Thursday, March 12, 2009

Love and Respect

When someone originally recommended Love and Respect by Eggrichs, I read the table of contents and decided to go no further. Any book which touts how much men want to be respected for working and providing, and how much women want to be understood, has missed the boat many times over in my view. I provided, am I not to be respected? Apparently not.

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.)
In spite of this, Eggerichs has managed to give the strong impression that Gottman supports Eggerichs' thesis that men need respect and women need love. Recently on Mike's blog, a commenter said,

    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.
He claims that Gottman supports Eggerichs' thesis that men need respect and women need love. In fact, what Eggerichs wrote was this,

    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 personally unable to understand how anyone can derive the notion that Gottman said that men need respect and women need love. I feel incredibly disrespected by the author of this book and by anyone who cites approvingly from this book. I am resisting expressing myself on the rest of this book. My impression is that some people think that if they say something, that makes it true.

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 am dismayed not only that equal respect is not a premise among some Christian groups, but more specifically because some people appear to have no consience whatsoever in citing something and treating it as if it said the exact opposite of what it actually says. Gottman is disrespected, the reader is disrespected and everyone else. Christianity falls into disrepute. I am fed up with this kind of nonsense in the gender debate.

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.

17 comments:

Jay Seidler said...

It seems Paul was trying to correct some particular problems in Ephesus, not just giving universal principles. There is not enough information on what the situation there exactly was. Influence of the Artemis/Cybele cult? It is not clear.

If I am asked for advice for the Thai society in which I have lived for nearly twenty years, my advice might be the opposite of Paul's. Thai husbands, give your wife some respect and stop treating them like servants. Thai wives, try to love your men, even if they seem disgusting because of their lack of discipline.

Of course it has to go both ways. Can you respect someone you don't love? Can you love someone you don't respect?

Gem said...

Eggerich's book distressed me so much when I first read it that I did an in depth word study of his main proof text and found the following:

The Greek word in Ephesians 5:33- translated “respect” in the NIV and “reverence” in several other versions - is the word phobeo, Elsewhere it is consistently translated fear, be afraid, be afraid of, etc. Here is the breakdown of translation choices in the AV: AV — fear 62, be afraid 23, be afraid of 5, reverence 1, misc 2

Ephesians 5:33 is not telling wives to respect/reverence their husbands. It is telling wives to phobeo/FEAR their husbands.

Among the definitions of phobeo in any of the lexicons at Tufts ”respect/reverence” is not listed among the possible meanings.

I see it as a healthy FEAR. Like the kind of FEAR Sapphira SHOULD HAVE had for Ananias when he we lying to the Holy Spirit. She SHOULD HAVE realized that compliance with her husband was not a good plan. Appropriate FEAR of her husband's power to bring harm upon her/them, appropriate ezer (help MEET/holding her husband accountable) might have saved both their hides.

Following Ananias and Sapphira's death: "And great fear (phobos) came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things." Acts 5:11- appropriate, healthy, previously lacking-> FEAR!

There are very VERY few "real life" stories of married couples in the New Testament. I think we need to pay careful attention to the ones which are included, among them: Ananias and Sapphira.

Gem said...

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.

I'm curious. Do you know who Janet is referring to with "MGTOW" and "MRA"?

janet said...

"Do you know who Janet is referring to with "MGTOW" and "MRA"?"

Google the terms "MGTOW" and "eggerich" in one search and see for yourself. Click around and you'll be disgusted at what you find.

janet said...

Actually, google MGTOW eggerich without quotation marks.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Janet,

I have found lots of material on MGTOW, but I have found little on Eggerich and MGTOW. I have found only the one site, "Biblical Manhood."

I intend to post on the statement of intent for MGTOW, but I have not seen a connection between it and Eggerich. Perhaps you could help me out. My email is in my profile under my name in the upper right of the blog.

Thanks.

janet said...

Just to clarify, Eggerich doesn't support MGTOW (acronym for "men going their own way"), but some of the guys on MGTOW sites quote from Eggerich's book to justify their ideas about all the world's ills coming from "feminists", "skanks" and generally nagging shrews who just won't submit to male authority. The Biblical Manhood site is one such blog.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Janet,

Thank you for mentioning MGTOW. I can see how their agenda dovetails with the biblical manhood movement and how these different movements reinforce each other.

I also appreciate your commenting on Mike's blog about Gottman. I intend to blog some more on this topic supplying citations from Eggerichs and elsewhere as I see significant themes being played out.

I am very concerned about the misuse of information.

Tessa said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ruth

http://besttoddler.com

Anonymous said...

It looks like Suzanne and others haven't bothered to do their research PROPERLY. I am only part of the way through Love & Respect and it is quite obvious to me that 1) Suzanne hasn't read the material, and 2) these people are making ignorant conclusions that happen to be false.

I won't bother listing all of the errors in their accusations and conclusions. Rather, I will simply let Emerson Eggrichs' material speak for itself. For those of who who have already read the book, you know what I'm talking about. For the rest of you, take the time to learn someone's work firsthand before flaming them with snippits and half-truths. You should be ashamed!

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I read the book.

C. James said...

This book saved my marriage...

Please read the book yourself and don't let this blog discourage you.

It basically worked miracles that I never thought would have happened.

Mara Reid said...

I followed the link to this post, Two Women Who "Just Don't Get It" about this blog.

Very interesting.
I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that there are a few very bad men and women out there that call themselves Christians that are abusing their spouses and the end result is that a few of the abused, whether male or female, have become sour to all of the opposite sex. They then project their abusers motives and attitudes to to all of those who are the same sex as their abuser.

For example, and abused woman thinks all men are controlling. An abused man thinks all women are shrews and nags.

Mara Reid said...

Sorry, my computer did something weird and I couldn't finish my last comment.

Anyway, the result is: When abused men and women get together to discuss things with each other, the ones who project onto the opposite sex what their spouse did to them really don't get it.

I saw that with some of the men at the link below, (Two women who just don't get it about this blog). Any woman who claimed that being treated as an equal human being was within her right as a christian was looked upon as a shrew and a nag by a few of the men over there.

So the "not getting it" isn't just a couple of women (if that is true). Men don't get it either. Men there wanted to not be boxed in and be allowed to go the way they wanted to go free of control. Okay fine. Why is that okay for men and not women? What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Many men don't get the double standard they expect women to put up with because they were born women.

And this is what Suzanne is hitting on about this book.
It seems to be written by a man who thinks women are shrews and just need to get back into their place.

(Correct me, If I'm not representing you properly Suzanne. If I'm not understanding you, feel free to explain where I'm missing it.)

Gem said...

googled and found the missing link:

http://biblicalmanhood.blogspot.com/2009/05/two-women-who-just-dont-get-it-about.html

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone, I came about this blog on my search for information on the love and respect issue. I want to say that I particularly studies Eggerichs material and find it very true and interesting. I don't see in the material anything that would diminish the woman as nothing but instead to love and care for her and for her to give her husband respect. As a man I speak, there is nothing better that satisfies me than my wife to show me she respects me, not FEAR me but honor me as her husband and that she looks for protection in me. That makes me feel proud and blessed. In return I give her love and I have found that the more love I give and pour on her, the more she respects me back. And this respect again is not FEAR of me or to make me look greater than her, God created us equal but by Scriptures, he created the man first and from the man he created the woman as the perfect complement to love her and care for her not to mistreat her as some man do. With this said, I believe that Love and Respect is a great tool for marriages that are struggling to give them options and tools, isn't that what every THEORY out there in the world of psychology tries to do? My point is that it will work for some and it may not for others, but is a great tool to be used. So STOP judging and look at it as another great tool to help out, at least he's trying to help, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Suzanne said...

I appreciate your perspective and perhaps it works for you. For many women, a healthy distrust of men is badly needed.