I’ve often felt that Christian books on the subject of “marriage” are a dime a dozen. I’ve read through many that were helpful but often I’ve been left wondering where the biblical insights are! Not every “Christian” book on marriage should claim to be “Christian” if there is little appeal to the Scriptural position regarding the subject. How can a book be “Christian” if it does not interact or utilize the very book that Christianity is based upon that explains and reveals God’s activity in redemption and the person whom our faith is founded upon?
Thus, I’m delighted to recommend Dr. Emerson Eggerichs‘ book, Love & Respect. Eggerichs’ thesis is largely based on Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:22-25. The message is simple: Husbands, love your wives. Wives, honor your husbands.
The book’s first section deals with what Eggerichs calls, “The Crazy Cycle.” To simplify what the author writes in just over 100 pages, the “crazy cycle” deals with communication. Quite frankly, men and women communicate differently. And not only do they communicate differently, they decipher differently. When a spouse makes a statement that they innocently believe conveys their true feelings, the other spouse interprets it incorrectly and then responds to that misinterpretation. Thus, the “crazy cycle” begins. But those are simply symptoms of the greater issue at hand: men desire to be respected and wives desire to be loved. The messages often undermine these two foundational expressions.
I believe Eggerichs touches on what generally is true of many married couples. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or, in this case a psychologist, to recognize that communication is the issue. Since communication is the issue, what is the solution? This is where Eggerichs masterfully provides extremely practical insights and advice, and he does so with acronyms.
As a husband, the key question is, how can I express love to my wife? Eggerichs suggests you become a better speller, spcifically that you learn to spell “couple” – C-O-U-P-L-E.
Closeness – She wants to be close to you
Openness – She wants you to open up to her
Understanding – Don’t try to “fix” her; just listen
Peacemaking – She wants you to say, “I’m sorry”
Loyalty – She needs to know you’re committed
Esteem – She wants you to honor and cherish her
This is just a teaser. Each letter of the acronym has a chapter and each chapter is highly practical. I’d venture to guess that the “C” and the “O” are most often overlooked by many men, though each of the letters spark a great deal of insight into the mind of a women, specifically a wife.
The essential truth is that if you work through the acronym, you end up at a place where your wife will know that you do honor and cherish her! I have personally learned quite a bit from this acronym.
As we all know, wives are also in need of help expressing their honor, respect, and ultimately love for their husbands. Here, Eggerichs suggests they learn the word “chair” – C-H-A-I-R.
Conquest – Appreciate his desire to work and achieve
Hierarchy – Appreciate his desire to protect and provide
Authority – Appreciate his desire to serve and to lead
Insight – Appreciate his desire to analyze and counsel
Relationship – Appreciate his desire for shoulder-to-shoulder friendship
Sexuality – Appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy
Again, this teaser does not give you a complete understanding of the practical ways to carry these out nor or the implications that go along with living it out. But they are there.
The book closes with some thoughts on the rewards of living the suggestions out. In fact, I would buy this book for Eggerichs’ chapter, “The Real Reason to Love and Respect” alone. It’s about God. And it’s about worship. This chapter is biblically and theologically rich. I’m reminded of the importance of taking to heart what matters to God, and marriage matters to God – period.
Constructive Criticism: I only have one gripe with the book. I wish it would have taken into consideration the community and the function of the Church. The Church is a group of Jesus-followers that can greatly enhance a couple’s marriage and I think this book relies a bit too much on the American individualism that often permeates our concept of “community” or “church.”
For instance, what if a husband doesn’t desire to protect and provide? What if a wife doesn’t have a desire for her husband to apologize because she herself doesn’t apologize? Eggerichs gives advice to the spouse trying to make change, but does the Church ever step in and bring correction and if so, how does that interact with the process of building a healthy marriage?
I suppose these questions where not in the scope of the book, so my “constructive criticism” is based largely upon questions that I would really like to know Eggerichs’ thoughts! After all, Eggerichs was a pastor and has an MDiv, which means I’m sure he’s interacted with these ideas, specifically how the Church functions in the role of building strong marriages!
Apart from these initial questions, I can only recommend this book for every married couple or couple planning to become married. It’s fantastic. Read it, live it, and enjoy the benefits of it.