As part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review program, I received a free copy of Emerson Eggerichs’s “Love And Respect.” The book’s premise is that all marriages can be strengthened by doing what God commands: namely, that a wife should give respect to her husband and a husband should give respect to his wife.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Eggerichs gives some advice that I believe could save many marriages, but his premise has one irredeemable flaw.
For the good: Eggerichs lays out “the Crazy Cycle,” whereby a woman feels unloved and denies respect to her husband; denied respect, he denies her love; feeling unloved, she denies him respect. Round and round they go. He bases this on Ephesians 5:33. His solution is the Energizing Cycle, whereby she gives her husband the respect he needs, and then feeling respected, he gives her the love she needs.
Eggerichs says that women don’t understand a man’s basic need for respect and think loves solves it all. He says the basic gender differences between men and women cause this difficulty in communicating needs.
He gives men and women six different areas to work on (each) to make their spouse feel either loved or respected. Those are all good areas.
He uses imagery to get across his meaning. Pink and blue sunglasses, for example, or love/respect being like a person’s air hose, and when that’s denied, a person reacts to get what s/he needs.
The book is ostensibly written to the couple, but 95% of it is directed toward the woman giving respect to her husband because that’s the aspect he feels is ignored in most marriage therapy and marriage books.
Now for the bad: despite stating that men and women can often say the same word and mean different things, Eggerichs never defines respect. Never. When he started talking about “unconditional respect” I couldn’t fathom what he meant: I’d though the was talking about admiration, but then I thought maybe he meant dignity. Later on I wondered if he didn’t mean honor. By page 59, he’d ruled out any of the above three. “Respect” is never defined in a 300 page book which is all about respect. This is a glaring omission and left me trying to decipher what on earth he meant.
Secondly, he repeatedly puts the entire burden of both love and respect on the woman. To whit: the woman needs love and freely gives love; but the man is merely described as needing to receive respect. There is not once in 300 pages a single mention that women also need and are deserving of respect or that men freely give respect to their wives (whereas wives are always described as freely giving love). Not once. Instead it’s always that the woman should give her husband both love and respect, but he should only give her love. [NOTE: In the comments, Mark points out that there is one mention, on page 47. I stand corrected.]
This lack of parallel happens often enough that it must be deliberate. And considering the number of marriages I’ve seen that have suffered because of the husband’s disrespect for his wife, that’s a huge omission.
He states that for women, love is an organic non-compartmentalized thing, that they equate receiving love and receiving respect. If that were the case, then the women he’s talking about would all be perfectly respectful since they’re so intent on giving love. His theory falls apart.
Men may well value respect more than women do; men are more hierarchical in mind. But there’s no excuse for devaluing a woman’s need to be respected and have her efforts bolstered by her husband. In fact, I’d say he’s right on the respect issue being a huge problem in marriages, but that men and women are equally disrespectful toward one another.
His statement that “all couples have this dynamic” is so far off base that I laughed. My husband and I have never had issues with mutual respect. He has never been cold and unloving in an effort to make me into a respectful and dutiful wife; I’ve never belittled him in order to make him act more loving. Period. (And my Patient Husband agrees.)
Because of the unforgivable failure to define they key terminology of his premise, and because of his failure to state that women need respect from their husbands, I cannot bear to give this book five stars. But because his techniques for love/respect are all keepers, I can’t bear to give it less than three. So this is a four-star review, keeping in mind that I like his application and have serious reservations about his premise.