Ephesians 5:33b: And the wife should respect her husband.
Respect is his primary need, his deepest desire.

I Put My Followers First

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Husband, My Hero

Today I'd like to consider how a wife can respect a husband's desire to protect her.  To be honest, I've been considering this topic for some time but today I'd like to focus on it.  As I have been designing the respect cards for my Zazzle store, I have researched this topic more extensively than others.

My previous understanding of the subject came from my lengthy exposure to literature and film.  From the fairy tales of childhood, cartoon television, Greek mythology, soap operas, magicians and movies I learned of the timeless appeal of men who rescue their damsels in distress.  I was willing to accept that all men are born with the desire to protect and women are susceptible to the need for rescue.

Transferring that knowledge to the real life of my marriage was challenging.  It was difficult to recognize the ways in which my husband could possibly protect me.  There were so many things he was incapable of doing because of the stroke.  He could not walk across grass or any uneven surface.   He had no idea how to fix anything around the house, not even to replace a light bulb.   He prides himself in earning his black belt in karate, but that was before the stroke.  To picture him launching a coordinated defense against an attacker was, honestly, amusing.

And then, serendipitously, an opportunity presented itself for Bruce to demonstrate his ability to protect me.  No, it did not involve a black belt.  But, it did involve a black, white and yellow bird.  Before I describe what happened I must introduce you to a bird species that can only be found in California.  It is the yellow-billed magpie. The sound that these birds make is more annoying than all the crows in the movie "The Birds".

I was working on the computer at the back of the house this past Thursday morning and the front door of the house was open.  The chatter of the magpies seemed to settle in my front yard.  It sounded as if there were two factions of magpies engaged in a brutal battle in the trees.  The sound grew louder and louder until I decided I should investigate.  Laying flat on its back, with its yellow beak facing straight up was a very dead magpie.  As I was puzzling over its demise I could hear the cackling of a crow high up in the trees, I shuddered and shut the door.

I then puzzled over how I would deal with the dead bird.  The trash cans were at the curb, still full.  I could scoop up the bird and take it to trash.  But, I couldn't get past the thought of physically handling death, germs, bugs, gross  . . . just gross.  Then I remembered that I have a husband with a burning desire to protect me.  I would wait until Bruce came home!

When he had come inside and put away his things, I asked if he had seen the dead bird lying in the yard.  He had not.  He started to ask me, "What do you want ME to do about IT?".

Then, as if to state a matter-of-fact, he said, "I know.  You want me to take care of it."

He asked for a rubber glove for his "good" hand and a plastic bag to put the bird in.  I asked if he would like me to double the bag and he agreed.  Using the bags, I lined a small bucket.  This would keep the bag rigid in Bruce's "bad" hand while he scooped up the bird with the other.  He then headed out the door and walked across the uneven ground and grass where he paused.

"What if he bites me?"

I assured him that the bird had not moved so much as a feather all day.  So this man, ever reluctant to bend down to pick something up for fear of being unable to rise again, leaned over and scooped up the bird.  Just like that!  It was incredible.

When he came back inside and came to the kitchen to wash up, I threw my arms around his neck.  I really was grateful, incredibly grateful, to have a man to take care of me.  And I made absolutely sure, by my actions, that he knew it!

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Word to the Wives ~ ~ Though he will not likely find you tied up and screaming for help, your husband does fantasize about opportunities to rescue you from real danger. As spiritual head as well as physical protector and provider, his calling is divine and the unseen enemy is relentless. Treasure your husband's desire to fulfill his calling.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Snippets of Success

I published the following status statement on Facebook earlier this week:

Sharon Cohen received a call from her husband en route to work. "I just wanted to tell you that I feel better and it's mostly because you took such good care of me." Monday at 6:41am 

For my readers here who don't follow me on Facebook, let me explain.  My husband was battling a gruesome case of stomach flu over the weekend.  Honestly, I could not tell if it was food poisoning or stomach flu when it began. 

At the end of his shift on Friday, he called complaining of migraine headache type symptoms: an overwhelming pain on the top of his head, excessive thirst and simultaneously overwhelming nausea.  With the help of a friend, we got him home and I helped him prepare for bed. 

For the unaware, my husband is a stroke survivor with extreme weakness on his right side that makes dressing difficult when he is additionally impaired.   It took about 30 minutes to get him changed from his work clothes to bedclothes.  I kept checking his eyes for the tell-tale-fluttering-pupil-symptom that would warn if the shunt in his head had shifted or that he was going into a seizure.  I couldn't remember which and I wondered if it was safe to leave him.  I prayed a brief prayer and felt a sense of peace.  I rose and stepped away from the bed.  He seemed to be dozing when I left the room.

I had been giving him an electrolyte replacement drink throughout our trip home from work and within half an hour he began yelling about needing to throw up - RIGHT NOW. 

I ran back to the bedroom and grabbed the trashcan.  If you've never witnessed projectile vomiting I can only compare it to a sporadic power washer propelled from deep within the gut.  I was amazed at my reaction.  Normally I would be prompted to lose my stomach at times like this, but I was not even inclined to queasiness.  (Praise God for sparing me that experience.)  My husband continued for at least five minutes.  Thankfully he never did progress to the dry heaves. 

I will spare you the details of the clean-up effort required.  I did not call for Haz-mat but I was tempted.  My husband finally was able to lie down again.  Unfortunately, he had expelled his sleeping pills and was unable to fall back to sleep.  I waited about half an hour for his stomach to settle and I gave him his evening seizure medication, naproxen and over-the counter sleeping pills again.

I settled into an evening of waiting and listening.  I could not bring myself to prepare dinner.  I knew he wouldn't eat and I was hungry for his least favorite food of all times.  I was afraid that the mere aroma would turn his stomach again.  I waited until nearly 8:30 to get something to eat.  He was up and down a few times before I finally went into bed. 

The rest of the weekend is a blur.  He rested most of the day on Saturday while I ran necessary errands.  He even conceded that he was too ill to go out for dinner with our birthday-friend but let me go without him.   Sunday morning he got up and dressed for church as if he had never been ill and then collapsed back into bed before ever leaving the house.  I remember keeping him fed on the blandest food acceptable and stocked with plenty of liquids. 

I do clearly remember one very important detail.  I spent a great deal of time battling within myself about my own behavior through all of this.   Every stereotypical response a wife would make to a sick husband played in my mind.  It seemed at every turn I struggled to silence the voice in my head and the urge to belittle him. 

"Grow up, Bruce." 
"You whine like a little baby."   
"You'd think you'd never been sick before."
"Good thing men don't give birth - mankind would be extinct." 
"Buck up - take it like a man."

I kept returning to Ephesians 5:33b. 

"This is the time that God meant to address when He inspired those words!"  I was talking to myself a lot this weekend.  ". . . and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

There were moments this weekend when that scripture taunted, haunted and teased me to do what was right.  When Monday morning arrived I had not yet begun to evaluate what I had experienced and how I had handled it when the phone rang. 

It was Bruce; calling to tell me he had arrived safely at work, as he always does.  Then he would normally wish me a good day and promise that he would call again on his lunch break.   This morning, things were different.

"I just wanted to tell you that I feel better and it's mostly because you took such good care of me."

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Respecting the Differences

One of the most important things that I have learned in life is this;

Men and women are different; fundamentally different. As soon as I began to respect my husband for being a man (and stopped trying to change him) wonderful things began to happen.

I began to accept that God wired us differently.  He did not say that man was better than woman or that woman was better than man.  God only said that it was not good for man to be alone.  God created Eve and God said, THEN, that it was good.

When I met my husband it was obvious that he was starving for respect.  He had been belittled and put down by nearly every person that he had ever loved and yet, he was willing to take another chance.  It was so simple.  I began to appreciate him.  I became his number one fan.  Most importantly, I remained his number one fan after we married.  I practice new ways - new routines, if you will - to cheer him on.  I look for opportunities to encourage him.  If he is reluctant to try something new I reach into his past and call to his mind his successes.

It has taken me over half a century to accept that men are men and women are women - and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with either one!   My husband did not seem to have any need, compulsion or desire to change me.  I was accepted and appreciated.   Once I was able to allow him to be him and to respect and appreciate who he is - as a man - wonderful things began to happen.

It would be so wonderful to spend another half century respecting and enjoying the differences.

RESPECT and The Feminist Movement

I know that my perspective on the following issue has not been popular, but I have been quiet for 40 years simply because I prefer to avoid conflict.   That is not to say that your opposing comments are not welcome. I am a big girl now.  I can take it.  So, please, feel free to share your thoughts at the end of this post.

From Wikipedia: "Respect" is a song written and originally released by Stax recording artist Otis Redding in 1965. "Respect" became a 1967 hit and signature song for R&B singer Aretha Franklin. While Redding wrote the song as a man's plea for respect and recognition from a woman,

. . . the roles were reversed for Franklin's version. Franklin's cover was a landmark for the feminist movement.  (Listen for the difference in the message of Aretha's version.)

I was a young girl at the time of Franklin's recording and from then until now I did not appreciate the "feminist movement'. I felt that I was being robbed of my privileges as a female by the loud, overbearing and angry women holding public demonstrations.  They filled the airwaves, TV shows and public places in their efforts to indoctrinate impressionable girls like me.

But I was not convinced. I liked being a girl and for heaven's sake, I had not even worn my first bra when "they" started asking me to burn it!

Seriously, my parents made sure that I learned to be capable of great things. I was taught to dream big and was encouraged to acquire a higher eduction, to pursue lofty dreams and to grab the brass ring of financial success. I was not blind to the options and opportunities around me. But, even without a Christian focus in my home and without anything more than a rudimentary understanding of the scriptures, I knew that God had designed men and women to be different from one another.

From where I entered the scene, on the cusp between the 1950's and the 1960's, I could see that men handled the chores and assignments that I was more than grateful to forfeit to them. I had no interest in being the bread-winner, trash-hauler, flat-tire-changer, lawn-mower, house-painter, or pooper-scooper.

In my childhood these chores (and many others more gross and disgusting) were handled by men or boys. I thought that, considering the feminine talents given to us, women could avoid the really disgusting work for as long as they chose. I had no desire to take that "opportunity" away from the boys.

I could also see that men would do most anything - dangerous, gross, dirty, filthy things - simply for the respect of a woman. Most especially impressive was to what lengths a man would go to receive the admiration, appreciation and respect of a woman.

I watched, on the other hand, the demoralizing, degrading and male bashing depths to which some women would sink in making their demand for equal or greater respect and for the sake of women's "liberation".

When the women's liberation movement took hold, men began to be robbed of the respect that preceding generations had received. Suddenly, to respect a man was seen as a sign of feminine submission, surrender and subjugation. Society perverted the scriptural injunctions resulting in women believing that to give a man respect demeans her in some way. The capstone of the feminist teaching was to further indoctrinate girls to believe that respect must be earned or that it is only required in reciprocity.

However, when God requires respect or honor of Himself or others, the scriptures teach the opposite.  No matter how thoroughly I have searched the scriptures, I can find no qualifiers to the commandment to honor my parents or to the instruction to respect my husband.

With regard to styles and fads, I do not suggest that we return to the ways of the world before the women's liberation movement. But we must admit that the ways of the world are not God's ways. Respect does not go out of style and honor is not a fad.

While historically women may not have been held in the high regard that God (according to the scriptures) requires of men, we must not engage in a game of tit-for-tat by denying men the respect that God requires of women. Let us ever remember that as women of God we are capable of far greater grace than that.

I do not expect that a few respectful women will transform the world.  However, for the sake of their marriages, I will challenge other women of God to return to the teachings in Ephesians 5:33b. After all, all He's asking for is just a little respect.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

To the Wife of an Ordinary Man

Speaking to the wives in the audience: Have you ever been in such a dire situation that you were actually expecting your husband to rescue you and he did not?

Did you react as most of us do with a pout (in the least) or the silent treatment and cold shoulder flaunted in exaggerated body language? And in spite of your dramatic demonstration, if your husband is like most men, he was probably clueless.

Even those of us who have not acted as the drama queen have been, on occasion, miffed by our husband's failure to save us when things went wrong.

Is it any wonder? As young girls we were subjected to every imaginable damsel-in-distress storyline that emphasized our "right" to be rescued by a hunk-of-a-hero. The images around us enforced the sleeping-beauty and knight-in-shining-armor fantasy that we expected to enter when we grew up. Many of us capped off the fantasy with a fairy tale wedding in a princess gown on the perfect day to the perfect man with the perfectly chiseled features striking a macho pose as he waited to take us into his arms at the end of the long, long aisle.

And then, reality struck.

It soon became apparent that the schools your husband attended never offered "How to be Her Hero" or "Rescuing the Damsel - Advanced Studies" in their curriculum. As a matter of fact, unless your husband was raised by the rare and perfect example, he never saw a damsel in distress being rescued by an ordinary man. As boys, our husbands watched Superman, Spiderman and Luke Skywalker. Everyone, including our husbands, know that little boys do not have super powers and they will not grow up to acquire them either. Little boys grow to be ordinary men.

God challenges ordinary men to protect and provide for their wives and men actually desire the ability to protect and provide in extraordinary ways. But ordinary men are, well, ordinary.

Considering that we are well aware of of this, why do you suppose that we wives continue to be disappointed when no one gallantly swoops in to save us from peril? Are we that oblivious to reality? Let's face it: Given our reality, the fantasy does not fit.

What we have in reality are men who grumble and complain when we need them to change the flat tire, take out the trash or go up on the roof to repair the leak. We find ourselves committed in marriage to men who will avoid the simple household chores until they have to hire a repairman to fix the problem that got way out of hand.

I suspect that God knew this when he inspired the Apostle Paul to write what he did in Ephesians 5:33b. God knew that men would be ordinary and women would need to be instructed to respect them unconditionally. He provided short, simple, and to the point instruction. He did not qualify the point of his instruction to the wives. He said, ". . . and the wife must respect her husband."

It would not surprise me if God provided that instruction specifically for those times when a husband fails to live up to his wife's expectations. While some women would balk at obeying God's instructions, others will find the challenge to be exhilarating. Some have even marveled at the trust that God has placed in them to live up to His expectations in this regard.

Just imagine being respectful to the husband who changes the tire without being gleeful about it. Give him a bright, sunny yet breezy day to squat on the pavement and twist off those lug nuts and darned if he still doesn't find cause to grumble about the gravel in his knees. Can a wife really be expected to appreciate that kind of behavior?  Of course she can and she should.

Maybe she offers a smile, a hug and a thank-you.  In retrospect, if an opportunity has passed unnoticed, she can write him a note or give him a card that expresses what she failed to say at the time. No matter how she expresses her respect, if it is sincere it will pay dividends of increased satisfaction for both husband and wife.

In the course of a marriage, we will be given ample opportunity to express our respect and appreciation for our spouse. While some of our dire situations may be better or worse than a flat tire, the opportunity to practice respect is always the same. When you feel your back against the wall or that you have gone way out on a limb, it is easy to forget that your husband does have your best interest at heart. He may not be adept at communicating his desire to protect and provide for you, but it he feels it just the same.

To offer him anything but appreciation and respect in return is deflating, demeaning and demoralizing.

Your respect is your husband's deepest desire.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sacrifice: A Time For Respect

There is a growing movement among Christian women who are ready, willing and learning what God requires of them as wives. In Ephesians 5:33b, wives are instructed to respect their husbands. Learning to respect is an intentional choice to be made because it is not something taught in schools and is no longer a common virtue.

On the contrary, women are subjected to thousands of scenes that depict disrespect between spouses simply through the television and movies that they watch. Transforming any experience into an opportunity for learning requires intention. A wife can intentionally watch for opportunities, missed or taken, of when and how a message of respect was appropriate.

A recent repeat episode of "The Unit" provided an opportunity to observe both the wrong and the right way to respect your spouse. As with most television shows, if it had shown what a wife should do, it would not be entertainment. Conflicts and reconciliations drive episodic television scripts and ratings. However, if the viewer uses the episode as a case study, there is much to be learned.

The recap for the episode (taken from the online television guide) reads, "Pregnant, Kim is put on bed rest for 48 hours after a minor scare but Bob seems to be incapable of taking care of the kids without her."

Based on the actual facts of the episode, if taken in light of the teachings in Ephesians, the recap should have read, "Bob is berated by Kim who makes disrespectful accusations. Bob attempts to please his wife and takes responsibility by selling his prize antique car. Later, Kim fails to respect Bob's sacrifice".

Fans of the show will remember that Bob came home from work to an exhausted and pregnant wife. For the sake of her health and that of the unborn baby, he insists that she remain in bed for 24 hours. Meanwhile he promises to watch the children. He is not expert at the task but the children were being cared for. Kim leaves her bed to push Bob aside and demonstrate the proper care and feeding of their daughter. Bob takes the chastisement in silence. Later, Kim wants to sneak out, go to work and do her radio broadcast. Before leaving the house she finds Bob working on the antique car he inherited from his father instead of being inside with his sleeping children. She scolds him again for not knowing how to care for their children and takes the children to daycare. While Kim is gone, Bob sells the car. The viewer is left wondering if Kim truly comprehends the magnitude of Bob's sacrifice.

As in most marriages, both husband and wife failed to respect the other at first. In the end, Bob does respect his wife's wishes by eliminating the one major distraction that seemed to be bothering her. Kim, after disrespecting, humiliating and lying to him, has little to say in gratitude for his sacrifice.

Any wife who wants to learn what disrespect looks like and what it sounds like can easily learn from this episode. She can see where the mistakes are made and how they might have been corrected. The least that a wife can walk away with is an understanding that no one is perfect, not herself and not her husband. A purposeful viewer can also imagine what might have been had the wife been concerned with the instructions in Ephesians 5:33.

In your own marriage, has your husband made sacrifices that you have overlooked? Has he abandoned or limited pleasures that were once so all-important to him? And if he has, have you shared appreciation with him, for him, or about him to others for the sacrifices he has made?

There is only one thing more devastating than to be unappreciated and that is when you have not been appreciated for your sacrifice. We sometimes wallow in self-pity when others do not seem to notice all that we do.

Do not fail to respect and recognize the times that your husband has sacrificed his pleasures or his choices for your sake. Such sacrifices or submissions are demonstration of his love for you. As soon as you can, tell him that you appreciate him or give him a card that says it for you.

Your husband longs to hear of your appreciation. To receive your respect is your husband's deepest desire.


Friday, May 21, 2010

A Wife's Unconditional Respect

Few people would argue that in the perfect marriage husband and wife would always love and respect each other unconditionally and each would always behave in a way to deserve it. If you enjoy this kind of a perfect marriage please pass this article to another couple that falls short of the mark.

Before we focus on the subject of respect in marriage we should recognize the general loss of respect in society. In general, have you noticed how disrespectful people have become? One can hardly step out in public or turn on the television without witnessing acts of disrespect. It is easy to point out the behavior in others: the guy who cut you off on the freeway, the lady in line with "more than 10 items", the kid who ran across your flowerbed. Are you one who finds the behavior appalling?

If you find such behaviors appalling in others can we assume that you do not disrespect people around you? We do not appreciate disrespect of ourselves or of others. While we find it appalling in other we often feel helpless to change our own behavior. We may not even recognize the many ways in which we also are being disrespectful.

When it comes to respect and disrespect, we all want to change the world, but we are powerless to do so. We can, however, make changes in our little corners of the world; in ourselves and in our families.

Children are being raised without examples of respect that they can follow. We all know that children do as we do and not as we say. If we fail, as wives or as mothers, to respect our husbands we can expect nothing better from our children. If we do not model unconditional respect (for our husbands), our children will feel justified when disrespecting others who do not live up to their expectations. We will find ourselves with little justification for our dismay when they disrespect the rights of others. There will be no one to blame but ourselves.

Have you noticed the kids who dart across the street to greet a friend, seemingly oblivious to their impact on traffic? Have you heard the language used by teens in public spaces as if their elders had no ears? No matter how upsetting it is to witness, are you absolutely sure that you have set a better example of respect in all things?

Have you been heard demeaning your husband when he failed to live up to your expectations? When he failed to take the trash to the curb did you berate him because he deserved it? Do you roll your eyes when you disagree with him? Do you speak disrespectfully about him to your children or to others? Do you snap at him about his discarded dirty socks or because he hasn't mowed the lawn yet?

If it is difficult to examine your behavior without becoming defensive then try this. While watching network television, identify the times when one person disrespects another. Especially notice when the disrespect is that of a wife for her husband. You should quickly become of aware of the subtle ways our children are being taught. You might also notice that for a wife to disrespect her husband is society's "norm".

Once you can admit that you do, on occasion, outwardly disrespect your husband you are ready to effect a change. For many wives it has been difficult to know how to change. As women, it is hard to just turn it off! Exercising our quick wit and rolling our eyes has been our habit for as long as we can remember. God help us!

Seriously, God will help us. He has instructed us, as wives, to respect our husbands. (Ephesians 5:33b).

God did not say, "If the husband does well, the wife should respect him."

No, God expects the wife to respect her husband unconditionally. When He has asked us to do something, He will help if we will let Him. Successfully overcoming the insidious habit of disrespect is possible with God's help.

Remember that God loves your husband unconditionally. Commit to learning how to also respect your husband unconditionally and then tell him the truth. Tell your husband that you are learning to respect him unconditionally. If a conversation is uncomfortable, tell him in writing or give him a card that expresses exactly that.

When you respect him unconditionally, you are fulfilling your husband's deepest desire. To be respected is your husband's deepest desire.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Your Husband's Deepest Desire

As a wife, are you uncomfortable respecting your husband's desire for sexual intimacy, passion and physical release?
When discussing the needs of men, their deepest desires, it is not unusual for woman to assume the topic to be sex or physical intimacy. Truly there is a physical disconnect that occurs sometime after the wedding vows are exchanged. The blame game and the faultfinding begin soon after the honeymoon when the day-to-day drudgery of reality sets in.
"Someone once said that just as the devil will do everything he can to bring two people together sexually before marriage, he does everything he can to keep them away from each other after marriage." (Emerson Eggerichs, "Love and Respect")
If the devil is promoting the downfall of your marriage then it must be to God that you turn for success.
Before spending one dime on marriage counseling or self-help books, God has already provided a key to the wife's success. It is in Ephesians 5:33b; "and the wife should respect her husband. (The secret for a husband's success precedes God's counsel to the wives in the same verse.)
Men are to love their wives and women are to respect their husbands. Do you find yourself saying, "Yeah. Right. Surely the secret to marital success cannot be that simple?"
Suppose that everything a husband desires can truly be traced back to his need for respect? Are you willing to put forth a little effort and test the theory?
Do you trust God enough to follow such a simple instruction?
Being respectful is so much more than manners. It requires the ability to treat others, as you would want to be treated. It is good to remember that just as you would expect your husband to love you unconditionally, your husband expects that you will respect him unconditionally.
For the wife to be successful, in her role in the marriage, begins simply enough. Commit to learning how to respect your husband and then tell him the truth. Tell him that you are learning to respect him unconditionally. Meanwhile, recognize that he is learning to love you unconditionally.
Do you turn off to his needs because he doesn't know to comfort you in time of distress? Recognize and respect your husband's desire to be understanding and comforting in times of trial. Be respectful if he fails to know what to do. Do not belittle or discourage him when he doesn't sweep you up in his arms when you are hurting. Ask him for a hug if you need one. He is not a mind reader.
Respect your husband's need for your friendship. Do you turn a cold shoulder when he does not meet your expectations? Or do you think he should always do what you want to do? Your husband wants you to be his best friend; "hanging out" with him often and doing the things he loves the best. Let him know that you want to be with him, no matter where he goes. Be unconditional in your respect.
Respect your husband's desire and drive to keep the family afloat in times of ease and in times of disaster. This is not a time to expect your husband to earn your respect. You can earn his never-ending devotion by your kind and encouraging word.
Respect your husband's desire to fulfill his God-given role by telling him that you support and sustain him in his leadership. Do not hold back waiting for him to become the perfect man. It won't happen in your lifetime.
By now you have begun to realize that it is up to you to respect your husband's God-given desires. But what you know is not always reflected in what you do. You may feel unsure, awkward or even a bit embarrassed. You can overcome your insecurity by harnessing the power of suggestion. It can be easier to honor and respect your husband's need for sexual release when you initiate or encourage it yourself.
An instinct burns in every man to achieve something before leaving this world. The regard and respect of others seems to motivate that desire to achieve, while disrespect and disregard can smother it.
Recognize, respect and commend your husband for his achievements no matter how big or how small. To be respected is your husband's deepest desire.


Can I get an Amen?