband's love, one thing that he must have from me is respect.
Men need to know they are respected. Respect goes a LONG way. It dictates how you speak to a man and how to respond to him. When you respect a man, you won't talk to him crazy; you won't talk down to him, why? Because you respect him and his position as a man.
Now, let's focus on love. Don't we all want to be loved unconditionally? To know no matter what happens, we are loved and cherished and cared for? I think that tops the list for most people, especially women. That is the way we were made, to be loved. And just as we want love, I am sure we've had some very unlovable moments, unlovable days, unlovable phases.
How would we feel if we told a man, his behavior isn't so respectable, so we can't respect him; AND his response was well, “you haven't been so lovable and you don't look so lovable, so, I can't love you”. That would NOT feel good. And guess what, it happens, every day. I remember something similar nearly happening to me, I wasn't always respectful to my husband and at times I was downright disrespectful and guess what happened? His unconditional love became distant to me. It was still there, but it wasn't easily reachable and tangible like it was before. That snapped me into focus like NO! We have to be gracious and respect our men regardless, just like we expect them to be gracious and love us.
I address this issue because there are GENERATIONS of women who truly believe that respect must be earned. Mothers are teaching this to their daughters. They are giving their daughters a head start in the WRONG direction. Some young women can't keep a man and wonder why. You believe he has to prove something to YOU when he only has to prove himself to GOD! And you aren't GOD. So relax on your need to control and be in control of your relationship. We are women, we were not meant to be the head of the relationship, but the help-meet in the relationship. I didn't always understand this, but it has become a role I fill with grace and gratitude.
Ladies, we were created as a delicate and beautiful HELP-MEET, we were not given the authority to head our relationships, to lead our marriages. We were made from the man's rib to be at his side not his head to rule over him or his feet to be trampled on. God himself warned Eve of this in Genesis 3:16:
Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.
GOD warned her that she would desire for her husband (not desire him in a romantic sense, desire for him meaning to control him) and he would rule over her (meaning the man's position as the head of the household). To this very day, we women still deal with this; we will continue to deal with this. We will continue to want to control our men, but that is NOT the way it is to be. We are meant to be led by him and be submissive to his leading.
This message serves as a reminder to us all, to give love and respect freely. So we can be free to experience joyful unions and be delighted in and honored by our men. So we can honor them and be thankful for the men they are. But also, so our marriages can survive and blossom. So our families can stay intact and grow. So we can leave behind a legacy of godly marriages!