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Are Love and Respect the Same Thing?

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One wife, a strong-minded career woman, wrote to tell us how she and her husband were using the Love and Respect concepts and that, as a result, their Crazy Cycle had drastically slowed down.

A Wife Wrote…

My husband was able to see that when he would withdraw (often because I was disrespectful), I would feel abandoned or unloved. So I would go after him with a vengeance that would make a warrior cower . . . which would disrespect him and hurt him deeply, causing him to withdraw even more —the whole “Crazy Cycle.” But he, for the first time, was willing to see that he had acted “unlovingly.” He was able to own some part of it. I think he was able to see that I was more delicate (even though I try really hard to sell my strength to everyone, including him) and that I do need him and want his support and strength. I asked him to forgive me for being so disrespectful. We have been talking and things have been gradually changing. Mutual understanding is setting in.

Love and Respect Was Lacking

This couple was able to discern that what started the Crazy Cycle spinning was a lack of love for her and a lack of respect for him.

But women often ask, “Aren’t love and respect the same thing?” I respond, “No, they aren’t. For instance, you respect your boss. You don’t love your boss.”

I Respect You But…

I have been in counseling sessions with couples, and with her mate sitting there listening, the wife will readily say, “I love my husband but don’t feel any respect for him.”

But when I turn this around and ask the wives how they would feel if they would hear their husbands say, “I respect you but don’t love you,” they are horrified. They exclaim, “I would be devastated.”

I asked one wife, “How long would it take you to get over that?”

She quickly answered, “Forever.”

Many wives would be up in arms upon hearing, “I respect you but don’t love you.” That is taboo! She would view her husband as a very unloving human being.

I Love You But…

Yet this same wife feels she can readily say to him, “I love you but don’t respect you.” What she doesn’t understand is that her husband is equally devastated by her comment and it also takes him “forever” to “get over it.”

The bottom line is that husbands and wives have needs that are truly equal. Both need love and both need respect. I believe that, and I teach that! But especially during conflict, she needs unconditional love, and he needs unconditional respect.

Are you willing to consider that your spouse has a need that is different, yet equally important?


Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider