Don’t act like the title of this post doesn’t impress you.
So I’m thinking a lot about respect today, in the midst of this series about marriage. As someone who was raised to respect her elders, disrespected her exes, and adores her husband, I’m not an authority on the issue (duh), but it is something I’ve struggled with since I was old enough to talk.
When I was in kindergarten, I had more than my fair share of bad habits. I scratched people (viciously like Freddy Krueger), rolled my eyes at adults when I couldn’t think of something cleverly snarky to say, and when I wasn’t rolling my eyes, I was smarting off to those in authority. An example: My mother worked at the school I attended in kindergarten. My teacher told me I had to wait for my mom to pick me up from class. So, there I was, logically working out in my brain that school was over and my mom’s classroom was just down the hall. I told her, “You’re not my mom!” and marched my little butt to my mom’s room. In one little act of defiance, I undermined my teacher’s authority, asserted my own, and probably (definitely) got punished for my insubordination. I’ve had issues with authority ever since then. If I don’t feel like they’ve earned my respect, I probably don’t give it to them (unless it’s a police officer and he has a gun).
As an adult I disrespected my relationships. I flirted with other men. I insulted my boyfriends, plenty of times in public. I questioned their decisions. I mocked their misgivings. Obviously, those relationships weren’t going to work. When Captain Laser Pants and I met, the situation was clearly different. For one, I was mature enough (mostly) to recognize the damage that my sharp tongue can cause. He also earned my respect. I don’t believe he was trying to do so at first, but I saw his character, his mind and his intentions as I got to know him personally. This man was worthy of my admiration, just as I was worthy of his pursuit.
On our first trip together (before we were dating) we talked about the importance of edification in a relationship. It was something I had never really experienced before, but understood the benefits of implementing it in future relationships. To “edify” (to build up, strengthen, encourage, improve) your partner is something that does not come naturally for many. But in reality, if you’re not working to build up your spouse, you’re (inadvertently or purposefully) tearing down your spouse. How’s that, you may ask? Just like if you’re not telling the whole truth, you’re lying, if you aren’t working to encourage your spouse, you’re eventually draining him or her.
What do edification and respect have to do with one another?
If I never told my husband “thank you” for all the work he does for our family, he would never know how much I value his efforts. If I never listened to him and communicated with him, he would never know I respect his mind. If I told him, “I don’t need you,” he would believe it, whether the words were true or not. What we do and what we say directly speaks to our spouse and conveys the message of “I respect you” or “I don’t respect you”. Men particularly need to be respected. We all need to be encouraged by our spouse. If we were to never receive encouragement from the person who knows us best, it could give us a complex! Think about it. Your spouse knows you better than anyone on the planet- if your partner never complimented you, or gave you a kind word, you’d feel like a failure. Edification is vital to a marriage, and you can’t edify what you don’t respect.
A lot of my friends, married and unmarried alike, probably think I am absolutely crazy when I call Captain Laser Pants while I’m out shopping (a rare occasion, especially now that mini- Gwinn is so grabby/ fussy/ drooly). When it comes to our finances, I defer to my husband. He works incredibly hard- he is away from home, at work- and I respect the time and effort he puts into taking care of our family financially. I don’t like to spend money frivolously because he doesn’t spend his time away from us frivolously.
We forget, in our ever busy lives, to encourage one another. It’s so easy to let your spouse know you respect him or her, and it’s just as easy to give words of encouragement before you two part ways and go into the world each morning. Give genuine, detailed compliments. If your husband looks hot in his suit, tell him. If your wife cooked a meal after working a long day, tell her your thanks for pulling double duty as money earner and chef. Your marriage is meant to be your fortress- your safe haven. Edification of one another is the act of building up those walls to protect your spouse and yourself from the outside. If you care about the citadel, you care about the walls. To feel safe and to feel comfortable in your marriage you must encourage and respect one another. Without respect for your spouse, you lose one of the most beautiful elements of your marriage- intimacy.
In the next day or two I’m going to write about intimacy (both emotional and physical) and the baggage we bring along in our marriage. Please comment with suggestions and thoughts- I will be mulling over this next topic with serious regard.
Have a beautiful day!