I vowed to “Respect” in my wedding vows. My husband vowed to “Cherish”. We went with those traditional vows. We actually fought to keep them more traditional. That was nearly 27 years ago. Perhaps God saw the people we would become and tried to assist us by making us promise! Back then it didn’t seem like any big deal to either of us. It was just who we were. It also was important. Not as important as it would become, as we became more strong willed or stubborn, if you will, after nearly 27 years.
People in general, tend to try and show our love and affection for each other in our own love language. The five love languages being Affection, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. That last one is not the same for men as it is for women, so it is misleading. Then my husband and I went and put that last one in our vows and promised to do so! Both my husband and I have different love languages. I know, that’s shocking, right! He likes quality time. I like acts of service. Those can be directly opposing. It’s hard to do something for someone if you are just sitting there spending time with them. My little A.D.D. brain feels like I am monopolizing the quality time, which I probably am. Then I want to show him that I love him by running off and doing something for him; MY love language. Then I get hurt when he doesn’t reciprocate. He got hurt because I left while we were having quality time. You see how this works.
God tried to help. Both of us have a second love language of Words of Affirmation. Here is where there’s a wrench in the system. No one told me that the expression of love that men need is different from that expression needed by women. I’m a slow learner. How you show Words of Affirmation to a man is different from how you show Words of Affirmation to a woman. For years my husband would complain that I didn’t respect him. I didn’t understand. There it was in our vows all along. God tried to help me. I just wasn’t paying attention. Neither was my husband because that whole cherish thing had been borderline at times too. Not paying attention, that’s normal for me, but a little surprising for my husband. He usually misses nothing!
Here is my new truth. I wish I had learned this years ago. Men need words of affirmation that include respect. Ephesians 5:33 says “let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Telling a man that you love him, cherish him or adore him is like the wind. He doesn’t hear it. He thinks, “Of course you do we are married!” What he needs to hear is words of respect. Those words he craves and his soul needs for growth and strength. Instead tell your husband, “I’m proud of you.” “I admire that.” “I respect that.” “Thank you.” Also you should throw in those occasional “You’re hot” (especially after all these years, he needs to know he’s still hot) and “What a stud muffin you are.” Those are the language that men, my husband included, craves. He wants me to see his accomplishments and to be proud and grateful for all his efforts.
I said I would in our vows 27 years ago. He needs that to be his full self as God created him to be.
Here is the rub, to support him fully, I need him to cherish me like I am fine china, beautiful but fragile. It’s hard sometimes to be respectful and admiring when I have been treated like paper plates or everyday wear that’s chipped and stained. When he starts noticing my appearance and not my heart or who I am inside then I get chipped a little more, because I am fragile. I am just like fine china, I chip and crack easily. Those chips and cracks do not repair well, it may take years to heal.
But when he does treat me like fine china and care for me, then it is easy to respect and natural to reciprocate. What a terrible Catch-22. When we are careful to go back to our vows, others outside of our marriage always notice how well we are getting along. It only took me 25 years or so to figure it out! I’m a slow learner. I can still be stubborn. If you haven’t been told the secret, I hope I saved you 25 years!
Guys if you want her to care about her appearance, cherish her. Cherish the person she is inside. Love her with all that you have like she is fine china, fragile and precious. She will respond and before you know it, you really won’t care about the outside, but maybe she will. 1 Peter 3:3 says “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by submitting to their own husbands.”
Girls respect him, even if sometimes he doesn’t earn it. God told you to do so. He will become the leader of your home that you are looking for. Even if that isn’t his love language, he still needs those words of affirmation as well. His soul needs it.
It’s just a truth, like women all need to be cherished. Marriage makes us stronger, better when done the way God intended. That’s why we say vows before Him. That’s why we ask Him for his blessing on our union.
By Vicki L. Pugliese
Media by @agphotographysd