Her Greatest Desire vs. His Most Desperate Need


If there is anything in my life that is worthy of doing whatever it takes to make a success, it’s for sure my marriage.  That’s why I do the things that I don’t necessarily want to do; they’ve become not a big deal to do it, because I know the one I’m doing it for.  It’s a funny truth about the things that are dear to us- they tend to make sucky things not suck anymore.  Instead they become a joy.  And for me, that’s reading all these self-help books about marriage.  I hate self-help books- I really do.  I prefer fiction or an even an autobiography, but now, I take every opportunity I get to soak up anything information I can on being a better husband.  Whether it’s new books, books on tape, sermon podcasts about marriage, or reading other marriage blogs…I love taking it all in.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post telling you about a book that I was reading that was having a huge impact on my marriage, The Power of a Praying Husband.  Shortly after, Penny and I started a 6 week marriage class called United.  Wouldn’t you know it, as part of the class, we are reading another book that is also having a profound effect on our marriage, Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  And this book has highlighted a really basic principle that I don’t think most people get., but I have found to be so true.  It has helped to put words to something instinctual inside me that I don’t think I ever could have defined before, much less even realized how big of a deal it really is to men and women.  And while this principle certainly reveals itself most in the marriage relationship, it truly speaks to the male/female relationship as a whole.  Whether it’s husband/wife, brother/sister, cousins, or even co-workers.

Here’s the principle- what a woman desires most is unconditional love.  What a man desperately needs is unconditional respect.  It’s at the core of who we are as men and women, how we are created and wired…women tend to need most to be loved.  And men tend to need to be respected above all else, even love.  It’s a profound concept, and I must confess, not one that I fully subscribed to at the outset of reading this book.  But as I’ve gotten deeper into it, I am seeing that at the very least, it is true in Penny’s and my life.

I am not an easy person to upset.  It’s really pretty hard to make me angry about something.  But I can tell you, few things set me off faster than feeling unceremoniously, straight up disrespected.  It’s not something I ever would have put words to, or could have made the connection, but once I did, I see it to be all too true.

On the flip side, while I won’t speak for Penny, I can say that I have noticed when I take the necessary steps to let Penny know that she is loved above all else in my life, and when she hears it, that she responds overwhelmingly more positive and with more respect for me than I could have ever dreamt.

In either case though, did you notice that what I was talking about was how we REACT to each other?  Think about it, just about every fight you’ve ever had with your wife, husband, sibling, co-worker, has usually caught you a little off guard, right?  Because all of a sudden, they responded poorly to you.  And then you reacted.  And they reacted some more.  Which made you react…and so on…well my friends, you have just taken a spin  the Crazy Cycle.  Basically it works like this: she disrespected him, so he didn’t act lovingly towards her, which caused her to act more disrespectful towards him, so he certainly couldn’t act lovingly towards a woman who acts like that, and he responds accordingly…and it keeps going.  OK, OK, to be fair, cause it happens this way too- He acted unloving towards her, so she reacted in a disrespectful way, which made him pull away in an unloving manner (guys, here’s a tip, pulling away in a fight, while paramount in guy-code is acting unloving girl-code), and how could she respect him when he does that, and she acts accordingly.

Sound familiar?  Surprised at how accurate it is?  This really should be no surprise that women want love and men need respect…even the Bible says so when it tells husbands to go all out in love for their wives, and for wives to respect their husbands.  Yeah, that’s the actual wording.  It’s also all through the Proverbs as they talk about what it is better to be than to be in an unloving and disrespectful marriage (I think my favorite is, “It is better to live on a corner of the roof than it is to live in a house with a contentious wife”).

So, couples out there…dating or married or even just friends- how are you doing, Men, at loving the women in your lives with an unconditional love?  Ladies, how about it– do you respect the men in your life?  Are you speaking in a language that is clear to the other person, not just you?  I would highly recommend that you pick up this book.  Go through it.  Try it out.

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  1. Hey Brent-

    Great blog and congrats that it made it onto the 50 Best Relationship Blogs!! My company Good Clean Love’s blog Making Love Sustainable also made it onto the list and we’d love to work together with you! We have some great all-natural, organic love products and a book by founder Wendy Strgar called Love That Works. Please let me know if you’d be interested in working with us.

    My email is ana@goodcleanlove.com

    Thanks and keep writing!!
    Ana

    • Alethea
    • February 17th, 2011

    WONDEFULLY written. One of my favorite books. I am so passionate about healthy marriages. Well done.

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