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Regaining Your Wife's Respect

The following is a comment I received today in reply to my 3 Ways to Get Your Wife's Respect post on October 18, 2011. It is a classic situation, and I suspect the answer may help more than Drew, who left the comment.

I made several mistakes during a one year period over seven years ago. Since I have been a model man and model father, she even gets ro stay home if she chooses. Now, after 7+ years I find out that she has NO respect for me and stated to a mutual friend that she will never respect me or feel strongly for me again. Btw, I DIDN'T cheat. I had a drug problem and was dishonest about it. I had an 'email fling' during that period too. What do I do? It's been 10 years and two kids later.... Thanks

She's still with you, Drew, so I am pretty sure she does not view respect the way you do. This puts you at a bit of a disadvantage in trying to regain her respect. You can't guess what will win it. Let's see if I can help.

Being a model man and a model father is not enough, even though it's quite a lot and you should be proud of yourself for this.

She may believe she won't feel strongly for you again, but I'm sure you have seen all the comments in this blog from people who have been utterly surprised to learn how strongly they feel when they thought they did not. Don't take her word for this. She has no way of knowing.

Since you are still together and you have kids who would benefit enormously from it, why not prove her wrong?

Start by looking for the respect she can't see. Check my March 7th post, One More Ray. Every day, see if you can find one more ray of respect than you noticed the day before, and thank her for it. At breakfast, notice if she trusts you enough to share the table with you. That is respect. She won't call it respect, and you probably should not give it this label, because she's still protecting her heart from the risk of respecting you, but it is respect. Let her know you enjoy being able to have breakfast together. Tomorrow, you can notice she does the same thing at dinner.

If you pick up the kids from school the next day, you can notice that she trusts you to care for "her" children. Ever notice how many divorced women don't? Don't point out the respect, but do let her know how glad you are that both of you are involved in the kids' daily lives.

On another day, if she asks you to do something for her and doesn't tell you exactly how to do it or imply you're not likely to actually do it, notice the ray of respect for your intentions and abilities. Tell her, "It's my pleasure. Thanks for asking the way you do. It's nice."

If you make dinner and she shows up for it on time, you can count this as the new ray for another day. Say, "I'm so glad you're here. You're just in time for a great dinner."

If she asks you for advice on anything, chalk up another ray of respect. Nobody asks for advice without respecting the expertise or experience of the person they ask. Tell her, "It makes me feel great to be asked."

Will she share a bed with you? Let you drive? Put her money in a joint bank account? Accept your hugs? Tell the kids to do as you say? All are rays of respect.

Look for a new ray of respect every day and appreciate her for it. She won't see any of it as respect. To her, it's what nice people do. The other thing nice people do is appreciate the efforts of nice people, and you will be doing this at least once a day. This she will notice. You can keep to yourself what you are noticing, which is that, no matter what she says, she actually does respect you.

To women's way of thinking (and it's all in our hormones, nothing much we can do about the difference except respect it and deal with it), nice people earn our respect. Hurtful people don't deserve it. You hurt her, and the things you've been doing to prove your are worthy of her respect, nice as they are, don't relieve her pain, so she's not ready yet to consciously extend you any respect.

If you have figured out her love language, and it's something other than words of affirmation, say an extra thank you in her love language whenever you can. If you are not familiar with love languages, pick up Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages: Men's Edition from your favorite bookseller or library. The more loved she feels, the more respect she will be capable of.

Keep adding a ray a day to the respect you notice and acknowledge each one. If she does something that feels disrespectful, see it as a shadow among all the rays of light, so that you don't feel the urge to cut off your kind acknowledgements of all that is good about your relationship. If you feel really unappreciated and out in the cold, quietly skip a day and look for another ray tomorrow.

We women do not understand respect the way you men do. The word has very different meanings for us. We can say we have no respect for you and still proudly wear our wedding band, share a home with you, tell our kids what a great guy you are. If you listen to our words instead of watching our actions, you'll miss out on a lot of what we have to offer. If you pick which things we should respect you for instead of paying attention to what we choose to respect, you'll miss out on a lot, too.

Drew, will you let us know after a couple of weeks how you did with the One More Ray exercise and what effect it has? I would really appreciate it.

Comments

Great insight and feedback.
From a guy's point of view who has failed as much as He's succeeded in this arena, the self-hate that goes along with dissappointing the female in your life and therefore playing into the respect catch 22 is a significant thing. It might be a good third alternative to also view her physical presence and such things as Patty has pointed out as encouragements to give up any submerged self- negativity and pity, and respect yourself. You have mine believe me , for your fatherhood, recovery from drugs which can be a deal breaker and for making it possible for another stay at home mom to be there.

Jon Eric, thank you so much for your supportive words for Drew.

Patty, when are you going to compile these blog entries into a book? I would buy several - one for myself and some to give as gifts.

Hmmmm...

Drew,

You DID cheat on your wife. The fact that you don't see "email fling" as cheating means nothing. Your wife may see it as cheating, and it's her opinion that counts. Love is an emotion and tied to action. Your actions speak louder than words. Your actions by choosing to have "an email affair" is the same as cheating. You cheated your wife out of your full emotions, heart, and actions.

It really worked
And I there will be many more
But still very effective

Thanks guys! I had no idea that my post was answered! That bein said, yes my emotion fling via email WAS cheating! I was wrong. Since my post however she has done this same thing with two men via text and Skype and now, almost a year after is so secretive over her phone that I now believe it is happening again. I'm having hell focusing at work and she now says 'we are gonna pretend to date and sleep in separate rooms unless its a special occasion'. This I thought was a nice little experiment but now is backfiring. She is up on voxer text phone email Facebook all night and I have no trust for her. I am lost once again.

Drew.

Drew, I am so sorry that you did not get my email in March when this post first went up. It sounds like things are pretty tense now.

Some resources I can suggest: Emerson Eggerichs' book, Love & Respect; Pat Love and Steven Stosny's book, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It; the wonderfully helpful website for any couple dealing with cheating, www.DearPeggy.com; and my replies to a number of comments on One Last Stand Before Divorce.

Thank you for this blog, can you help me? I turn 40 next month and I've been with the same woman since I was 21, she is 5 years older than me and when we 1st got together she had her doubts if I was ready and experienced enough for her. Of course I felt that I was but as we grew I realized I had so much to learn about being married, controlling my emotions and being there for her. I started out making baths with rose pedals, cooking dinner, body messages and telling her I love her daily and embrassing her son like he was mine. We both had our share of personal issues that affected our relationship negatively. She had issues with her father (without going into details) and prior boyfriends who were abusive. I had my share of issues growing up aswell....I began to feel like all the love I was giving was one sided and that she was using me to lift her up and wasn't returning the love. In my 20's I worked numerous jobs to keep is afloat, she would work a job maybe a few weeks or months out of the year then either quite or get fired. She later told me that she expected me to be the provider while I was under the assumption that until I'm able to fully provide financially that she was my helpmate. We began having children and things looked up for a minute. I got into realestate and made a little money. I was able to buy us a decent home, car etc. but still she was mostly unhappy. I began chasing money because I thought that would solve our problems but the more I chased it seemed the faster it ran...lol. In my 30's I felt so wore out with our relationship and beat up by the negative comments I would hear from her about the amount of money I was making, when I asked her to help me with real estate, her reply was that it was my dream not hers although I did it to make money...by the time I was 35, we were pregnant with our 4th child but still not solid as a couple. While working on a movie set, I bumped into a young lady who had showed me attention back in my 20's and she was so excited to see me, she was interested in my music and barbering (my real passions) and she seemed very interested in me during a time that I felt my wife could care less. My wife used to always tell me "you need another wife" and a lot of other comments that left me confused and wondering if she really loved me the way I loved her. Well, one thing les to another and I cheated on my wife with this woman. It was 1 time, I wore protection and honestly I wasn't able to perform so we just stopped and decided this wasn't what we should be doing. We decided to just be friends and talk every now and then but we never attempted to be sexual again. She would bring me lunch to my job at the time which was at a recording studio and call me periodically just to check on me which made me feel great because my wife wasn't doing those things. Approx. 5mths later my wife claimed she had a std and me being what I can only describe at this point as "stupid" suggested that me touching her with dirty hands could've been the reason because I knew I hadn't been with anyone else recently and when I was I used protection plus I couldn't perform so we stopped without finishing...I eventually came clean about my affair and things spiraled all the way out of control. She started doing things that made me think that she was having a nervouse breakdown. She even told me that she forgave me and understood why I did what I did. She took a lot of the blame for treating me very disrespectfully at times and telling others out business. I thought that things would get better because she said she understood but she went up and down dramatically with her emotions. Approx. a year after the affair she said she wanted a divorce. Since we were married at our Muslim temple and not by the state we were granted our divorce and I moved out. We were apart for 1 year and she treated me like her enemy and I was sick. I lost crazy weight and thought I was gonna die and she wasn't doing to great either. During that year she rarely let me talk to or see my children, she never talked to me, she filed for child support out of spite, and told people lies about me. Towards the end of that year she eventually started talking to me and letting my children come over etc. her heat was off so I told her to come stay with me until things got better. She and my children stayed for just a few days but during that stay I realized how much I needed them and they needed me. I eventually asked her to take me back. After a few weeks she agreed. I moved back in with the intentions of never failing my family again and showing her I'm a different person. I thought spending money was the answer so I bought new kitchen appliances, furniture etc. by this time I was self employed as a music producer and I had a decent year selling music. I was hurt on my 9-5 before we got divorced and was unable to get a good job with a decent wage that didn't involve me lifting a lot and I wasn't able to...presently, I'm back going on 4 years and we still have a lot if ups and downs. I went to hair school and I'm now a hairstylist and record producer. She recently finished a class and started her internship at a local hospital. I thought that although things aren't perfect, they were moving in the right direction. We talk to each other with respect, we help each other spiritually and emotionally and we were able to talk about a lot of the baggage that had followed us up to this point. She contacted child support to waive and get it suspended and we are overall better people than we were. While she was in school we were not having sex as often as we did before she started and I understood. She had a period of 2 days after she took her final and started her internship. That was a day when we both were home alone. The kids we in school and I didn't have to work until that afternoon. When I approached her about being intimate she said she was done and wanted to dissolve our relationship. I was floored because I thought things were getting better. She immediately got cold and barely spoke to me for about 2 days. A few nights ago I was up and couldn't sleep and I stumbled onto your website. I read about the rays of love and a lot if the different post you put up and it dawned on me that after all this time I don't think I ever truly loved her properly. I got caught up in thinking it was about having enough money and not the thoughtful caring things I did in the beginning. I woke up that next morning energized and ready to show her just how much I love and need her in my life. I told myself that no matter how she acts I'm gonna give love and it seemed to work like a charm. I got her cards to celebrate he acing her finals, cooked dinner etc. and constantly told her I love her. She even came up to my job glowing just to see me which is something she never does, i think i made a mistake by kissing her on the elevator while walking her back to her car because later that night she was back cold and told me shes made up her mind and ahe doesnt want to lead me on. I told myself I'm gonna strive to be her friend and not even try to have sex with her. I have issues with my drivers license so this weekend I need her to drive me out of town for a dj'ing gig that we talked about months ago. It's at a nice hotel and my plan is to try and romance her and continue showing her love. In the back of my mind I feel like its too late because she sleeps on the couch and seems cold when I talk to her but she still asks me to ride with her places and when we do, we talk and laugh etc. I'm confused and I think I should be so much further than this at my age. I don't want to make it sound as if its all bad because its not, we've had great times together. She told me she was bored about a month ago and I know we don't do alot together because of finances and our children but I hope that this weekend is a start...

Zak, I am late in replying to comments and wondering how your weekend went.

If I had been able to reply sooner, I would have suggested you do all the wonderful things you have planned but leave it to her to initiate sex or not, so she felt she could accept your gifts and return the favor in her own way, not feeling obligated to grant your request. I think you are on the right track, getting past the money and child-rearing issues to treat her as your woman again. I also like that you are going after your own dreams, allowing you to find your own happiness, instead of asking her to boost you up by appreciating your money-making efforts.

Have you two discussed sex candidly? You mention you were married and divorced in Islam. As I understand your religion, you cannot remarry her or have sex with her after divorcing her unless she has taken another husband between your marriages. Is she in an awkward position religiously, glad to have you back in her life but unable to resume sexual relations with you without guilt?

I wrote a year ago about a Sunni woman who teaches an Islamic marriage course and has written a book on marriage for Muslims. While I have no way of judging her religious knowledge, I found myself agreeing with many of her views about marriage. Her name is Ustadha Hedaya Hartford. The blog post is at http://www.assumelove.com/2012/10/god_and_your_marriage.html, and her latest telecourse began today.

Why the pardon French should I be required to grovel for my wife's respect? I do not care what respect and common decency means to women as opposed to men. Why the hell should her version always hold priority? If my wife will not show an ounce of understanding, fairness or partnership then why is it MY responsibility to do everything she wants to win her favor? My wife has severe control issues that I cannot accept and on top of that points out all the better men she thinks I need to emulate. I could do the same if she didn't accept everyone's point of view except mine. I'm literally at my wit's end and I cannot live someone else's vision, dream, philosophy, etc. and constantly be stifled in every conversation in and outside the presence of company. I'm not the divorcing type but I'm sick of being unhappy and painfully regret donating the best years of my life to appease another's ego.

Nathan, I had to re-read my blog post after seeing your comment. I definitely do not suggest you grovel or do everything your wife wants. I don't believe either of those would help one bit. Check out my posts on Finding the Third Alternative for how I handle disagreements. I really, really dislike giving in or even compromising. If the outcome's not good for both the goose and the gander, it's not good for the marriage.

It's not your responsibility to change your marriage. It's your opportunity. And I know that's really aggravating news. It was for me, so I stood my ground and made myself an awful marriage, always thinking my husband was the one at fault. He unexpectedly died at 35, and the difficulties I had been blaming him for did not go away.

It is always the one who is hurting who leads the move to something mutually satisfying, because the spouse who benefits from the status quo isn't going to do it. And what you're living with now stinks. You'll lead the move and rediscover the woman you fell in love with, or you won't and you'll leave when your resentment gets big enough to forget that woman.

There is no way to stop your wife's control issues by controlling her. The way to do it is by finding another way, a healthier way, to give her the security she's desperately grasping for when she tries to control your relationship, so she doesn't panic every time you try to be you. Marriage therapists, especially Imago therapists, are pretty good at helping with this.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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