It’s often repeated, but I think this one is true.
Women need love; men need respect.
No one can deny that both men and women need love and respect. But there is a difference between the awesome design intrinsic to being a man, in contrast to the beautiful design intrinsic to being a woman.
At his core, a man has a basic need to be valued by being respected for who he is.
At her core, a woman has a basic need to be valued by being loved for who she is.
What a woman feels is her most basic and essential need is love—
What a man finds to be his most essential and basic need is respect—
Maybe love and respect are slightly different perspectives on the same thing. Isn’t love respect? Isn’t respect love?
Can you truly love without respecting? Can you truly respect without loving?
You may have noticed that there was a one-word difference in the list of qualities. I said men need supportive respect; women need protective love. Women need to be protected. Men need to be supported. Here is one place where the designed differences manifest differently.
A man and a woman in a marriage or in a relationship headed for marriage, complement each other.
When she supports him by respecting him, hoping all things for him, she is the missing element he needs to be a truly noble man. He can so much more easily lead when the one to whom he has been vulnerable shows confidence in him.
He values her mind and insight more than anyone in the world…she knows him better than anyone in the world…and she trusts in his judgment and decisions. That trust is powerful.
If he loves her, he protects her. Protectiveness is a beautiful and noble expression of love which does not depend upon the weakness of the protected. The impulse to protect is an expression of tender care. It is an expression of the high value placed upon its object.
Why do any of us need anything; why aren’t we self-contained?
An honest godly man knows he’s fallible. His default identification is self-doubt. That’s why he needs supportive respect from the person he trusts most. It’s objective confirmation that he is ready to lead; that he is a good leader.
We are designed with those lacks. We are made to need what our mate brings to the relationship. As human beings we need to need. It humbles us; it compels us to reach out to others and build deep relationships. It awakens us to our need for God.
And we are all fallible, not lovable, and we know it. We women doubt our value–we doubt our worthiness to be loved, until someone loves us in such a way that we believe it. A woman believes it because she has been vulnerable to him and he knows who she really is, and still loves her. He protects her not only physically; he places high value on her whole being.
Can a marriage survive without mutual respect? Can a marriage survive without mutual love?
As I have said in Submission is Good, the definition of survival is not the tenacious unwillingness to let the spouse go when you’re living in a train wreck. Unwillingness to divorce does not win the successful marriage prize.
What I mean by survival is thriving… both spouses benefitting each other, intentionally supporting and caring, cultivating and growing the relationship.
Have you ever seen a successful marriage with only one partner who loves? Or with only one partner who respects? I never have. A relationship thrives on mutual love and respect.