Do you really believe that a man’s primary need is respect?  Even over love, the forefront female concern?  I know it may shock my female readers, but YES!

You may be thinking, “Isn’t the opposite true?  Don’t ladies need respect and guys need love?”  Of course women need respect and men need love, but we are talking about the primary drive of each gender.

I came across an interesting story that illustrates this truth.  Back in the 1960’s, when the feminist movement was hitting its stride, Aretha Franklin released a hit record entitled “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” which clearly sent the message that all women were asking for was a little respect when they got home.  Respect is what women needed, and they “had to have it.”  “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” became something of a theme song for women, but what most of them did not realize is that the song was really written by a MAN-Otis Redding-two years before Aretha ever sang it.  Otis release the song as a single on August 15, 1965, as his message to his wife.

Isn’t the irony of that story striking?  While Aretha was free to sing the song, the origin of the song is in the heart of a man.  Otis Redding’s song is a cry from a man’s deepest soul that says respect is what he needs and he’s “got to have it.”

May I give you a few implications:

1.  The way to fully love a husband is to respect him in ways that are meaningful to him.

Ladies, your husband is a unique individual.  Your man is not asking you to discard your loving and nurturing tendencies.  He just longs, whether he realizes fully or not, for you to tailor your affection into a less “pink” expression and more of a “blue” one.

2.  Respect is the key to motivating a husband.

Men are not saying that they are indifferent to love, but they need to feel respected even more than loved.  Take the analogy of water and food.  We need both to survive, but we can live longer without food than without water.  For men, love is like food and respect is like water.

3.  Wives must offer unconditional respect to their husbands.  (I am sure that one is hard to accept if your husband is anything like my wife’s husband.)

Women have no problem understanding the concept of unconditional love.  They get that.  Unconditional respect is much harder to accept.  Even men have a hard time with this concept.  In most marriages, both spouses tend to believe that respect is to be earned.  As one author put it, “When the wife flatly says her husband will have to earn her respect before she give him any, she leaves the husband in a lose-lose situation.  Now he’s responsible for both love and respect in the relationship.  He must unconditionally love his wife and he also must earn her respect.”

4.  Wives must learn to understand and use the word “respect” because it is man’s deepest value.

There was a national study recently done where four hundred men were asked to make a choice between two hurtful experiences:

a)  Be left alone and unloved in the World

b) Feel Inadequate and Disrespected by Everyone

Seventy-four percent of these men said that if they were forced to choose, they would prefer be alone than being disrespected.

When the man is treated as “first among equals,” the wife will be the princess or “first in importance” in the eyes of her godly husband.  It is not about pride for the husband who craves respect or selfishness on the part the wife who craves to be loved.  It is about being fully and distinctively the “male and female” that God created in Genesis 1:27.  Ladies, ultimately “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” is not about who your husband is or is not; it’s all about the “I AM” who rightly deserves and requires your marital respect.

Ep. 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Ep. 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Ep. 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

I am so thankful for my wife who “gets” why I want to be her hero.  I don’t have to cram in Clark Kent’s phone booth; I just go home to my wife who meets me with genuine admiration and encouragement!  For what it is worth, we believe the old adage “Every man does what he does for the admiration of ONE WOMAN.”  

(For a more detailed study on this subject, I would recommend reading Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs)