Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Love & Respect: Part 1

Sunday night, Jeff and I began a five-week marriage class at our church based on the book and video series Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  Have you heard of it?

I actually started this book a few years ago and never finished it...  I REALLY liked the concept however; and have had it in the back of my mind for a while.  Anyway, I'm glad that we are able to participate in this study now - especially as we prepare for a totally new season of life - and  I thought it might be valuable to some of my readers too.  So... starting today, I am going to try to post a Love & Respect summary every Tuesday for the next five weeks.

Before I begin, I do want to say that I realize that the topics of marriage, male and female roles, and even scripture can be really controversial.  I'm not at all trying to "stir the pot", if you will, but rather to simply share what I am learning and hopefully spark some interesting conversations among readers on some of these topics.  I am coming at this from a place of humility and open-mindedness, NOT expertise or offensiveness.  Just so you know...

Part 1: The Crazy Cycle

Jeff and I really don't fight very much.  That's not to say that we never fight, or haven't gone through seasons of "fighting;" but, we aren't there right now.  That said, as luck would have it, we had a fight literally on-the-way to our class that actually involved the words "Why can't you just respect me?"  Perhaps subconsciously we were "preparing" ourselves for the lesson... Or, maybe it was just God reminding us that we aren't invincible to this stuff.  Either way, I walked in feeling corny and needy.

The whole premise of this comes from Ephesians 5: 21 - 33.  This is kind-of the "go-to" passage in the New Testament about marriage; and, in fact, my friend Stephanie read it at our wedding almost four years ago.

 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

I remember this reading ruffled a few feathers at our ceremony...  Personally, I don't interpret the word "submit" in the bondage kind-of way our culture often hears it.  I think it means trusting your husband's relationship with Lord enough to allow him to "lead" you and your family.  In fact, I really think the husband's calling is even greater... To love his wife as Christ does the church - that means to DIE for her.  That's big.

But, I'll save that debate for another time...

The important thing here - according to Eggerichs' theory - is verse 33: the "last word" on the topic.  Men are commanded to LOVE their wives, and women are commanded to RESPECT their husbands.  When we don't do this, we begin what is called the "Crazy Cycle."

This is where marriages fall apart.  50% of them, to be exact.  Obviously, it wouldn't kill any of us to try something just a little different; maybe even counter-cultural, in the way we treat our spouses.

Women are naturally lovers and nurturers. God designed us this way.  Because of this, we deeply crave the love of our spouse (Genesis 29:32). That's why men are commanded to love their wives (Colossians 3:19). 

This, really, isn't too hard to accept.  Truth be told, we live in a "love dominant" society.  Of course we want to be loved --- haven't you ever seen The Notebook? :)

The switch - at least in my mind - is with men.  Because of our very natures, our husbands don't fear our "lack of love" unless we specifically tell them we don't love them anymore.  On the other hand, they DO fear our "lack of respect" - that we don't view them as strong enough, or smart enough, or valuable enough.  That's why women are told to respect their husbands (1 Peter 3:1-2).    

What if we lived this way?  How would it change our marriages?

Thoughts?  Feelings?  Examples?

Stay tuned for Part II next week... and check out the Love and Respect Ministries website if you are interested in more info.

P.S. If you haven't already, don't forget to enter my Pretty as Pie giveaway here.


  1. Oh oh oh! I have to comment :) Declan & I did this study as a 6 week course with a few select couples within our old church and it changed our marriage! Our marriage was pretty awesome before, but who doesn't like a little more clarity? I love it and recommend this book to everyone. It seriously has such simple, basic principles that you can remember & follow forever!

  2. It's interesting to read your views on this and I look forward to what else your class is teaching you. With this being said I am afraid I don't entirely agree, mainly because I've never seen women as naturally one way and men as naturally another way. I think most of that is socially constructed, and if most women tend to be one way more than men, it could be because we've been flooded with examples in society as to how we should act and should feel, the same goes for men feeling they should be respected in certain ways. However, I think your opinions are valid and am, as I said, interested so see what all comes from these theories for you, if it's helpful, ect. I'm simply of the mindset that wives should love and respect their husbands and husbands should love and respect their wives both equally, not one needing respect or signs of love more than the other.

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book and your study. I have this book on my list of books to read. I have heard it talked about before, and I think the ideas are so true. Beacuse of that, I make a special effort to tell my boyfriend all the time how much I respect him and the reasons why. I can tell it really touches his heart, and he knows I mean it, too.

    This reminds me of Gary Chapman and his 5 Love Languages idea. I think figuring out how *your partner* feels loved is so important - especially since it's not always the way *we* feel loved.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! I have never heard of the book, but would love to read it or go to a conference. I look forward to your posts to come!


  5. I liked the book a lot.
    Makes sense!

    Shelly Prado

  6. Yes, thank you so much for sharing. I needed to see it written out in plain text to really get it. Not that I'm married, but TEN and I had a conversation stemming from this and we weren't getting anywhere. However, seeing this picture makes it all so simple to understand :) I'm totally printing this off and taking it home!

  7. I read Colossians 3:12-19 at a wedding a few years ago and 18 & 19 share similar sentiments: Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

    I think that this is speaking to us as what it is hardest for us to do. As women (especially in today's society), it is hard for us to relinquish control to ANYONE. And what men want more than love is respect. So, it is easier for them to respect us than to love us (or show respect rather than show love.)

    The books For Women Only and For Men Only talk about this a lot too. I'm not married yet but am dating someone that will be my husband (unless there is some major, major fallout.) So this is something that I have already been trying to work on. Although I know it will be 1,000,000xs harder once we are actually married and living together!


Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!

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