Since keeping my marriage strong this postpartum period is part of my three-pronged approach to PPD prevention, I’ve been doing a lot of “homework” on marriage lately, particularly on gender differences. I think the world’s view of gender differences has seeped into the church recently, because I am very guilty of thinking that males and females really aren’t all that different. But they are. Are they ever! And purposefully so; after all, God designed it that way.
In particular, I have been researching respect, because I have repeatedly come across the idea that women desire love, whereas men desire respect. I confess I have no idea what respect really looks like. I can more easily identify disrespect, but what does active respect look like?
Emerson Eggerichs, the author of Love and Respect, defines it thoroughly in his book, but I boiled it down to some basic thoughts. Respect = Communicating adoration, admiration, and appreciation, with no hint of contempt or looking down on him.
For some reason, the word contempt hit me like a punch to the gut. Not even a hint of contempt. Do I feel contempt for Chris? No, never! But the question is, am I communicating even a hint of contempt? To phrase it differently, do my actions, facials expressions, and tone of voice say to him, “I love you, but I sure don’t like you very much right now”?
Similarly, in Shaunti Feldhahn’s Fantastic Five, the number one thing that deeply pleased the highest number of men in the survey (even more than sex!) was simply that his wife made it clear that he makes her happy.
Now, I like Chris. A lot. And he makes me happy. Very happy! But do my words and actions communicate that to him? Is anyone else feeling sick to your stomach right now? I know I was when I first asked myself these tough questions.
So in addition to expressing appreciation through the Thank You challenge, I also decided to actively convey how much I like Chris and how happy he makes me. Thankfully, this is an extremely easy thing to do. How?
Say things like, “I’m so glad you’re home,” and greet him with a genuine smile, hug, and a kiss. (This is not to be confused with, “Oh, thank God you’re home. Here, take this screaming baby while I go hide in the bathroom and drink this glass bottle of wine.” Or maybe that’s just me…)
I think it’s even okay to flat out say, “I like you.” When we are laughing about something and let out that contented sigh that usually follows, I wrap that up by tagging an “I like you” on the end of it, or “I’m so glad to be with you.” My favorite thing is to wrap my arms around his strong neck and tell him, “You make me so happy. I’m so proud to be your wife.”
And just like the Thank You challenge, the more I look for and communicate to him the things that make me happy and the things I like about him, I find myself feeling even happier to be with him. In fact, I feel like a giddy little college sophomore falling in love for the first time, all over again.
Do you like your honey? Do your marriage a favor. Let him know.