Monday, October 27, 2008

Love & Respect

Love & Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Note in 2020: 

I originally reviewed this book very favourably in 2008. At the time I thought it had a lot to offer and the concept of men desiring respect and women desiring love made sense. In addition, Husband and I both appreciated it when we read it and it changed some of the ways we did things and related. So, it had value for us at the time. 

However, upon re-reading it, my view has completely changed. A few issues:

- I believe Emerson misuses scripture, grabbing Ephesians 5:33 as his base verse and hanging an entire theory of marriage off of it.

- His premise is that marriage is about needs, and is self-fulfilment based. That is, you meet my needs and I'll meet yours. Not much of service, but more about how I meet your needs in the hope that you'll do the same. 

For example, he actually says to wives: "this is the key to empowerment: you get what you want by giving him what he wants"

- He overplays stereotypes. There is a lot of "all men think...", "all women need...". He refers to men having blue hearing aids and sunglasses while women's are pink, affecting both's hearing and view of things. Almost every difference is broken down along gender lines, with only a vague nod towards those who do not act this way. It alienates men and women who think differently. 

- His representation of headship and submission is unhelpful at best, and could be damaging at worst.
  
- He discusses sex only from the perspective of men needing it / wanting it, nothing about men serving their wives in this way and women who also desire that physical connection with their husbands. 

- Overall, this is not a book recognising the sin in us all, the grace extended to us in Christ and the way we are called to live godly lives of service, especially in our marriages. It does not start or end with the gospel. 

If you want to explore some of the more extensive critiques of this book in detail, search online. I have decided not to extend more energy on it.

However, I retract my recommendation and now place it on my 'do not read' list. 

***

I have included sections of my original review below for a little more detail:

His premise is that while men and women both need and want love and respect, women particularly desire their husband's love and men especially crave their wife's respect. Both Husband and I found benefit from it. While we might not talk in the language he uses and Husband was not convinced he needed to hear me say 'I respect you', some of the principles echoed with us. For example, I realised it had never occurred to me to express gratitude that he goes out to work each day to provide for us, and which enables me to stay at home.

He divides the book into three sections, which he calls 'cycles' - which are patterns of behaving.

The Crazy Cycle basically says: without love, she reacts and without respect, he reacts and it just keeps repeating.  When she feels unloved she will not show respect, etc.

The second section, is where you move to when addressing this problem. He calls this the Energizing Cycle - where his love motivates her respect and her respect in turn motivates his love. He then goes through mnemonic devices with detailed chapters each for husbands and wives, to show them ways of showing respect and love. These are cutesy and ended up feeling complex, and divided everything along gender lines.

The third section is the Rewarded Cycle. He loves regardless of her respect and she respects regardless of his love. This is actually where marriage should start, not finish. We do not respect our husbands in order to get love from them. We show unconditional love for our spouses. This is what God has shown us, this is what we are commanded to do and this is we promised in our marriage vows. 

Eggerichs goes on to say later in the chapter - "In the ultimate sense, your marriage has nothing to do with your spouse. It has everything to do with your relationship to Jesus Christ."  Upon reflection, this is one of the most accurate statements of the book, but the book itself and what it presents does not actually support it. 

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