Those in relationship are called to love and respect one another

Our advice and counsel - study your spouse! What makes him or her tick? What makes them happy or sad - what sparks life in them? Do those things that bring a smile to their face and confidence to their hearts that you KNOW them, and you want to please them.

Proverbs 11:14 tells us, “Where there is no guidance a people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

In these United States of America, we most certainly have “an abundance of counselors.” There are about 250,000 clinical social workers, 120,000 licensed counselors, 106,000 clinical psychologists, and 50,000 marriage and family therapists. Additionally, there are 23,000 Certified Life Coaches.

That’s a lot of practitioners but with a population that has swollen to 330 million, that averages out to 1 counselor for every 600 people. In addition to the safety they can provide, what is also needed from an abundance of counselors is wisdom, specifically godly wisdom. Many of those 549,000 practitioners speak into their clients from the secular wisdom of the world. Worldly wisdom is no match for godly wisdom.

In JUST US LIMITED, our coaching and counseling practice, Vanessa and I seek to impart the timeless truths of the word of God to couples who might be struggling to find contentment. One such truth revolves around two recurring themes in marriage: love and respect.

In short, women crave love and men crave respect. Husbands are told specifically to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Wives are told specifically to respect their husbands as the church does Christ (Ephesians 5:33).

We have found that married couples need heaping helpings of both love and respect to be functional and healthy.

As a husband, I must sometimes be reminded that my wife’s needs and preferences are different than my own. While I’m content with a text, Vanessa far prefers a phone call.

Many wives we know appreciate their husbands’ expressions of love, such as phone calls or thoughtful cards or flowers. While I’m not inclined toward receiving flowers, I do appreciate the respect Vanessa affords me. She speaks well of me to anyone who will listen, she supports me even when I falter, she encourages my pursuits, and she gives me the “alone time” I sometimes need when I’ve had a long day in the workplace. I’m grateful that she’s my biggest cheerleader – and I’m hers as well.

In marriage coaching and counseling, we have heard wives say, “I just don’t feel like he loves me anymore. He never says it – he only says it back…and sometimes he just grunts.”

We also hear men say, although they might articulate it differently, “I don’t understand why she doesn’t respect me. I work hard, but she doesn’t support my decisions. She second-guesses everything I do, she always has something to say contrary to my thinking, and she just doesn’t seem very interested in me.”

Marriage expert Dr. Emerson Eggerichs wrote a popular book, Love and Respect. In one survey he wrote about in his book, 400 men were asked, “If you were forced to choose, would you prefer to feel alone and unloved or disrespected and inadequate?” Seventy-four percent (almost 3 out of 4) responded that they would rather feel alone and unloved than disrespected and inadequate.

When Dr. Eggerichs conducted the same survey with women, a similar percentage of women responded that they would rather feel disrespected and inadequate than alone and unloved. Dr. Eggerichs summed up his findings this way: [A wife] needs love just as she needs air to breathe, [and a husband] needs respect just as he needs air to breathe.”

Our advice and counsel - study your spouse! What makes him or her tick? What makes them happy or sad - what sparks life in them? Do those things that bring a smile to their face and confidence to their hearts that you KNOW them, and you want to please them. This is the kind of selflessness that points our spouses toward Jesus.

When we point one another toward Jesus, we give ourselves and others the best counsel possible.

Pastor John MacArthur once called 2 Corinthians 5:21 the greatest gospel verse in all the Bible. Its naked truth is really impossible to fully comprehend.

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

Pastor MacArthur explained that on the cross, God treated Jesus as if He had lived my life with all of its sins, shortcomings, and imperfections. Then He turns right around and treats me as I had lived as Jesus – sinless, spotless, undefiled, perfect.

He went on to say that “When He (God) looks at the cross, He sees you. When He looks at you, He sees Christ.”

If husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters could grab ahold of that truth, love and respect would be in full bloom.

I know, you might say “But Kenneth, you don’t know what they did to me!” Yes, that is true.

But I DO know what He did for us! Can’t we do right by Him? Isn’t He worth that - and so much more?

We have an abundance of counselors because humanity is fallen and needy. If you need help, please seek help from a qualified, godly source. But do remember, there is only One that Scripture calls Wonderful Counselor. That’s Jesus.

We can trust Him to listen to our problems and guide us in the right direction (Proverbs 3:5-6). None of us can fully comprehend a love like His - a love so deep and so wide and so full that He took our place on a cross that we deserved - but that He did not. True contentment can only be found in Him.

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