Men are from Mars and women are from Venus; one book put it that way.
Yet it seems that two people cohabiting together as a married couple will need more from each other than the acceptance that they are completely different. Too often we get stuck in stereotyping men and women. We can no sooner categorise either before we run into the roadblock of ignorance.
Women may wish to be loved and men may wish to be respected, but don’t these two outcomes of God’s grace through us run together? Surely the woman wants to be respected as much as she is loved, and the man needs to be loved as much as is respected.
I wonder if it is even discernible whether men need to be respected more than loved, or women need to be loved more than respected. I think it is a moot point.
Sometimes we try to make too much of the biblical mandate.
There is much that can be made of Ephesians 5:21-33, and Paul does write in terms of husbands loving their wives and wives respecting their husbands. And maybe it can be said that when a husband loves his wife he respects her and when a wife respects her husband she loves him.
Rather than stop at one, we could go into both virtue and make the most of both of them for our partners.
Growing Both Love and Respect
When we imagine ourselves as able to love unconditionally and have such respect we reveal the true virtue of humility — where pride is nullified and we don’t respond in a hurt way by things that might otherwise hurt us — we offer a lot of safety and dependability to our partners. Maturity begets grace as grace begets maturity. This surely applies to both men and women.
Surely it is also God’s will that we work on both love and respect, treating those of the opposite gender more as partners in humanity, rather than Mars or Venus foes that cannot be understood.
As men and women we have more in common than what we think. We can still appreciate our differences as we celebrate our similarities. It’s best we all invest in both love and respect.
The routine withholding of love and respect in marital relationships can spell the death knell of a union. Conversely, when both partners resolve to love and respect the other because they want the best for them, marriages can soar to previously unknown heights of mutual satisfaction.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.