Happy Marriage Tips

The Five Respect Needs of Men


1. Respect his judgment

The men were really touchy about this. A man deeply needs the woman in his life to respect his knowledge, opinions, and decisions—what I would call his judgment. No one wanted a silent wallflower (not would I advocate that!), but many men wished their mate wouldn’t question their knowledge or argue with their decisions all the time. It’s a touchy (and difficult) thing in these liberated days, but what it rea3lly comes down it is their need for us to defer to them sometimes.

Several men confessed that they felt like their opinions and decisions were actively valued in every area of their lives except at home. Some men felt that their comrades at work trusted their judgment more than their own wives did. Also, while a man’s partners or colleagues will rarely tell him what to do (they ask him or collaborate on the decision instead), more than one wife has made the mistake of ordering her husband around like one of the kids.

2. Respect his abilities

Another strong theme that emerged was that men want—even need—to figure things out for themselves. And if they can, they feel like they have conquered something and are affirmed as men. For some reason, spending hours figuring out how to put together the new DVD player is fun. Problem is, we want to help them—and guess how they interpret that? You got it: distrust. (It’s a wonder any relationships work and that the human race didn’t die out millennia ago!)
And, of course, our attention is not all benign. Sometimes we truly don’t have confidence that our man can figure something out on his own.

The little things equal one big clue
We don’t realize that the act of forcing ourselves to trust our men in little things means so much to them, but it does. It’s not a big deal to us, so we don’t get that it’s a big deal to them. We don’t get that our responses to these little choices to trust or not trust—or at least act like we do!—are interpreted as signs of our overall trust and respect for them as men.

A man might think of it like this: If she doesn’t trust me in something as small as finding my way along a road, why would she trust me in something important, like being a good breadwinner or a good father? If she doesn’t respect me in this small thing, she probably doesn’t really respect me at all.

The next time your husband stubbornly drives in circles, ask yourself what is more important: being on time to the party or his feeling trusted. No contest.

3. Respect in communication

Women hold an incredible power in the way we communicate with our men (both husbands and sons) to build them up or to tear them down, to encourage or to exasperate.
Some things just push a man’s buttons. This goes beyond what we say—such as questioning a man’s judgment or his abilities—and into how we say it (and where we say it, which is the subject of the next section).

The disconnect
In my interviews, a large number of men said something like this: “When my wife says something disrespectful, I often think, I can’t believe she doesn’t know how that makes me feel!” I had to reassure these men over and over that their wives probably didn’t mean to disrespect them and were likely just clueless.

Let me give you several common examples of how a man might hear something negative where the woman never intended it.

Hearing disrespect
Not long ago, I was asking Jeff and one of his married colleagues about the dynamic of men wanting to do things for themselves. This man said, “Something, if something breaks in the house, I want to try to take a crack at it before I call an expert. If my wife says, ‘Well, you’re really not a fix-it-type person,’ I feel so insulted. She’s not rude about it or anything, but it’s like she doesn’t respect me enough to believe that I can figure it out if I put my mind to it, even if it takes me a while.”

Hearing disappointment
In a survey—as in life—a sizable minority of men read something negative into a simple female reminder. I asked men what would go through their minds if their wife or significant other reminded them that the kitchen wall was damaged and it still had to be fixed. More than one-third of these men took that reminder as nagging or as an accusation of laziness or mistrust.

Crank up that filtering system
No matter what we think we are saying, in the end, what matters is what the guy is hearing. Obviously, some people can be overly sensitive, and we can’t walk on eggshells all the time. Nor do we want to pass up all opportunities to help them understand our communication writing.

After all, don’t we want our husbands to adjust to our sensitivities? Do you want your husband to publicly tease you about gaining ten pounds? It’s all about loving each other the way the other persons needs to be loved. Even as we help our husbands understand that we have a learning curve on this, we should make every effort to filter our words through a “disrespect meter” before they pass our lips.

4. Respect in public

Now we come to one of the most important points of the book. There appears to be an epidemic of public disrespect for men, and the biggest culprit is not the television, movies, or other media, but the women who are supposed to love their men most.

The most fragile thing on the planet
Dozens of men told me how painful it is when their wives criticize them in public, put them down, or even question their judgment in front of others. One man on the survey said that they one thing he wished he could tell his wife was that “at a minimum, she should be supportive of me in public.” That wish was repeated dozens of times on the survey—it was one of the strongest themes that emerged.

Consider this statement, which I have heard (in essence) from many men: “My wife says things about me in public that she considers teasing. I consider them torture.”

Be respectful even when he’s absent
Having seen how important public respect is to men (it is almost impossible to overstate), I have become incredibly sensitive to how often we might talk negatively about them behind their backs. The effects are much the same even when a man isn’t present: The women’s disrespect of her husband becomes even more deeply embedded as she harps on it, and those in listening range may begin to feel the same!

Showing public respect goes a long way
Just as your man will be hurt and angry if you disrespect him in public, he will think you are the most wonderful woman in the world if you publicly build him up.

Trust me—from the men I’ve talked to, that will be the equivalent of his coming home to you with a dozen roses and a surprised date night without the kids. He will feel adored.

5. Respect in our assumptions

Unfortunately, in one area men have every right to read something into what we say—and that is when we have jumped to negative conclusions about them. When we really examine our communication, we’ll be astounded at how often is assumes something bad about the man we love. See if any of these assumptions ring a bell.

We assume, “He needs to be reminded”
To us, repeatedly asking “Have you done it yet?” is probably not a big deal. But inherent in the question is our assumption that the guy needs the reminder—that he is either incapeable of remembering on his own or that he remembers just fine but needs our prodding to do the job. What they are accurately hearing is “I don’t trust you.”

Just realize that his reason for not doing it may be different from yours. Remember, half the men on the survey indicated that sometimes they just have different priorities. OR they could just be unable to handle one more thing. One man with a stressful job noted that he sometimes feels like a computer that will crash if he tries to load one more thing onto it. For him, procrastinating on something his wife wants him to do at home is his warning sign that he will emotionally crash is he tries it.

We assume, “He’s choosing not to help”
One experienced female marriage counselor gave me this example: “If my husband doesn’t help with the kids or the cleaning, I shouldn’t assume that he sees it and is choosing not to help. I should start with the assumption that he doesn’t see it.”

We assume, “It’s because of him”
Finally, sometimes something is not his fault—it’s ours. Sometimes we assign unloving motives to our men that could actually be traced back to something we have inadvertently said or done. For example, a wife who is constantly critical of her husband may spur him to withdraw emotionally to protect himself, thereby becoming unloving where he wasn’t before.
“Men are not stupid,” says Dr. Eggerichs. “They are not Neanderthals. Sometimes these behaviors that appear to be unloving are not unloving at all. They are reacting that way because they interpret something as disrespect. Even if something they shouldn’t.”


Shaunti Feldhahn is a bestselling author, popular public speaker, and groundbreaking researcher. This wife of attorney-entrepreneur Jeff Feldhahn and mother of two, now applies her analytical skills to illuminating those important, surprising truths that people really need to understand about each other.



  • Coppélia

    Thank you for these clear reminders, Shaunti! I can see a few that I can try to apply with my hubby today. Help us, Lord, to be more loving, caring, respectful wives.

  • HelpPlease

    I dont know how to deal with the disrespect i feel i get from my wife. We have been together for 2 years and we’ve had this same problem ove 10 times. She goes out with friends, oversatys and ends up coming home after 3 am, drunk. All theese times i start contacting her around midnight. From the first contact, i am being controlling, that’s her answer. I loose it. She comes home and its a brawl with an intoxicated wife. She justifies her choices by hinting i am responsible. Last time she did it, i told her that was the last time. She just did it again last night. Same thing, im controlling and it’s somehow my fault. She will not acknowledge she messed up, trying to get an apology is impossible. ¿What can i do? I talked about divorce last night, definately not something i want but if this doesn’t change for good, its over.

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  • Krystal Mueller

    Love it!! Thanks Shaunti!

  • unannannan

    Wish I could show this to my wife. She treats me like a child all the time, it is worse when she does it in public. It is to the point the my teenage daughter has noticed it too. I try to include her in decisions and she” doesn’t care” but she makes all decisions without including me even on the information on what “the plan” is.

    At least after reading this I realize I am not crazy. Thanks

    • WeAreAllBroken

      Take the risk and forward it to her. I’m going to – and it is a risk.

      • unannannan

        Good luck brother. I would show her but……last night my opinions were shut down again. I should be on a 4 day fishing trip right now with a friend, it would have been the first one ever. But…. I needed to be here for the kids and to “help” her with things. Pointing out this article now will just make the house very hostile.

    • Lace

      I am a wife reading this, sent to me by my mother inlaw. Pray for God to open her heart to receive, then when you feel the time is right ask her if you two can read some on bible marriage together. Find something on how a wife needs to be shown love. Read them together and take more interest into how you can meet her needs as your wife. A book my husband and I read together is “Love and Respect”. May God bless your marriage, try to love her and give her what she needs, pray for her… and trust the rest to God…

      • unannannan

        Ahhh. I showed it too her and it was not good.

        I was upset with her the other day, but I kept my mouth shut and just kept cleaning the house. Later that day I found out that I was wrong for being upset, and that I actually had no right to be upset with her.

        So I showed her this site. That made things a lot worse. She told me that was exactly how I treat her all the time.

        So I asked her and my kids to write down the things that I do wrong…..stuff like the way I treat them, things i say to them..etc. But I also asked them to write down how I could correct those things. In other words, I wanted to know what they felt was the correct way for me to do things, or react to things. i wanted them on paper because I wanted proof. Three days now and i still don’t have a thing from any of them.

  • http://www.harvesttimepartners.com/ David Esposito

    Shaunti – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This is very insightful.

  • Jasper

    Wish all young marriages would be required to take courses on such topics- i believe the divorce rate would be lower. Being in my 2nd marriage, these are the tools and truths that will make this marriage last. All of the above were at the core of my husbands first marriage failure. He felt like a child, a to-do man, a robot in his marriage with no respect, trust or being allowed to lead. I wont do that to him again.

  • shauna

    I agree with everything. I would just like to know is it disrespectful to ask your husband for help with something ONCE and then after a reasonable amount has passed with it undone… to do it myself? This is one of those gray areas where I don’t want to nag but things need to get done. Any suggestions?

    • unannannan

      I don’t think it is disrespectful. I know I do a poor job of communicating. Maybe it is the way which it is said, not what is said. I am NOT saying that you personally are doing it wrong. I will put it in a way I would like to here it from my wife.” Honey, could you get that for me? I really NEED YOU to do it.” That would make me feel important and not like a servant. This is just an example….I am not trying to tell you how to do it.

      • shauna

        I appreciate the input. Thank you. Wives need so much help in this area ( myself included). There are those of us who are trying and sometimes we just end up not know what to do, so you do nothing…then you fight the resulting bitterness that takes root. With God’s help I think we will find a way to do the dance gracefully. I appreciate so much when Men and Women are willing to have the discussion :-)

  • leahchristensen

    The example of him worrying about providing if we think he can’t even find his way to a place without getting lost is way off the mark! The two are entirely different things!
    I am blessed to be in a marriage where my husband and I respect each other’s abilities based on our individual strengths, and not on our gender roles.
    We have no problem building each other up in public and in private because between us, there is a lot to build up. Take right now, for example! He was in the mood to go somewhere, and do something. When I mentioned that I was really in the mod for something at the grocery store that would involve a cab ride for me (mobility issues!) he jumped on the bus, and away he went! Of course I do little thing like that for him all the time, and it’s great. We do what we can for the other out of love, not because we feel the genders nee different thing. We’re coming up to our 7th anniversary, and it feels like we just got married yesterday!

    • lace

      Im thankful to hear you have a blessed marriage and are meeting each others needs as husband and wife. I would point you to a book “love and respect”. God made men to need respect and women to need love, so that when married we go to the source (our husband, our wife) to learn what comes natural for them. Love comes natural for women, Respect comes natural for men. God made us different and its a beautiful thing. Talk with your husband on his thoughts, needs of respect, and you share the same on your needs and thoughts on showing love. May God continue to bless your marriage

  • edddie

    Some of the things in this article seem very condescending and sarcastic; almost passive aggressive. Typical i guess..

  • mr. man

    Why do women make something out of nothing

    • Diane

      It would help to know the issue in question, but here’s a start at some ideas: 1) Maybe it’s not really nothing; meaning maybe you are not being properly sensitive to why it might be, or might seem like, something. 2) Maybe there’s a history (either with you or someone else) of similar situations not being nothing. 3) The opposite happens frequently too; it’s not a one-way problem.

  • Diane

    For what it’s worth, while I agree that men legitimately have those needs, speaking for myself as a woman, I resonate with having a very strong need for all these as well. My husband does well with #4, but all too often falls short with the others and can be very hurtful about it. Sure, emotional closeness is important, but for me, without these elements of respect preceding it, that is unlikely to occur. Emotional security/intimacy is not a stand-alone condition. Respect is the pathway to it. And genuine sexual intimacy follows emotional intimacy. It does not work in reverse.

  • Rebecca

    I feel like I’m in the man in this situation because my guy constantly criticizes me and makes me feel stupid and incompetent. He even does it front of people. I don’t nag him or question his judgment, ever. My God, if I ever did that, it would be the end of the world! No, instead he constantly questions my judgement and assumes that I have no interest in helping out and blames me for withdrawing. How can a man not understand how hurtful this is? I feel like I need some respect!







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