Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Love and Respect

We all know what love is....or at least we think we do. Years ago, Dear Hubby and I went to a conference all about love. It was called, "Love is a Decision". And, that's what I think love is...a decision. I chose my husband to be a part of me. I decided that he would be the one and only in my life. I chose him to be at the top of my priority list, right under my commitment and love for my God. There is never a day that I question, "Do I love my husband?" The decision was made, never to be rethought.

Fortunately for us, not only is the decision there, but usually the emotion of love is there too. I FEEL love for my husband. Yes, he irritates me at times, and I have a pretty good idea that I frustrate him too....but we both "feel love" for one another. Some days, I look into his eyes and my heart is flooded with love for this man. I would give my life for his. Sometimes I even wish that I could take his disease from him and carry that burden for him. I truly, deeply love my husband.

I also respect my husband. Back when we lived the traditional roles of husband and wife, that respect translated in the way I related to my husband. I asked questions, listened to his answers and then did my best to please him and follow his wishes. I tried to "obey" him as I promised in my vows. Not in the sense of "blind obedience", but I tried to place his plans and wishes above my own. The special thing about our relationship? He tried to do the same for me. We had mutual giving. He wanted to please me and I wanted to please him. Today, some things are different.

My husband no longer has the ability to make all the decisions in our lives. There are times that I have to make decisions that go against his wishes. I hate that. I hate having to decide when and which wishes to follow. I've had to learn to say no. There are times when I physically or mentally cannot take another step. There are times that I must leave my home to get a break even though I know he wants me home with him.

Today, my respect can be shown to my Dear Husband in the way I treat him. I still try to do things that please him, but with our situation, there are times that I can't. I can't be here with him 24/7, although that is what he would prefer. I can't always get him exactly what he needs. Sometimes, I have to ask him to wait while I finish something, whereas before the illness struck, I dropped everything and ran. Now, it's just me doing the things that have to be done, and sometimes he must wait.

Respect is showing honor and esteem to another. I respect him by honoring his value as a person, by showing he has worth.

His feelings matter, his thoughts are important, his needs are important. This in no way negates my own, but as with all marriages, there must be giving of respect from both. Things change though. He cannot serve me in the way he once did, but he has found little ways to show honor and respect to me.

If you are caring for your spouse, here are some ideas of things you can do show love and respect for the one you care for:

1. Take some time throughout the day to sit with your loved one and visit with them. The work will be there later....choose the person over the project.

2. Show interest in what they are doing. My husband is still able to type....very slowly...and still likes to write out devotionals. I have to make time in the day to read them and re read them as he edits. It shows respect. He has found websites and shared them with me. We like to spend time together doing what we can. Sometimes that means watching an old war movie that I'm not necessarily interested in.

3. Ask opinions and give them choices. I frequently ask if he would prefer spaghetti tonight or soup? Peanut butter or turkey? I try to ask his opinion about whether I should do this or that on Friday or today?

4. Touch is a great way to care for my husband. He may not be able to stand up and hug me, but I can lean over his bed or wheel chair and give him a hug. Touching his face, kissing him, or rubbing his shoulder helps him to feel connected to me physically.

5. Talk kindly to your loved one. I try to use words that I like spoken to me. Sweetheart, honey, please, thank you, I'm sorry, Do you need anything? Can I help? It takes very little time to speak kindly to one another, but the rewards are great.

6. Share your feelings with one another. For some of us, that is easy. For others, not so much. I have been amazed when my husband has shared his thoughts. The only way that someone shares with you is if they feel accepted and loved. They must know that they won't be rejected before they are willing to open their hearts to you.

Our life will never be the same as it once was, but it can be good, really good. It is like everything else in life, it takes work.


*karendianne. said...

Wow, this is so beautiful. What a great contribution. For all.

Grammy said...

Dear Paula,
Thank you so very much for this posting! It has reminded me of some things I had not really thought about. I do love and respect my husband, and I appreciate your words greatly. Thanks again.

The Calico Quilter said...

On the subject of showing love and respect: I have always felt that words are easy, it's actions that mean something. Things like doing things around the house or arranging things in the house that are handier or better for him, but not as convenient for me. Things that make more work for me to make it easier for him. This doesn't mean that some days it doesn't get on your last nerve to rearrange your preferences or needs again and again for the sake of your husband. It does, but you do it anyway.

Leedra said...

Everybody should read this and know this is the way to love each other.

WhiteStone said...

Insightful words of encouragement to caregivers! And to others as well. Love is action. Glad, too, that you know when to step back a step and care for yourself.