His Unkindness Doesn’t Motivate Her Respect

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A Husband's Unloving Reaction Does Not Motivate a Wife's Respect! How effective is it for a husband to resolve, “I will be unloving to teach my wife to show me more respect”? That doesn’t make sense, does it?

Bottom line, a husband cannot talk to his wife in harsh, angry, and unloving ways to get her to show him more respect. He will only set off her complaints and criticisms.

In my book Love & Respect, I explain how to spell love to a wife with the acronym C.O.U.P.L.E. A wife needs closeness, openness, understanding, peacemaking, loyalty, and esteem. When she receives these, she feels loved.

As I discussed C.O.U.P.L.E. with one husband in my office, he put his head down on my table in deep sorrow. He said to me, "I did the opposite of every one of these to teach my wife to respect me. I decided not to love her in those ways you mentioned until she started showing me more respect. After being mistreated for months on end, she left me."

I shared with him, "You cannot deprive your wife of her need for love as a way of motivating her to meet your need for respect."

How many husbands foolishly subscribe to the script, "I will teach that woman to respect me by shutting her out. I won't talk to her to show her that she can't treat me with disrespect. I will stay away from her until she can't stand it any longer and comes to me to apologize"?

When a husband makes this his default mode, he will never win his wife's heart, no matter how much guilt she brings to the relationship from her earlier wrongdoing.

-Dr. E

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever intentionally withheld love and respect from your spouse because they were not giving you the love and respect you needed? Do you believe you may have unintentionally withheld love and respect for the same reasons without realizing it? How did either of these times turn out?

  2. If his unkindness won’t motivate her respect and her disrespect won’t motivate his love, what will motivate them to love and respect? What obstacles are keeping you from loving and respecting your spouse unconditionally?