How's your marriage right now? Things a little sluggish? Even beyond what a weekend getaway and new lingerie can help? Then let me ask a couple of tough questions: Do you really want to work on this area of your life or are you waiting for the other person to change? What might happen if you began to see your spouse through different eyes -- perhaps even eyes of appreciation and respect?

I remember one retreat where I was encouraging the women attendees to be respectful of their husbands and to even attempt to be interested in whatever interested their husbands. I  told them how I'd read the sports page each day so I could discuss issues my husband liked.

I also confessed that while I miss my now deceased husband, I don't miss football one bit! But because he liked to have me watch the games with him while our children napped, I did. I quilted or thumbed through catalogs or wrote letters, but I was there. And I cheered when he cheered and groaned when he groaned and never once asked, "Uh, who's playing again?"

Was that being deceptive? Not at all. I didn't love football -- and my husband knew it -- but I did love him. And if he enjoyed having me watch the game with him, then that's what I wanted to do. After all, I knew there were plenty of other women out there who would be happy to watch football with him. And when I make that point at retreats, I get plenty of nods in response.

But let me back up a bit and tell you about one particular retreat. After one of my sessions, a woman in a blue sweater stopped by my cabin to talk about her feelings for another woman's husband. I got right to the point: "Are you involved sexually?"

"No," she answered, then added softly, "not yet."

As my eyebrows arched, she said quickly, "But you don't understand how awful his wife is to him. He really is a sweet, loving man, but nothing he does ever pleases her, and she always puts him down in public."

I heard her out for almost an hour but reminded her that she was playing with fire that was about to destroy a family, tarnish her own life and ripple out to others in the church. As I prayed with her, I asked God to strengthen her and help her seek His face and hear His voice only.

She thanked me, but as she left she added, "I wouldn't stand a chance if she'd just be kind to him." I've heard the his-wife-just-doesn't-understand-him line so much that I just shook my head and silently wrapped another prayer around her.

In the evening session, I gave my talk about the importance of being interested in things our husbands are interested in, concluding with my typical line: "So if it's important to your husband to have you watch football with him, do that. After all, there are plenty of other women out there who would be only too happy to watch with him."

As usual, several women nodded, but one woman to my right snorted, "Not my husband!" and laughed. I was startled she would say that publicly, even as a joke. The line did get a good laugh, and while I waited for the group to settle down, a woman in a blue sweater caught my eye and gave me a see-I-told-you-so look. Oh! She was the one who had confessed her love for another's husband that afternoon. She hadn't been making up the wife's disrespect after all.

I often wonder how that situation finally played itself out, but I'm convinced it ended with pain. And it didn't have to be that way. After all, a little respect goes a long way. A long way toward maintaining good relationships and mending sluggish ones.



Adapted from Men Read Newspapers, Not Minds -- and other things I wish I'd known when I first married by Sandra P. Aldrich. (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Used by permission.) Author or co-author of 17 books, Sandra is an international speaker who handles serious issues with insight and humor. For information about her speaking availability or to order this book, contact her at BoldWords@aol.com