Women naturally give love, but our men really want something else
My husband and I recently went to a “marriage conference” attended by (and highly recommended by) some of our friends. One would think that a relationship-focused conference would be something that most men would avoid at all costs, equating it to sitting for seven straight hours in a women’s clothing store while their wife tries on outfit after outfit, asking “do I look fat in this?”
Yet the atmosphere at this event, the Love & Respect Live Conference, was something the likes of which I’ve never experienced. As the primary speaker, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, spoke, the men in the audience laughed out loud, nodded their heads and visibly appeared moved. According to my husband, Eggerichs was expressing concepts that uncannily described what matters most to men in a relationship. The thing is – men being men – most don’t actually know what they most deeply need from a woman (other than the obvious!) and would not be able to describe or articulate it.
A stunned silence filled the room when Eggerichs explained that the most powerfully romantic card a woman could give a man on Valentine’s Day would not be one that tells him how much she loves him and adores him. Apparently these are nice but really don’t mean much to a guy. No, the kind of card that he would keep and show his buddies (who would react with stunned awe and envy) would be a card in which she tells him how deeply she respects and admires him, how much she appreciates all he does for her and their family.
I confess that initially this just sounded weird to me, but according to my husband and the other men in the vicinity, Eggerichs was dead on.
The premise of Love and Respect is that women and men are different. Eggerichs has a doctorate in family studies and states that the foundation of his bestselling book series was a 20 year study of 2000 couples performed at the “Love Lab” at the University of Washington. They found that there was a consistent pattern in the marriages that flourished over the long haul: the husbands were loving to their wives, and the wives were respectful to their husbands. In fact, it was determined out of this research that a woman’s primary need is for love, and a man’s primary need is for respect.
Eggerichs and his wife Sarah, who now tour the world giving these conferences, come from a strongly Christian background and perspective; however I believe that their fundamental precepts would be useful to any relationship. Also, Eggerichs is quick to point out that this principle of respect is not meant to be interpreted to the extreme and doesn’t apply to overtly abusive or pathologically unbalanced relationships; it also isn’t a pat solution to more serious problems.
I don’t think I need to get into the ways in which a man can show love to his wife (we women are pretty good at expressing our needs and Hollywood does a good job of illustrating romance), but for the ladies out there I would like to share a sampling of Eggerichs’ descriptions of what respect looks like.
According to the summary page in the conference notebook (and some of Eggerichs supplementary comments and stories), a man feels respected when:
1) You tell him thanks for going to work every day and praise his commitment to providing for you and your family (I know, you very likely go to work, too – as do I – but to men it’s particularly important to have their efforts and dedication acknowledged)
2) You ask him to talk about his dreams
3) You praise his good decisions (and don’t keep bringing up the bad ones)
4) You honor his authority in front of the children – and others in general – and differ with him in private
5) You thank him for his advice and knowledge (men love to help and advise)
6) You do recreational activities with him, “shoulder to shoulder”, such as watching the football game, going along for a drive, or going camping with him (here’s a kicker, though: apparently it’s a huge gift to men if women keep them company but don’t talk the whole time. I have been working on this one, it is not easy!)
7) You respond more often to him sexually (I think this one needs no explanation)
What do you think about this? I for one really enjoy the feeling of being deliberately, consciously respectful, of letting a man be a man and recognizing him for his “manliness” and his internal blueprint for leadership. Men really are very different from women, I think that’s pretty obvious to anyone.
So ladies, how about you write a card to your man, telling him genuinely how much you respect him, and see how he reacts? Let me know in the comments below!
Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. is a medical doctor, health and happiness expert, life and health coach, professional speaker, flamenco dancer, and the author of Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You, dedicated to helping people worldwide get healthy, find happiness and enjoy more meaningful lives that they love. Dr. Biali is available for keynote presentations, workshops/retreats, media commentary, and private life and health coaching—contact email@example.com or visit www.susanbiali.com for more details.
Copyright Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. 2013