I like books on marriage that perfectly describe my man. It means the author must have things figured out. Because I know my man has things figured out when it comes to loving me!
But, I am continually learning that I have lots more to figure out about loving him: it’s spelled r-e-s-p-e-c-t.
When I first skimmed Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s book Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs in the Christian book store, I thought it looked like just a longer version of the principles on his website at loveandrespect.com But when I found the book for $1.50 at a thrift store (a wedding gift someone didn’t want, as evidenced by the note in the front), I decided to read it for myself. I’m glad I did.
Love & Respect doesn’t delve into all the marital issues of communication, chores, and children in detail. Instead, it shows that those aren’t the issues at all: instead, love and respect are the real root issues. And when you learn to love and respect, everything else falls into place.
The basic premise of the book is that we have this crazy cycle going in marriages today: without love, she reacts, without respect he reacts, without love, she reacts, ad nauseam. Dr. Eggerich encourages couples to try the energizing cycle, where “his love motivates her respect and her respect motivates his love.” It’s not easy. And while it goes both ways, it can make a difference regardless of whether your spouse is treating you how you want to be treated. For, in the end, “his love blesses regardless of her respect; her respect blesses regardless of his love.”
I soon picked up the yellow highlighter, to mark those spots I should read again in a year or two, or whenever I need the reminders.
A wife’s usual approach is to complain and criticize in order to motivate her husband to become more loving. This usually proves about as successful as trying to sell brass knuckles to Mother Teresa. (pg. 17) No husband feels affection toward a wife who appears to have contempt for who he is as a human being. The key to creating fond feelings of love in a husband toward his wife is through showing him unconditional respect. (pg. 19)
Yes, of course, women need respect and guys need love. My man tells me over and again how much it means to hear me so those three little words. But my love would soon mean little to nothing to him if I didn’t show I meant it by respecting and admiring everything else about him. As Dr. Emerson points out, the primary drive in each sex is that women long for love and men must have respect. He likens it to food and water. You need both to survive, but you can live longer without food than without water. “For men, love is like food and respect is like water.”
I have had numerous men confirm this research by telling me, “I would rather live with a wife who respected me but did not love me than live with a wife who loved me but did not respect me.” (pg. 49)
“Every man does what he does for the admiration of one woman.” When you fell in love and he married you, he felt that you believed in him and he appreciated that–perhaps far more than you have ever realized. It touched his spirit, because this is something huge within the male. (pg. 202) He felt deep feelings of love for [you], but they came out of his being convinced that [you] respected him and admired him. [You were] striking a chord deep within him that literally drove his life then as it drives his life today. (pg. 59) He married you, and he thought that your “cheerleading” would last forever.
One particularly poignant reminder to me was that often, my man doesn’t need or even want me to talk to him–he just wants me to be with him. When he pulls out a car magazine while we’re sitting on the couch, it doesn’t mean that he’s bored with me–it means that he will enjoy it even more because I’m there with him. Dr. Emerson advised one wife, “If he is reading the paper, watching TV, or even working outside on some chores in the yard, if you will just sit there next to him or pull up a chair and watch while he works, you will see the most amazing energy flow into him.” I guess that’s why he likes me to ride on the tractor with him, even though we can’t even hold hands because he’s operating levers with both hands and feet–he just likes being with me. Instead of feeling neglected, how loved this should make me feel!
The prince goes into battle for the princess, not vice versa. Consequently, the princess does not seek to be respected as the “head.” Instead, she yearns to be honored, valued, and prized as a precious equal. (pg. 53) The problem many women have today is that they want to be treated like a princess, but deep down they resist treating their husbands like the king. They aren’t willing to recognize that in the depth of his very soul a husband wants to be the one who provides and protects–he wants to be an umbrella of protection who would willingly die for his wife if need be. (pg. 209)
Merritt has been working long, 15-plus-hour days lately, preparing us a home to live in. Our little home won’t look like a castle to most, but I feel like a princess. What could be more romantic than having him build us a home? Yes, even drain fields have become romantic! (And if you don’t know what a drain field is, you can look it up on google.com, but the details won’t be very romantic.) Every time I remember to thank Merritt for all of his hard work, he always tells me, “Thank you for making it all worthwhile.” What better illustration of my respect towards him motivating a loving response from him! And it only takes a few heartfelt words.
The married ladies can look for a more in-depth review of the rest of Dr. Eggerich’s book in the married ladies section. But I think all of us will find something to chew on here:
In the ultimate sense, your marriage has nothing to do with your spouse. It has everything to do with your relationship to Jesus Christ. (pg. 279) [My wife] doesn’t cause me to be the way I am; she reveals the way I am. (pg. 284) Remember that you will be tested because your marriage is a test of your devotion to Christ. (pg. 295)
To the gentlemen reading, please remember, it’s all about love. But ladies, forget about the mushy feelings of love and romance. Your husband spells love not with four letters, but with seven: r-e-s-p-e-c-t.
When a wife feels her need for love is met, she bonds with her husband. When a husband feels his need for love is being met, he bonds with his wife. This can happen simultaneously. Two do, indeed, become one! (pg. 299)