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Love and Respect: A Royal Marriage

There is something intriguing about royalty – and a royal marriage. It's as if something within all of us longs to be royal.  Did you know that God says we are royalty? "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9).

God has put in the heart of every little girl to be a princess. She dresses up, talks about it, even dreams about it. As a woman, she wants to be first in the heart of her prince. She wants to be loved and treasured like a princess.

A little boy wants to be the hero, defending the fort and saving others from danger. As a man, he wants to be the prince, the hero that his princess admires and respects. He is designed by God to be a man of honor, one who is responsible to provide and care for his princess.

The wedding ceremony is a great picture of the prince and the princess dynamic – the love and respect is evident, and it is beautiful. But what often happens in that first year is that he isn't as loving as she expected or needed him to be. And she often stops treating her prince with the respect that he needs. She needs to be loved, to be his princess; he needs to be respected, to be her prince. When this dynamic breaks down, the relationship gets crazy.

In my book, The Language of Love and Respect, I talk about the concept of wanting to be treated as a prince and a princess. "The man with basic goodwill wants to serve his wife, and he would even die for her. When his wife shows him unconditional respect, in most cases he will feel like a prince and be motivated to show her the kind of unconditional love she desires. She is a princess who is loved." (p. 18)

Benevolent Goodwill

In a safe and secure kingdom (even when that kingdom is a home), its people thrive. Effective kingdom leaders demonstrate benevolent goodwill to the people. In marriage, the importance of goodwill is just as important.

One key to making your relationship safe and secure is to demonstrate benevolent goodwill toward your mate – to believe he or she has good intentions, to expect the best of the other person. Even when your mate messes up, you can choose to believe in the goodwill of your spouse.

Unfortunately, what often happens when you feel unloved or disrespected is that you start predicting and judging the other person's motives. Research shows that successful couples don't make condemning judgments about the other; they choose to trust their mate's intentions.

Once a couple decides to see each other as good-willed people, it changes their perspective and the filter through which they view their relationship. "Good-willed" doesn't mean we'll do good all the time; it just means that the intentions are good.

Matthew 26:41 says it well: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". Since a man and a woman naturally view conflict differently, they too often judge each other. During those times when your spouse is frustrating you, you can still believe in your mate's goodwill, respond accordingly and treat each other as teammates, partners, even allies. 

Royal differences

Though the differences between men and women are part of the relationship challenge, God intended it to be this way. Women and men simply have different filters through which they experience life. She sees through pink sunglasses, hears with pink hearing aids and speaks through a pink megaphone. He sees through blue sunglasses, hears with blue hearing aids and speaks through a blue megaphone.

Yet, when blue blends with pink, it becomes purple, God's color – the color of royalty. He made us male and female to reflect His image, and as we love and respect each other, we create that purple, blending together as one to reflect the very image of God. When we understand this, we can begin to value our prince and our princess as God does, and we can trust that this is a truly magnificent design.

Even as allies you'll have moments of conflict. But whether it's a disagreement over sex or taking out the trash, each of you can rehearse what you know to be true: He's a good-willed man; she's seeing the situation through princess-pink glasses. He's not wrong; she's just different. We are friends; we are allies. Then, by going to God during conflict, we can discern His answer, what His royal purple, is. When we do this, we find the heart of God.

A Peace-filled Kingdom

Though the prince and princess of the movies tend to be perfect, you're married to an imperfect person. So how do you show unconditional love and respect when your spouse is so obviously imperfect? Unconditional means there is no condition or circumstance or situation that would cause him to be hostile (the opposite of love) or cause her to show contempt (the opposite of respect). It is choosing to show your princess a loving attitude, or your prince a respectful attitude, regardless of the weaknesses of the flesh.

It's not always easy, but we must avoid passing condemning judgment on our spouse. Judas and Peter both denied Jesus. Jesus saw Peter as having a willing spirit but weak flesh, so He never passed judgment on Peter. If you're married to a man like Peter, don't see him as a Judas. How does the Lord see your husband or wife? He's a prince, a co-heir with Christ. As a child of God, he is royalty. As a child of God, she is royalty.

Seeing each other as God sees us, as His prince and princess, will cause us to treat each other differently. God has an unconditional commitment to loving us, and so should we. That's part of maintaining a peace-filled, good-willed kingdom – and a royal marriage. 

Focus on the Family is a donor-supported ministry.

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Copyright © 2011 by Susan Mathis and Emerson Eggerichs. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Next in this Series: Decision Time

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