Her Disrespect Doesn’t Motivate His Love

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Turned around from our previous post, how successful is it for a wife to decide, “I am not going to be respectful until he earns my respect. He needs to be more loving like me. Until then, he doesn't deserve my respect. He deserves my disrespect"? A wife cannot be dark-eyed, sour-faced, eye-rolling, finger-scolding, sigh-oriented, and disdain-speaking as ways of arousing her husband's romantic love. She can argue that he ought to respond humbly, with care, and empathetically, but most husbands withdraw and stonewall.

A wife said to me once,

"I would go on communication overkill. I tried and tried to get him to talk to me about what he was feeling. . . . But often he saw our discussions as 'arguments' and he got tired of having to work so hard to 'get along' in our marriage. On top of everything . . . when I get the slightest bit emotional, my voice goes up ten decibels. . . . And, he absolutely cannot stand it when my voice gets loud. 

"So, every time we had a discussion, he would retreat from me which made me work even harder to communicate and pull him back into the conversation.  A useless cycle, for certain. . . . How could I be so blind? Better yet, how could I be so deaf to what had been going on? I realized that I had been treating my husband disrespectfully. 

"Thinking back on my actions and words, I could 'feel' the disrespect signals I was sending my husband. I was so caught up in my search for unconditional love and validation, and I was blind to what I was doing." 

As a wife do you believe that you can show contempt toward the spirit of your husband to motivate him to love you? Because he fails to love you as he ought and falls short in loving you as you love him, do you declare, "He doesn't deserve my respect!"?

At those moments, should he discern that your verbally expressed disappointment and disapproval is a motivational message designed to awaken him to your hurt and to your need to be reassured of his love? Do you rationalize your disrespect under the cultural umbrella that declares, "Respect must be earned!"? Do you continue with such disrespectful reactions since your husband should really know that you don't mean it?

Because you see yourself as loving no matter the disrespect, and you view him as unloving and undeserving of respect, have you allowed for a pattern of negative reactions that have undermined intimacy?

Have you ever asked, "If he doesn't deserve my respect, does he deserve my disrespect as a way of motivating him to love me? Does he deserve an absolute, negative regard toward his spirit created in the image of God?”

-Dr. E

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why will a husband never win his wife’s heart as long as his default mode is along the lines of “I’ll love her when she respects me”?

  2. Why do signs of contempt such as a sour face, eye rolling, finger scolding, and sighs communicate disrespect to a husband? Why will these things never motivate him to love his wife?