Kelly wondered if her husband, Steve, would remember their 10th anniversary. Some years he had forgotten. But, this year, he remembered. He had found just the right card, and he was sure it would be a great anniversary. When he handed her the card, she beamed from ear to ear. But when she read it, her countenance turned sour and dark.
"It's not bad . . . for a birthday card," she scowled.
Steve stiffened at her anger. He meant well. What was written on the outside was great, but he had failed to read the inside. "Hey, an honest mistake. Give me a break."
"An honest mistake? You just don't care. You are so unloving!"
Now he was miffed. "Hey, give me a break."
"You buy me a birthday card on our 10th anniversary, and you expect me not to be upset? I'd rather you hadn't bought me any card at all!"
Feeling disrespected, he coldly said, "Fine. I'm going to the office."
Love and respect
This conflict isn't unique. Kelly felt unloved, and Steve felt disrespected, even contemptible in his wife's eyes. When Decision Analysts, Inc., did a national survey on male-female relationships, one question for men read:
"Even the best relationships sometimes have conflicts on day-to-day issues. In the middle of a conflict with my wife, I am more likely to be feeling:
A. That my wife doesn't respect me right now.
B. That my wife doesn't love me right now.
Not surprisingly, 81.5 percent of men chose "A."
The survey only substantiated what I had already discovered in my years of working with married couples: Women need to feel loved, and men need to feel respected. This may explain why Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:33 that a husband must love his wife and a wife must respect her husband. Both commands are unconditional. The hard part is that respect comes more easily to men, and love comes easier to women.