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The Air We Breathe

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Wives, what would happen if someone asked your husband how he felt about you and his reply was, “You know…I really respect her.” Imagine if that person prodded him more specifically and asked, “Do you love her?” and his response was, “Well...not really.” How would you feel?

If you are in love with your husband, you would be devastated, and rightfully so. That’s because a wife needs love in the way that we all need air to breathe. And wives want to be loved unconditionally. Even if you are unlovable, you expect your husband to love you. In fact, if your husband doesn’t love you when you are unlovable, you feel that his behavior is especially unloving. After all, if you have to earn his love, it isn’t really love!

If you feel you have to earn his love, you shut down. You close off your spirit from him. But when you are loved unconditionally – loved for who you are – you are energized and motivated. Isn’t that the case?

Now let’s flip things around. What if you said of your husband, “You know... I really love him... but respect? Many times I feel no respect for him. He certainly doesn’t deserve any respect.”

Do you know what he would feel if he heard you say that? Exactly. He’d be just as devastated as you would be if you heard him say he didn’t love you. That’s because a man needs respect like he needs air to breathe.

The beautiful thing is that just as his love for you energizes you toward him, your respect – even when it’s tough to give – energizes his desire to love you, not dominate you. In fact, it’s the scriptural truth (I unpack this further in my book, Love and Respect).

The bottom line is this: when a husband feels disrespected, he feels the message from his wife is, “I don’t accept you for who you are as a man. I don’t approve of who you are as a husband. And, I don’t respect who you are as a human being.” This shuts a man down. He closes off his spirit.

On the other hand, when a wife feels unloved, she too feels unaccepted, disapproved and unloved for who she is as a person. Her spirit is wounded.

But we’ve become a love-dominated culture. Most wives have little idea the depth of painful feelings men have when disrespected. Men don’t display a crushed countenance and begin to cry. Instead, they get angry, go silent and withdraw. Or they attack with words of disrespect, seeking to equalize things. But as a result, these women feel even more unloved.

Do men need love and women need respect? Absolutely! But research reveals that during conflict men need respect first and foremost, and women need love first and foremost.

Wives, when you see the spirit of your husband deflate, ask yourself if you cut off his air supply. Did you speak or act in a disrespectful way? And husbands, when you see the spirit of your wife deflate, ask yourself if you cut off her air supply by speaking or acting in an unloving way.

Try to correct your approach the love and respect way and see what happens!


Excerpts taken from Motivating Your Man God’s Way, Book One by Dr. Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs.

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

Questions to Consider