Why Men Need Respect + 3 Ways to Give It

If you’ve ever asked your husband something that seemed totally innocuous (“Honey, for the hundredth time, will you please fix the leaky faucet?”) and have been baffled at his response, keep reading. 🙂

I recently finished reading For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhan. Her book opened my eyes to a few differences between the way men and women think: mainly, a man’s need for respect.

After surveying hundreds of men and conducting dozens of interviews, Shaunti learned that most men would choose to feel respected over feeling loved.

As a woman, I personally wouldn’t care if half the world thought I was an incompetent idiot—as long as someone out there loved me the way I was. (You too?) But most men need to be perceived as competent, able, and worthy of respect even more than they need to feel loved.

3 Ways to Give Men Respect

1. Respect men as providers.

Shaunti’s book gave me more appreciation for the anxiety men live with from having to stay on top of their game 24-7 at work. She says many men feel like they are always just one step ahead, or worse, that they are impostors who don’t know what they’re doing and are on the brink of being found out. They also feel tremendous pressure to provide a comfortable lifestyle for their families. Imagine what a difference a supportive wife (or mother or sister) at home can make.

2. Respect men as problem solvers.

Think about every time you have been lost on the road with a man in the driver’s seat. Think about every time you have called a repairman because you knew it would take your husband three times as long to figure it out. Think about every time you did something for your son because letting him try on his own would make you late. Think about the way your husband offers solutions when all you want is a little understanding. Men have an innate need to solve problems, and their ability to do so is tied to way they see themselves.

3. Respect men as husbands and fathers. 

I had always thought nagging was a bad idea just because it’s annoying. Well, that, and it usually makes my husband want to do the opposite! After reading For Women Only, I learned that nagging him implies failure. Every time we ask our husbands to fix that leaky faucet, we’re telling them we think they’ve failed. That they just can’t get it together for us. (In reality, they simply have different priorities!) And for most of us, men and women alike, failure is not a motivating feeling. (At least not initially.) Neglecting to recognize what our men do for us makes them feel like we don’t trust or respect them.

So the real question is, how do we show our respect? How do youI’d love to hear!

For part two: How to Give Men the Respect They Need (I need this post as much as anyone…!)
And for hopeful but vulnerable stories from women: The Marriage Diaries

  • Alison
    September 26, 2012 at 1:46 am

    I LOVE the hashtags at the end! HILARIOUS!

    I read that book – and I forgot everything, so I probably need to re-read it. I am really bad at nagging. I feel like we’re going to get in an accident every time my husband drives, so I am constantly nagging him: “slow down” “switch lanes” and “don’t tailgate that car!” are popular ones. I get in nagging moods, even, where I am relentless – usually when he has been rude or his tempter is short. I don’t know what to do to stop nagging! How do you get them to stop being a crazy driver or help do more chores without making them feel like you don’t respect them? Looking forward to your next post.

    • Erica {let why lead}
      September 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      SUCH a great point! I’ve been mulling over it all night. The driving is especially tricky, because you can’t really ignore it if you feel like it’s a safety thing. As for the chores, I’m still trying to figure that out! It’s such a balance between hoping for more and trying to expect less! Maybe that will have to be a whole ‘nuther post, and we can get some input from other ladies! I could use the ideas, too!

  • Alison
    September 26, 2012 at 1:46 am


  • Alana @ Domestic Bliss Diaries
    September 26, 2012 at 2:41 am

    I agree with everything you have said, however I am just as curious as Alison about the “how”. My husband doesn’t help out a lot at home and I get so frustrated. I try to remind myself that, because I am home full-time, I should take care of most of the work. However, some help wouldn’t hurt.

    This post also reminded me that “little man” is more than just a nickname for my son… He truly is a little man and I should show him age-appropriate respect, as well.

  • Sarah
    September 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I love that you posted this. My husband told me he would help out more but I just needed to tell him what needed to be done (ahhh how can you not tell) I guess I just wanted him to take the Initiative. I would bring it up but then it would not happen so he finally told me just give me a chore to do once a week and I will do it when I can. So I made a chore chart. He has 2 chores to do each week, sweep and dust. It sounds silly but I walked through the chores with him and showed secret places that dirt likes to hide and how to change the duster top when it is dirty. He is not always perfect, nor am I at doing mine, but when I remind him early in the week and he remembers he is usually good at doing more chores while he was in a cleaning mood. He forgot both chores last week but I simply reminded him this week about them and yesterday not only did he sweep he loaded the dishwasher, mopped and folded the blankets on the couch. We are by no means perfect, but for right now a few simple chores for him makes me feel better about doing the harder work around the house.

  • Sarah
    September 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    My father in law has actually pulled me aside during a stay at their house and basically said exactly what you are writing. I think it speaks to my husbands needs as well. (Runs in the family, if it’s not true for all men.) I can FEEL when my requests are making him FEEL unrespected. I would have never thought that is the thing he needs, but it is! And we just had the flip conversation about how I need those small tokens of love and appreciation in order to feel validated in my job as a wife and mother. I’m so glad you are back writing! I enjoy your perspective and you make me want to be a better writer Erica!

  • Becky K
    September 27, 2012 at 12:58 am

    I am on the wagon with you here, Erica. I try and fail and try again. The eye-opening book for me was “Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerichs, which is based on the same principle you’re describing. Funny – my husband was the one who took issue with the idea of needing respect more than love. To him, they are more closely connected than the books might suggest. And maybe that’s just the point, right?

  • Mary B
    September 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I read this blog this morning (before the next one was put up) and it inspired me to text my better half & apologize for something I said last night & to tell him that I appreciate how hard he works for our family. ( I don’t usually apologize!) I got the nicest reply back from him and am feeling more hopeful about life as I know it! Thanks for the insight. 🙂

  • Paula
    September 28, 2012 at 2:42 am

    This sounds like a book that would make any marriage stronger. Your post reminds me to be thankful for what my husband does and to not gripe about what I wish he’d do.

  • Richella @ Imparting Grace
    October 3, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Good advice! Key understanding you present here, Erica. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Bill Collins
    November 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Men do need respect. Respect encourages us to be even better than we already are 🙂 It’s like pumping up our blood vessels with good stuff so that we become healthy in how we’re designed to be!

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