What is worse is that Eggerichs has dragged into this debate the respectable work of John Gottman. On Amazon.com a dissatisfied customer has this to say,
- Mr. Eggrichs quotes John Gottman, a renowned and well-respected University of Washington psychology professor. However, he fails to keep the context of the studies by omitting John Gottman's scientific research to include `mutual' love and respect.
Direct quotes from John Gottman's books: "No matter what style of marriage they have adopted, their discussions, for the most part, are carried along by a strong undercurrent of two basic ingredients: love and respect. These are the direct opposite of - and antidote for- contempt, perhaps the most corrosive force in marriage.
But all the ways partners show each other love and respect also ensure that the positive-to-negative ratio of a marriage will be heavily tilted to the positive side." . . . "By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other's company." . . . "They don't just "get along"- they also support each other's hopes and aspirations and build a sense of purpose into their lives together. That is really what I mean when I talk about honoring and respecting each other." "...you need to understand the bottom-line difference that is causing the conflict between you-and to learn how to live with it by honoring and respecting each other." (Reference John Gottman's books `Why Marriages Succeed or Fail' pages 61 and 62 as well as `The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work' pages 19, 23 and 24.)
- Furthermore, it’s interesting that a family psychologist like John Gottman emphasizes that respect is typically the more important need of a husband and love the more important need of a wife. It’s all relative, of course, but maybe, just maybe, Paul was on to something, in his gender-differentiated advice.
- Interestingly enough, scientific research confirms that love and respect are the foundation of a successful marriage. Dr. John Gottman, professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington, led a research team that spent twenty years studying two thousand couples who had been married twenty to forty years to the same partner. There people came from diverse backgrounds and had widely differing occupations and lifestyles. But one thing was similar - the tone of their conversations. As these couples talked together, almost always there was what Gottman calls "a strong undercurrent of two basic ingredients: Love and Respect. These are the direct opposite of - and antidote for - contempt, perhaps the most corrosive force in marriage."
Gottman's findings confirm what has already been in Scripture for some two thousand years. Chapter 5 of Ephesians is considered by many to be the most significant treatise on marriage in the New Testament. Paul concludes these statements on marriage by getting gender specific in verse 33. He reveals commands from the very heart of God as he tells the husband he must love his wife unconditionally and the wife must respect her husband, whether or not her husband comes across as loving. page 35-36
I am extremely relieved that a psychotherapist who knows Gottman came to my rescue and wrote in a further comment on Mike's blog,
- I have been a practicing psychotherapist for over 15 years and have taken training in couples therapy from John Gottman in Seattle. Although his research points to typical patterns of communication among husbands and wives, with gender specific advice to each on how to deal with their spouse, he certainly does not support Eggerich’s generalization that wives are somehow less in need of respect than husbands — indeed, even 80% of men prefer respect, wives need both love AND respect.
Gottman’s work being based on sophisticated top-notch research is far more embracing of the nuances and individual differences across couples than what you see from Eggerich. For example, Gottman acknowledges a pattern that he describes as wife-demand-husband-withdraw, a pattern that Eggerich discusses at length in his book, to the point of generalizing it to almost all couples (only one page is devoted to emotional husbands with stonewalling wives). But Gottman’s work goes much further, noting patterns of mutually volatile couples, belligerent husbands, etc., each requiring different interventions.
Unfortunately, these facts are lost on those who have become fans of Eggerich, seeing his work as the answer to restoring gender roles, when much damage can be done to individuals and communities by its simplistic one-size-fits-all message. For example, there has been a burgeoning Christian “men’s rights” movement on this internet (aka “MGTOW”, “MRA”) that uses Eggerich’s writings to reinforce their mysogynistic stereotypes of women as shrews. In the wrong hands, Eggerich’s sweeping quotes can be very toxic stuff.
I run a remedial reading programme. I have decided that there are many adults around who could benefit from such a programme.
On the other hand, Gottman, in this article, actually said some lovely and tender things about relationships.
- It sounds as if we have a stake in relationships staying together — but we don't. My major stake is in understanding. We have a stake in people not staying together if they don't feel good about their relationship and it's not really going anywhere for them, it's not really helping them build one another's dreams, it's not a relationship that has dignity.
But we like to help people understand why it is that it didn't work, so that the next relationship, or next set of relationships, can be better. One of the major things we found is that honoring your partner's dreams is absolutely critical. A lot of times people have incompatible dreams — or they don't want to honor their partner's dreams, or they don't want to yield power, they don't want to share power. So that explains a lot of times why they don't really belong together.