I have been very interested in the recent wave in marriage blogs on the subject of respect. I have to admit that I had not thought about it much, I think I just assumed respect was something that would naturally happen in marriage. However, the more I read, learned and thought about it, the more I realized that it does not happen by chance and that we have to be careful to make sure respect is taking place in our marriage.
I found it interesting in the Bible that men are commanded to “Love is wife” and that women were commanded to “Respect her husband.” (One passage addressed to women tells them to both love and respect their husbands.) I think this reveals God’s understanding of who we are; wife’s need love and husband’s need respect. (Before we get to far afield here – yes, a husband needs to respect his wife that is a part of loving her as Jesus loves the church. I think a woman will have more a natural tendency to love her husband, but husbands need love also.)
In talking with friends and doing some observations from my own life, I have found one area where I think most of us need to work on in our marriage. That is listening to each other without interrupting. (This applies to both the husband and the wife.) I think every time we interrupt our spouse, we are showing them disrespect. We need to learn to listen to them, not with the intention of just responding, but we need to listen with the intention of understanding what our spouse is saying. (Yes, this is true for every relationship we have, not just with our spouse.)
When we interrupt, it is like telling our spouse, “What you have to say is not as important as what I have to say.” It hurts to receive that message. It is not putting the other person first; interrupting is about putting yourself first. That is contrary to love, respect, treating others as you wish to be treated, and who knows how many other teachings in the Bible.
A quick note here – one thing we can to help cut down on getting interrupted is to make sure we have dialogue with our spouse not a monologue. When either spouse goes on and on and does not give his or her spouse a chance to talk that is when interrupting will be more likely to happen.
You want to respect your spouse? Don’t Interrupt! Don’t Monologue! Sounds simple! In theory those do sound simple, in practice, maybe, maybe not. We need to make this is one of those things we work on.