You’ve likely already discovered this, but underneath the bravado and rough exteriors, we’re still six-year-old boys trying to obtain the approval of our mothers. We want to do pushups and hear how strong we are. We live for that type of affirmation. Whether we admit it or not, that’s a big part of what gets us out of bed in the morning.
I’m not going to make too many friends among my fellow men for admitting that, but I’m willing to take one for the team. The reason I’m talking about this is simple: I’m convinced that this is the most effective and practical piece of knowledge a wife can use to strengthen her marriage. It should be part of the wedding vows. It’s the Holy Grail of marriage advice.
And most women have never heard it.
I was driving to the office yesterday while listening to a podcast by Andy Andrews, the bestselling author of The Traveler’s Gift. He was addressing some of the recent scandals involving men in power who threw their lives away by having affairs; men like General David Petraeus and Senator John Edwards. Unfortunately, we can be sure that another scandal or two like these will come to light soon. They seem to be happening with increasing regularity.
As I was driving and listening I heard Andy say something that stuck with me: “Women feel respected when they are loved, but men feel loved when they are respected.” (Go back and read that again, please.)
I’ve heard that before, but not in such a succinct and powerful manner. I remember hearing youth ministry leader, Jim Burns, say it a little differently twelve years ago. He talked about how every man still longs to flex his arm in front of his mother and say, “Feel my muscles!” Every man desires to feel his mother’s hand squeeze his biceps, and hear her say “You’re so strong!”
So with that backdrop, let me ask you a question: Have you ever wondered what makes a man throw away everything important to him to have an affair? His marriage; his career; his children; his reputation; his influence; his soul; all for sex?
Think about General Petraeus. Many pundits had him on a short list of future presidential candidates. He’d been successful under both Republican and Democratic administrations. He had the respect of political leaders worldwide. Congress respected him. The American people stood in awe of him. And he threw it all away for an affair with his publicist.
What about Senator John Edwards? His wife was fighting for her life as she battled cancer. He had been the Vice Presidential nominee of the Democratic party. He had everything to lose, and little to gain. And he blew it.
Here’s the hard part, ladies. The longer we’re married to you, the more you know about us. You see us in our underwear. You know our disgusting habits. You see us blow our tops over stupid things. The knight in shining armor that we were when we married you has fallen off of his horse. You see us for who we really are. And that’s a good thing.
But that doesn’t change the reality that as your husbands, we long for you to see us as Sir Lancelot, sitting regally upon his steed, sword in hand. We know that’s not who we are, but that’s who we want to be. And that’s how we desperately need you to see us. And when you don’t, the stage is set for us to be the idiots that we too often are.
In that same podcast, Andy Andrews put it this way. “Ladies, if you don’t treat your husband with respect, you’re essentially handing them the keys to a hotel room.” Think about it. These men were respected greatly by the outside world. There’s no way that their wives had the same perception of them that the rest of the world did. They couldn’t have.
But the women these men cheated with did. And men crave that respect; if they don’t get it from the most critical and important relationship in their lives, it can open the door for someone else to provide it.
Please don’t get me wrong. Men are responsible for their actions. What I’ve shared with you isn’t an excuse for the stupidity and lack of integrity that men demonstrate when they cheat.
Still, it would change many marriages if wives would notice the little moments when their husbands metaphorically say “Feel my muscles!” We long so much for you to grab ahold of our scrawny little arms and say, “You’re so strong!”
P.S. Oh, and guys… don’t be too rough on me. You’ll thank me later.