A friend loaned me the book Love & Respect: The Love She Most Deserves, The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs about a year ago. It took me this long to get around to reading it, but am I ever glad I did!
I've read quite a number of books on marriage and they were all helpful in some way or another. Other ones I just can't seem to get around to reading. Like the one we had on our shelf for ages entitled something like Building Up Your Mate's Self-Esteem. I just couldn't see how my mate's self-esteem is my problem or how my self-esteem is his problem. Unless, of course, we are purposely trying to tear each other down. Which we aren't, so I didn't read it.
But this book is so good that I would recommend it to every married couple, every engaged couple, and every young adult who is trying to figure out the opposite sex. It's that good.
And it's really very simple. In fact the one weakness of the book is that it is a bit repetitive.
First, Dr. Eggerichs defines the problem. Couples get on the "Crazy Cycle" and can't get off. The problem is that either the husband or the wife acts in the wrong way which causes the wrong reaction in their spouse. So, since I'm a wife, I'll start with saying that the wife does something that shows disrespect to her husband. He feels unloved and unappreciated so he doesn't act towards her in a loving way. That makes her feel unloved and unwanted and then she feels like she can't respect him. Which makes him feel like there's no sense in trying so hard to be loving, which makes.....you get the idea.
The second part of the book deals with the solution to the problem. Dr. Eggerichs presents what he calls the energizing cycle. In this cycle the wife, just as our starting point, shows respect to her husband. He then responds in love to her and she respects him for it and so on. The hard part is that love comes naturally to women and respect comes naturally to men and women need to learn to show respect and men need to learn to show love. I'll let you read the book yourself to find some very practical and helpful suggestions.
One good thing about the book.....and very convicting....is that he hits the women just as hard as the men. Most books on marriage that I've read talk about how the man should be more loving, but the women are left feeling pretty good because they're already doing well in that department. He also talks about how we tend to mother our husbands because we love them and want them to be better....but it comes across as very disrespectful.
The third section is the rewarded cycle. There are times when we show respect and it isn't reciprocated with love or men show love and their wives don't respect them back. Or perhaps their spouse is extremely difficult to love or respect. Or maybe their spouse doesn't even want to work on their marriage. But Dr. Eggerichs shows how his love can be shown regardless of her respect and her respect can be shown regardless of his love.
Regardless of our spouse's reaction, we need to do this for the Lord. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. When I respect my husband, I am really respecting the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. When a husband loves his wife, he is really being a picture of Jesus loving the church and giving Himself to it.
I definitely recommend the book, but be prepared to be convicted and to make some changes in your relationship!