Last week Mark and I were talking with another couple about marriage challenges. She needed to return something to a store and she wanted to ask her husband to stop by the store on the way home from our house. She hesitated though, because her husband hates to shop. We talked about the concept of “request with respect,” and that’s what today’s Marriage Monday is all about.
The concept of “request with respect” is all about making your needs known while respecting your spouse’s likes and dislikes.
In this particular case, this couple–who live in a small town where shopping isn’t readily available–needed to learn how to mesh needs and differences. She loves to shop. He hates to shop. She needed to return something to a store while they were in town. She hated to say anything for fear of his frustration with her need to go to a store.
We encouraged her to make her request known while respecting her husband’s dislike of shopping. We suggested she ask him to pull up to the store to let her run in and make the return. There was no expectation of him coming in the store with her and no expectation of her doing any additional shopping.
It’s taken Mark and I many years to learn “request with respect” but it’s been so helpful! For instance, my sweet, helpful husband absolutely hates to dust. He’ll run the vacuum, empty the dishwasher, and fold the laundry any day…but he hates to dust.
So when we’re expecting company and it’s crunch time to get the house in shape, I’ll ask Mark to do anything but dust. I request help, while respecting his dislike for one part of housecleaning.
I love to have people over to our house, it fills up my extrovert self. Jill enjoys having people over too, but she’s an introvert and she needs to balance being with people and being alone. While I would love to have people over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the weekend, I make my request for socializing while respecting Jill’s need for alone time. Instead of doing something social Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I might suggest that we have friends over on Saturday night and leave Friday evening and Sunday for some personal space.
“Request with respect” is a meeting in the middle. It’s one part sacrifice and one part advocate. It also puts expectations aside and works with “who my spouse is” instead of “who I wish my spouse was.” Mark wishes I could handle more of a social life, but he’s learned to work with the reality of how I’m wired.
Honestly, for years I focused on “who I wish Jill was” instead of celebrating who she really was. I complained to God about how he had made her and I saw her differences as wrong. It wasn’t until I embraced who she was, that I was really able to love her fully and get the unfair expectations out of the picture.
Requesting with respect is accepting one another for who we are, working with those realities, and learning to choose loving requests and responses.
How about you? How have you learned to request with respect?
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I have learned that if I need my husband to do something for me, I need to give him plenty of time to do it. I rarely ask him to do something “right now” and try to give him a time frame.
Me: We are having company this weekend, so would you mind helping me with the laundry tomorrow night?
Husband: Oh, I was planning on working on this project I have going.
Me: Maybe we could do half tonight and half tomorrow night so we have enough time for both.
My husband is an extreme planner, and he will start getting stressed out if we have too much on our calendar. Giving him a day or two to work out the details is all he needs. At first, this need to plan made me crazy – I mean, who needs to plan every minute of every day?!? Since we now have a family and the calendar starts filling up quickly, I am so glad that he protects our family time.
Ashley, this is a great point and a wonderful example. Thank you for sharing!
What a wonderful reminder to treat each other with respect….it really boils down to the Golden Rule….do unto others….
Thank you for a beautiful example of “Respect in Action”!
Have a beautiful day~
You’re right, Kathleen. It’s the golden rule!