Book Review: Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

As part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review program, I received a free copy of Emerson Eggerichs’s “Love And Respect.” The book’s premise is that all marriages can be strengthened by doing what God commands: namely, that a wife should give respect to her husband and a husband should give respect to his wife.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. Eggerichs gives some advice that I believe could save many marriages, but his premise has one irredeemable flaw.

For the good: Eggerichs lays out “the Crazy Cycle,” whereby a woman feels unloved and denies respect to her husband; denied respect, he denies her love; feeling unloved, she denies him respect. Round and round they go. He bases this on Ephesians 5:33. His solution is the Energizing Cycle, whereby she gives her husband the respect he needs, and then feeling respected, he gives her the love she needs.

Eggerichs says that women don’t understand a man’s basic need for respect and think loves solves it all. He says the basic gender differences between men and women cause this difficulty in communicating needs.

He gives men and women six different areas to work on (each) to make their spouse feel either loved or respected. Those are all good areas.

He uses imagery to get across his meaning. Pink and blue sunglasses, for example, or love/respect being like a person’s air hose, and when that’s denied, a person reacts to get what s/he needs.

The book is ostensibly written to the couple, but 95% of it is directed toward the woman giving respect to her husband because that’s the aspect he feels is ignored in most marriage therapy and marriage books.

Now for the bad: despite stating that men and women can often say the same word and mean different things, Eggerichs never defines respect. Never. When he started talking about “unconditional respect” I couldn’t fathom what he meant: I’d though the was talking about admiration, but then I thought maybe he meant dignity. Later on I wondered if he didn’t mean honor. By page 59, he’d ruled out any of the above three. “Respect” is never defined in a 300 page book which is all about respect. This is a glaring omission and left me trying to decipher what on earth he meant.

Secondly, he repeatedly puts the entire burden of both love and respect on the woman. To whit: the woman needs love and freely gives love; but the man is merely described as needing to receive respect. There is not once in 300 pages a single mention that women also need and are deserving of respect or that men freely give respect to their wives (whereas wives are always described as freely giving love). Not once. Instead it’s always that the woman should give her husband both love and respect, but he should only give her love. [NOTE: In the comments, Mark points out that there is one mention, on page 47. I stand corrected.]

This lack of parallel happens often enough that it must be deliberate. And considering the number of marriages I’ve seen that have suffered because of the husband’s disrespect for his wife, that’s a huge omission.

He states that for women, love is an organic non-compartmentalized thing, that they equate receiving love and receiving respect. If that were the case, then the women he’s talking about would all be perfectly respectful since they’re so intent on giving love. His theory falls apart.

Men may well value respect more than women do; men are more hierarchical in mind. But there’s no excuse for devaluing a woman’s need to be respected and have her efforts bolstered by her husband. In fact, I’d say he’s right on the respect issue being a huge problem in marriages, but that men and women are equally disrespectful toward one another.

His statement that “all couples have this dynamic” is so far off base that I laughed. My husband and I have never had issues with mutual respect. He has never been cold and unloving in an effort to make me into a respectful and dutiful wife; I’ve never belittled him in order to make him act more loving. Period. (And my Patient Husband agrees.)

Because of the unforgivable failure to define they key terminology of his premise, and because of his failure to state that women need respect from their husbands, I cannot bear to give this book five stars. But because his techniques for love/respect are all keepers, I can’t bear to give it less than three. So this is a four-star review, keeping in mind that I like his application and have serious reservations about his premise.


  1. Julie D.

    Our marriage enrichment retreat team read this book and about half of us had the same reactions, both good and bad.I also felt that a good editor could have made the book much more focused which would have resulted in about half the number of pages to read.

    1. philangelus

      Yeah, I admit that after the first two chapters I thought, “This is a magazine article, not a book.”

      Did you notice how many of the testimonials were from couples that had been doing his love/respect thing for less than two months? “We just got home from your conference, and now our marriage is better than ever!”

  2. Memphis Aggie

    Odd really, my wife craves respect from me and other adults, generally both when she was working and now as she stays at home to care for the kids. Making love/respect into an either/or is strange. Rather I’d say respect is an aspect and product of love. Perhaps the author has a diminished view of love and means affection/warmth rather than love.

    A question, did the author address the idea of husband and wife as part of a larger institution? Here I mean something beyond self as in the family or as described by Ven. F. Sheen in “Three to get marinaded”. I think an important part of growing into a good marriage is forgetting about self and especially me vs you power struggles. For me at least focusing on the common desire for love and family helps.

    1. philangelus

      At the end of the book, the “rewarded cycle” he does talk about loving or respecting your spouse unconditionally the way you would love or respect Jesus, bringing Jesus right into the marriage by loving and respecting your spouse ONLY because Jesus tells you to do so. Regardless of one’s feelings. He also says that by blending “the woman’s pink and the man’s blue, you achieve God’s purple.”

      He does not do what I would do and carry that out into a full-blown sense of the married couple as a team or a unified person. My Patient Husband and I are working from a shared set of goals, shared values, shared resolve. It goes from being “you and me” to being “us” and then being “us and God” and then at its best it’s “God and Us” (to borrow from CS Lewis’s letter in Sheldon VanAuken’s “A Severe Mercy.”) To him, though, the couple does seem to remain a two-sided coin rather than a unified whole.

      1. Memphis Aggie

        I like that phrase: “unified person”

  3. jaed

    Hmmm. Hmmm.

    I wonder whether what you’re thinking of as respect (in your last 5 paragraphs or so, where you’re talking about how important it is to women) is more what I’d call courtesy. Husbands and wives are often discourteous to each other – inconsiderate and/or rude – and I’ve seen it cause enormous damage to marriages, from both sides. Saying nasty things to one another, not making any effort to change annoying habits, blowing off things you’ve promised to do, that sort of thing is what I mean by discourtesy.

    I think respect – in the sense men may have a particular need for – is different from this, and also different from love. Someone who wants love wants to be told and shown, “I value you, I’m attracted to you, I won’t abandon you, I’m committed to being with you.” Someone who wants respect, I think, wants to be told and shown, “I’m grateful to you, I notice and appreciate how hard you work for the family, I don’t take what you do for me for granted.” Kind of a subtle difference – but respect in this sense isn’t exactly the same thing as courtesy.

    And I think while women appreciate this sort of acknowledgment of the importance of their efforts for the family, men often really need it, and wither if they don’t get it.

    1. philangelus

      And if he had defined what he meant by respect, I would be able to answer you. It seemed to go beyond mere courtesy into admiration, though. He wants women to act on their respect by acknowledging their husband’s headship within the family and appreciating their need for conquest (their career, etc).

      But he talks about respect as separate from admiration (it’s got to be unconditional) and respect from merely being courteous or treating someone with human dignity (which I’d resorted to as my working definition) or honoring the person (all hail the king) and by about page sixty, I was lost on the basic definition. I searched through his entire website as well and NOWHERE is “respect” defined.

      I was always taught that in science, in psychology, in literary analysis, the first thing you need to do is define your terms. Omitting that in a book that revolves around how women and men understand the same thing different ways is unfathomable.

      The way you defined respect, above, is what women want too. I’ve seen up-close how some women’s contributions to their households are devalued by their husbands. It’s just as corrosive as the other way around, even if it’s not the woman’s primary need. Why is it that Eggerichs assumes men need both love and respect, whereas women thrive with only love?

      1. Memphis Aggie

        Is satisfying our “need for conquest” even a virtuous goal at all especially for a Christian? That sounds like worldly temptation to me.

        1. philangelus

          He sells “conquest” as a manly virtue, the way men long to find a cause and give their lives in its service. I think. It probably sounded nicer within the acronym than “Career,” which is how it ended up IIRC.

          He says that in its final form, a man’s urge to conquest would be to die defending his family, the same way Christ died to save humanity/the church. Since the marriage is a microcosm of the Christ/the church relationship, that paves the way for both submission and conquest etc.

          So he’s not talking about conquest as “I will crush my enemies under my unforgiving heel” as much as “I will struggle with adversity and conquer it.”

          1. Memphis Aggie

            Still sounds like vanity to me and making the near occasion of sin into a virtue. Glory is for God alone

      2. Minime

        I don’t think I would agree that woman want respect in regard to the things they do for their husbands. At least not ALL women. In my own personal experiences and in the situations of those close to me, I’ve RARELY heard a woman express “I feel so respected when he expresses his gratitude toward me when I do the laundry.” I almost always hear “I feel very loved when he expresses appreciation for the things I do for him.”

        Additionally, I did not get from that book that Eggerich claims women do not need respect. In fact, I think he explicitly says men and women need BOTH love and respect, but their primary needs are opposite: A man’s primary need is respect and a woman’s is love. When a woman is feeling empty and unappreciated, she typically doesn’t express a need to feel respected. She cries out desperately to feel loved. And same thing for a man. Only he cries for a need to feel respected.

        Eggerich also explicitly says that men, of course, need Love, but they spell it “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

        1. philangelus

          And yet the biggest problem I hear about from other women is men who “take them for granted” and refuse to help out around the house, etc. That’s a lack of respect. Women aren’t articulating it that way, but neither are men. I’ve never heard a woman say “I feel loved when he expresses appreciation” either.

          Your second paragraph is basically the book’s jacket copy. I’m saying that the attitude Eggerich takes throughout the book is that the woman doesn’t need to be respected.There are unbalanced parallels all over the place where he leaves out men respecting women while making sure that women understand they need to give both love and respect.

          Go back and count: how many times does he ask a woman, “Would you want your son to grow up to marry a woman like you?” And how many times does he ask a man, “Would you want your daughter to grow up to marry a man like you?” The answer to the second is ZERO.

        2. Rachel

          In all due respect, I don’t think he makes his point clear if he mentions at all that women need respect. I will admit I have not read the whole book or watched all of the videos. I tried to but I couldn’t get past this. My husband is abusive and he and our pastor LOVE this book. When I tried to explain to my pastor that I needed respect, he said no, you really just need love. So I guess that makes verbal and spiritual abuse okay then, because only the man needs respect and not women. I have read and watched enough to believe that the reason Emerson does not think a woman needs respect is because he disrespects women. I found the video to be very offensive to women. And my overall problem with the book is that it never addresses the abusive husband and the fact that that changes ALL the rules!

  4. tiphaine

    hmm doesn’t look like I’ll buy it anytime soon…
    I’d be interested in some more details about the 6 areas and how to develop showing love/respect.

    Considering the reference to Eph 5 maybe the “respect” is something closer to submission. Hence the woman has to respect her husband, and her husband respect Christ, so all is for the best… I personally think it can be misleading to equate respect and submission. But I realized it’s a confusion some women make (like in some articles of the above rubies websites, where SOME women put submission first in their vocabulary, and forget the “trust” and “communication” factors in “respect”…) I hope this make sense!

    1. philangelus

      He does address submission as a separate area (ie, a way to show respect.)

      His six areas for men to show love to their wives: COUPLE = Closeness, Openness, Understanding, Peacemaking, Loyalty, Esteem. (Again, esteem as separate from respect, whereas I’d have thought of them as close.)

      His six areas for women to show love to their husbands: CHAIRS = Conquest, Hierarchy, Authority, Insight, Relationship, Sexuality. These areas are a bit of a stretch for the acronym. Conquest = “honor his job,” hierarchy doesn’t stick in my head, Authority means submission to him, Insight means to respect his logic over your intuition, Relationship means to be your husband’s friend, and Sexuality is what you think it means. Birth control/NFP is never mentioned, by the way.

      1. Memphis Aggie

        I’m betting Esteem is only in their to complete the gimmicky acronym

        1. Memphis Aggie

          sorry that’s in “there” – typically bad grammar on my part

  5. Ken Rolph

    Marriage is the closest up instance of the “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice” principle. We sometimes forget that. We think it is about people “out there”. Weep with those who weep is the easy part. It allows us to be in the superior helping position.

    Rejoice with those who rejoice is the hardest part. It’s the one that really requires us to focus on the other person and forget ourselves. This is the hardest thing to do. For example, it is the problem of the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son. But marriage makes it really personal.

    Respect is a dynamic thing which has to be maintained over time. I believe that in my life I have been married to at least 4 distinctly different people since 1972. I don’t know how many people I have been. We could have lost each other at any of the transitions.

    I think we mostly know respect when it’s not there.

    1. philangelus

      Good point about rejoicing being the harder thing, especially when one is rejoicing and the other not.

      I don’t see weeping together as putting one in the superior helping position. Women who cry together are experiencing mutuality, a complete balancing of power. It’s a way of saying “I’m totally with you in this.” Maybe for men it’s different, but I’ll leave that for the men to decide. 🙂

      And Ken, about 20 years ago, my mother said, “The worst possible indictment of a marriage is for a couple to say, ‘We are exactly the same as we were when we got married.’ Marriage is meant to change us and help us grow. A healthy marriage not only makes room for growth but causes us to grow and encourages change.”

  6. cricketB

    Women are less hierachical? He hasn’t been to high school lately.

    I agree with Aggie — respect is a key part of love. Does the author bother to define what he means by love, to distinguish it from respect?

    “…bringing Jesus right into the marriage by loving and respecting your spouse ONLY because Jesus tells you to do so.” Uh, what about us agnostics? I respect my husband because he is worthy of respect.

    Submission does not show respect! At least not as I understand it. “I do it because he wants it.” Not because you agree with him most of the time, or feel it’s time to let him choose the movie, or trust that he knows more about car engines than you do. Submission sounds like respecting his power over you, not the man himself.

    Yes, there’s a healthy form of submission, where the person, or deity, has earned your trust, so you do as he asks without going through the thought required to turn it into agreement. But I do not believe God would tell someone to submit to another simply because of gender.

    Sexuality is only on one gender’s list? Throw out the book. Same for Friendship.

    Most of the time, one-line summaries have holes, so no one reads the full book. If they did, they’d realize the summary is incomplete, and the holes are filled. In this case, one of the summaries is great, but the way he expands on it is imbalanced and wrong.

    1. philangelus

      Remember that the book is unapologetically Christian and written toward a Christian audience. The premise is based on a Biblical directive. So he doesn’t really care for purposes of his book what agnostics, atheists, Buddhists and Pastafarians think. 🙂

      No, he does not define love either.

      1. cricketB

        Much Jane’s work is also Christian, except I feel included. “Christian” is too broad a term — too many variations on it.

  7. Memphis Aggie

    Submission does show respect when it’s done voluntarily out of love rather than fear. But that term is a lightning rod and has to be placed very clearly in the Christian context wherein those who lead are expected to serve those that follow them and not themselves. Further while men are granted to role of leader they will also be held responsible for their decisions. I think this is part of what JPII meant when he spoke of “love and responsibility” in his Theology of the Body.

    1. philangelus

      That’s pretty much how he packages it too. That since a man is called up on to die for the sake of his family, his family is placed under his authority. That comes with the responsibility.

      I don’t have Holly Pierot’s book here, but in “A Mother’s Rule of Life” she goes through the catechism looking for what the Catholic church teaches about a man’s authority in the home, and she discovers instead that in catholicism, for every authority there’s a counter-authority. And she also realized that foisting all the decision-making off onto her husband was unfair to him.

      I’ve submitted on issues to my Patient Husband, but at the same time, I know he has my best interests at heart. He may have to do something that’s not in my personal best interest for the sake of the family, but I know I came in on his radar and he’s not going to dominate me for the sake of proving his authority. It’s a huge difference.

      Townsend and Cloud, the authors of “Boundaries,” said they never saw a married couple where the husband was invoking “submission” that didn’t also have huge boundary issues. Once they’d clear up the boundary issues, the submission issue would fall away.

      1. Ken Rolph

        Over recent decades there has arisen a trend for men to try to talk women into a position of submission. As I saw this happening I realised that it was totally inappropriate. If there is submission, then it is something worked out between women and God. Men should stay out of it and concentrate on living up to their own responsibilities.

        I see many in churches trying to order everyone’s lives to a common situation. Men go out to work and women stay home and look after everyone. I once heard this put as: men go out and hunt the bear and skin it. Women stay in the cave and turn the bear skin into a rug.

        But we now live in a world which doesn’t care who kills the bear. For many men a situation where their wife earns more than they do is a problem. When Jan and I were in university she did courses mostly in history and education. I did courses from all the schools except one (modern languages). That’s the way we were and what we were interested in. Who do you think has the more reliable income? A teacher or a freelance writer?

        For many years I worked in a succession of jobs and wrote in spare time. Jan worked part time at teaching. After the kids grew up we wondered why we were doing this. Now she teaches full time and has a string of accomplishments, degrees and awards. I stay home and “sit around all day writing”. We think even God is happier with that arrangement. Last financial year I earned just over $11,000. Some church people find our lives difficult to accept. But respect, submission, roles are not about who earns the most.

        1. philangelus

          Authority isn’t something we buy. The folks who argue submission would argue the same even if the husband were an unemployed, imprisoned with every vice imaginable.

          The argument seems to be that if marriage is a microcosm of the church, then the bride of Christ is the church and therefore the wife is in the position of the church relative to her husband, who stands in locus Christi. Giving him something of an infallible position within the family. Eggerichs actually uses the term “first among equals” (which made me laugh.)

          I’m not gifted with divine knowledge of what God actually wants. I do think in my own marriage, things have worked out in such a way that God isn’t livid. :#) I could be wrong, but if I am, God isn’t shy about letting people know when something needs to change.

  8. Memphis Aggie

    I’m unclear on what “boundary issues” means.

    1. philangelus

      Er…they’re hard to define, but I’ll try. “Boundaries” in the popular psychological usage means having a good sense of where you end and where I begin, what my responsibilities are and what your responsibilities are, what I can control and what I cannot control.

      People who try to make you feel and do what they want you to do are overriding your boundaries. People who never seem to be able to say no to others have bad boundaries. Etc.

  9. Memphis Aggie

    In general terms that’s a pretty clear but how that would sort out practically would seem to be fluid. In our house responsibilities shift back and forth depending on who’s most able to do x y or z. If my wife is too tired, I cook or bathe the baby etc. If I had a long day I might not be much help. We constantly re-evaluate and negotiate, switching back and forth. At the beginning of our marriage my wife’s salary housed us, now mine does. In a few years it may change again. Our most important responsibilities are shared.

    I don’t like the vague unprincipled term “boundaries” , especially since it implies division. That’s why I reacted to it. It sounds to me that your term, dignity, is better here. In that the inherent dignity of the other person is respected and not pressed or coerced into any action.

    The other part about knowing your own limits is lifelong dicernment process from humility.

    1. philangelus

      Ego boundaries drop during early love, which is when you get that “love and beloved are one” phase of things. After a while, the couple reasserts its boundaries, and it’s healthier that way. It enables the couple to separate and come together, to be separate people who add to one another rather than fully subsuming themselves in one another. It’s really a good book (Townsend and Cloud’s, that is) and explains it much better than I can.

      I see submission as something that comes to the fore only if we’re at a blockade. I don’t go running to him for permission to change the baby’s diaper, for example. (Which, I would imagine, he’s terribly glad for.) I operate autonomously in certain areas of the household although obviously I’m receptive to input.

      But when it came to his need to move our family so he could be closer to his job, I swallowed my objections and supported him. I didn’t WANT to move. It was better for “me” if we stayed in the other city. But it was better for the family if we moved. He acknowledged that I would take the brunt of the move, and that helped me to then say, “Okay, we’re moving” and do everything in my power to make it happen. (And, if you’ve been here since last year, everything in Satan’s power to make it not happen — ugh.)

      Within that larger decision to move, there were a thousand smaller decisions to be made, and I didn’t force him to make all of them. Where I had good input, he listened and did it. That’s part of teamwork. I guess I view him as my “team lead,” but we’re both contributing partners.

  10. cricketB

    Then you didn’t submit to your husband’s choice. It was a complex decision, but overall you agreed with it. Flipping the gender roles: If the move were to make your life easier, perhaps to better care for ailing parents, would you call it him submitting to your choice to move?

    1. philangelus

      Well…I disagree that it wasn’t submitting. I didn’t want to do it and had no benefit by doing it. I didn’t fight it after he decided it was necessary (and I agreed with the necessity.) I could have bitched and screamed about it, but the family unit benefitted. So Jane gives a little and the family gains a lot.

      1. cricketB

        New handle on it: Submitting to a joint decision, or submitting to a decision by someone you trust, is different from “being submissive”. The latter, to me, implies turning off ones brain. Where you use “submissively”, I prefer “gracefully” or “without undue fuss”. (Can’t think of a verb for “graceful”.) Possibly “stoically”. As opposed to “angrily” or “under protest” or “kicking and screaming”.

        1. philangelus

          You’ve created an orthodoxy/orthopraxy split here. A lot of “submission” advocates don’t seem to care so much about the prequels of submission, only the sequels.

          We can submit to God the same way: either “You’re gonna have to MAKE me do that” or “Okay, since that seems to be what you want, I’ll go along with it and see where you’re leading.”

          1. Memphis Aggie

            Nice analogy. How ’bout trust and faith in your husbands intentions and as alternative to “submission”. Still someone has to make the final decision and ultimately lead and one person must oblige the other if they disagree. I remember my wife hesitated to change her last name for the first year of our marriage. Maybe “deference” is a better term?

          2. philangelus

            I like deference! It kind of gets at the meaning of “submit” that Eggerichs wanted as well, the sense of being placed under the responsibility of.

  11. Ray Ivey

    I was surprised that some in this review didn’t think the author described “respect” and that it was undefined. I wondered if they were reading the same book. Right out of the shoot Chapter sixteen defines respect with not only a descrption and illustration, but with a biblical background as to why it might be that way. Read that chapter again…then you see the mosaic of respect in multifacited view.

    1. philangelus

      I’ve got the book open in front of me. Chapter Sixteen is “Conquest: Appreciate his desire to work and achieve” and he begins the chapter by defining conquest as the natural inborn desire of a man to conquer the challenges of his world. THere’s no illustration whatsoever in my copy of the book, and I don’t see a description of respect.

      Since you see it in your copy, can you please post it? After reading a whole book about it, I’d love to know how he defines Respect.

  12. Foxy

    I don’t like this book!!!

  13. anonymous

    I got through the first page, heard the message, “If you women would just feed our egos, we’d love you more. It’s your fault.” I mentioned it to my husband… at 12:30 at night. Bad move. I ended up with a permanently damaged shoulder but realized that he didn’t feel respected. I’ve worked on that, but it’s a hushed subject now. He scared himself when he did that to me. He’s never touched me angrily again. He doesn’t know that my shoulder still hurts every day. I won’t tell him. I will respect him. I would like him to respect me as well, which is biblical. Men are to honor their wives and women are to learn to love their husbands. Establishing an entire theology of marriage on one passage (or a theology of anything for that matter) is a dangerous practice. The whole council of scripture is rife with passages about all of us needing both love and resect. I tend to think the author didn’t feel respected at one point, or knew some nagging wives and watched the men wilt under the rolling pin or become consistently agitated.
    Even though I have difficulty sleeping comfortably on that side, I have for the most part been able to brush it off. We’re learning to communicate our needs without explosions. We’re learning that both of us need to work on this thing and grace says that we do that whether the other person deserves it or not.

    1. philangelus

      I have no idea to respond to this. A man who would hit a woman EVEN ONCE is dangerous. Have you seen a doctor? Have you told the doctor how it happened? And hiding from your husband what he did to you isn’t respect. Respecting someone means giving them the dignity of knowing the consequences of their actions. Unless you think he’d hit you again if you tell him, in which case…get out? Talk to someone and get away.

      There’s respecting someone for his good qualities, and there’s also that terrified respect that comes from thinking “I respect the fact that this man could permanently damage my body.” How hard would someone have to hit you in order to do that?

      See a doctor about your shoulder if you haven’t already. And maybe talk to a battered woman’s hotline about this incident. I’m praying for you.

  14. Starry9t

    I just recently started a study of this book in a life group with two other couples.

    After reading the entire, book working through the questions in the workbook and seeing the videos and answering the small group questions I feel the following about the book and the concepts.

    First, I absolutely believe that there is something in the concept of respect and honor for a man. I also believe that women do and say things that cause a man’s sense of respect to be diminished in marriage.

    I do however believe that going with the pink and blue concept of the book. When a man is courting he is loving and has no problem with this concept. In reality I believe that this is “hunting” and once their prey has been killed a man no longer has the need to be loving. In the same way this man has loved her so well that this woman looks at her man as if he is the most awesome person in the world and puts him on a pedestal. A woman over time, usually around three years becomes so hungry for the “loving” man who courted her that he falls off this pedestal.

    In the book Emerson doesn’t define respect because I believe that for each man that “pedestal” was made out of things that were specific to him. He eludes to that fact that a woman’s facial expression, body language, demeanor, ways of handling conflict all are ways of showing respect. He also give techniques for helping each couple “define” respect such as……That sounded unloving, was I being disrespectful?” Which is supposed to open up discussion so that a dutiful wife can “change” to meet her husband’s need for respect.

    Here are the things I find flawed.
    Emersons examples that he uses in the book are very disrespectful of women. Such as an anniversary card that was purchased for a 10 year anniversary in which he focuses on the slight error that the husband made in buying a birthday card instead…my complaint. If I’ve been married for 10 years a 15 minute stop at a store is NOT the way to say, “I Love You” in any situation.

    His example for pink and blue:
    When a woman says, “I have nothing to wear.” means I need to go shopping.
    When a man says and is talking to his friends it means, “she” is not doing his laundry.

    In addition, the book is written and suggests that he is an expert on the “Feminist” movement and acknowledges that this is a serious problem. He says nothing about “Chauvinism” running rampant in the world. So much so that he indicates that for women working is a “choice”. We are to envision ourselves as equal but need to be constantly aware of every word that is spoken and action that is taken so as to be seen as respectful by our spouses and if we are they will do us a “favor” by apologizing and helping us with our “women’s work”

    I see myself as a strong Christian woman who believes in family and that a man is to be the leader. However, in my marriage I am an equal working partner bringing home the bacon. The real problem with society is that good Christian families are not told how to handle the situation in which both partners are “bread winners” here is the crux. The answer in my opinion.

    Just as Emerson eludes we are equal. Love is when a spouse not only makes the big decisions about finances and a home and how many children but chooses to “pitch in” in all areas of their life including the housekeeping and caring of children. the passage that indicates a man must love his wife as Christ loved the church, just only reference to Jesus’ dieing for the church. What about the Jesus who submitted to the need to show compassion by washing the feet of the disciples. How about the millions of times that Jesus could have gotten angry but chose to speak to the disciples in loving ways. That is loving your wife as Christ loved the church.

    Respect is the pedestal that the man will receive not because she was coerced and manipulated in taking the lead and motivating her husband to be loving but because she is willing to submit to God’s will.

    Until concepts are taught that address the problems in today’s society, we will continue to have divorce and relationship issues.

    That being said I think that if a couple is in a situation where she is willing to look past the Chauvinism in this book, the concepts can work. How? When the man chooses to really truly treat her as an equal heir and treats her as Jesus did his disciples. When a woman has the patience to let the man’s ego catch up and bask in being on his pedestal again.

  15. Amy

    I have read all your comments with great interest. After 31 years of an unhappy marriage, my husband finally agreed to go to couples counseling with a Christian psychologist. Our very first visit, she put Love and Respect into my hands and informed me that “somebody has got to stop the crazy cycle.” I assumed she meant me. We have met with her three times, and she refers to this book more than she does the Bible. I have read Love and Respect cover to cover, and there are at least three things that don’t ring true, at least in my marriage. My husband has never taken pride in being the provider and protector of our family. He has never been achievement-oriented. I do not believe he is the basically “good-willed” man that Eggerich describes. He routinely lies to and about me, has been abusive toward our sons, and has hurt me deeply and intentionally over and over again. I have seen three counselors who all told me I am being emotionally abused. Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect. I probably could show him more respect. On the other hand, how does a woman truly respect a habitual liar with major anger problems? Anyhow, I feel like if I quit going to see this counselor with my husband he will use that to say I don’t care about our marriage. But I almost fear going to the sessions because the psychologist seems to pander to what my husband “needs” from me, all the time discounting the terrible things he has done/said to me. Would you keep going to a counselor who bases most of their advice on this book?

    1. philangelus

      Wow, that’s a tough question.

      First thing: I’m never going to insinuate myself into someone else’s marriage and get between spouses. I know nothing about your marriage except the 200 or so words above.

      Assuming you’re perceiving everything correctly, the counselor doesn’t sound like a very good counselor. Ideally a counselor would facilitate communication between spouses and allow the spouses to work out issues within the marriage rather than assign blame. If she’s pandering to your husband, that’s not balanced. One person cannot bear the entire weight of a marriage. Did she ask your husband to read the book too? Ask her why not.

      Since you’ve already had three counselors give their verdict, why are you with a 4th? Does your husband bolt from the counselors who say anything against him?

      You say he’s been abusive toward your sons. What’s stopping you from picking up the phone and calling the police? Bringing the boys to the police station and showing the police the bruises? What’s stopping you from telling the pediatrician? Because love and respect is lovely, but in most states that counselor is a MANDATORY REPORTER who is **bound by law** to report child abuse. And she hasn’t done it? Hmm. How about the other counselors? Why haven’t they done it?

      Let the police decide if he’s been abusive. The police are good at that, right? They can treat him respectfully while reading him his rights.

      You say you’re worried he’ll tell everyone you gave up on the marriage if you give up on this counselor. Who’s he going to tell? Why won’t they care about the previous three counselors you went to? It seems to me as if everyone’s opinion is being considered in the situation you describe… except for yours.

      Here’s one component of loving and respecting that’s missing: no one is respecting you. Not your husband, not the counselor — and not yourself. You are a daughter of God. You are created and loved by God. You deserve not to live in fear all the time.

      A man such as you describe needs help. Quite possibly help he’ll only get in the legal system. The next time he gets abusive, call the police. Or if you’re not willing to press charges, someday, when you’re not sure what to do, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233).

      If you are reading this from a home computer, delete your history files and clear your cache after reading this. or post that you’ve read my reply and I’ll delete your comment and my response. He may track your home computer usage, so find a public library where you can get online without being tracked, and then you can visit

      I’ll pray for you. I’m sorry you’re in this situation. 🙁

    2. Lisa

      Dear Amy,

      I am in my second marriage and I can tell you that my first marriage was passive abuse. Although he didn’t get angry with me, he made comments and expected things that were abusive.

      I was a strong Christian so I researched a lot.

      since I know very little about your entire situation I can only tell you my experience and maybe help you in that way.

      First, there is a pastor Andrew Womack whom I follow occasionally. He talks about respect as a form of submission. Te challenge with this book is that it is primarily focusd on the woman submitting. Submission is something that we do out of obedience to God and cannot be coerced. So if you are past being able to do this it will not be effective. Always remember you are not submitting to your spouce you are sbmtting to God. In Andrew Wommack’s teaching he talks about the fact that BOTH male and female are to submit to each other and to God. Occasionally one of them, usually the more mature, needs to take the first step. Don’t expect it to be easy. And….don’t do it just because a book says to do it. The book is just one man’s idea of how to get marriage to work. The true success is when we focus on God being the center and keep telling our spouse and ourselves to focus on what God would want.

      Also, this is important…..Emotional, physical, and mental abuse is always inapropriate. I found in my case that the abuse existed becuase I chose not to have boundaries. In a very nice manner you can tell your spouse that you deserve to be respected and his tone of voice and mannerism’s must reflect this. If he refuses you can only change you….this means you need to make the decision to accept the abuse or remove yourself from the situation. Oh! I learned this the hard way….Never, never, never, be angry in front of children. If you have sit them down and apologize immediately. Then create a safe place that the two of you can express your self.

      The one part of this book I beleive is correct. If the husband believes he is honored in his lead role he will respond. Even if he is not “performing” and or effective in being the lead role. As women we often try and step into it which causes the problem. If a man realizes that his wife will not take the lead, he is then forced to “fix” the problem.

      In terms of good will. If your husband is a true Christian and beleives in God and is hungry for the word and when you think back at your early years of marriage he loved and had eyes only for you. He is a good willed man. If he is only mildly a Christian. Andrew Wommacks teachings will help you understand how to “stand” as the spritual leader in your home while still submitting to your husbands “roles”. It is possible to teach yor husband by example. I don’t know any husbands who “learn” from their wife. I know many who “learn” from their wives example.

      Whenever you feel an argument comming on….try and stop and ask him to pray with you for a solution. this works 100% of the time if you can not let an agrument escalate.

  16. Cricket

    Amy, if you weren’t Christian, would his behaviour be acceptable? Did Christ really tell us that men were to be in charge, even if they abused their power?

    Has he earned your respect, trust and submission? From what I hear, the book optimistically states that if you submit enough, he’ll feel less stress and will lead responsibly. After 31 years, you have enough data to know if this is realistic or overly (dangerously) optimistic in your case. In the past, when you have submitted, has the lack of stress allowed him to make better decisions for the family, or has he become more selfish? Why will it be different this time?

    If a man is worthy of your trust and respect, you don’t need to submit. What he asks and what you would choose for the family as a whole (which includes you) are the same thing!

    As for the current counselor, does he know enough about your family to justify his choice of book? From one visit, before he has built a relationship with you, can he really know what to recommend? He can’t. Going back to him becomes one more way your husband tries to control you.

  17. Amy

    Wow–I didn’t expect three such well thought-out responses to my question! Thank you, Philangelus, Lisa and Cricket. I’ll try to answer your questions the best I can.

    Philangelus–no, the counselor did not recommend the book to my husband, although she did say I should ask him to read it with me. I re-checked it from the library for my him, but he hasn’t picked it up. Yes, he tends to bolt from counselors who don’t say what he wants to hear, but more than that he refuses to see a female counselor. Right now we are meeting with a male and female counselor together, which is more palatable for him. Hence counselor #4 (over a ten-year time span or so).

    The abuse toward my sons is 99% emotional and verbal. Not police stuff. The other 1% happened a couple years ago, and our teen-aged son agreed it would be far worse for him (and me) to end up in foster care over one incident in which he really wasn’t hurt physically (no bruises, except, of course, emotional). However, I have told my husband that if any kind of physical stuff happens again, I will get a restraining order. I am a mother bear 🙂

    I’m not really worried about him telling other people and didn’t mean to come across that way. Truthfully, he has no friends, so he really doesn’t have anyone to tell. It’s more that he’ll keep throwing “our failed marriage” back into my face.

    “Here’s one component of loving and respecting that’s missing: no one is respecting you. Not your husband, not the counselor — and not yourself. You are a daughter of God. You are created and loved by God. You deserve not to live in fear all the time.”–Thank you. Those words made tears well up in my eyes. Thank you for praying for me.

    Lisa–yes, passive abuse is a good description. It does help to visualize submitting to the Lord rather than my husband, although really, there isn’t anything to submit to because he doesn’t want to take responsibility or leadership in our home. The very few things he has asked me to do over the years I have done willingly.

    That’s an interesting thought about the wife not taking the lead, so the husband has to step in and do it. That is one thing that didn’t ring true for me in the Love and Respect book, because that doesn’t happen in our marriage. If I don’t do something, it just plain doesn’t get done. I don’t want all the responsibility for our family on my shoulders. I always pictured marriage as being a team. But my husband is more than happy to let me take care of everything.

    I will try the prayer thing! I can see where that would nip anything in the bud. And we don’t, as a rule, argue in front of the kids. I have always been very careful not to correct or complain about my husband in front of them.

    Cricket–No, if I weren’t a believer, I would have been gone years ago. Without going into tons of detail, he has lost all trust and respect that I had for him once upon a time.

    What good insight about the counselor giving me that book at our very first visit! I hadn’t even thought about it, but you are right–how could she determine the problem and solution after just talking with me for one hour? Very good point.

    I hope the counselors can see the truth, but I really don’t have much hope. The male counselor my husband sees has made it clear he doesn’t really believe in emotionally-abused women. I find that so difficult as there are many, many Christian websites and blogs which address this situation.

    Thanks again for all your insights! God bless you all.

    1. Lisa


      Our church is doing a wonderful series right now only for men. See if you can get him to sit and watch the videos from this series together. It is called “Reverse Engineering” For some of this you will have to sit back and just be patient while he thinks about it. Also, I have a feeling that the next series will be for women so tell him to that your time is comming soon. Also, there is a video called “the Man Event” this was a kick off of the series in which 4 thousand men from the church commited to this series. Athough they posted this to the web site, they warned women not to judge their men or drill into them what the pastor said at thie event if we watched it. The pastor basically challenges men to step up to the plate in a fun and energetic way.

    2. philangelus

      Amy, how are you doing? Is your email address secure? No one else can see it, but as the blog owner, I can. 😉 Is it okay if I email you? (You can find my email address on my about-me page.)

      1. Mama Bear

        I cannot tell you how grateful I am for finding your review and blog. I admit I’m only on page 30 of this book, but the first two things that have dragged me down (and really impacted by self-esteem as a wife) are that all I want is love. I know my husband loves me, but he doesn’t show me respect. Does the author really think women are that simple minded. The second is the circle only goes one way…if a woman shows the man respect he will then show her love; the circle needs to run counter clock wise too. So far, this book is only adding to the grief and strife in my marriage and I regret the therapist recommending it after spending 50 minutes with us, but it is nice to read your review and blog and see I’m not alone in my initial thoughts about this book.

  18. EY

    Hi I just read the book this week and I cannot agree more with your review. Its not just about the lack of a proper definition for what is deemed RESPECT but the fact that the onus is on the woman to give and then receive – its almost an underlying tone that he points out to women that if you cant respect your man, he will NOT soften and love you.

    And he makes this point almost a conditional term for receiving respect. Also I have to agree that he never talks about a man learning to respect his wife as an equal and a helpmate. Whilst the bible does talk about the woman made from Eve, it also in many instances talks about the value of a good wife (in Proverbs) and the commandment that a man has to love a woman as he does himself.

    I was very dissapointed to read that his view it is largely the woman’s job to make the first move towards what he terms unconditional respect in order to get love.

    There are some men who no matter how much you show them respect do not respond with love (let alone respect). I agree with Mama Bear above the circle has to go counter clockwise too. What are the realities in terms of breaking points and when do you go to God with them? If this book is a self help for non-believers then I say its ok as God is not the centre of the human relationship for people that don’t believe in him. So in aetheist terms (and if you were addressing the woman), one would say to her: “ok if you want results you have to make sacrifices and be selfless — ladies first and hopefully he will get the picture.”

    If this is about Christian counseling then I ask where God comes in because it does not address God as the centre of the process of renewal OR when and what you bring to God in prayer. I think Stormie O’Martian hits a much rawer nerve when she advises that you as a woman should not only follow principles like what this author preaches but also pray through the deeper issues in a marriage. There is no way to understand what God has in mind until you bring it to him in prayer. Emerson’s way may have legs for some individuals but as they say under the relationship status for many Facebookers, I know … “its complicated!” My two cents at least…

  19. Mark

    I haven’t read the entire book but your review states “There is not once in 300 pages a single mention that women also need and are deserving of respect.” That is simply mistaken.

    On page 47 of my copy, under the subtitle “What About Aretha and R-E-S-P-E-C-T?” it says “Sometimes I get the question, ‘You say women need love and men need respect. Isn’t the opposite just as true? Don’t gals need respect and guys need love?” My answer is, of course, women need respect and guys need love, but I’m talking about the primary drive in each sex.”

    I believe there are other places where he mentions women need respect as well. That’s a fairly serious charge you’ve leveled against this book that is factually erroneous. This review comes up when you google for reviews on the book – you might wish to correct that.

    1. philangelus

      You’re correct — he says it on page 47.

      In all the examples, however, I see no examples of men granting respect to women. His examples, over and over, are of women giving respect to men and then the men being loving in return.

      Since the women are already being loving (his thesis) and now have added respect, we should expect to see similar counter-examples for the men. There should be examples of men initiatiating loving behavior in addition to being respectful and then eliciting respect from their wives.

      His challenge, repeatedly, is to the women: would you want your son to marry a woman like you? Why is he not asking the men if they’d want their daughter married to a man like themselves?

      I do feel he lays the entire burden of the marriage on the shoulders of the woman. Disrespect does go in both directions, unfortunately.