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My wonderful husband and I have been married for nearly 17 years. During this time we have enjoyed a “happily ever after” compatibility rivaling that of Cinderella and Prince Charming. Recently, though, I learned that I cannot take my husband and our relationship for granted.

The reality that women need love and men need respect is not a news flash. Any counselor would confirm this fact of male versus female psychology. I have known this for a long time. The problem is that I temporarily forgot it or perhaps never truly understood it.

During the past few months, I experienced a bit of a marital wake-up call. It didn’t come in the form of a big knock-down, drag-out fight, but rather more of a slowly smoldering passive aggression on my part. Over a matter of weeks I began to allow a few annoyances to become major irritations in our relationship. Instead of openly communicating these things, I (almost unknowingly) began to nag, complain, insult and belittle my husband by both actions and careless words. Had I paid attention, I would have noticed that as my negativity increased, his confidence decreased. The more I made him feel like a failure, the more he in fact did fail. This actually perpetuated in him the behaviors that were at the root of this particular conflict—kind of a vicious cycle.

Confronted Me

Eventually, things came to a head, and my husband who loved me far more than I deserved at that moment, confronted me. He feared that I wanted to leave him. That was the furthest thing from my mind, and I was ashamed that I had behaved so badly as to lead him to suspect such a thing. Through open communication and forgiveness, we solved the issues at hand, but the lessons that I learned were far broader and deeper.

I learned experientially (not just intellectually) that my husband needs respect—my respect. In order to thrive and lead both in the home and out of the home, he needed a foundation of respect from me as his wife. Without my respect in him as a man, as a husband, as a father, as a spiritual leader in our home, he literally began to crumble.

Now that the train of our relationship is back on track, I make it a point to frequently give him verbal credit for his many successes and strengths and to appreciate his efforts, no matter how big or small. I also honor his God-given authority as the head of the household rather than nit-pick and belittle him. As I have respected and built him up, he has blossomed, thrived, and excelled, and if it be possible, he loves me even more in return—kind of a vicious cycle (but in a good way).

“Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

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By Hannah Henry. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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