My fiancé, David, and I are reading through “Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs” by Emerson Eggerichs, and it is incredible. The principles that Eggerichs teaches in the book, if they are applied properly, can transform marriages. He writes to both husbands and wives, with special attention to the husband’s need for respect. Everyone has heard of the term unconditional love, but Eggerichs introduces a new term: unconditional respect. He takes this term from Ephesians 5:33, which says, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
The term unconditional respect is a very new idea that a lot of women have a hard time accepting. Don’t people have to earn our respect? That’s what I used to think until I started reading this book. And then I realized that I had been so very wrong for most of my relationship with David (and even with my Dad). I’m sure most women can agree with me that saying “I love you” comes a lot more naturally than “I respect you.” I don’t see greeting cards at Wal-mart that say “My Dear Husband, I respect you because you protect me and provide for me.” You don’t see those because we wouldn’t buy them. We pick out cards that express how we feel, and if we don’t feel respectful, why would we buy a card that says we respect our men?
The problem is that we think our men need love above all else, just like we do. But men need something more than love, and that is our respect. This isn’t limited to relationships with boyfriends, fiancés, or husbands. This idea of respect reaches into relationships with Dads, bosses, and any man you talk to anywhere at all. The fact is, respect is a gift that you should be willing to give your boyfriend, fiancé, or husband no matter what the situation is. That includes when he is treating you in a way that makes you feel unloved.
I know when I’m feeling unloved because of something David has done (he does not intend to hurt me) it is probably because I have acted disrespectfully toward him. His natural (and human) response is to react in a way that feels unloving to me. This is what Eggerichs calls “The Crazy Cycle.” I encourage you (women and men) to pick up a copy of the book because it has helped David and I in our relationship so much! We haven’t perfected the art of love and respect yet, but knowing that we are on the right track is enough motivation for us to keep trying to be obedient to God.