Dear Christian Woman,
You've probably been to a workshop or have read that in a relationship, women are looking for romance and intimacy, and men are looking for respect.
On behalf of the man in your life, I’d like to tell you just how important respect is to us.
From the situation comedies The Honeymooners in the 1950s to The King of Queens today, we men have been depicted as buffoons. That may make for funny television shows, but in real life, it hurts. We may do goofy or immature things, but we’re not clowns, and even though we may not show our feelings very often, we do have feelings.
Respect from you means everything to us. We’re struggling. We’re trying to live up to your high expectations for us, but it’s not easy. When you compare us to your friends’ husbands or boyfriends to point out our shortcomings, it makes us feel unappreciated. We can’t be someone else. We’re just trying, with God’s help, to live up to our own potential.
We don’t always get the respect we deserve on our job. When the boss really wants to come down on us, he or she treats us with disrespect. Sometimes it’s not overt, but we still get the message. We men identify so strongly with our jobs that a tough day can leave us feeling angry.
When we try to explain that to you, don’t downplay it by telling us we’re taking it too personally. One of the reasons we don’t share our feelings with you very often is that when we do, you may laugh at us or tell us we’re being silly. We don’t treat you that way when you’re upset. How about showing the Golden Rule toward us?
You want us to confide in you, yet you tell us something your friend told you about her husband. She shouldn't have told you in the first place. When you get together with your friends or sisters, don’t betray our confidence. When the other women are making fun of their husbands’ or male friends’ eccentricities, please don’t join in. We want you to be loyal to us. We want you to build us up. We want you to respect us.
We know that women mature faster than men, and we’re jealous of that. When we act immaturely—and we do pretty often—please don’t scold us, and please don’t laugh at us. Nothing damages a man’s self-confidence quicker than being laughed at. If you treat us with kindness and understanding, we will learn from your example.
We’re doing the best we can. When we men compare ourselves to Jesus and see how short we come up, it makes us feel very discouraged. We wish we were more patient and generous and compassionate, but we’re just not there yet, and our progress seems agonizingly slow.
For some of us, we can’t even measure up to our father. Maybe we can’t measure up to your father either, but we don’t need you reminding us of that. Believe me, we’re all too aware of our shortcomings.
We want a loving, fulfilling relationship as much as you do, but often we don’t know how to go about it. We know, too, that men are not as perceptive as women, so if you could gently lead us, that will help.
Lots of times we’re unsure of what you want. Our culture tells us men should be successful and wealthy, but for many of us, life hasn't worked out that way, and there are lots of days when we feel like a failure. We need your loving reassurance that those things aren't your priorities. We need you to tell us that it’s our heart that you want most, not a house full of material things.
More than anything else, we want you to be our best friend. We need to know that when we tell you something private, you won’t repeat it. We need you to sense our moods and be forgiving of them. We need you to laugh with us and genuinely enjoy our time together.
If there’s one thing we've learned from Jesus, it’s that mutual kindness is crucial to a good relationship. We want you to be proud of us. We desperately want you to admire us and look up to us. We’re trying hard to be the man you want us to be.
That’s what respect means to us. Can you give us that? If you can, we'll love you more than you ever could have imagined.
The Man in Your Life
More from Jack Zavada for Christian Men:
• Life's Toughest Decision
• Too Proud to Ask for Help
• Lessons from a Carpenter
• How to Survive a Power Failure
• Is Ambition Unbiblical?
• Can Christian Men Succeed in the Workplace?
Also from Jack Zavada:
• Loneliness: Toothache of the Soul
• The Christian Response to Disappointment
• Time to Take Out the Trash
• Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown
• A Message Meant for Only One Person
• Mathematical Proof of God?
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian Web site for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.