Several years ago Mel Gibson starred in a movie entitled "What Women Want." In this whimsical comedy, by way of a quirky accident, Gibson suddenly is able to read the thoughts of women and therefore, detect what they really want. The movie was funny -- at times -- but made a point I believe strikes home. The male/female differences are so huge that it takes much focus and commitment to come to an understanding.
Our church sponsors Dr. Emerson Eggerich's compelling Love and Respect series twice a year for couples. It's one of the most practical courses in marriage we've ever been through. His entire premise addresses these two issues. Women need/want love; men need/want respect. And if they do not receive it from their spouse, as Dr. Eggerich puts it, "It's like one's air hose is being stepped on."
It's right there in Ephesians 5:33: "Let each man of you (without exception) love his wife as being in a sense his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband." The conundrum, of course, is how to do that. In a very real sense each partner is trying to understand the other who is speaking a foreign language. We need to learn to interpret what our spouse needs.
When a woman feels unloved, she shuts down. When a man feels disrespected, he becomes angry. And the walls begin to rise between the two mates. These walls can grow for years until "suddenly" one mate (usually the woman) declares, "I'm not happy," and she takes off for the divorce lawyer, leaving a stunned husband behind. In the United States, over two-third of divorces are officially initiated by women. (Brian Wilcox, Christianity Today, 11/13/2006).
"Love and Respect" -- those are the genuine needs of our spouses. Ask your husband this week ... Do you feel respected by me? or Ask your wife ... Do you feel genuinely loved? Listen intently to the answer. It may save your marriage.