A Wife Respects and then Receives the Love She Desires

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Women want to be loved by their husbands. Adored. Desired. Cherished. That should not be a surprise to anyone. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who would dispute a woman’s desire for love. But sadly, just because a woman desires love more than anything else from her husband, and even though he may say that he absolutely adores her with all his heart, that does not mean she always feels loved by him. And not feeling loved by the one she needs to feel loved by the most can cause a significant gap between her and her husband.

So how should a wife motivate her husband to love her as she desires? Should she nag him? Demand from him? Complain about him? Ignore him? Should she treat him disrespectfully until he finally understands fully how to better love her? Or should she try the opposite approach, as this wife did, and choose to simply respect him, despite not feeling loved by him?

Dear Mr. Eggerichs,

Sadly, I have to say that your book stood for about one year on my night stand. However, God put it in my hands at the right time, when I felt I had no way out, with no other solution left for my marriage.

My husband and I got married two years ago. As a young couple we both had our own lifestyles, daily activities, routines, and hobbies. So we lived almost parallel lives for the first year, almost as flat mates. In the second year my desire for love started to itch. And without knowing how damaging it would be, I started to throw a bunch of criticism, sarcasm, and reproaches at my husband for many things, from chores to professional career.‎ I felt like I hated him for not doing anything in the house, for not being organized as I am, for not paying the bills ahead of time, etc. It was chaos!

Even though I am Christian, and I tried to apply the "Do it for Jesus" principle, I felt no motivation, probably because my relationship with God was not strong enough, as you mentioned at some point. I did pray, but for his change, not mine, as I didn’t see myself guilty at all.

While reading your book, with every chapter I finished, I had realized how many mistakes I have made and that I was the one who needed to change! Now it's funny to look back and understand why he was so distant, so cold, so far away from me. Even if we lived under the same roof, there were days when we didn't see each other at all.

So, I don't know how I did it, but the Holy Spirit was definitely part of the whole transformation! I made a promise to God one night, actually exactly a month ago, to start applying what you advise in the book as I related to every chapter, as it all made sense. It was like an epiphany! Everything was enlightened and by that time I had understood it all: We were living in a continuous, vicious crazy cycle!

Barely had I written a "respect card" to him and changed the way I spoke and behaved, that he suddenly turned eyes on me again. Actually, he planned a surprise gift for me.

After two years the fire started to burn again within us! I couldn't believe it, it was again like in our first romantic days together! If only I knew it would be so easy!

We are working together now on improvements, and our marriage life is happier and our relationship is stronger!

In my book Love & Respect, which this wife referenced at the beginning of her note to me, I put a name to the action she decided to take by respecting her husband—the Energizing Cycle: His love motivates her respect. Her respect motivates his love.

A wife cannot motivate her husband to better love her by choosing to disrespect him, and a husband cannot motivate his wife to respect him by withholding from her the love she so desires. The Energizing Cycle says that the exact opposite is what works, as this wife certainly saw. In her own words, she had barely changed how she spoke and behaved toward him when she noticed an immediate effort on his part to love her as she needed.

Have you been exhausting your efforts lately to try and get your spouse to change—to better love and respect you as you desire—and to no avail? Why not try what this wife did and stop trying to change your spouse . . . but change you instead?

-Dr. E

Discussion Questions

  1. When you have felt unloved or not respected by your spouse, what have you done to try and motivate him or her? What were the short-term results? Long-term results?

  2. Why do we sometimes talk ourselves into believing that negative will produce positive? Meaning, why do we think that nagging, complaining, disrespecting, etc. will result in a positive change?

  3. How have you seen the Energizing Cycle work before in your marriage, even if you were not purposefully trying to apply it at the time?

  4. In our efforts to effect change in our marriage, why should we start with ourselves?