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It’s Hard to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks – But it is Possible!

By: Donna Martin

Even though Mike and I have been married for over 41 years, we still look for ways to improve our marriage relationship.  While participating as a coach couple in the “Before You Say I Do” program at our church (a premarital seminar for couples) I learned about a book entitled Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  I would recommend this book to all couples no matter how long they have been married.

The book stresses the importance of women showing respect to their husbands and men showing love to their wives.  I am ashamed to say that I have had issues with respect throughout my life.   I remember when I was about 10 years old that I tried to go a week without getting a spanking from my mother.  To the average observer (and to my older sister) I was the perfect child.  Little did people outside of our home know that I received regular discipline from my mother for “the way I talked to her.”  Even as a child of 10 I had trouble being respectful.  The ironic part was that many times I had no intention of being disrespectful.  Things just seem to come out of my mouth that my mother interpreted as “disrespectful.”

I would like to say that my mother spanked all that disrespect out of me, however, it still just seemed to come out at times after Mike and I married.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that, just like my mother, Mike interpreted my actions of rolling my eyes and sighing loudly when I was irritated with him as being disrespectful.  After several “discussions” about that behavior I finally learned that it was as inappropriate with my husband as it was with my mother or really anyone else. 

I believe that, just like me, many women do not realize that many of their actions and words show a lack of respect toward their husbands.  I would like to share one example of how a wife can show respect to her husband that I learned in Dr. Eggerichs’s book.  Maybe you can try it with your own husband.

Men like for women to just sit beside them.  This is hard for me because I feel like I should always be doing something.  But reading this information made me aware of why Mike likes for me to sit beside him as he is trying to figure out a problem or while he is working on some project whether it is dealing with our business or just working on our photos.  Having me close by and really paying attention to what he is doing is a form of showing respect.  When I give him my undivided attention, listen to his thoughts, and give him feedback if he asks for it, he knows that I am interested in him and what he is doing.  Taking an interest in your husband is a way of showing respect.

Now I realize that “sitting” with Mike is probably a lot easier for me since Mike and I are “empty nesters” than it would be for a young mother with small children.  But it is doable for a wife in any stage of life.  I challenge you to find a time to “sit with your husband.”  Give him your undivided attention.  Do not give advice or offer suggestions unless he asked.  Just be there and be available.  It may be when he is working on his computer or his car or maybe just when he is watching a ballgame.  Just find a time.  And when he asks you to come and sit with him or help him as he works – just do it.  Do not roll your eyes, sigh, or make him feel like he is infringing on your precious time.  Let him know you are there for him and him alone. 

There are many ways for wives to show respect to their husband.  The great thing about it is that when a wife shows respect to her husband, he in turn will show her love.  It works hand in hand or heart to heart.  Grab you a copy of the book Love and Respect to find out more about improving your relationship with your spouse.  It is never too late to learn more about being a better spouse - even if you have been married over 41 years.

The Martins currently present “Happy Together” marriages seminars for churches and organizations.  To schedule a seminar call Michael at 940-735-1515. They also publish a weekly “Happy Together” Blog about family and marriage issues.  You can order copies of their new books Dancing With Death and 366 Tidbits We Have Learned in 14,610 Days of Marriage, read, and subscribe to their “Happy Together” Blog by logging onto the Martin’s website at

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