I’ve often heard my daughters and other girls express exasperation for teenage boys. “They just don’t get it,” they say. And they are right. They get a lot of things—like football or skate board stunts or computer games—but they don’t get girls. A few of them do, but most don’t.
I certainly didn’t understand girls when I was a young teenager. I liked them, but I did not understand them. I personally know that my lack of “getting it” hurt several girl’s feelings deeply. I feel terrible about it now.
As teenagers, boys are often not fully ready to treat girls the way they want and deserve to be treated. I think it’s probably a good thing because it acts as a sort of girl repellent. It saves girls a lot of heartache to not invest too much too early.
In my late teens, I started to get it. And now that I am much further down the road, I think I am really starting to get it, though I still have a lot to learn.
It’s all about respect. Respect is the first step and foundation of love.
It’s the place where love starts. And it’s the place love ends when it disappears. When you know how to show it, love thrives. When you don’t know how to show it, or refuse to show it, love dies.
According to the dictionary, respect is “an act of giving particular attention or consideration.” It is shown by a “high or special regard or esteem“ and “expressions of…deference.”
Think about it. You husbands, when you first became interested in your wife, did you attract her attention by showing her disrespect? Of course not. Why? Because disrespect is one of the biggest turn offs a girl can stomach.
In boy culture, we often play the disrespect game with each other. It’s a sort of sport we play. We challenge each other. We play slap down. We chip away at each other endlessly. It’s a way boys find out if the other guy has any moxie. It’s the competition thing.
Girls do not like this game. I repeat, girls DO NOT like this game. (Well, some girls like this game, and some are entertained by watching boys play it, but most girls won’t play it with a boy.)
Fortunately, most boys and men get it figured out over time.
They learn to show their genuine interest in you. They ask you important questions and listen intently to your answers. They express sincere gratitude for the little things. They watch their language. They conquer bad habits. They open doors. They wait. They notice you. They ask you what they can do to help you. They make phone calls for no other reason than to see how you are. They honor your opinions, even if they disagree with you. They never put you down in any way. They seek your comfort, and help you feel safe and protected. They ask you out on dates often, even if you have been married for many years. They recognize their personal faults and admit to them. They apologize to you. They defend and shelter you. They show their emotions to you, but keep the unsavory ones under control. They honor all of your sacred boundaries, and refuse to violate them, before and after marriage. They keep trying and trying. All of these things show respect.
Girls like this a lot. I repeat, girls REALLY LIKE this.
Your respect is how she knows she can trust you. If you show the least amount of disrespect to her, her trust sinks, sometimes rapidly. If you are constant and vigilant in your respect for her, even if you disagree with something she says or does, even when she makes mistakes or is overly conscious of her weight and appearance or can’t keep up with all she has to do, it is still by respect that you seal her love to you forever.
Husbands, you may have been sealed to your wife by a holy ordinance in a temple, but unless you show her complete respect, you dishonor that covenant. Yes, this is a probationary time, and God and your wife may grant you the space to repent, but if you don’t show her your honor and respect, you will lose her heart, and without her heart, what do you have?
It is my opinion that men must lead out in this. We must take the lead in respect, even if she says or does something you think is unworthy of your respect. She will trust her heart first above any other consideration—it is her greatest ally. If her heart says you are not determined to show her respect, you cannot expect to hold her in time or eternity.
Next time I pick up this topic, I’ll talk about where respect starts to break down, and what we can do about it.