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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vocational Respect - The Fourth Pillar

Before we start...do you like the blog's New Look?

Today we'll introduce the fourth of seven Pillars of Marital Respect - Vocational Respect.

Almost all of us work in some way. We have to; as Shakespeare said, "if all the years were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work".

Even if we don't need the money, we need the challenge, the bitter fruit of labor that makes the sweetness of rest something to savor, and anticipate. After all, if there were only light, and no shadows, the most beautiful landscapes would be flat and boring.

We also need respect for what we do, and for the sacrifices we make to do it.

How do you respect what your mate does? Simple. Learn about it. Ask questions, and listen to the answers. Celebrate the successes, and commiserate on the bad days.

Be involved, because involvement and engagement are the manifestations of respect.

And what of the sacrifices?

For the spouse in the workforce, it's the long hours and the unpaid overtime and the hard days that result in falling asleep in the soup.It's the cuts and bruises and the insults borne with honor and dignity.

It's the travel.

But what of the spouse who stays home?

We live in a culture that, for all the lip service it pays to raising children well and making an attractive home, still undervalues a stay-at-home spouse and parent. "You wouldn't be able to enjoy this luxury without support, since you're not bringing in the money...you're just spending it."

It's not society's business, really, but people love to judge.

The work is hard. Dealing with kids (and their disrespect) can be more trying that the most psychotic boss.

Keeping up a house that's nice to come home to...well, it doesn't do itself, and in between drinking champagne and eating bon-bons, the stay-at-home spouse generally has to do the washing, the cleaning, the vacuuming, the dusting, the gardening, the bills...and generally tries to get it done before the other partner-in-marriage gets home.

What's a bon-bon, anyway?

And the sacrifice?

For the stay-at-home parent (I almost said "mom" but there are some domestic dads) the sacrifice is being willing to step out of a large part of the world's flow, and attend to what is vital...but often unappreciated.

Being in the workforce makes us part of something, part of something big, and shared, and vibrant. The world makes demands on us, and extends little sympathy.

We thrive in that environment, and we've done something. We've won a small victory, every day.

But what of the parent who stays home?

She's important, but she's a big fish in a very small pond. Her influence doesn't cut across corporate boundaries; it may not even cross the street.

She's given up a sense of belonging in the world, to belong to her family.

She's dropped out of the race, and catching up will be hard.

Meanwhile, at social functions, she has to deal with the faint air of condescension..."Oh, you don't really work.".

How can you respect your stay-at-home spouse?

Help out. At the very least, don't create more work by leaving bathtowels on the floor and dirty dishes in the living room.

Help according to your mate's wishes and needs. If you're asked to help in a certain way...do it that way. Don't decide that you can make things run more smoothly by helping in the way you want to help.

Help in the way you're needed.

Ask questions. Know what's going on, so you can ask more than "how was your day". Ask how the roses are doing. Ask if she (yes, or he1) is tired, and would putting the feet up for a bit be appealing?

Compliment. Notice changes, and say, "thank you". If you left this morning and the hamper was overflowing with dirty clothes...and when you came home the hamper was empty, and the closet racks full...say, "Thanks."

Respect is understanding, and appreciation is expressed thanks...and we need them both.

What about you? How do you show respect for your mate's work?

(Please don't forget to visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and a short commentary of grace in marriage.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!


  1. First of all, what a chance of scenery here, Andrew! So bright and inviting! And I've really enjoyed your series of posts on pillars in marriage. I agree that this is often an untapped area of affirmation and respect that we can and should be giving our mates daily. I think asking about those areas where we sacrifice for the good of our family is so important too! I don't hear enough in the blogosphere about the need to be polite and thank our mates. I think it's easy to feel like we can slack in these areas, but when we do our marriages suffer. Great words, my friend!

    1. Thanks, Beth...I kind of stumbled into this makeover by accident, but it's a happy accident. It's a keeper.

      Thank you for the kind words of affirmation for this series, and for the support. I strongly believe that something was lost when we learned to let it all hang out, so to speak...and put aside gentlemanly and ladylike behavior.

      I might get pilloried for sounding sexist, but men and women approach courtesy from different places; the important thing is that we meet and extend those courtesies, without looking for excuses to put them aside.

  2. Hi Andrew. I do love the new look. It is bright and happy. Loving this pillar - it is so important and often overlooked. It can show up in arguments and unhappiness in our spouse, often they are unaware this is what the deeper issue is. We all need to feel respected and valued. How often do the little things we do matter...a lot. And they are never the little things to our loved ones. That's the great thing about love. Good stuff!

    1. Thanks, Kim! The new look makes me smile when I open it, so it'll stay.

      You're so right in saying that the small things we do, things we can easily overlook, matter a great deal to our mates.

      Just holding a car door open when it's raining...being willing to get soaked so your spouse can stay drier shows both respect and love.