Gregg and I were listening to a Focus on the Family podcast the other night where Dr. Emerson Eggerrichs discussed the role that love and respect play in marriage. Eggerichs is the author of Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs.
Gregg and I read this book years ago and loved the simplicity of it. It just basically takes on Ephesians 5:33:
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
The book is wonderful and very black and white. I’d recommend it to any married couple – especially if you are facing conflicts and problems within your marriage. We read books like this together – so that we can discuss what we encounter, what we learn, what we discover – and what we each learn about the other. Reading these kinds of books this way really strengthens our marriage and interpersonal relationship.
While listening to this podcast, Gregg and I started cracking up, then replayed a particular segment. It was such a typical modern-wife reaction to the concept of respecting a husband unconditionally that I had to type it out and share it with you.
This is Eggerichs speaking, and his reference is in the verse above:
There is no debate on that first part. Agape is the Greek word. Husband’s must love. Wives come up to me all the time and and say, “Dr. Emerson, I have to be honest with you, I really don’t feel any respect for him and it would be hypocritical for me to show respect when I don’t feel it and, he’s not superior to me, and everybody knows you show respect to your superiors. He’s not superior. I’m not inferior. I’m not going to be treated like a doormat. You know, everybody knows you’ve got to earn the respect and he hasn’t really earned it. He doesn’t deserve it. And I know where you’re really going on this and that is that I must fear his dominance. I’m not going to do that nor feed the narcissim or ego. But, but other than these things, Dr. Emerson, I’m really open to hearing what you have to say on it.”
The above quote very effectively sums up what I hear most often when addressing the idea of wives respecting their husbands the same way that husbands are to love their wives. I don’t know why we accept the fact that they must unconditionally love us, but a wall goes up when considering an unconditional respect.
In this podcast, Eggerichs give an interesting statistic. 7000 people were asked the question: in marital conflict, do you feel a lack of love or a lack of respect? 83% of the men said they felt disrespected; 72% of the women said they felt unloved. I think that points directly to a base need – love and respect. Even though both men and women each need to be loved and respected, at the end of the day, a man really needs to feel respected, and a woman really needs to feel loved.
If you’re a wife and you feel a bristling reaction to the concept of respecting your husband, I’d really recommend studying the subject. You can read this book or any others on the subject. I’ve taken on wifely respect a couple of times on the blog here. Once in in a the study of Feminine Appeal, Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother by Carolyn Mahaney when we looked at The Beauty of Submission, and once when I relayed a marital situation I’d come across in a post I’d titled Love & Marriage. Both times I break down the instructions of loving and respecting and offer different resources in them. Or just start digging in your Bible and let the Word of God speak to you.
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