Do men need respect from women, or can they perform their male roles without it?

From reading previous posts on Matt Walsh’s popular blog where he writes about male-female relationships. I got the impression that he was writing too much about how to blame men, and not enough about the policies and practices that provide incentives for men to underperform, e.g. – mostly female teachers, unfair divorce laws, stimulus spending geared towards women, etc. So imagine my surprise when I came across this article about men and their need for respect.

First, look at this excerpt. This is what I would have written to criticize Matt Walsh, but he writes it himself:

I’ve discussed at length how men should treat women. I’ve written about the lessons I plan to teach my son; lessons about how he should love, honor, respect, serve, and protect the women in his life. Indeed, men need to respect women, and we, as men, are far from perfect in that regard.

Those posts — the ones where I call on us men to improve the way we treat women — tend to be very popular. They’re popular when I write them or when anyone writes them. Proclaim that women, mothers, and wives should be respected, and a chorus will shout ‘amen.’ Every day on Facebook brings us another viral post excoriating men and supporting women. I’ve written a few of them myself.

But I’ve noticed that the corollary – a message about the respect women must give men, a message challenging wives and encouraging husbands – isn’t quite so palatable for many people. Disrespect for men has become standard practice. That scene I witnessed was sad but unremarkable; we’ve all watched that kind of thing play out a thousand times over. Men are disrespected by their wives – they’re disrespected publicly, they’re disrespected privately, they’re disrespected and then told that they have no right to be upset about it because they aren’t worthy of respect in the first place.

Let me tell you, as a blogger who chooses to primarily focus on holding women accountable in relationships, I know that it is much less popular than placing demands on men. Believe me, I have the hate mail to prove it. It is automatic, even with some Christian women, that any attempt to suggest a moral obligation that women have to men or children is met with denial, deflection or rationalization. “But what about men’s responsibilities to women?”

So Matt is concerned that men are hearing too many negative messages, and not getting enough respect from their wives.

He writes:

These cultural messages aren’t harmful because they hurt my manly feelings; they’re harmful because of what they do to young girls. Society tells our daughters that men are boorish dolts who need to be herded like goats and lectured like school boys. Then they grow up and enter into marriage wholly unprepared and unwilling to accept the Biblical notion that “wives should submit to their husbands” because “the husband is the head of the wife.” [Ephesians 5]

It is a fatal problem, because the one thing that is consistently withheld from men and husbands — respect — is the one thing we need the most.

Yes, need. We need respect, and that need is so deeply ingrained that a marriage cannot possibly survive if the man is deprived of it.

Often, people will say that a husband should only be respected if he “earns” it. This attitude is precisely the problem. A wife ought to respect her husband because he is her husband, just as he ought to love and honor her because she is his wife. Your husband might “deserve” it when you mock him, berate him, belittle him, and nag him, but you don’t marry someone in order to give them what they deserve. In marriage, you give them what you’ve promised them, even when they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

OK really, one last quote from Matt:

Respect is our language. If it isn’t said with respect, we can’t hear it. This is why nagging is ineffective and self defeating. This is why statements made in sarcastic tones, or with rolling eyes, will never be received well. We have a filter in our brains, and a statement made in disrespect will be filtered out like the poison it is.

Men are notoriously reluctant to share feelings or display vulnerability. Many times, we keep those inner thoughts locked away — our feelings guarded and hidden — because we know we are not respected. A man will never be vulnerable to someone who doesn’t respect him. Never.

A man isn’t satisfied or content if he isn’t respected. If he can’t find respect where he is, he will seek it somewhere else. This can have disastrous implications for a relationship, but it applies in other areas of life as well. A man is much more likely to stay in a low paying job, a physically demanding job, a dangerous job, or a tedious job, than a job where he isn’t respected.

I’m only emphasizing this because I think it might actually be news to some people. Society does not permit men to be vocal about their need for respect, so the need is often ignored.

What I’ve found in speaking to women about this is that all the married and divorced women know about this need that men have. And by and large, they agree with it, too. But that is much rarer among single women, which is why men need to be ready to explain their needs and feelings, and give women opportunities to practice giving men respect, especially when men are trying to practice their male roles.

Let’s take a quick look at the Bible, because that’s always a good thing to do when you want the truth about these things.

Ephesians 5:22-33:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,

26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;

29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,

30 because we are members of His body.

31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Some women get scared by that, but they shouldn’t be, because you get to pick your husband, so just pick someone whose leadership you actually respect.

And now for my opinion about this topic.

To start, remember that men are supposed to be good at the following roles:

  • protecting (men spot threats to people, truth and goodness and attack we those threats)
  • providing (men get STEM degrees, and we save money so we can share with others)
  • moral leader (men read books to know how to make a secular case for pro-life and pro-marriage)
  • spiritual leader (men read books to know how to use secular evidence to defend their faith)

If a woman sees a man – any man – working away at these tasks, that’s the time to practice respecting him.

Here are some practical ideas on how to show a man respect, grouped in two sections.

Respect specific to the man’s core beliefs and life plan

  • Find out what goals he is trying to achieve
  • Find out what steps he has taken already
  • Find out what steps he plans to take
  • Find out what obstacles are in his way
  • Tell your friends and family about what he is doing
  • Independently read books, watch lectures, etc. to learn about the problem area
  • Independently solve problems related to his goal in your own life, and tell him about it
  • Monitor his progress and supply encouragement and rewards appropriately
  • Take care of peripheral tasks so he can concentrate on his main focus
  • Attend a training event or conference related to the problem he is trying to solve
  • Arrange a training event or conference related to the problem he is trying to solve at the church or university
  • Invite friends over, and try to show them something related to what he cares about to get a discussion started

Respect for men in general

  • Let him solve problems, especially through his male talents: providing, protecting, leading
  • When you are in public, talk about what he is trying to achieve
  • When you are in public, talk about what you are doing to help him to other people
  • Learn to do the “wind-down” activities that he likes, and do it with him
  • Try to do co-operative activities with him
  • Explain how you feel about something that you need him to do, before and after he does it
  • Explain the mechanics of tasks you do that are difficult (he will buy you something to make it easier)
  • Try to learn about things that men like so you can talk to them about those things (e.g. – politics, theology, etc.)
  • Give him time to achieve things at work if he needs to do that
  • Be frugal with money (men feel really disrespected if their money is wasted)
  • Try to read stories about ordinary men, police, soldiers being brave, so you understand why men sometimes use force (and guns) in order to defeat evil and protect others

If you’re married now, then you can just tailor this list by talking to your husband. It might be hard because men typically 1) can’t express their feelings, and 2) can’t recommend solutions.  Some of that problem can be fixed by being very careful not to do or say anything that will make the man think that he will be hurt by you if he confesses his feelings and needs. That is a nightmare for a man. Ask whether your husband feels respected, and ask for specific things you can do to make him feel respected. I always recommend that the first step be to investigate what he does that you don’t do, and find out the mechanics of it. Finding out opens opportunities to help.

If you are single now, and don’t even know any good men, you can still respect good men by making decisions now to study things that are helpful to good men. Instead of studying radicalized subject areas in school like social work and English, study a useful STEM field, like nursing or engineering or chemistry or economics, etc. Having to deal with difficult, math-oriented subjects is very good for anyone’s character, because it prepares you for the real difficulty of life, so you can be disciplined, detail-oriented and outward-focused. Non-STEM fields don’t pay much because they are not hard. Studying something hard in school helps a woman to become accustomed to having to work hard, and helps her to critical of politicians who promise goodies to people on the backs of private-sector workers.

In addition, women ought to prefer to get a private sector job in a STEM field or business field, if possible. Or better yet run her own business in a STEM field. That will help her to really be understanding and sympathetic to what men are facing in the workplace. If a woman understands the difficulty of what a man does by having done it herself, it makes a man feel respected.

12 thoughts on “Do men need respect from women, or can they perform their male roles without it?”

  1. I really believe men Need respect just like women Need compassion . And i respect my husband above any other person. I don’t always agree with him but i always respect him

  2. This is so well-written, it’s hard to believe it didn’t come from a married person. Good show, WK. On a related note, do you have any suggestions on how can we fight back against the radical feminists who are so effectively conducting the War on Men, and who are responsible for the abortion holocaust?

      1. Well, it’s too late for that! :-) At least I didn’t get married to a radical feminist – quite the opposite actually. I married a real woman – one who would be quite comfortable in another era before post-modernism consumed our culture. You know, WK, you are very wise to set the bar high for a prospective wife, because I’m not sure they make women like my wife anymore. I guess you can still find them in the southern U.S.

  3. Liked everything other than your insistence on STEM degrees. I hold a PhD in communication with an emphasis in rhetorical studies. Clear, critical thinking can come through learning how to formally debate — and that skill set was born in my discipline. I am not disparaging the sciences, but it wouldn’t hurt Christians to take degrees in rhetoric or philosophy.

    1. If you can get a PhD in that field and make a career of it, that’s good. But I don’t want people going into those non-STEM fields and getting Bs and Cs while running up tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

  4. Emerson Eggerichs’ book “Love and Respect” is an awesome example of mens need for respect and it’s completely biblical based. Most of our culture pushesthe need to Love, Love, Love for the women and then fails to teach what our men need, “respect”. I was one of those men who couldn’t quite put my finger on what was missing in my marraige until Emersons Love and Respect conference. Then is was like a lightening bolt struck. Men (real men) need it. My wife asked me what it looks like. I can’t tell you what it looks like but I can sure tell you when I don’t get it and what it does to me when it’s not there. Most women don’t want to hear this message because it makes them have some responsibility in the relationship. You nailed it on this one WK.

  5. >My wife asked me what it looks like. I can’t tell you what it looks like but I can sure tell you when I don’t get it and what it does to me when it’s not there.

    I can tell you what it looks like: the normal, human emotional validation of being individuated by others *because* your positive reaction to it makes you happy.

    I.e., we want women to show us that (A) they know what makes us different from the other men out there they could be with instead — to individuate us — and (B) this makes them happy because this makes us happy; that they seek to demonstrate their individuation of us because it makes us happy and content and feeling loved.

    Individuation isn’t the only form of respect but it’s central to the particularly male emotional experience involved here.

    1. You have hit the nail on the head. This is the real core of respect. Recognition of individual ability and support for individual goals of an individual life plan.

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