I started off writing an entry on general human irrationality but one Guy up there somehow wanted me to write about this instead.
Well, here goes nothing.
I usually shy away from writing things where I feel vulnerable or at a disadvantage but I’m going out on a limb here and actually give it a try.
I’ve been reading a lot lately and one of the books I’ve stumbled upon is Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ “Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs” which basically deals with marriage but more importantly, the differences between men and women and why they are not able to get along.
The title itself will tell you that men and women want different things. Men want respect, while women want love. I’m not saying that men do not desire to be loved nor women want to be respected but it’s just that men value respect more than love while women has love further on top of their list.
Eggerich argues that most men will only give women all the love they deserve once they get the respect they think they deserve. On the other hand, women are only willing to show men respect once they feel the love they’ve been longing. Seems easy enough, right? Except both men and women are humans and definitely not Econs.
Econs, as described by Richard Thaler in his book “Nudge,” are perfectly rational, self-interested (but mythical) economic beings (homo economucus). Humans, on the other hand, are fallible and flawed — and in a great way. Both men and women have that thing we call “pride.”
Neither will be willing to give in before the other one does and the only way to win the game is to detach pride and just play your part as a loving or respectable spouse. A good way is to go back to your wedding day and recall all the vows you made to each other. I’m sure you’re not inclined to just eat your words, right?
Now, listen. I’ve tried this. Again and again. Most of the time, my wife responds exactly how the book says she’ll do — in a positive manner, if it wasn’t that obvious — but there will be times that she won’t. There will be times where you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot as you make the first step.
Again, humans are irrational and they long for validation. They want to make sure that their point is taken and taken well. So don’t worry if your wife goes the “I told you so” path. This will happen more than often and when it does, you just need to back down and let her be. Don’t, even for a second, think about — or even consider — sarcasm at this point or, I will bet you my left arm, it will go downhill from thereon. Women want to be loved, plain and simple.
The problem that men (or I, specifically) have is that we love to get technical on things — too technical, if I may. We love confirming Newton’s third law of motion too much. We need to care less about who was wrong or who slipped up and start worrying about how to fix it.
Whenever you and your wife are emotionally disconnected because of something you did, say “I’m sorry” and be specific in explaining what you’re sorry about. Also, when you finally pull your head out of your ass and say sorry, make sure you mean it. While you’re at it, ask for her forgiveness right then and there.
Interestingly, you don’t get a “happily ever after” result every single time. Sometimes, even if you do all the things mentioned above, your spouse will have her ears closed (maybe because you’re saying sorry for tenth time for the same exact reason) or simply because of pride — as mentioned above.
If you meant what you said and your partner still condemns you, you have the right to say that you feel disrespected. And to be able to resonate with women reading this, that’s the equivalent of your husbands telling you that they don’t love you.
Let’s make it simple. When a woman disrespects or shows lack of respect to her partner, her partner takes it as her telling him that she doesn’t love him. The same thing happens when a man is unloving to his wife. It simply translates to him telling her that he doesn’t respect her.
It’s not an easy game to play. As the old adage goes “Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus.” The book has its own version saying men wear sunglasses with blue lenses while women has theirs with pink lenses. This is especially true whenever something’s wrong between me and my wife. I always love to rush to the rescue, to be the first one at the scene, aiming to fix whatever’s wrong with everything that I have.
Seems rational? Well, to a man, it is. But to a woman, it’s plain irritating. When it comes to women, there’s no need to rush out and fix things right then and there. Most of the time, they just want someone to listen to them — to make them feel loved.
This is exactly the reason why whenever me and my wife have problems, I see her texting her friends — completely disconnected — while I blurt out more nonsense — complete with flailing arm gestures — that even I, myself, fail to understand at times.
As an aside to the wives, have you ever wondered why husbands go off to their friends or spend inexplicable amount of hours at work when there’s something wrong in your relationship? When they feel disrespected, they choose to retreat to places where they can have their “respect jars” filled in.
I love my wife and I’m sure every husband out there love theirs as well. We just need to be better in handling this handicap presented to us. Reading the bible, I learned that God intended for some conflict to exist in a marriage. Corinthians 7:28 clearly lays this out saying “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life..”
This is very calming for at least I know it’s not only us who are going through these phases in our marriage. My advise to every couple out there is very simple. I go a couple of paragraphs back and tell you, men first, that all you need to do is love your wives, period. Women, all you need to do is respect your husbands, period.
There’s a clause right after and it is just as important: it should be taken into consideration that both are done unconditionally. If this formula doesn’t work, please do tell me and I will immediately take this entry down from my blog.
Now, I know there will be times where you and I will fail and disappoint her and vice versa. But at least now we have a better understanding and can admit that we are all mightily flawed and that at the end of the day, we’re just longing to be loved and respected.
This, as a matter of fact, is a command by God. Ephisians 5:33 says “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” So let’s do away with being self-serving and instead be of service to our partners in life. Let’s make sure we try to see how the world is through their lenses.
Sure enough, with a little conflict or two, we will come out having a stronger and spiritually-rooted relationship with one another. Forget about the saying “treat others the way you want to be treated” as it somehow doesn’t apply to marriage.
I hope you were able to learn a thing or two from reading a couple thousand words I virtually blurted out this morning after getting to the office 2 hours early with a book and a faulty internet connection. If you know me personally, I can let you borrow the book — but not before I force my lovely wife to read it.
Now, where do I go to buy a pair of pink lenses?