*If you don’t read any other blog post of mine, please at least read this one. I think it is that important*
The first time someone asked me for relationship advice I was caught a little off guard. I mean, I’m so young. What advice do I have to share? But I’ve come to realize that while I may not have 50 years of experience to offer, I do have some wisdom to share. I’d like to think that I’ve learned at least a little since we first starting dating almost ten years ago, and in our almost four years of marriage. Is our marriage perfect? Certainly not! But I think we do have a good marriage and good relationship overall.
So on that note, and keeping with this week’s theme of love, I decided to share with you my absolute favorite book/theory about marriage. I have read this book several times, both before I was married and after. I’ve participated in the corresponding video/workbook series with our young marrieds class at church several years ago, and I have heard a few other people speak on this same topic in sermons since then. Every time I am amazed at how accurate and applicable it is.
Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
The Love & Respect theory is based on Ephesians 5:33
“Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” (emphasis mine)
Did you catch that? The husband is commanded to love his wife, but the wife is in turn commanded to respect her husband. The first time I read this book (5 or 6 years ago), I was floored. In my 18ish years of going to church, Sunday school, retreats, small groups, sermons, personal Bible study, etc. I had never noticed that and couldn’t recall anyone else pointing that out to me.
What that verse says to me, and is the premise of Love & Respect, is that a woman’s most basic need is to be loved, whereas a man’s most basic need is to be respected.
When a husband feels disrespected by his wife, he reacts negatively – usually in an unloving manner. When a wife feels unloved, she reacts negatively to her husband – usually in a disrespectful manner. This becomes a cycle, dubbed The Crazy Cycle in the book, of two people who keep feeling unloved or disrespected, then acting unloving or disrespectful toward the other, who then feels unloved/disrespected, and so on and so on.
When I first read this part of the book, I felt like my eyes had been opened. Understanding this concept shed so much light on my own young relationship with Michael but especially on other relationships I had observed. I was able to reflect on the relationships and actions I’d seen growing up and completely identify where and how those couples had been on the Crazy Cycle. I knew that Dr. Eggerichs was on to something.
The book goes on to explain how to avoid the Crazy Cycle and talks a lot about how to see and hear life through your spouse’s point of view. Love & Respect gives great tips of how to avoid hopping on the Crazy Cycle and how to get off if and when you do jump on.
The testimonies of people who have read this book or attended seminars on this topic are incredible. Couples who were headed toward divorce were able to see what was causing their marital problems, and adjust their behavior to change it. One spouse trying to save a marriage puts this advice into action and eventually shows the other spouse that they have indeed changed.
I (fortunately) don’t have a dramatic testimony to share since we haven’t had any major marriage problems. However, I think this has been a great tool in helping us prevent hopping on the Crazy Cycle. I am much more aware of when I do something disrespectful and can quickly apologize and correct it. Michael does the same when he acts unloving toward me. We both have also learned to speak up and say “that felt unloving” or “that felt disrespectful” to let the other person know how we’re feeling.
And I’m assuming that 99% of my readers are women, I’m going to take a sec and speak specifically to the women around here. Ladies – I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to act respectful toward your husbands. That goes a LONG way toward making your relationship better. I’m not saying that I get it right all the time, but I know it’s important and I certainly try. I also know from observation and from what Michael says, that being respectful toward your husband is one of the most important things you can do for him. That doesn’t mean you have to always agree, but when you disagree there is a respectful way to do so. And often we expected to be loved unconditionally, even when we don’t deserve it, and we are horrified at the thought of having to earn someone’s love… and yet we expect our husbands to earn our respect and will refuse to give it if we find him lacking.
Just some food for thought.
Anyway, I cannot recommend this book enough. Everyone who is married, engaged, dating, or thinks they might get married someday needs to read this book. In fact, I’m so confident in the impact this can have on your marriage, that I’ve decided to give away a copy of Love & Respect to one of you amazing readers. But even if you don’t win, I hope you will buy this book or at least borrow it from your local library. You can also go here to find out more.
**************update: this giveaway is now over – congrats, Haley!********************
(I was not compensated or asked to write this post. I chose to write about this book because I fully believe in it’s effectiveness and I chose to give away a copy for the same reason)