Women want love in their relationships, and men want respect, according to author Emerson Eggerichs in his book Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs.
Although I disagree with the author and believe that the desire to be respected by one's spouse is universal and crosses gender lines, there is something to be said about how respect affects men in particular. When this happens, men are left wondering what to do when they believe their wife does not respect them and have to deal with it on their own.
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Men React Differently to Feeling Disrespected in Marriage
For the purposes of this article, we will look at how respect—or, more accurately, disrespect—affects men in relationships. Respect, as previously stated, has an impact on both men and women in a marriage. However, the claim is that it affects them differently. To do so, we must first define what it means to be respectful.
Respect is defined as “admiration felt or shown for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities,” according to the Cambridge dictionary.
This is extremely important to feel from your spouse, and as previously stated, both men and women would want this from each other in their relationship. Men, on the other hand, react differently than women when they feel disrespected in their marriage and feel rejected.
Disrespect makes men feel rejected
One of the most common fears that men have in relationships is rejection. To avoid rejection, men will seek out easy sexual conquests, stay in dysfunctional relationships, keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves, and avoid relationships entirely.
Despite the fact that remaining single appears to reduce the risk of rejection, a study conducted by the University of Manchester discovered that remaining single only resulted in men feeling more lonely and more sensitive to rejection.
Is your wife untrustworthy, or do you have low self-esteem?
Unlike Emerson Eggerichs, men react to disrespect by feeling rejected; however, this does not imply that it is a wife's responsibility to show respect to her husband. Respect, after all, must be earned. If a man feels disrespected by his wife, it is more likely that he lacks respect for himself in the first place.
When I coach men who feel disrespected in their relationships, I frequently discover that they lack self-respect and struggle with low self-esteem. A lack of self-esteem and self-respect are the quickest ways to attract disrespect and rejection into your life, because we cannot expect others to respect or accept us if we do not respect or accept ourselves.
Men who have low self-esteem and self-respect set unrealistic and never-ending expectations in their relationships, often resulting in a reliance on their wife to validate them. This puts a lot of pressure on their wife to “lift them up,” or to make them feel good about themselves, through praise and encouragement.
As a result, it creates an imbalance in the marriage, leading to the wife harboring resentment toward her husband and eventually losing respect for him.
Low self-esteem causes marital discord, resentment, and disrespect.
We see this imbalance in marriages when one person “chases” after the other in search of attention, validation, approval, recognition, acceptance, and respect. Although these are valid needs in a relationship, with each partner freely meeting them, when one person “expects” these needs to be met by their partner, the intention shifts from a gift to a demand.
The Pursuer-Distancer pattern, described by John Gottman, a leading researcher in couple relationships, exemplifies this chase.
This “dance” of one moving in and the other moving out has been identified as a major cause of divorce. When this concept is applied to men seeking respect from their wives, a similar effect can be observed.
When men energetically “chase” after their wives for respect, the wife responds by distancing herself. When someone places this expectation on you, it can feel “smothering” or “engulfing,” and the natural response is to create distance. However, rather than creating more breathing room, this can have the opposite effect, prompting the “pursuer” to “chase” even further, closing the distance.
This distancing behavior by the wife is almost always perceived as rejection by men, which, as previously stated, is one of the most common fears that men have. The cycle is then reinforced as the man is motivated to avoid his fear and seeks reassurance from his wife, prompting her to distance herself even more.
Husbands who respect themselves are respected by their wives.
Author David Deida asserts in his book The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire that women despise and distrust men who are dependent on them for their own happiness. He goes on to say that when men prioritize their relationship above all else, they lose the respect of the women in their lives.
If there is one thing we can take away from this, it is that if a man wants to gain the respect of his wife, he must first respect himself. Men who seek respect from their wives will be met with distrust and disrespect, defeating the purpose of their desire in the first place.
This approach to gaining respect in a marriage is echoed on a larger scale by Mahatma Gandhi's quote. He once said, “If we could change ourselves, the world's tendencies would change as well.” As a man changes his own nature, so does the world's attitude toward him.”
7 Ways for Men to Improve Their Self-Esteem
Now that we've talked about how important self-respect is for a wife to respect her husband, here are 7 ways you can boost your self-esteem so your wife will respect you, too.
1. Discover Your Life's True Purpose and Meaning
Why not start with the most ambitious goal? After all, how can we expect to respect ourselves and be respected by others if we are unaware of our true purpose and meaning in this world?
Finding your true purpose and meaning obviously begins with a lot of soul searching and may not ultimately lead us to the final answer, but asking the questions gets us started on the right track.
2. Give freely and without conditions
Giving to others makes us feel better about ourselves, as long as there are no ulterior motives. Giving with strings attached, that is, with expectations, never feels genuine for either the giver or the receiver, and it dilutes the original intention.
3. Make time in your schedule for hobbies and activities that will help you grow as a person
Spending time with your partner is essential for learning and growing in a relationship. Growing as an individual, on the other hand, is just as important as a priority. Putting yourself out there to learn and experience new things boosts your confidence and self-esteem.
4. Get Rid of Negative People From Your Life
Trying to change for the better is difficult enough. Trying to change in the presence of people who are critical or negative about you making changes in your life is detrimental to your personal growth.
Limit your time spent with people who hold you back from success.
5. Use the word “no” when you really mean it
Going along with what others tell us to do is one of the quickest ways to erode our self-esteem. Saying no when you don't want to do something may cause some pushback from others, but it will not affect your self-esteem.
6. Rejoice in Your Successes
People who have low self-esteem and self-respect are often hesitant to celebrate their achievements. They are afraid of coming across as arrogant or boastful. Celebrating our accomplishments, on the other hand, motivates us to do more and grow.
7. Surround Yourself with People Who Motivate and Inspire You
It is equally important to surround yourself with successful, motivating, and inspiring people in addition to removing negative people from your life. Raise the bar so high that you become the person who reaches it. This can be accomplished by being inspired by the accomplishments of others.
Although every relationship expert would recommend that a couple work together to create a happy and healthy marriage, it is still the responsibility of each member of the relationship to work on themselves.
Men who seek respect from their wives are directing their energy in the wrong direction and should redirect their efforts to improve their own self-esteem. Only when they are confident in who they are and know where they want to go in life will other people's opinions cease to matter, and they will gain the respect they deserve from the people in their lives.
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