It is customary to wait until one has finished reading a book before one writes a review, but I can’t wait! I’ve been reading the book Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, which was mentioned in our Marriage Bible study a few weeks ago and someone was kind enough to lend me her copy, which I’ve half devoured in a week!
I can’t say that I love this book, but I do love the message of this book. It reads a little like an infomercial. The author seems to think he needs to persuade me that I should want to apply Biblical truth to my marriage when really, he had me at “The Bible says…” . The first several chapters are primarily aimed at making one point again and again and again, with a healthy dose of testimonials of all the marriages that this magical key has saved thrown in for good measure.
Having said that, I can see why his magical key has saved so many marriages: it’s right there in the Bible, and I really don’t know how I never noticed it myself (I guess that’s why he is the famous author and I am sharing this on my blog with a readership of…oh, I reckon I might have hit the double digits by now!)
It’s all there, in one verse, Ephesians 5:33: However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Did you catch it? Different instructions for the husband and wife! The author claims that this difference in how we’re told to treat our spouses is rooted in an essential difference in how we are made as male and female and what we each value most, and I believe he may well be right. He claims that, to the male mind, respect from the wife is actually more important than love. Of course men want to be loved (and women to be respected), but the premise is that the dominant desire of women is to be loved, and men, to be respected.
At first, my admittedly very female mind balked at this idea. How could *anyone* care more about being respected than being loved??? But the more I turned it over in my head and held it up to some of the disagreements we’ve had over the years and some of the times when my feelings have been hurt, the more true it began to sound.
Eggerichs claims that women are natural love-givers. He didn’t have any trouble convincing me of that much. God, knowing this, gave us ladies a different command, one that will stretch us a little further out of our comfort zone. Men (apparently) speak the language of respect. It is what they value most from each other, and what they most long for from their wives as well.
He talks about a common occurrence in marriage that he calls” The Crazy Cycle”. Goofy name, I know, but stay with it and see if it doesn’t ring true for your marriage. Either party can start the cycle “spinning” but let’s say, for the sake of argument, that she feels unloved first. Out of her hurt feelings, she tries to tell her husband what he did wrong, perhaps not in the most respectful manner, but after all, she’s very sad, who could blame her? He feels totally disrespected by her suggestion that he needs to change – it’s an attack on his character – but does the noble thing and… hugs her? Tells her he loves her? No, that’s what a woman would do to fix the same situation. Apparently, in the world of blue, the correct action is to remain completely silent and take the attack like a man (like staying very still so that a ferocious animal can’t see you). Perhaps once she gets it off her chest she will feel better. But to her, this “stonewalling” feels like the most unloving thing he could possibly do. “I all but *told* him I just wanted a hug and some reassurance. If he can’t even do that, he must not love me!” she thinks. Maybe if I tell him that, he will stop being so mean. Does this help him see the error of his ways? Well… you can try it if you want to, but I don’t recommend it.
The point is that somebody has to break the cycle. I know my first inclination is always to think, “But why can’t he break the cycle?” I *love* Eggerichs’s answer to the question of who should make the first move, though: “whoever thinks of him/herself as the more mature in the relationship.” Doesn’t that just make you want to volunteer for the job? Whoever can be the bigger person and give the other the love or respect that they are begging for (albeit not in the clearest language), should be the bigger person and rise to the occasion.
What I wish the author would do more of, now that I’m thoroughly convinced that the premise of the book is accurate, is tell me how to show my husband respect. From what I’ve read so far, it seems to be mostly about not showing him disrespect, which is surely an area I can improve in as well. I’m now into the section of specific advice for wives, so if I find any great tips, I’ll be sure to pass them on.
Oh, and as for Aretha, well, she may have struck gold with her feminist anthem demanding R-E-S-P-E-C-T, but as the author of this book points out, it is worth remembering that it was Otis Redding who wrote it and first recorded it in 1965, two years before Aretha had her hit. It was a man who really wanted a little respect when he gets home.