How “Love and Respect” Changed Our Marriage

By on March 1, 2012

By Anita Estes –

Less than five years ago, divorce loomed on the horizon for me after thirty years of trying to make the marriage work. My husband and I had started off with a very romantic view of married life as evidenced by our wedding vows—“I am the color and you are the water. Together we’ll paint beautiful pictures.” I was an artist and he a college student.

Though we were as different as night and day, I thought we’d make it with our love. But years of dealing with his depression, anger, aloofness and career instability, had taken their toll. He spent most of his time in the garage fixing his MGB or truck. His devotion to them was clear. I was just a fixture.

This realization hit hard, and the whole fuse box blew. I had reached my limit, and wanted out. I called a lawyer and told him our history. He responded, “It seems like you should have divorced him years ago.” I told him I wasn’t looking for a divorce; I didn’t believe in it. I wanted a legal separation.

When I told my husband I was serious about him moving out and getting a separation, he went into a deep depression. Darkness loomed over him. He stayed in bed for three days and didn’t go to work. When he finally got up four days later, we talked over the situation. After a few weeks of going back and forth on issues, we started seeing a marriage counselor.

In the months that followed, we discussed our problems due to our different views of marriage and role models. The counselor dealt with my high expectations, and attitude towards Holbrook, which wasn’t always the best. Slowly, our marriage fire began to warm up. He started to hug me again, hold my hand, go for walks, talk with me each day for a few minutes and pray together. He also began to trust God more, which had been a core problem. We decided to stay together and work out our issues. We continued to go to marriage counseling, which helped us to air our differences in a non-threatening environment.

One day a good friend of mine who had also been thinking about divorce recommend a book for me to read “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. I read it and a spotlight beamed on the inner recesses of my heart. My biggest problem hadn’t been that I didn’t love my husband, I did. I had some conditions I needed to get rid of, but a deeper issue triggered our marital strife. I didn’t respect him as I should. That’s why I didn’t talk to him with real kindness or admiration; I didn’t respect him fully. What a revelation!

I recognized that I hadn’t deeply respected my husband for years because of his lack of outward love towards me. But the book explained that it’s difficult for men to love if they don’t feel respected. It stated that wives needed to respect unconditionally, if we want that kind of love. I got on that assignment right away. I told my husband I was sorry for not respecting him to the degree he needed, and was going to try harder to respect him. I started to look at him differently—to compliment and admire him, respect his decisions, and speak more respectfully. He responded by being kinder and more loving. He started being happier with me, and our intimacy grew.

Today our marriage still has occasional storm clouds that pass overhead. The lights flicker briefly, but don’t blow out. The other day my husband walked into the dining room and announced he was the luckiest man in the world. My heart swelled with love and thankfulness. To think that only a few years ago, I had seriously contemplated a separation brought tears to my eyes. We’re happy now. Yesterday, he called me into the bedroom, held my hand and told me how much he loved me. He expressed that he was so glad I stuck with him through some very dark times.

Our marriage isn’t perfect, but its flame is brighter. Love and happiness illuminate our home, rather than the constant rumbles of thunder threatening to blow out the lights.

 

Anita Estes resides in the beautiful Hudson Valley of upstate New York with her husband and son. Her work appears in several compilations including God Allows U-Turns, A Cup of Comfort, Deliver Me and Adams Media books. Her devotions have been published in Penned from the Heart, “Upper Room” and on-line. She is the author of When God Speaks: 40 Days of His Promises, Transformed—Inspiring Stories of Freedom and Letters to God on a Prodigal Son—Overcoming Addiction through Prayer.  Her blogs: http://anita-thoughtsonchristianity.blogspot.com/ & http://anitaestes7.blogspot.com/

About Anita Estes

Anita Estes resides in the beautiful Hudson Valley of upstate New York with her husband and son. Her work appears in several compilations including God Allows U-Turns, A Cup of Comfort, Deliver Me and Adams Media books. Her devotions have been published in Penned from the Heart, “Upper Room” and on-line. She is the author of When God Speaks: 40 Days of His Promises, Transformed—Inspiring Stories of Freedom and Letters to God on a Prodigal Son—Overcoming Addiction through Prayer. Her blog: http://anita-thoughtsonchristianity.blogspot.com/.

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How “Love and Respect” Changed Our Marriage