Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Love is All You Need

20 Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve read this book, but it’s basic premise is this:  Women need love and men need respect.  Just look at it’s title.  Love and Respect:  The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs.  Sounds good doesn’t it?  The answer to all your marital woes.  Easy enough.  Except it’s not.  Even the title makes it seem as if the husband’s love toward his wife is just a want, but her respect for him is a deep seated need.  Indeed there is a difference between wants and needs, is there not?  It sort of minimizes what a man should be giving and elevates what a woman should be giving.

Inside the flap of this gorgeous little gem is says this:

Discover the Single Greatest Secret to a Successful Marriage

Psychological studies affirm it, and the Bible has been saying it for ages. Cracking the communication code between husband and wife involves understanding one thing: that unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her. It’s the secret to marriage that every couple seeks, and yet few couples ever find.

Today, you and your mate can start fresh with the ground-breaking guidance that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs provides in this book. His revolutionary message, featured on Focus on the Family, is for anyone: in marital crisis…wanting to stay happily married…who’s feeling lonely. It’s for engaged couples…victims of affairs…pastors and counselors seeking material that can save a marriage.

Using Dr. Eggerich’s breakthrough techniques, couples nationwide are achieving a brand-new level of intimacy and learning how to: – stop the Crazy Cycle of conflict – initiate the Energizing Cycle of change – enjoy the Rewarded Cycle of new passion

And if you’ll take this biblically based counsel to heart, your marriage could be next!

Here’s the thing that this book doesn’t tell you:  Women need way more than love and men need way more than respect and both of these things are earned.  In fact it’s doing all that other stuff that earns you love and respect.  And a little secret?  Men need love and women need respect.

This book promotes the idea that a wife should give her husband respect because of his position, regardless of his behavior and that a man should love his wife regardless of hers – unconditionally.  When the little woman gives her man unconditional respect it magically transforms him into a man that deserves that respect.  Not only that but he then begins to love the wife unconditionally.  Or when the man is fed up and at his wits end, if he’d just unconditionally love his woman, she’ll suddenly come to her senses and start to give him the respect he so desperately needs.

For some marriages this may be true.  Maybe both people are really good people and they’ve just begun taking each other for granted.  That implies, though, that the man is respectable in his own right and the woman lovable in hers.  That isn’t always the case.

Most people I know need things from their partner(yes, I said partner) like honesty, faithfulness, reliability, and affection.  These are mutual needs. If you want to be respected, be respectable.  If you want to be loved, be lovable.  If you want  either of these things then be honest, faithful and reliable.  Don’t just assume that your partner owes you love or respect.  The idea that one should simply unconditionally respect or love their partner is ludicrous.  It gives license to take advantage and take for granted your partner.

Am I saying that this book offered no insight into marriage relationships and that I got nothing useful from it?  No.  I did take it’s advice.  You see, at the time I read this I believed every word of it.  My marriage was in trouble and I needed to stop the Crazy Cylces.  This book posited the idea that just one person in the the relationship could do this. They can’t.  Sure, the crazy cycles may get diffused for a while.  But they don’t stop.  One person in a relationship cannot do the hard work for two.

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20 thoughts on “Love is All You Need

  1. “Today, you and your mate can start fresh with the ground-breaking guidance…” or absolute bollocks, whichever comes first “…that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs provides in this book. His revolutionary message,” which can’t be all that revolutionary if the Bible has been saying it “for ages” “…featured on Focus on the Family, is for anyone:” who happens to have a very, very specific set of problems.

    Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen. All men share exactly the same set of needs and desires, and in fact are wholly lacking in individual differences and therefore are completely interchangeable. This is equally true for all women. Stop thinking of yourself as a person, realize that you are either Man or Woman, accept your divinely ordained role, and you, too can be assimilated into the collective.

    Gender-based marital advice is some creepy, creepy shit. Doesn’t matter whether it’s sectarian or secular, it’s still creepy.

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    • “And if you’ll take this biblically based counsel to heart, your marriage could be next!”: in divorce court!

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    • Agreed. I’m so sick of fundamentalists shoe-horning people into restrictive boxes instead of acknowedging them as complex human beings. Then again, complexity and nuance has never been a fundamentalist strong point, as they prefer to keep their world simple.

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    • I have a list of needs. I know what they are. They might seem little to another woman someone esle, but they are big to me. Someone else’s needs might seem small to me, but they are big for them. Knowing what those needs are and being able to communicate them effectively, listening and responding to another person’s needs are the key to a good relationship.

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  2. Ah! You beat me to it! I bought a copy of this book super-cheap when my local Borders was going out of business, and it was on my list of Religious Right books to review.

    Your analysis is spot-on. The book’s approach to men and women is outdated and stereotypical, and its prescription for “good” relationships is sorely lacking. Why can’t men and women love AND respect EACH OTHER?

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    • Agreed, Ahab! I don’t understand the necessity to define our needs based on gender. I need what I need and you need what you need and it has nada to do with our plumbing.

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  3. I heard a Focus on the Family show when they were discussing this book. I’ve got very mixed emotions about it. Even in its over-simplifications, it can at least give couples a tool to begin healing a relationship which has drifted apart.

    On the other hand, as you rightfully point out, there are many more needs than these two, many needs are shared, and, above all, it requires a two-way commitment to see improvement! Excellent write-up!

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    • “Even in its over-simplifications, it can at least give couples a tool to begin healing a relationship which has drifted apart.”

      I did say that this book could be helpful to some couples experiencing the age old “taking each other for granted” problem. Though I think much of that is common sense and good communication. And I do not believe that unconditional love or respect is the answer. If it’s a case of “drifting apart” I wouldn’t necessarily think that the husband or wife is behaving in ways that make them unworthy of respect or love.

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  4. We had to read that book as part of marriage counseling. I told the elder that I needed respect and my lover needed love and affection. He was silent for a bit and then conceded that there are exceptions. Then he said (as in the book) than men naturally respect women and women are naturally loving to men but that women need to work to be respectful.
    ?!

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    • So, then, “Okay, the book was wrong. But it’s still right!”

      ::head explodes::

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    • What. The. @#$%. What kind of marriage counselor would prescribe such a naive book?

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    • That is disturbing on a number of levels. Maybe your marriage counselor was just naturally ignorant. Who honestly thinks that all men are naturally respectful, or that all woman are naturally loving??? Women need to work to be respectful? Men don’t need to work to be respectable??? What a dumbass comment!

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      • I tried to explain that men do not always naturally respect women, especially if they think women do not need respect. Ironically, I didn’t feel listened to.

        This ‘marriage counselor’ also blamed his wife for him not recognizing her severe clinical depression. Being a church leader automatically qualified him for this role. We’ve heard it preached that a man in a church leadership position is qualified by God regardless of the guy’s character. Then the same principle is in place – we need to respect that role and the guy needs to love the “flock”.

        Recipe for abuse?

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  5. I bought this book on the advice of an old girlfriend! lol The premise is kind of cute. If it were only that easy! I think it works somewhat in a marriage like hers… upper middle class normal people who might have a few wrinkles in their relationship.

    I know in the difficult relationships I have counseled, this approach would not have been the magic pill. In some ways loving and/or respecting in spite of the other person’s behaviour has some merit. It can go a long way to keep things from unnecessarily erupting. It can be a way to grease the wheels to keep things running smoother.

    In some instances, it may have a beneficial effect on the recipient and help them become a better person. But this is far from always the case. There are abusive, manipulative, narcissistic, pathological people who will not change just because someone treats them with love and respect.

    In those cases, I think you said it, D’ma. A lot more is needed!

    I also think that the premise that if you do your part it will turn the other person around so you get what you need is flawed, even if the Bible says it (“that he will be won over by your gracious obedience,” etc.). If you’re gonna love, do it without strings. Ditto with respect.

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    • I think couples with minor issues could benefit from this book. But the author touts it to be a one-size-fits-all fix for any problem.

      If you’re gonna love, do it without strings. Ditto with respect.

      Hmmm…that sounds good, but if a person keeps poking me in the eye it’s gonna get really hard to love them. Forget strings, I’m cutting the cord.

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  6. I am late to the party, I just saw this on V’s blog.
    How a person writes such a book and thinks he has great insights into human affairs baffles me.

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    • At the time I read it I was so brainwashed in the misogyny of fundamentalist Christianity that this seemed like wise and sage advice.

      After stepping back from it and having a chance to breath and doing a bit of thinking for myself- and I don’t believe in censorship – it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if every one of these books and ones like them were burned.

      How’s that for going all Fahrenheit 451? 😕

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