I always heard that women need to feel loved and men need to feel respected.
While I used to think that making a man feel respected meant treating him right, being polite, and not speaking ill of him, I’ve come to see that for guys, it means so much more than that. For Adam to feel respected by me, he wants to know that I trust his judgment, that I trust him to take care of me, trust him to be a good father and that I think he is capable of many things.
While I do believe all these things about him, in the moment I often fail to show it, jumping in to exert my will or my ideas. When I do this he feels disrespected and hurt.
When we were talking about getting married, I remember being so caught up in making sure he knew I didn’t want him spending a lot of money on my engagement ring. I wanted him to get something he could afford; I didn’t want him to take out a loan to buy my ring. But it got to the point of me telling him I didn’t want him spending over a certain amount of money—and I didn’t even know how much money he had. He wanted me to allow him to be the man, to respect his judgement, and he reminded me that the ring was a gift from him. It wasn’t my place to put conditions on that gift.
After seven years of marriage, I still can’t seem to understand the depth of Adam’s need to feel respected or how deeply his sense of being respected is tied to feeling trusted and adequate. Time and time again, I forget this and say something or do something that makes Adam believe I don’t respect him, which to him equates to love.
Just the other day I was working in another part of the house while Adam was watching the kids. I heard a loud bump from the direction of our young daughters. Instead of letting him deal with the situation, I quickly ran to see what the issue was. It was super minor, which made me embarrassed and Adam quickly chided, “Can you please just let me watch the kids?” I could tell that he interpreted my actions as disrespect for him as a father, as someone who is capable of taking care of our children, and had hurt him.
More now than before, I am holding my tongue to give Adam the benefit of the doubt, to show him I respect his judgment. I want to assure him that I trust him, that I believe him capable of making good decisions and of keeping me and the kids safe.
While I want to hear rosy words and “I love you” to help me know I am loved, my husband feels loved when I respect him and when I let him know he is irreplaceable. If that’s what it takes for him to know I love him, than that’s what I want to give him.