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Love and Respect

This is the second review in a series of posts about books for married men.

Love and Respect, by Emmerson Eggerichs, was given to Emma and me as an engagement gift and the advice in it has helped us more than we know.

Dr. Eggerichs writes about relationships between man and wife based on Ephesians 5:33. He believes that the deepest need of a man is to be respected, while the deepest need of a woman is to be loved. That simple explanation really resonated with Emma and me on our respective sides of the equation, but Eggerichs goes deeper. Men, he writes, are motivated to love when they feel respected. Women are motivated to respect when they feel loved. Out of this, according to Eggerichs, relationships develop into three different cycles.

I. The Crazy Cycle: If a husband feels disrespected, he will react (seemingly) unlovingly, causing his wife to react (seemingly) disrespectfully, causing him to… you get the picture.

II. The Energizing Cycle: If a husband feels respected, he will react lovingly towards his wife, who will then react respectfully towards him, causing him to… like the Crazy Cycle, oppositely.

III. The Rewarded Cycle: A good husband knows how to react with love even if he feels disrespected, and a good wife knows how to react respectfully, even when she feels unloved.

The point is that cycle number one is bad, number two is good, and number three is where you need to be. Eggerichs goes into much more detail about each cycle, but a lot of that is out of scope here. One part of the book that proved particularly insightful for me was his acronym COUPLE, meant to help men remember how to show love to their wives, in a way that a woman will understand as loving.

Closeness - Song of Solomon 3:4; affection as an end, not a means.
Openness - Proverbs 31:11; share your feelings and pray with her.
Understanding - James 1:19; listen without trying to fix her!
Peacemaking - I Peter 3:8; say, “I’m sorry,” when you mess up.
Loyalty - Hebrews 13:4; keep commitments, be involved with her.
Esteem - Proverbs 5:18b; notice her, praise her, be proud of her.

God meant for marriage to follow the model of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:25), so a good husband will be one who gives himself for his wife. This means that even when I feel like my wife is being disrespectful, I’m to give her the benefit of the doubt, assume that she respects me, and do my utmost to ensure that she feels loved. That’s how to get from the “Crazy Cycle” to the better ones. Love and Respect is a worthwhile read, and I highly recommend it to any new couples!