In a previous post I talked about respect and I asked, “How do you demonstrate respect and honor for the men in your life?” I received an enlightening response from a reader:
“After 8 years of marriage I’ve been divorced for the last 5 years. During our marriage we had an okay life, both successful in our careers with two children, and then things started to slowly unravel. After my husband lost his job we got behind in our bills. Creditors began calling all the time and the constant chaos just wore me out. We fought constantly and I knew it wasn’t good for the children. Eventually we agreed that for the children’s sake, we needed to separate and soon after decided to divorce.
I’m in a great dating relationship now, and this wonderful man is helping me see that some of my more difficult behaviors go back to childhood. He’s careful to say that I can’t blame everything on my parents, but it is helpful to see where behaviors start so that I can make positive changes. It’s nice to have someone who really cares about where I’m headed, not where I’ve been.
As an only child I made straight A’s in high school and never got into trouble and as a result, my parents rarely had a reason to discipline me. My mother took me to church every Sunday, but my father never attended. Looking back, I never saw my parents individually or together praying to God for wisdom in their lives, their marriage or our family. Oh, they acknowledged God on special occasions like Thanksgiving but we didn’t really involve him in any day-to-day decisions; we handled things on our own. The marriage was tumultuous. Dad drank too much and would get physically violent, with Mom being the closest object of his ill will. Mom would yell back and bring up things that happened long before I was born and frequently mentioned someone named “Caroline.” Mom didn’t have much respect for Dad and neither did I. In fact, I feared him and wished that Mom would leave him so the shouting and physical trauma would end.
In order to escape this chaos, I chose a college a thousand miles from home. I was determined to make my own way in the world. I sure didn’t consult God, or my father. I knew how to get what I wanted and I wanted to be a success in life.
I can’t blame my parents for everything bad in my life, but I now realize that I grew up with role models that showed me that God wasn’t really important, didn’t need to be consulted or worshiped. My parents had no respect for each other, so neither did I. A childhood with no respect for God and no respect for my father, easily translated into no respect for my husband.
The great guy I met; well, we’re working through this together. I tell him how much I respect him for going out into the world to make a living and caring for his elderly parents. I tell him how much I respect his involvement at his church. I even tell him how much I respect the boundaries that he has set in his life. He’s a great example: he respects God.”
There it is: wisdom from a reader. I just can’t improve on it. Respect for God, respect for your father, respect for the men in your life.