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My Husband Wants Love and I Want Respect – Now What?

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Q: You talk a lot about how a wife needs love and a husband needs respect. But what if we are an exception? My husband wants love & I desire respect.

Emerson says: First of all, both spouses need love and respect equally. This is not up for debate. However, research reveals that during conflict, the felt need of the majority of women is love while the felt need of the majority of men is respect.

But cultural and personal applications can vary.

My Dad confronted while my Mom withdrew.

My parents were a good example. My father would come at my mother ranting and raving in anger – confronting her because he wanted to communicate. She simply shut down and withdrew. Then he would withdraw also, and there would be icy silence for many hours and sometimes days.

Both my parents wanted to connect with each other, but they could not out of ignorance or fear. Mom longed to connect with Dad but she would pull back because she feared his anger. And Dad wanted to connect with Mom, but his feelings of being disrespected (she was the key breadwinner for many years) kept him in a state of frustration and anger.

At the deepest core, however, my mother still was seeking love and my father was seeking respect.

Her husband was “pink” and she was “blue.”

A woman wrote to tell me that her husband was more “pink” in certain aspects of personality and she was more “blue.” She was reared in a home dominated by her father’s values which stressed strength, pride, and lack of emotions.

She wrote: “Subsequently, as I became a woman, I thought that to be loved (the kind of love that would touch the core of my being), I had to seek recognition for all the things that came more naturally to ‘blue’ instead of to ‘pink.’”

On the other hand her husband was raised in a very warm, nurturing environment, full of unconditional love. “So naturally,” she continued, “he grew up with a HIGH regard for those very ‘pink’ tendencies that made him feel so complete and unconditionally loved.”

In short, this wife focused on respect in order to get love. Her husband focused on love in order to get respect.  He was doing the pink thing to get respect, and she was doing the blue thing to be loved.

Which desires do you relate to most?

With these things in mind, I recommend you go to the sections on C.O.U.P.L.E. and C.H.A.I.R.S. in my book Love & Respector in our conference CDs or DVDs.  I unpack in detail what motivates a woman (COUPLE) and what motivates a man (CHAIRS).

Once you understand these acronyms, ask yourself this question:  Do I connect more with the desires in COUPLE (how to spell love) or with CHAIRS (how to spell respect)?

In other words, do I desire to work and achieve, to protect and provide, to serve and to lead, to analyze and counsel, to have shoulder-to-shoulder friendship and sexual intimacy (CHAIRS) MORE than I desire closeness, openness, understanding, peacemaking, loyalty, and esteem (COUPLE)?

When you read the descriptions of each, which speaks the most deeply to your heart?  Also, which speaks most deeply to your husband's heart?  Does he also feel that he relates more to the desire for love than for respect?

We were created male and female.

I point these things out since each concept rests on what the Bible says.

By that I mean each idea under COUPLE comes from the heart of God to the husband. God teaches the husband to do these things for his wife. And, vice versa, God instructs the wife related to the concepts in CHAIRS. I reveal these scriptures when I unpack each acronym.

God reveals needs based on gender. This is not about stereotyping men and women, but about understanding how God has created us with unique needs and desires.

And God made us male and female!


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

Questions to Consider