I understand and support the whole idea of speaking someone else’s love language, but there is also more than a little bit of patriarchy bound up in all of this. I balk at the idea of reinforcing the dominance hierarchy aspect. If my husband wants to feel my respect, he damned-well better be giving it right back, because he is not the leader in our relationship — we are partners. And if someone is so insecure that they are constantly demanding external validation of their worthiness, that’s also an issue with roots in the dominance hierarchy that is patriarchy.
When we opened up our 20+ year marriage to other people 5 years ago we had to dismantle a lot of this stuff that we had subconsciously bought into when we married. It was a lot harder on him than it was for me because of all the notions about what it means to be a husband and what it means to be a wife that are societally based. Now, we largely have a partnership relationship that we have co-created that works for us both, but every now and again an old vestige of those subconscious messages still creeps through. Something like 67% of Americans still believe that the father is the head of the household in this day and age. Even if that isn’t a formal dynamic in a particular relationship, it’s hard to get away from that still pervasive messaging. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to actively work to do so.