What is a husband’s greatest need? Sex? Red Meat? Power? Fame? Both Christian and non religious marriage experts say a husband’s greatest need and want is respect from their wives.
Marriage experts go on to say men are emotionally and physically incapable of bonding their hearts to women who treat them with contempt and look down upon them. A woman will never have a successful relationship with a man until she learns to respect him.
Why? Because men are drawn to places where they get the most respect. If they don’t receive respect at home they’ll go someplace else to find it.
Watch this short scene from the movie, “The Butler.”
Background of the Scene
The scene opens with the butler’s family conversing at dinner. The butler’s oldest son is visiting with his girlfriend.
The son and girlfriend are both members of the Black Panther party. Actor Forrest Whitaker plays the butler and actress Oprah Winfrey plays his wife.
The Butler And The Blended Family
This clip made two waffle iron sized impressions on me.
First, when Oprah’s character came between her husband and oldest son preventing what was sure to be a very ugly exit. Second, when Oprah’s character slapped the taste from her son’s mouth and corrected him with her stern words,
The scene from the Butler was within the setting of a nuclear (traditional) family. However, similar events happen within our blended families.
Mothers coming between the stepdad and her children; defending, protecting and shielding them from the stepdad’s leadership and authority.
A Stepdad’s Role – What It Should And Shouldn’t Be
As a general rule, stepdads should not be disciplining their stepchildren especially early on in the relationship. At the beginning of a relationship a stepdad’s time should be focused on getting to know his stepchildren, building trust and bonding.
A stepdad’s primary job should be supporting his wife’s disciplinary role. Mothers coming between the stepdad and her children is absolutely necessary if the stepdad is behaving unsafe and/or abusive toward the children. Otherwise, if at all possible a wife should always correct her husband in private and not in front of the kids.
A mother’s defense of her children can also be emotional. For example, a mother having secrets about the stepdad between herself and her children.
Sharing secrets about your husband with your children and involving them in your martial affairs is one of the fastest way of undermining his leadership, authority and respect. While Oprah’s character initial action of coming between her husband and son might be considered by some as disrespectful to her husband.
She leaves no question as to her priority when she sternly corrected her son with the words,
Oprah’s action made it clear she had her husband’s back and communicated her respect for him.
This is what’s missing in a lot of our blended families. I’m not advocating mother’s slapping their children for infractions of disrespect.
I do, however, feel this level of seriousness needs to be communicated regarding respecting the stepdad’s role within the blended family.
What Children Need to Understand
Children within the blended family should have a clear understanding:
- Their mother’s relationship with her husband (their stepdad) comes before their relationship with their mom and
- They need to respect their stepdad; they don’t have to like him.
Within the family including the blended family, relationships should follow this priority:
- Your spouse
- Your children
A relationship where both husband and wife are in obedience with the above priority of relationships can trust their blended family will not become another divorce statistic.
Changing these priorities will probably lead to one of the following scenarios:
- Children First. A household where the children rule. This is the most common scenario within the blended family.
Remember men will not linger in a place where they are not respected. Is it any surprise the divorce rate is nearly 70% for blended families?
- Husband/Stepdad First. A household where the husband/stepdad rules. Not a common scenario within the blended family.
A place where husbands/stepdads runs their household based on what feels right to them and not what God asks of him. What comes to mind is the stepfather from the psychological thriller, The Stepfather.
If the family isn’t living up to his expectations – get rid of them and get a new family.
Challenges To The Priority
While the Pretty Lady and I were dating my future stepson reminded me he was in relationship with his mom long before I was. Why was he telling me this I thought?
In the majority of instances a stepchild has had a relationship with their mother before the stepdad has come in the picture. Is this significant?
While it shouldn’t be it is. A mother must be able to set her relationship with her children secondary to her relationship with her new husband.
This is probably not an easy task especially when considering the emotional and loyalty bonds and ties formed with the children as a result of the separation and divorce. This could be further influenced by a mother’s own emotional baggage to include trust of men, fears of abandonment, etc.
What Looks Like Disrespect
While not inclusive this is a start of a list of things that would be considered disrespectful by most stepdads. Every stepdad has his own list of what feels disrespectful and respectful to him.
If you aren’t sure about one, ask your husband if he would find that behavior or attitude to be respectful or disrespectful. Then go with what he thinks!
What matters is what is respectful and disrespectful to your husband/stepdad.
- Making fun of him, putting him down, criticizing him, belittling him especially to others
- Body language that communicates contempt/hatred/judgment
- Lack of attention/appreciation
- Speaking negatively of him to others or in front of others
- Implying he is not a good stepfather
- Undermining his authority as a stepfather
- Any disagreement with or disapproval of the stepdad in front of his stepchildren
- Refusing, avoiding or qualifying your apology when the husband calls you on any of these disrespectful behaviors
- Remaining silent when one of the kids complains that stepdad won’t listen or doesn’t care, rather than actively attempting to defend stepdad, when stepdad has in fact tried to take the child’s wants/needs into account but has made a decision the child doesn’t like
- Disagreeing with his parenting in front of the children
Husbands like wives are imperfect people. Disrespect towards your husband cannot be justified or deserved.
Disrespect never “corrects” a bad situation. It only makes things infinitely worse.
Remember your children are watching you and your husband learning what they will take into their own relationships – let them see you and your husband modeling a safe, loving and respectful relationship. A future post will address a woman’s greatest need.