Last week I mentioned the four books (The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, His Needs, Her Needs by Willard Harley and The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner) that most influence my thinking on love and marriage, but each has lessons that are applicable to other relationships in life, as Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages for … illustrate. The principles are easily adaptable to any interconnection that one values.
Love & Respect (The Love She Most Desires and The Respect He Desperately Needs) begins with The Crazy Cycle. This is Dr. Eggerichs’ description of the merry-go-round many couples run on day after day, week after week, even year after year. He presents a “simple secret to a better marriage” as a principle that is much simpler to state than to act out: “When a wife feels unloved, it is especially hard to respect her husband. When a man feels disrespected, it is especially hard to love his wife.” I.e., if a man unconditionally loves his wife, she will probably respect him; if a woman unconditionally respects her husband, he will probably show her love.
“A husband is to obey the command to love even if his wife does not obey the command to respect, and a wife is to obey the command to respect even if the husband does not obey the command to love.” This leaves no room for selfish thinking on the part of either spouse: “I will love my wife after she begins to respect me;” or “I will respect my husband after he begins to love me.” Without love a wife will tend to act without respect; without respect a husband will tend to act without love . . . and the Crazy Cycle takes us on a ride that never seems to end!
It is as though we keep flipping a light switch without lights coming on, and instead of checking a light bulb, breaker box or circuit, and trying to find the cause of the problem, we just stand at the switch like idiots and keep flipping it, wondering why the light does not come on. “Craziness happens when we keep doing the same things over and over with the same ill effects.”
One of the cultural conflicts he addresses is the idea that respect should be just as unconditional as love! He notes in Ephesians 5:33 that Paul instructs “let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” In our society we tend to accept the idea that love should be offered even when it is not earned; in fact, if someone does something to ‘earn’ love, we tend to discount that action as self-serving. In the same way, we should view respect as something that does not require ‘earning,’ but should be offered because the Bible says so.
That unconditional respect is taught in the Bible is clear from 1 Peter 3:1-2: “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” This refutes the deception of our enemy that respect must be earned.
Wives tend to be wired to show love, but without understanding how important respect is to a man, she will not show him love in a way he understands. God made men in such a way that respect does to the soul of a man what love does to the soul of a woman. In turn, men try to earn respect by demanding it from a wife who wants more than anything to show him that he is loved. And his attempts to demand respect nullify any attempts he may make to show her love.
Dr. Eggerichs believes this happens because men and women are wired differently, as though men have blue sunglasses and hearing aids and women have pink sunglasses and hearing aids. What is done and said by a husband with love for his wife does not communicate the love he feels because she sees and hears it through a different lens and hearing aid. In the same way, a wife may try to express respect for her husband, but because he has different “receptors,” he fails to see it correctly. And so the Crazy Cycle continues.
The challenges of the Crazy Cycle are tremendous, but hope is to be found in the Energizing Cycle. With a clever acronym (COUPLE), Dr. Eggerichs makes valuable suggestions to a man who wants to show his wife that she IS loved, with six chapters to guide a man with good intentions to his goal of loving his wife as Christ loves the Church.
He describes a wife’s basic needs as desiring for her husband to be Close, Open, Understanding, Peacemaking, Loyal and to Esteem her (COUPLE). If a man faithfully applies the principles the good doctor explains in these chapters, he will go a long way on the Energizing Cycle by showing his wife that she IS loved. Each chapter coaches a guy even on how to say that he wants to get close, be open, etc.. We guys need directions in spite of our tendency to try to put together Christmas toys and read the instruction sheet later. 🙄
The next six chapters spelling CHAIRS as an acronym will help wives discover how to “spell respect to their husbands.” An interesting experiment Dr. Eggerichs tried with some women was a challenge for them to test the importance of respect to their husbands: “Spend some time thinking of things they respected about their husbands… then go home and, wait until the husband was not distracted and say, ‘I was thinking about you today and several things about you that I respect and I wanted you to know that I respect you.’… After saying this, they were not to wait for a response, but just to gently begin to leave and see what would happen. Then he goes on to help women who may have difficulty coming up with anything to respect about their husbands, which may take a woman back to why she married him in the first place, but emphasizes God’s design for marriage, that alone is worthy of respect.
CHAIRS stands for Conquest, Hierarchy, Authority, Insight, Relationship, and Sexuality. Each of these is presented in a Biblically sound fashion that does not suggest “the man is in charge,” but rather reflects the way a godly man will see leadership. Conquest addresses a man’s desire to conquer the challenges of life with success at what he does. (If you ever ask a man, “Who are you?” most of us will respond with what we do.) Hierarchy presents a man’s desire to protect and provide for his wife and family; Authority uses Jesus’ model of it: “I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22:24-27); Insight deals with a man’s desire to analyze and counsel; Relationship addresses a man’s need for shoulder-to-shoulder friendship with his spouse; and Sexuality deals with a distinctly “blue sunglasses” phenomenon of desiring intimacy through sexual union.
Part Three of the text talks about the Rewarded Cycle in which his love is expressed regardless of her respect with is demonstrated regardless of his love which is expressed … And as a new cycle is begun, Dr. Eggerichs explains that the real reason for Love and Respect goes beyond whether or not a spouse responds appropriately. Unconditional love and unconditional respect will be rewarded! Matthew 5:46-48 says, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet [respect] only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?… You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Ultimately, you are obeying your Father in Heaven and He is 100% reliable and will reward you according to His grace and love, even if we do not see the results here on earth.