In 2004 Dr. Emerson Eggerich wrote a ground-breaking book titled “Love and Respect.” In this book, Dr. Eggerich brilliantly wrote about the innate need for women to feel loved and men to desire respect. I will never forget when I initially read that book feeling like “yeah, that’s it.” I also remember feeling that Dr. Eggerich had cracked the code on why differences develop in any meaningful relationship. I remember discussing the book with my late wife and her listening to me in that way she always did. Looking back on it I now realize she was probably thinking “duh! Bout time you figured that out”! As usual, she was already at least one step ahead of me. That is the great thing about marrying up! That is the challenging thing about marrying up!
Now that my wife has passed away and I am settling into this solitary existence that so many men who have survived their spouses/partners have come to know, there is something on the other side of Love and Respect that we miss every day in our lives. This missing piece is being “understood.” You see, being understood takes time. It takes years of working through differences, some through disagreements, some with those barely speaking periods we have experienced. But overall, it is the byproduct of the realization that we were better together than apart. You see, being understood is the result of having an almost visceral need to experience all the best parts of another person. BOY, I MISS BEING UNDERSTOOD!
Being understood is that ache that you have a tough time reaching in those quiet times that you are lonely, sad, but still alive. Being understood is what you want to explain to others when they grow weary of you not being as happy as they think you should be or as enthusiastic as you once were. Being understood is the catalyst by which I write this blog post, speak to groups, and continue to attend support groups from time to time. Being understood is my hope that at least one person who takes the time to read this post come to know they are not alone for one family member starts understanding.
So, there you have it, your introduction to what exists on the other side of Love and Respect. I hope this will help someone.
Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at [email protected], LinkedIn @terrell-whitener or through the Widow Support Network.