Women need unconditional love, men need unconditional respect. Easy to say, hard to do.
One hindrance to my giving Jeff the respect he needs has been a total lack of understanding on my part. I often have no idea what constitutes "respectful" and what constitutes "disrespectful".
We've been married for 8+ years, and for the most part, I believe I can say honestly that Jeff has endured harsh, disrespectful behavior at my hands and has consistently responded in a loving manner.
This could be partly due to the glorious and exalted martyr complex he wears like a mantle.
Just kidding, Mr. Man. ;)
Really, what happened was that while we were engaged, I expressed, in a very disrespectful manner, my observation of his greatest flaws and my disappointment that he was so... imperfect.
At the conclusion of my diatribe, he didn't speak a single word to me for eight hours.
At the end of eight hours, he said to me with tears in his eyes, "I love you."
He understood, at that point, what he was getting himself into. He realized he was in love with a girl who didn't know what love was. So he set out to teach me.
And for all this time, he has been doing just that. By faithfully, patiently, purposefully demonstrating love to me, sometimes in the face of my open hostility toward him, and always whether I deserve it or not.
As my understanding of love increases, my knowledge of Jeff's patience toward me over time brings my heart to its knees and fills me with an overwhelming desire to learn everything there is to know about respecting my husband. I want building him up to be my life's work.
Thank you, Jeff, for patiently loving me no matter what.