Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.
We were sitting in our favorite diner after church, the kids busily scribbling with crayons on their placemats and kicking each other under the table. As much to make conversation as anything, I told Craig that I was writing about “respect” for one of the challenges, and asked him, “So what do YOU think it means, to ‘respect’ your spouse?”
The “deer in the headlights” look on Craig’s face made me rephrase the question immediately. “I mean … can you think of anything I do, or you would like me to do, to make you feel respected?”
He relaxed, but just barely. Finally he said, “It’s hard to say what ‘respect’ looks like — but I know right away when it’s not there.” He went on to talk about work, and in particular about a phone exchange he’d had recently, in which the other person became critical and abusive — even though the problem wasn’t entirely my husband’s fault. No sooner had he hung up, another customer called and took the opposite approach. “He had such humor and was so good-natured, it changed my mood right away!”
In the Gospel of Matthew (7:12) and again in Luke (6:31), Jesus gives his followers the principle of ethical reciprocity that has been called the “Golden Rule”: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
This principle of ethical reciprocity is lived out in a special way within the marriage relationship. It keeps the nag bugs and unsightly inconsiderations from taking root and becoming ingrained habits.
But between you and me, I’d like to offer a more personal take on the subject: When the one we love is being disrespected at work or in other areas of his life, he rebounds much more quickly if he feels like his home is his castle — that, whatever else is going on in his life, his wife and children are his greatest fans. When he’s feeling down, he doesn’t need us to tell him how he “should” deal with the inconsiderate idiots at work. What he needs is a gentle reminder that there is always one place in this world where he is loved and respected.
Today’s challenge: Make a “love bank.” Do you have a tendency to nag or engage in other behaviors that could have a deflating effect on your husband’s ego? Choose a pretty piece of china — perhaps an unused sugar bowl — and place it in a conspicuous location. Each time you refrain from that habit — choosing encouragement over criticism, or a kindness over irritation — stick a quarter in your bank. When you have $20.00 saved up, splurge on a couple of nice steaks and a bottle of wine, and have a real date … at home!
Today’s prayer: Help me to love my sweetheart in the language he understands best. Show me how to show this man I love and respect … exactly how much I love and respect him! Amen.