5: What If My Husband Doesn’t Deserve Respect?
About the Guest
- For more from Shaunti Feldhahn, visit Shaunti.com.
Shaunti FeldhahnShaunti received her graduate degree from Harvard University and was an analyst on Wall Street before unexpectedly becoming a social researcher, best-selling author and popular speaker. Today, she applies her analytical skills to investigating eye-opening, life-changing truths about relationships, both at home and in the workplace. Her groundbreaking research-based books, such as For Women Only, have sold more than 3 million copies in 25 languages and are widely read in homes, counseling centers...more
When a husband doesn’t deserve respect, should his wife show it anyway? Shaunti Feldhahn describes what many women have discovered by doing just that. This isn’t a naive pep talk. It’s a presentation of transformational steps wives can take when their husband shows little respectability.
5: What If My Husband Doesn’t Deserve Respect?
Brian: From the FamilyLife Podcast Network this is Married With Benefits. I’m Brian Goins on a relentless pursuit to help you love the one you are with and discover all the benefits that come with saying, “I do.”
It’s been fun to talk with Shaunti Feldhahn, Harvard trained researcher, and best-selling author about all these different questions that every wife is thinking. Here’s a big one, in fact it’s been a song that every guy has sung in his head. A little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. What does it really mean to him?
I’m guessing—because you wrote For Women Only, and this was a big topic in that book—
Brian: —you’ve heard a lot about it.
Shaunti: Yes, I hear from so many women—and I’m sure you guys do too here at FamilyLife—who have been told, “Okay, Emerson Eggerichs’ book,” “Love and Respect; the stuff in For Women Only about the importance / the emotional importance of respect to men.” There are so many women who are like—“Okay, enough.”
Brian: I’m done.
Shaunti: “I’m done with hearing about this. What happens when I am married to someone who is either not worthy of it or in this one instance—like, how do I do this? How do I respect him when I don’t feel like he deserves it?”
Shaunti: I had one woman who came up to me—she was, actually, the assistant of a well-known pastor at a major church; and we were talking about this and appreciation, respect, and affirmation. She was like—“Okay, let’s get the balloons and let’s all have a little praise party.” I’m like—“Ooh. Okay.”
Shaunti: Yes, there is a little bit of upsetness.
Shaunti: And this is a very—
Brian: I’m sensing bitterness.
Shaunti: —common. I’m sensing a little bit of bitterness, and I’m kind of halfway laughing about it behind the scenes; but then, I’m like—“You know that’s actually not something to tease about.” There are women who are really hurting and really wondering, “You know you say this. You don’t know Henry”—
Shaunti: —or whatever; you know? “So, what do I do.”
Brian: Yes, I mean I’m sure there are wives out there right now who are going—“If I hear one more sermon”—
Shaunti: —“on this.”
Brian: —“from another male pastor saying I need to respect my husband. You’re right he doesn’t know Brian. He doesn’t know what a jerk he can be.” So, what does it look like to—this idea of respecting unconditionally as Paul talks about in Ephesians 5:33? What does that even look like, practically, because I mean what if he is sinning, what if he is acting like a jerk? Do you mean to respect in all those situations?”
Shaunti: Here’s what we really have to confront; right? This is for, you, women who are listening to this—some of you are like—“This is an occasional thing, and you need to know how to give respect in those occasional circumstances when you don’t feel like it.” For some of you, this is a much bigger deal; right?
So, let’s just acknowledge that we are really sorry that you’re in that situation, and you’re having to come to this conversation with something that’s a real burden that you are carrying. You need to hear us say, “I’m really sorry for your pain,” because that is a real pain. I’ve had many friends who have been in that situation. It’s hard.
The thing that we also have to confront, though, is that God gave this command because ultimately, if you can walk through this / if you can do what the Lord asks you to do when you don’t feel like it, and you cannot possibly see how anything good can come from it—that this is where that paradox / that Jesus paradox comes into play. You’ll start seeing changes in most cases.
Shaunti: Now, there is no magic wand that you’re going—
Shaunti: —to wave and that you can guarantee that everything is always going to turn out hunky-dorie / puppies and rose petals / it’s all going to be awesome; but in most cases we have found and this is statistical; right?—we have found that the vast majority—it’s usually about nine out of ten marriages—there is a transformation.
Shaunti: So, that’s the hope that comes through it.
Brian: So, if you want to change—what I hear you saying is that—Listen, all of us probably out there want to change some aspect of our marriage or about the person we are married to—“I’d love to change their behavior. I’d love to—I don’t know how to do it. So, I try all of these different ways from nagging to manipulating to”—
Shaunti: Nagging? Never.
Brian: Never works.
Shaunti: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Brian: No, you wouldn’t do that. [Laughter]
Brian: My wife Jenn would never—
Brian: —do that—
Brian: —but I’ve heard, hypothetically, that there are women that have used that technique. Every time I hear women talk—because I counsel a lot of marriages as well—and it’s like I hear them talking about—“This is what I do”—and I tell them this over and over and over again. I go—“Well, how is that working?”
Shaunti: Dr. Phil: “How’s that working for you?”
Brian: You know if we keep doing that over and over, they are not going to change.
Shaunti: So, every woman listening to this is going—“Okay, I’m really not happy with what I’m hearing, but tell me what to do.”
Shaunti: “What do I do differently?”
Shaunti: So, here is the starting point. For me as a woman—because, you know, I’ve been in this situation. I mean Jeff is an amazing guy, but he’s a normal guy. He can do things wrong. He can hurt my feelings; you know? Before we did all the research, there was a lot of stuff we didn’t know about each other.
One of the most important things is to step back and go—“Okay, in the Bible, if”—those of us who believe that the Bible has something to say—which not everybody does—we acknowledge that—but for those of us who believe that the Bible has something to say on this is to recognize that my husband is called to love me as Christ loved the church, and I am called to respect my husband no matter what. So, that means that when my husband is doing something that I am mad about / that I do not agree with—let’s just say, for example—a common thing I get asked at my events—
Shaunti: —you know I do women’s events—is: “My husband is wrestling with pornography.”
Shaunti: “He’s struggling with pornography. This is hurting our marriage. It’s hurting me. I can’t even look at him. I can’t let him touch me.”
Shaunti: “How are you saying that I need to show him respect?” That’s a hard thing, but think about it as—okay, let’s say that you have been really grouchy. Let’s say that you are—and ignore what he’s doing for a moment—let’s just hypothetically say in some world where you are all by yourself that you are grouchy, you’re bitter, you’re mad, you’re not being very loveable that day. It’s been a hard day.
Shaunti: You’ve been running around after the kids. Is he allowed to not show you love just because you are not particularly loveable that day?
Shaunti: No, he is called to reach out in love—
Brian: And do you think—
Shaunti: —to you.
Brian: —do you think every wife listening would go—“Well, yes, he should love me because that’s when I’m most vulnerable; or that’s when I need it the most.”
Shaunti: Correct. That is exactly what happens with our men. When we are mad that he made that decision with the kids and we’re thinking, “That is—that is dangerous / that’s damaging. You hurt our son’s feelings”—or whatever—“and I am so upset with you”; or “I told you I needed you home at 7 o’clock for the start of the dinner party, and you waltzed in”—
Shaunti: —“at 7:30. I’m embarrassed”—or whatever it is—“and you do this all the time.”
Brian: Or “I see him taking that second glance.”
Shaunti: Or “I see him taking that second glance”; and it’s like there is an issue here of: “You can respect the person for who they are even while you are not endorsing poor behavior.” It’s the same thing when we are basically grouchy and miserable and crying out to be loved. Loving us isn’t endorsing the grouchiness.
Shaunti: Right. One of the things that we found is that—and think about this, ladies. Put yourself in that position of—you’re that grouchy woman who is just had a terrible day, and you’re lashing out. If your husband shows grace and mercy and loves on you anyway, what does it do to us? For me, it softens my heart; right? It convicts me.
Shaunti: And it makes me want to be loveable. It makes me want to be the person he’s already treating me as.
Shaunti: It’s the same thing for him—is that if he made a decision I completely disagree with—“He came in late, and I am so mad”—yet, I go up; and I’m like—“I know you didn’t want to be late. Thanks so much for working so hard for the family. Listen, we need to talk about the timing and”—
Shaunti: —“all this at some other point; but thanks for getting here for the dinner party.” It’s not excusing poor behavior. It’s going to convict him—
Shaunti: —because he’s expecting you to be all over him.
Brian: Well, that’s what I liked about softening—like if Jeff does that for you when you’re being grouchy / being witchy—we could have used a different term—
Shaunti: We can use that word.
Brian: We can use that word; right?
Brian: —it does soften your heart.
Brian: Every guy that I know has—including me—we condemn ourselves enough already.
Brian: I know when I’m coming to that dinner party late. My wife is a—her love language is showing up on time, I think. [Laughter] She—it’s—we have this joke where it’s like—“What are those things that irritate you the most?” For her, it is people that are late. She just—“I don’t like to be late. I don’t like people who like”—and for me, the thing that irritates me the most are people that worry about being late. So, we’re married—
Shaunti: That’s a great combination.
Brian: Yes, it’s a great combination. I know that I know what I’m putting her through right when I walk in the door. So, I am expecting her to come after me. So, if there’s a change in posture or tone, boy, it does soften my heart.
Shaunti: Well, what I hear from a lot of guys, actually—and I’ve heard story after story after story of this—that, for example, if they walk in the door and they are expecting the “I can’t believe you did this” and instead she comes up and she like—“Oh my gosh, I’m so glad you’re here. I know it must have been a really hard day that you couldn’t get away from the client. I know you wanted to be here. Come on, everybody is in here.” The guy usually tells me he feels this intense conviction.
Shaunti: “Oh, I failed my wife by being late, and she’s being so sweet to me. Oh my gosh, she’s such an amazing woman. How did I get so lucky?”
Shaunti: There’s this conviction. He doesn’t want to do that to her again, and he may still because we’re all imperfect people; but one of the things that I have found with this whole, sort of, male / female dynamic is that if we will do what God tells us to do, it really is actually a source of conviction which is, then, a source for change hopefully.
Shaunti: Now, there are going to be women listening to this, though, who are like—“But he hasn’t changed.”
Brian: Right—“He hasn’t changed.”
Shaunti: Right—“He still waltzes in half an hour late. It drives me nuts.”
Brian: “He’s done it over and over.”
Shaunti: So, there is a second step—
Brian: Okay. Yes, what is that?
Shaunti: —that I think—and this is going to be hard for some women to hear if they are in a position of a real hurt. Maybe, coming home late is an annoyance.
Shaunti: But there is hurt; right? He is looking at porn—or whatever. That’s hurt.
Brian: And by the way, an very unrespectable act.
Shaunti: Very much so.
Brian: I mean it’s like—
Shaunti: Oh gosh.
Brian: —and that’s the thing. We’re talking about issues that—boy, that is—if there is anything that is not worthy of respect—
Shaunti: It’s that.
Brian: —it’s objectifying women; right? Whether it’s taking a second glance or whether it’s looking at porn—whatever it might be.
Shaunti: I mean Jesus says, “It’s cheating on your wife”; right?
Brian: Right. It’s committing adultery.
Shaunti: Yes, and that’s the thing that, again, it’s a whole other podcast.
Shaunti: But what do you do when it’s a bigger thing and it’s not—it hasn’t changed? “How do I respect him; okay?” So, what does that look like? How can you honor the spirit of what God has asked you to do?
What we have seen—and this is all over the research, not just my research, but all that has been done by sociologists, etc.—have found that if you will say, “Okay, this is a very real issue; but actually, it’s not the sum total of what my husband is and that there are so many other things that are really wonderful about him that I’m just not seeing”—
Shaunti: —“right now / that I’m not giving him credit for”—
Shaunti: —“because I’m so focused on these frustrations / these real frustrations or these real sins in his life or these real hurts against me; and that if I will say, ‘It’s not the sum total.’ Okay, so what does it look like? How can I notice those? How can I maybe pull my eyes off the nasty stuff and put it on the stuff that is worthy of respect”—
Shaunti: —and notice those and talk about those?” One of the tools that we actually tested—and this is one the recent books I did. It’s called The Kindness Challenge.
Shaunti: So, we actually tested this. We call it The 30-Day Kindness Challenge, and the 30-Day Kindness Challenge is actually a way that you can change your mindset and change your actions so that you’re looking for and seeing those things that are worthy of attention and affirmation.
What you do with your husband—you can do this for anybody, by the way—but it’s really intense. It’s a good thing with your husband—is you do three things for 30 days.
Shaunti: First, you don’t say anything negative about him—either to him or about him / just somebody else, which is often where we kind of sabotage how we’re feeling about him and make it even worse. If I am going to my girlfriends and I’m like—“Ugh! You would not believe. He came home late. Err”—I am actually just focusing on that that much more. So, the first thing is you don’t say anything negative for 30 days to him or about him.
Second thing is every day for 30 days—is to find that one thing that is positive / that is praiseworthy—something you can affirm—and tell him and tell somebody else.
Brian: Okay, so, bragging about him in front of somebody else?
Shaunti: Like—okay, you know what? It drives me nuts that he is always late,” or “He has this issue with porn; but you know what?”—and this is what one woman told me—she’s like—in this instance with her husband, he actually, truly had a porn addiction. They were working on this really horrible situation.
Shaunti: She said, “I had to pull myself out it and go—‘You know what? He is a really, really good, loving dad.’ He loves his kids, and he’s always out there playing ball with them, and that is worthy of affirmation.’” So, she started with the 30-Day Kindness Challenge. She actually started catching him doing the good stuff and saying, “Thank you for doing that.” Then, she’d go to her girlfriends who she had shredded him in front of—
Shaunti: —for a long time and said, “You know what he did yesterday? He came home from work, and he was so tired. He took the kids out in the yard and played ball anyway.” So, she’s affirming him in front of others; and at the same time, reminding herself, “He is a good guy in these other areas.”
The third thing you do every day for 30 days—you just do a small action of kindness or generosity for him. You may not feel like it at all.
Shaunti: But maybe, it’s a peace offering to make him coffee—get up early in the morning when you don’t otherwise have to and make coffee. So, he sees and notices you’re doing this to be kind to him—whatever that looks like.
One guy—and this was another guy who was dealing with the porn addiction—he was in such a serious situation where he had really failed his wife. I think it had gone more than just looking at stuff. I think that there had been some sort of physical infidelity.
Shaunti: I mean something really horrible, and they were trying to work through this. She was trying to do what God had called her to do through her tears and dealing with God; and she said she felt like God told her—I think he was a construction worker or on a construction sites all day; and she felt like God had said, “Every day, I want you to bring him lunch”—
Shaunti: —“on the construction site.” So, he doesn’t have to take the time—because apparently, it was always like an issue to get out and get food and come back. She was like—“Are you kidding me, Lord? Are you kidding me?”
Shaunti: She just felt like this was a command from the Lord. So, she showed up one day, ten minutes before he would normally leave for lunch, and said, “You know I just wanted to bring you this.” This man who had cheated on her—
Shaunti: —and was so aware of his failing—she said, “He took the bag.” She said as he walked away, she saw his shoulders start to shake. He was crying.
Shaunti: She said, “It broke something.” The love of God outpoured to this man who had such a failure in his life; and that was one of these instances where that was the beginning of a whole new world. I think in those situations, I think, it didn’t solve the porn problem. He still had to go through some sort of—I can’t remember—some sort of program or something—
Brian: Sure—a recovery program.
Shaunti: —something like that; but they were bonded. Their marriage started to be healed.
Brian: I think what you’re bringing up is this eye-opener of—“What’s this catalyst for real change?” What’s the verse in Scripture where it talks about—“It’s His kindness.” It’s God’s kindness—
Shaunti: It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.
Brian: —that leads us to repentance. It’s not God’s nagginess—
Shaunti: That’s a great point.
Brian: Right—or it’s not God’s manipulation or His yelling that leads to repentance. You know what you are talking about here is—it’s almost like you are asking wives to release control of changing their husband’s heart.
Shaunti: That’s a great way of putting it; yes. I wouldn’t have put it that way, but that is absolutely true. That is absolutely it.
Brian: It seems like the fair thing—and I know Jenn, my wife—she is a high justice / high fairness; and it’s like—“I want to let you know that you’ve wronged me”; you know? Where is that line between—“Okay, I want to respect him, but I don’t want to feel like I’m enabling his sin”; you know? Some wives could listen to this whole idea of—“Hey, she brought lunch to him for 30 days. Oh, that’s so sweet. She’s a doormat. She’s just letting him roll all over her”—what do you say—where’s that line between—“Okay, I want to show kindness, I want to respect, but I don’t want to enable sin?”
Shaunti: So, in my mind, as I’m thinking this through, as you asked that question, the first thing that occurs to me is that this is a man who is repentant, and he already knew he had failed. He already was very aware he was still, I think, very much in some bad behavior; but he was very convicted about it. This was just one thing that showed him that she was on his side—
Brian: That’s a great statement too right there.
Shaunti: —and that this was one thing that showed: “We’re going to get through this together, I care about you and I believe in you, and I am here with you. I wouldn’t be here with you if I didn’t believe in you.” All of that was said by her coming and bringing this man, who had shredded her heart, lunch; okay?
Shaunti: Now, I do know that there are occasions where the guy is hard, he’s cold, he is not repentant. In those situations, I don’t know the answer. I don’t know that in those kinds of situations you are continuing to enable.
I’m thinking—what’s coming to my mind is something actually you and I were talking about not long ago where I was at a convention of women two years ago; and this woman came up to me in tears, and I was talking about the 30-Day Kindness Challenge and I was talking about some of these things. She came up afterwards, and she said, “My husband has cheated on me, porn addiction”—very similar situation. He was very much getting his back up about—“No, I am not going to”—I think he stopped cheating; but it was very much like grump, grump, grump about it.
Brian: “I’m going to keep going down this road.”
Shaunti: “The porn has nothing to do with you. It says nothing about my love for you. Get over it.”
Shaunti: Right? She was in tears, and she said, “So”—and she had consulted a counselor on her own because he wouldn’t go to one. She said, “You know our story is that I felt like instead of doing The 30-Day Kindness Challenge; my choice has been”—she said, “I just told my husband”—I think just a couple days before—“that I am called to respect you;” and I respect you too much to let you continue to destroy our marriage and to continue to destroy yourself. This is destroying you—not just us. This is going to destroy our children. I respect you too much to let that happen; and I’m going to respect myself and our family enough to say, ‘We’re going to have to separate.’ This is going to be a manage separation.”
Shaunti: It wasn’t something she did in anger—
Shaunti: —because let me tell you. If you do this on your own without the guidance of a church or a pastor, that’s like—you’re going down a really dangerous road. Don’t ever do that; but she spoke with a pastor: “How should I do this?” So, they did it under the authority of the church and under the guidance of the church, and she had just moved out. She had told her husband—or I think maybe she had asked him to move out—I can’t remember.
Shaunti: So, she said, “We just separated.” She was crying, and this was an act of real faith. You know I fly away. I don’t know what happens.
Shaunti: This was in Indianapolis or somewhere. I live in Atlanta. I never hear the end of these stories. Well, I went to the same convention just recently / just a couple of months ago, in a different city; and this woman comes up to me with this huge smile on her face—
Shaunti: —and she said, “You’re not going to remember me, but I saw you at this conference two years ago. I had just left my husband and separated.” She started crying. She’s like—“It changed everything.”
Shaunti: She’s like—“Thank you so much for the encouragement to believe the best of him and do these things.” She said, “We’re back together”—
Shaunti: —“and we have an amazing marriage now.” I mean I want to cry as I’m talking about this; you know?
Brian: Yes, that’s incredible.
Shaunti: Because she took that step of strength under the authority of the church, her husband’s heart was broken—
Shaunti: —because he lost his wife, he lost his kids, he had to confront what was actually happening in his life; but it was done with a heart of desire to honor what God tells us to do as women.
Brian: I think that’s the big deal. And what I’m hearing so much—especially as a guy—the difference / the small change is so much in posture and tone.
Brian: It is a posture of—“I’m not against you. I’m for you.” It’s a posture and tone of—“Even though I disagree with how you are doing, I’m going to have a tone of—‘You know what? I respect you. I love you. I’m for you. I don’t agree with this’”; but just that posture and tone makes a world of difference where I think it really does put it back on the husband—who most husbands, I would say, know when they mess up. They know—it’s like—if they are looking at porn or taking that second or third glance or doing something totally disrespectful, they know; and they hate it.
Shaunti: Yes; right. Inside—
Shaunti: —they may or may not—yes.
Brian: Unless they are just totally callous, they know it, and they hate it.
Brian: So, to have a wife that recognizes, “You know what? I’m going to believe the best about you, and I’m going to respect you.” Then, I think what you just did was a real difference between: “Okay, first step, have your tone and posture right. The second step, depending on which direction the husband goes—if goes down the way of going—‘No, I’m going to still do what I want to do,’ there might be a different action that takes place: ‘I’ll still respect you in my tone and my posture, but I might need to talk to a counselor—separate’”—whatever it might be.
Shaunti: Whatever it is: “I respect you too much to let you continue to destroy yourself”—
Brian: Yes; yes.
Shaunti: —“and our marriage and our family.”
Brian: Exactly, and that’s real love. That’s tough love; but for the vast majority, I think, of wives, once you have—
Brian: —that posture and tone, and you see: “Oh, my husband is starting to soften. I like this kindness challenge idea of—‘Okay, now, how do I now continue to show respect in real practical ways?’” What I heard you say was: “Number one, just never talk—never talk”—
Brian: —“disrespectfully in front of him and in front of others.” Now, I could hear one wife going—“Well, who do I talk to honestly about my feelings, then? If I can’t say anything bad about my husband for 30 days, is there—I do have something to share.”
Shaunti: Yes. So, perfect example of this was a girlfriend of mine was doing this. There were some very real issues that she was in an actual support group for. This wasn’t just a group of friends like we tend to sit around and have coffee and go—“Okay, here’s what happened”; right?
Shaunti: That was not her. She was in an actual support group. So, she’s like—“This support group is my lifeline. What am I supposed to say for 30 days?”
She felt like she suddenly—as she sat there one day and she was wanting to say something, she realized, “Oh my word! I can still say something as long as I say it very factually and matter-of-factly and calmly, like—‘Okay, here’s what’s going on. Would love your prayer for this’”—and in that kind of tone as opposed to what she said she realized she had been doing is saying these things for the pleasure of going—“You would not believe what happened in my house yesterday.
Brian: Yes, with the head wag.
Shaunti: With the head wag; yes. You can’t see in the studio; I’ve got the head wag on, on that one: “You would not believe that.” She said, “I realized I was saying it and sharing a lot of this stuff for the pleasure of sharing this [gasps in shock] moment.”
Brian: Shock value.
Shaunti: The shock value and—“You would not believe what I’m going through”—and she said, “Once I had to start stating it just very matter-of-factly”—she said—“suddenly, I realized it was changing my heart.”
Shaunti: “And I’m really, truly getting the support that I need, but I’m not entering into that”—there is that little bit of release of serotonin, like—“This feels good to talk about this.” So, then it basically incentivizes me to do this way again.
Shaunti: And instead—and that is something that we, as women, fall into without even realizing we’re falling into it. So, as we withhold that and as we look for the very real positives, suddenly that’s when our hearts—
Shaunti: —our hearts start to change.
Brian: Okay. So, what I’m just wrapping up these different principles, which I think are great. First of all, just a posture and tone of respect: “I’m going to change the way that I think and talk and speak to him. I’m not going to say anything negatively to him or about him to others. Then, I’m going to do something kind every day”—something tangible; right?
Brian: If someone wants to take this kindness challenge where would they go? Is there a website?
Shaunti: Yes, JoinTheKindnessChallenge.com.
Brian: All right. We challenge everybody to jump on that and do it because it gives you something practical every day to do; and you get a great reminder—because we forget. We are forgetful people.
Shaunti: If there is something big, another to-do here is to recognize that sometimes the most kind, respectful thing you can do is to draw a line—
Shaunti: —in the sand and have a boundary and have a boundary that you reach out and get help, and you go—“How do I enforce this boundary? What does that look like?”
Shaunti: Sometimes, that is very, very necessary.
Brian: Absolutely. One of my favorite proverbs is Proverbs 18:1 where it says that when we isolate ourselves, it only leads to destruction. It’s like this idea that—when we isolate, we create chaos. That’s why Christianity was never a solo-sport. It’s: “How do I get counselors around me? How do I get the church around me? How do I get others to help? I have blind spots. I don’t see things perfectly. Help me draw that line. Then help me stand by that line.”
Shaunti: A final thing—depending on how you do this and whether or not there is a boundary that is a big one or it’s just something day-to-day issue in your marriage—as you’re trying to do this, do this with goodwill—
Shaunti: —rather than to punish him.
Brian: Yes; yes. You know as we get closer to wrapping up, I think it would be great to give a few little things / some little tips that could make a big difference because I think every wife sitting out there would go—“Oh, if my husband would just do a few little things, it would show me that he loves me, like bringing chocolate here and there—a surprise little chocolate at my office—or a text that would hit during the middle part of my day that just says, “Honey, you are hot, and I love you.”
Shaunti: Yes, every wife would love that; yes.
Brian: —or if he would give her a big bear hug at the end of the day in front of the kids. Those little things—you know as a wife—would just bring oxygen into your soul.
Brian: So, what about for a husband? You go—“Okay, how could I practice that respect muscle in little ways to get little wins for every day?”
Shaunti: So, one of the biggest little wins—I love that—I love that phrase—is to actually practice saying, “Thank you” / noticing what he does and saying, “Thank you for that.” I mean, literally, like—“Thank you for giving me that big hug in front of the kids. That really made me feel awesome.” For you as a woman, you may be thinking that; but you may not think to say it.
For a guy, that really is oxygen. We found that for men—72-percent of men said, “That is it. That is life. That is the life-blood.” I think it was something like—90-something-percent of men said, “It was great”; but yes, 72-percent of men said, “That is oxygen.”
Brian: Just saying, “Thank you,” and noticing.
Shaunti: Just saying, “Thank you.” That’s a man’s equivalent of—“I love you.” I know we need to have a whole other podcast on that—
Shaunti: —because it’s a big deal.
Another thing that is a huge deal for men is, actually, in front of other people saying something that he did amazingly well.
Shaunti: I think saying something that is a—“You know what he did the other day? He took the kids out into the yard”—like we were talking about him being a great dad—“and he was so tired, but he did it.” On the outside, he’s like—“Oh, yes, it was just nothing”—
Brian: “No big deal.”
Shaunti: —but on the inside, he’s like—“Oh, yes.” [Laughter]
Brian: “Oh, yes.”
Shaunti: You know like—“This is good.”
Brian: This is a big one because—often when Jenn and I talk, we’ll have people text in at conferences and say, “Okay, guys, fill in the blank to help these ladies out: ‘I feel most respected when my wife…’”; and then they will just text in their answers. That would be great, actually, for you ladies to ask your husbands—just to ask them that question—
Shaunti: —and then send us what you learn.
Brian: —and send us what you learn.
Brian: So, then we can tell everybody else—
Shaunti: —on the Facebook page.
Brian: —on the FamilyLife Facebook page. Just—“I feel most respected”—ask your husband, “Honey, when do you feel most respected by me?”; and just sit back and listen because some of the answers will really surprise you. You think it would always just be like—“I walk into the house, and you’re naked with a plate of wings.” That—
Shaunti: That was 85-percent of men. [Laughter]
Brian: That goes without saying; okay? So, outside of that—outside of that, it’s simple things. Bragging in front of others is a big one. You want to see your husband puff up in front of everybody. You just go—“Man, you should see what he built in the backyard. It is awesome—this tree house,” or “You should see how he played with the kids. They did this great Nerf battle, and it was—there were Nerf guns.” I’m sure every wife is going—“I’m so tired of Nerf bullets. I’m just”—
Shaunti: I know. They are everywhere.
Brian: —“I want to burn them all.”
Brian: But—“This was an epic battle that he took the kids on, and it was awesome.” Just bragging about something—even if it is small—a guy is going to go, “Oh, I feel oxygen.”
Shaunti: The cool thing is that—we started this with “What if he has disappointed you”; and you notice as a woman—“You know what? That doesn’t change the fact that he has this struggle with porn over here,” or “That doesn’t change the fact that he is always late,” or “It doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t get along with my parents,” or—
Shaunti: —you know whatever it is; but this stuff is real. Circling back to what we talked about at the beginning, this is a very real part of him too; and it deserves affirmation, and that will make him want to go much more that direction.
Brian: Yes, because the truth is if you are married, you are married to an inconsistent sinner; you know? I am inconsistent and messy in my life / in my spiritual life and so is my wife, Jenn. We want to love that person well because when we love that person well, we love that person like God loves us because God loves a bunch of inconsistent people.
So, these are some great practical ways on how we can respect even when it doesn’t seem like there are doing anything worthy of respect—so great question. I know we’ll talk about more of this in the future.
Shaunti: Oh, yes.
Brian: If you have not read For Women Only, I highly recommend it. Also, the other book that Shaunti recommended was The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages; and it really is about the little things that can cause a great, big win in your marriage.
So, as we close we want to be an encouragement to you. I bet there are a couple ways that you are actually winning in this area. So, don’t beat yourself up. Just think about one or two things that you’re really doing well here and keep doing those things. But I’d also ask you, “What is the one thing that you go—‘Oh, man, I need to improve there. I really want to apply that to my life this week’”; and just pick that one thing and start working on it and see what happens in your marriage. I bet it will take a turn for the better.
Shaunti, as always, it’s good to be with you.
And here at FamilyLife we are passionate about you experiencing oneness in the key relationships of your life. If you need more help and hope, we’ve got it at FamilyLife.com. By the way, we wanted to let you know that is podcast is listener supported and we appreciate many gifts from people just like yourself. If you’re interested in donating today you can at FamilyLife.com. Just click the word, “donate.”
I’d love to give a special thanks to our audio producer, CJ3 and our project coordinator, Page Johnson for helping to pull this off. We couldn’t do it without their help.
So, ladies, and you dudes who are listening to this first season on Married With Benefits Questions Every Wife Is Asking. It’s been fun. This next question is one where I don’t know if I agree with. Shaunti thinks that every guy is trying to prove himself to his wife by doing these little stupid feats of strength like carrying in all the groceries all at once from the car. Okay, maybe I’ve done that once or twice in my life. So, we’ll debate that next time on Married With Benefits. I’m Brian Goins. Thanks for listening.
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