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  • Elizabeth Billingsley

R-E-S-P-E-C-T in a Marriage, Among Other Things


Hello everyone! I thought this picture was appropriate because it is so true. I want to talk about respect in a marriage today as it relates to men and women. I also want to build on that concept from what I have learned from my previous marriage.

I will start by using a blog post I did back in 2011. I was married at the time and had just finished Dr. Emerson Eggerich's book Love and Respect and used some concepts from that book. After this blog post, I will expound on what I have learned and talk about the one thing I think Dr. Eggerich missed. I will also expound on some of the seemingly "okay" things I wrote about in this blog back then that really weren't so "okay." This will be quite a lengthy, honest blog so bare with me. I want all of you to know I still believe in marriage. I still believe love is always the right choice. I want others to be able to learn from my experience and avoid the same pitfalls. Also, if there is someone reading this who is behaving in the way I will describe later, I want you to know you can change.

Here is the 2011 blog post titled: Learning Respect: It's Not Just About R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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

"Hello ladies! These first 10 months of marriage have flown! Time does fly when you are having fun. :-) Not only am I having fun, but the Lord is teaching me many things about being a good wife. I started my journey about learning how to respect Jeff with the book Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Talk about insight! I just finished the book yesterday and all I can say is Wow!! Not only did I learn about showing respect I learned about what actually makes Jeff who he is. Allow me to expound on this.

Dr. Eggerich described men’s deepest needs with the acronym:

C-H-A-I-R-S.

C stands for Conquest. Men enjoy conquest in their jobs and their other projects because they feel they are conquering the world for you and for others. As Jeff works hard and to conquer projects and challenges both at work and at home, I will support him in all that he does. In no way, should any woman neither demean nor criticize her hard working husband, he is doing those things for you and for his family. He needs conquest; it makes him who is as a man.

H stands for Hierarchy. Hierarchy describes a man’s need to provide and protect his family. As I thought of what this meant to Jeff, God showed me that when he asks me to be sure I have my phone and have it where I can get to it, he is trying to protect me when he can’t be with me. Regarding Jeff’s job and projects, I learned that the challenges that come from these areas of Jeff’s life not only can be trying for him sometimes but they also help him grow as person. The Lord showed me in both areas I should be nothing but supportive. After all, what if he didn’t care enough to protect me? What if he didn’t care to work? When the Lord gave me this perspective, I honestly had to examine some of the thoughts I had regarding these attributes. I am so thankful I see this part of who Jeff is now. I am so thankful for these attributes in his life!

A stands for Authority. By authority Dr. Eggerich’s described a man’s desire to lead in his home. Men are built with a natural want to lead. I know that the idea of submission to your husband can be a touchy subject but ladies, it works. Submission is not you being under his thumb nor does it mean you are subservient to him. You submit out of love and allow him to fulfill his leadership role. Ladies, when you defer to him and certainly when you include him in decisions, you show the utmost respect for your husband. We as women are also not designed to take on the leadership position in the home. We aren’t made for that burden. I am so thankful that Jeff can carry that burden and I will happily submit to him and support him in that role. I may not always agree with him (and ladies you won’t always agree), but I will defer to him and submit to his leadership as unto the Lord.

I stands for Insight. Ladies, you may not be aware of this but your husband has insight that you don’t have. Men see situations differently than we do and that is not a bad thing. On many occasions Jeff has provided me with insight and a different perspective on how to consider a situation or even my own behavior or words. Yes ladies, we do have intuition but our husband’s insight can serve us very well too. Give your husband an opportunity to share his insight. His opinion and insight counts too. You never know when his insight may save both of you time, money, and heartache.

R stands for Relationship. Your husband needs you to be his friend. In fact, Jeff is my best friend. Now I will tell you that doesn’t mean you will always be relating to one another while you are with each other. Jeff likes me to be with him, but that doesn’t mean we are talking or relating. He just wants me to be there, to be present with him while he is writing on line or reading or watching TV. I have learned (and am still learning) that I don’t always have to talk to him to be with him. He enjoys my companionship and I enjoy his, no matter whether we are sitting quietly at home, going for a motorcycle ride or taking a walk. I enjoy my time with him!

S stands for Sexuality. Your sexual relationship is very important to your husband. This is one of the main ways he shows his love for you and feels close to you. A wife should never use sex as a bargaining chip or withhold sex to “punish” her husband. Ladies if you behave in this manner, that opens the door for temptation in your husband’s life and that is the road to heartache for both of you. I suggest you make this part of your relationship fun, be spontaneous and creative. Ladies it is also okay for you to initiate sex. Your husband will appreciate that greatly. Also, allow him to romance you. Jeff loves to romance me and surprise me; I enjoy that very much! Romance must also be reciprocal. Sex can be a very rewarding part of your relationship as you both learn from one another and enjoy what God has created for both of you.

Ladies, as you can see, all of these attributes make your husband who he is, they make him the man he is at his very core. If you will respect these attributes and learn from them, your relationship with your husband will be very rewarding. Does that mean you’ll get it right all the time? No. Both of you will make mistakes but as you both grow in your relationship with each other and the Lord, He will show you how to love your mate and how to respect the attributes that He gave to your mate."

My New Insight in 2016

Let me first start by saying that the book Love and Respect is an excellent book. It provides insight for both men and women for thier marriage. I believe Dr. Eggerich really gives some good advice about how men and women can understand one another and make their differences work. However, the one thing he missed is mutual respect. Now to be fair to the book and to Dr. Eggerich, I believe he was not talking to anyone who had severe mental illness or other issues they had not given to God. I do not believe this book was for marriages that have evil abounding in them at all and although I don't know him, I think he would agree.

What I want to impress upon you is if mutual respect is not present in any relationship, it will not survive. Period. End of story. If you have one spouse giving all the respect and the other giving none, that is a train wreck of epic proportions waiting to happen. Mutual respect is everything and is all about giving not taking and about selflessness not selfishness. Love grows cold and eventually dies where disrespect, selfishness and a take-take mindset abound.

Now don't get me wrong, can two people going down the wrong track with their impending train wreck just around the next corner avert their catastrophy? Yes! All they have to do is lay down their pride, repent and ask God and others close to them for help. That may sound too simple but it's true. I would like to think if Jeff had met me half way, trully down some soul searching and repenting, my life would be very different now. However, he chose not to and our runaway train jumped the tracks. Our marriage ended and he died long before he had to. However, I have a hope to see him again some day when I arrive in Heaven and he will be healed. When I see him again he will be whole and his smile will brighter than ever. I thank God for that more than you know. I also have a hope to love again while I'm still on this planet. Afterall, love really does never fail despite anyone else's choice.

I now want to expound on what I have learned since writing that first blog about C-H-A-I-R-S. I will take each letter and tell you what I have learned since then in retrospect. As I have mentioned before, I will also tell you what I was calling "okay" that was not "okay."

Let's start with C, Conquest.

Looking back now, I understand that Jeff was either depressed or manic at times or both at once so starting and/or finishing something was hard for him including finding employment early in our marriage. Of course I did not know this at the time. His lack of conquest concerning work was maddening and very stressful, but like I said before, I had no idea what I was dealing with. I do agree with Dr. Eggerich's assertions of this particular need for men and I did try and support Jeff the best way I could. However, I will say I will not support a man financially in this way again and I will be vocal about it. Ladies this will take too much of a toll on you emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Please don't do it unless there is a very legitimate, short-lived reason.

H, Hierarchy.

I'm going to be honest here, because he was ill, this need was warped at best. I believe the real man wanted to do what was right, but he fought constantly with his other self who only wished to control everything. I'm going to talk about respectful communication for a minute with cell phones, email, Facebook or whatever you are using to communicate with your spouse.

There is a difference between wanting to know you are okay, an emergency or wanting to say 'hi' because someone misses you vs. wanting to find out where you are because your spouse does not really trust you or has an irrational fear you will leave them. I experienced this latter reason for him wanting the cell phone to always be answered in a ridiculous time frame or absolutely needing his texts returned right then. Ladies and gentlemen this latter example is nothing more than control which is fueled by fear. It has nothing to do with hierarchy. It is has nothing to do with love or care. If this is occuring in your marriage, find out why. If you the one with the ridiculous expectation, find our why you are afraid. If you are the one on the receiving end, put a stop to it.

Marriage should never be about control, fear or manipulation. Where these three abound, the relationship will fail.

A, Authority.

I do agree with Dr. Eggerich's assertations here and have no desire to lead my home when I marry again. Because of Jeff's illness I had to lead in many ways because he simply could not. I will tell you though he tried, he tried very hard. I know deep down he wanted to lead and do it well. He just couldn't get away from his other self. Ladies, if you have a man who will lead in a gentle way, be thankful.

At this point, I do want to address what submission is and what it isn't.

Submission must be mutual (there's that word again I used earlier). Submission is not about a master/servant relationship in a marriage. If it is, you don't have a marriage, you have an employer and employee for lack of a better comparison. In my previous marriage, where he was concerned, it went back and forth between master/servant relationship and my husband being a servant leader. When I knew I was loved and he was serving me lovingly, it was alot easier to submit to a decision he made then when he was being mean to me or wanting to force me to agree with him.

Submission should never be lorded over you as a wife. If that is occuring, your husband either does not understand submission or he has deeper issues within himself that will manifest as control issues. And this would work the same if this was the wife behaving this way toward her husband.

Submission one to another in marriage is a wonderful thing when it is demonstrated the right way. It is a disaster if it is one-sided.

I, Insight.

Jeff was actually very good on many occasions at providing good insight to me about a situation or a person. In fact, believe it or not, in the good times, we agreed on many things. Ladies, men do have important things to say about alot of things. They want to solve problems and help us do so. Listening to insight was one of my most valuable lessons. What I learned about insight in my previous marriage, I will carry into a future marriage.

R, Relationship.

Yes, Jeff was my best friend or as best of a friend as he could be. Yes, we have many wonderful times together traveling or just sitting in our living room. I keep my mind on the good times with my friend and yes I do miss him, I miss the real him.

Now I want to provide a word of caution here. I agree that your husband or wife should be your best friend. However, it is also equally healthy for you both to have friends you hang out with and enjoy. Jeff, unfortunately, didn't want to get close to anyone but me. He had no close friends. That should have been a warning to me but I didn't know that then. We did go do things with other couples on occasion but he preferred not to many times, again just a symptom of his illness.

I did go out and do things with friends on occasion but I can honestly say I always felt like he resented that. I will not be in a relationship again where my friendships with my girlfriends are resented for any reason. Now, ladies and gentlemen if you have friend who is not good for you, your spouse has a right and an obligation to talk to you about that. However, resentment for the sake of resentment is not right.

Both of you need each other, your couple friends and your girlfriends and guys to spend time with.

S, Sexuality.

I do agree with Dr. Eggerich's assertions here. Sex is very important to men and is equally important to women.

For Jeff's part, he was a wonderful romantic. The good man deep down loved doing nice things for me. In good times, I felt very loved.

Our sex life was normal for a long time and we found new ways to keep it interesting for most of our marriage.

However, as he was very ill, this eventually did affect our sex life. As he grew increasingly verbally abusive and physically aggressive, my desire for any intimacy ceased. I would ask this question in my mind when I should have asked him outloud, "how can you want me to sleep with you when you have treated me so badly today? You know what ladies and gentlemen? It's okay to ask that question, particularly if you are in an abusive situation or sex is being used to manipulate or hurt you.

Sex was never used to physically hurt me but it was used to manipulate me, which hurt me emotionally and mentally. I will say many times I gave into the manipulation to keep the peace (I was forever doing that). You will never trully know what that is like unless you have experienced it. I can say sex will never be used to manipulate me again. Manipulation and selfishness go hand in hand and sex is too precious to be used that way.

I have discussed many things today. I have been very honest. And although some of these things have been very sad, I will re-iterate again, I still believe in love and I still believe in marriage. I still believe that love and respect work. I also believe we must be careful though and see things for what they are not what we want them to be. I will love again and I will come into that new relationship with better knowledge of myself and what love is and what it is not.

Until next time,

Elizabeth


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