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.
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...
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.