As my wonderful wife has pointed out, the most popular Aretha song of all time was actually written by a guy. Not just any guy, but Mr. Sittin'-on-the-Dock-of-the-Bay himself, Otis Redding.
This guy was smooth. He was good looking. The girls loved him. But according to his song, he just wanted respect.
Heck, ask any guy if he'd prefer to be respected or loved, he'll most likely choose respect. It's the way we're raised, and it's the way our brains are wired.
So it should come as no surprise that many guys have a tough time showing love to their wives. Guys often think that the way to show their wives love is to do things for them, earn more money, work harder, buy more stuff...in other words, by being a guy!
She doesn't want your stuff, she wants YOU.
But...what does she need from you?
Well, most men cannot figure out women at all. Heck, there are men in their 80s who have been married 50 years who still don't understand women.
Since we are often so very clueless, our all-knowing Creator has TOLD us in his Word:
Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. - Ephesians 5:33
OK, so there's that respect thing again...but we must love her as we love ourselves? Hmmm...
Lets back up...
In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. - Ephesians 5:28-31
Wait..."as their own bodies"? "Become one flesh"? That has a familiar ring to it...
Then the Lord God made a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called ‘woman, "for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family. - Genesis 2:22-24
Wow. So from the dawn of time to Jesus' coming and thereafter we have been commanded to love our wives as if she were part of our own bodies...because spiritually she IS part of our own bodies!
But this has limitations, right? I mean, there's some things that a guy just can't put up with. Right?
The Lord said to me, “Go, show love to your wife again, even though she loves another man and continually commits adultery. Likewise, the Lord loves the Israelites although they turn to other gods and love to offer raisin cakes to idols.” So I paid fifteen shekels of silver and about seven bushels of barley to purchase her. Then I told her, “You must live with me many days; you must not commit adultery or have sexual intercourse with another man, and I also will wait for you.” - Hosea 3:1-3Hold it...time out. God wanted the prophet Hosea to go to his wife, who was not only gone but shacked up with a new guy, and to take her back? And he was not only commanded to take her back, but to LOVE her!
Little did Hosea know that this was setting the stage for a "bridegroom" yet to come.
Jesus loves His people unconditionally and without reservation. He is the bridegroom to His bride (the Church) just as men are the bridegroom to their wives.
He loved us so fully that he left His place in Heaven to come to Earth and live as one of us. He loved us so unconditionally that His sacrifice on the cross paid for ALL our sins, past, present and future, no matter WHAT we do.
So too must men love their wives fully and unconditionally. Only when she feels fully loved can she meet your emotional needs and find out what it means to YOU.