"I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.
When I was a kid, I asked my Mother for a Bubble Bath, so she brought the water to a boil!
I'm so ugly - My mother had morning sickness. After I was born.
Are you kiddin'? I know I'm ugly. My mother breast-fed me through a straw.
I have good-looking kids. Thank goodness my wife cheats on me.
The other night I told my kid "Someday, you'll have children of your own." He said "So will you."
I tell ya when I was a kid, all I knew was rejection. My yo-yo, it never came back.
I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous—everyone hasn't met me yet.
I told my wife the truth. I told her I was seeing a psychiatrist. Then she told me the truth: that she was seeing a psychiatrist, two plumbers, and a bartender.
My wife is always trying to get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go keep an eye on it.
The other night I woke up and my wife was saying sexy things. I looked over and she was on the phone.
I don't play hard to get... I play hard to want!
That's the story of my life, no respect, ya know?"
Not every man feels as low as Dangerfield did, but an absence of respect -- or even worse, a blatant display of disrespect -- can make any man feel as though these one-liners were written for him. Respect is the single most important thing that a woman can give to a man. It is the primary way that a man feels valued and validated in his masculinity. In fact, in a survey of 400 men ages 21 to 75, 74% said that they would rather feel alone and unloved than inadequate and disrespected (Feldhahn, 2004). When she got the results back, Feldhahn was shocked to discover a note attached: "A lot of the guys fussed over [that question]. They did not feel the choices were different," (p. 23). Feldhahn notes: "Finally, the lightbulb came on: If a man feels disrespected, he is going to feel unloved. And what that translates to is this: if you want to love your man in the way he needs to be loved, then you need to ensure that he feels your respect most of all," (p. 23).
Feldhahn's findings are evident in the comedy routine of Rodney Dangerfield. Notice many of Dangerfield's one liners involve some form of rejection or abandonment; in particular, many of Dangerfield's jokes involve a lack of faithfulness in the women in his life, especially when it comes to sexual infidelity. Yet how does Dangerfield sum up his plight? He doesn't say, "There's no love for Rodney." He doesn't whine, "Nobody loves me." No, Rodney Dangerfield's chief complaint is that he doesn't get any respect. When we consider respect from this perspective, it is no wonder God's word tells wives to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5;22), as submission is a sign of respect.
It is important to note that men can feel disrespected by women, but they can also feel disrespected by other men as well. And there is a telltale sign, a surefire way of being able to discern whether or not a man feels disrespected, which is also featured in these scenes. Feldhahn (2004) says that if you want to know when a man feels he has been disrespected, anger is a dead giveaway. Quoting Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, Feldhahn tells us "crying is often a woman's response to feeling unloved, and anger is often a man's response to feeling disrespected," (p. 24). So what is the remedy for all this? It's very simple: unconditional respect.
Feldhahn states that just as women want to be unconditionally loved, men desire to be unconditionally respected. In our western culture, we have adopted one of the most widely accepted fallacies of all time as a way of relating interpersonally, and it is the belief that respect is earned. This mentality is not Christian. As Christians, we are to show our husbands -- and all people really -- respect, whether they deserve it or not.
For male female relationships, this means a woman must submit by respecting a man's judgment and abilities. She should not tell him she has a better idea, or try to tell him how to do something. Yes, this includes letting him figure out how to get there without stopping for directions. It means not expressing your disappointment when he's given you the best he's got. And above all else, it's about keeping your mouth shut when all the other women are telling their favorite "my-husband-is-such-an-idiot-because" stories. What's more important: your ability to tell the best embarrassing husband story, or your ability to protect his reputation in public as a competent, capable, and fantastic man?
As helpers, women should always be sure to obey God's word and offer respect to the men in our lives. Doing so provides men with the security of knowing that they are supported in their endeavors not only to live the Christian life, but to do so with the added weight of having the primary responsibility of caring for their wives and children. Hebrews 13:17 tells us, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you," (ESV). Our husbands, fathers, and pastors are doing all they can to watch over our souls. Let's commit to watch over theirs. Let's commit to offer our unconditional respect.
Feldhahn, S. (2004). For women only: What you need to know about the inner lives of men. Multnomah: Sisters, Oregon.