This is the first time in a REALLY long time that I’ve been inspired to write more than once a day. I’ll take it while it’s here.
Despite the fact that the new year is still a few days away, as I was writing my plans down this afternoon, I got terribly excited about them. Again, working on that enthusiasm, I hit the treadmill in the gym and read through the first couple of chapters of For Women Only. I’ve read a portion of this particular book before, but never finished it [as is the case with three out of the four books on my January list, as well as most of the books on my bookshelf].
Quick synopsis: For Women Only is a short book on the inner lives of men, based on professional research surveys conducted by the author, Shaunti Feldhahn. It’s kind of a men-for-dummies situation, and it has the potential to provoke several lightbulb moments for the average woman. Because let’s face it…living with a man and loving him till-death-do-us-part doesn’t go too far in regards to helping us understand how his brain works and what exactly it is that he needs from us. I highly recommend this book for any woman who has at any point crossed paths with a man.
After an introduction to the book in chapter one, the second and third chapters discuss two of a male’s greatest needs: respect and affirmation.
Respect is a hot-button word in our culture. We all know how to say it, and we do so frequently…but in general, we’re hard-pressed to communicate what respect actually is, or how it plays out in real life. We’re trained to respect people who have done something to earn our respect; conversely, I suppose it’s okay [by our culture’s standards] to disrespect anyone we deem unworthy of it. Which doesn’t seem to be a Christlike way to conduct ourselves, but I have to be honest enough to admit that I find myself doing it on a daily basis. Someone I don’t much care for at work has an off day, or gets in trouble with the boss, or blinks at me wrong, and I race off to my closest girlfriends at the school to tell them every detail, frequently with more color than the initial offense called for. One of my students speaks to me in an unsavory tone or with inappropriate words and I, forgetting that I’m the adult in the situation, run off at the mouth with every condescending bit of sarcasm I can carefully construct within the moment to ensure that I put them in their place without putting my job on the line. And those are only two of the ways I show disrespect on a fairly daily basis.
Respect is a BIG deal. To everyone. But most especially, to men. And MY respect is a big deal, most especially, to my husband. And I forget that. I forget that there’s a thin line between teasing and disrespect. I forget that even if my words aren’t, my tone can speak volumes upon volumes of disrespect to him. I forget that every word I choose to say to or about him in a public forum is LOADED. Sometimes I get pretty self-righteous, because I have some girl friends who badmouth their significant others in public on a regular basis, right in front of them. And I’m pretty quick to get up on my high horse about that. Until I remember that, while I am careful to not be disrespectful to Josh, another important element is in my conscious choice to not only not be disrespectful, but to BE respectful. To build him up and encourage him, both in private and in public. To tell him all the ways I’m proud of him and proud to call him mine. Sometimes I think it’s enough to not be disrespectful, but what I’m learning is that that in and of itself isn’t a sign of respect; it’s a sign of neutrality. That I think he’s okay. My love needs to know, from my words and actions, that I think he’s FAR beyond okay as a husband and a provider and a future father and a person.
Which is where the next word comes in: affirmation.