Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Love and Respect

So many thoughts...

The weekend away was wonderful. We stayed in a delightful Bed & Breakfast together while the kids stayed with our old neighbors who have moved away to the NOVA area.

We need time away together every so often! It isn't that we need to get away from our children, per se, but that we all need opportunities (them included) to get away from the pressures and stresses of the daily routine.

Don't get me wrong, either! I love my life, busy and crazy as it is. And I even love the relational crucible that is involved with homeschooling. But when my husband and I get away to a restful, peaceful, relationally-conducive spot, just the two of us, we find ourselves connected in ways that don't always happen in the daily grind of this season of life.

One of the things involved in this weekend away was attendance at a Love and Respect video marriage conference. I know, I know... you don't need to write and tell me that no man wants to go to a marriage conference for his birthday. (Several have already done so, both before and after we went...) I can only say that, if you did, you'd be wrong. This marriage conference does tout itself as "the marriage conference men want to attend," but that isn't why I chose this as part of our birthday weekend experience.

I chose this because my husband was reading the book, and really finding it good, important stuff. But I chose it mostly because I have read the book, too, and I know that I have much to learn about being a respectful wife.

One of the basic tenets of the book, among other things, is that many wives have failed to respect their husbands unconditionally, even as many husbands have failed to love their wives.

The term "unconditional respect" may strike you as strange. Our society doesn't accept this idea at all. Unconditional love is understood... we're all supposed to "love each other unconditionally" in marriage, regardless of how unlovely we may sometimes be. That's understood. The problem with that is that that command is given to men only. They are to unconditionally love their wives, even to the point of laying down their lives for them. Wives, however, are commanded to unconditionally respect their husbands.

Respect, in our society, has become viewed as something that must be earned and deserved before it should be given. Love is "allowed" to be "unconditional," but one is expected to be "worthy" of respect before it is given. But wives are commanded to give respect to their husbands unconditionally. It is a radical idea. It is a marriage-transforming concept.

I, myself, have been very enlightened and challenged in my own marriage by attending this conference. It is really good. It is very respectful of husbands and men (most marriage books and conferences are focused on "women-type" love issues and never touch on "men-type" respect issues for fear or being branded sexist). It is also very respectful of unbelievers. He acknowledges their likely presence, and addresses them respectfully in a way that is very appealing and disarming.

At any rate, I am feeling convicted but encouraged regarding much of the teaching I heard. I'm recognizing that I've not been a very respectful wife. Faithful, definitely. Loving, mostly. Submissive, yes, at least somewhat, in practice. But unconditionally respectful? Not so much. I'm sure this is no news to those of you who have observed me over the years, but it has been eye-opening to me.

Times away like this are so good for us. The fact that the kids were taken care of and we were alone at a Bed and Breakfast for two nights was a rare and wonderful thing for us. These times tend to involve deep conversation and great sex and some stuff we rarely do any other time (like eating out or sleeping in). We feel like two totally different people. An old Amy Grant song has lyrics that say, "Stay with me... make it ever new... so time does not undo... as the years go by, how I need to see... that's still me."

It also tends to be a real re-connection and "remember how much we love each other" time. Having the teaching (conference) as the backdrop just assured that we got deep and relevant and spiritual with our time. The fun and silly comes pretty naturally. We have to work to ensure that the other happens.

I am hopeful to move forward now in my roles as wife and mother and teacher with increased perspective and enlightened understanding.

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