Bob: One of the reasons husbands and wives sometimes miss each other in communication is because we're different. One of the ways we're different is that one of us is a man and the other one's a woman. And there are some things about men and women, boys and girls, that are just hardwired in from the Designer. Here is Dr. Emerson Eggerichs with an example.
Emerson: God has designed young men to be providers. They have within their little nature a desire to protect. When they create the fort, they are protecting. So instead of passing judgment on that little boy, anymore than we pass judgment on a little girl running through the airport with a doll under her arm, she has a nurturing capacity, and that little boy has a protective instinct that we've labeled potentially violent.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, October 24th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. So when little boys who turn sticks into guns start talking to little girls who are nurturing their dollies, is it any wonder that we sometimes miss each other in communication? Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I didn't know you when you were a little boy, but I have a picture in my mind of you as a little boy.
Dennis: It's probably not a fair picture.
Bob: I'll just test it out – did you have a Davy Crockett coonskin cap?
Dennis: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I think my BB gun …
Bob: Was it a Red Ryder BB gun?
Dennis: A Daisy.
Bob: Daisy, okay, all right.
Dennis: A Daisy BB gun, you know, oh, yeah, man, I took care of the blackbirds.
Bob: I'm guessing, as well, that you saved boxtops from cereal boxes and sent them in to get the decoder rings and stuff like that?
Dennis: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Bob: The x-ray glasses, did you ever order those?
Dennis: It wasn't Spiderman, it was some kind of decoder, some alien or something in the comics.
Bob: Yeah? So did any of that stuff help you with anything?
Dennis: You know, I should have had a decoder ring when I got married. That would have really helped me. In fact, Bob …
Bob: Maybe there's a new resource for the FamilyLife Resource Center.
Dennis: Bob, if we would ask anybody to help us with decoding …
Bob: Coming up – the decoder ring for marriage?
Dennis: Who would you ask?
Bob: Probably Gary Smalley.
Dennis: Steve Farrar?
Bob: Yeah, they'd be the – [laughs].
Dennis: We might also ask Emerson Eggerichs. Emerson, welcome back to the broadcast.
Emerson: Oh, thank you for having me back.
Dennis: I should have been watching him out of the corner of my eye. He kind of slumped there.
Emerson: Yeah, I was agreeing with you.
Bob: Those are great guys.
Dennis: Well, Emerson is the founder and president of Love and Respect Ministries. He and his wife, Sarah, have three adult children. He has written a bestselling book called "Love and Respect," and is following it up with "Cracking the Communication Code."
Bob: Do you have a decoder ring available through your ministry?
Emerson: I think that's a great idea.
Dennis: If we had a decoder ring, you know, we could put them in all kinds of wedding gifts for couples.
Emerson: I think you guys are onto something huge here.
Dennis: No doubt about it.
Emerson: Yeah, there is no question.
Dennis: Where do we start when it comes to decoding communication between a male and a female?
Emerson: Well, I think just that point – that we are male and female, and I liken it that God designed women to look at the world through pink sunglasses, and she speaks through a pink megaphone, and she has pink hearing aids, and men have blue sunglasses, blue hearing aids, and blue megaphones, and there is this communication that's different, and I don't know if you've had that experience talking with someone who doesn't speak the same language, and you're trying to give directions, and sudden you find yourself getting louder as though somehow if we get louder, and they're going to understand us.
In marriage, I believe she speaks the love language, and he speaks respect talk. This is based on Ephesians 5:33, and what happens, though, if we don't learn the other's language, we start getting louder with one another. Many people say communication is the key to marriage, but I don't believe that. I believe that mutual understanding is the key.
A wife says "Sex and food, that's all you ever think about, that's all you want from me." He feels disrespected, but she's not trying to speak disrespectfully. The deeper thing that needs to be decoded with the decoder ring is that she is feeling insecure probably about his love. And that isn't easy to do, but that's the truth. She's not trying to be disrespectful. She is seeking reassurance that you love me for me.
Or a husband who says, "You know, I can never be good enough. You're just never satisfied." And, of course, her spirit is quenched. She deflates, because she can't believe that he was just so unloving. But the truth is, he wasn't trying to be unloving. He was trying to send another message that he expected her to decode. "Do you still respect who I am?" I mean, do you accept me, do you approve of me because of me? Do you like me? I'm beginning to feel like you don't like me.
And it's a matter of decoding that, though it's never easy. But the truth is the truth. The truth is the truth. He's not trying to be unloving, he's seeking reassurance that she respects him. She's not trying to be disrespectful, she's seeking reassurance that he loves her.
Bob: Dennis, we've talked a number of times about how someone can be angry, and if we can ask this fundamental question – what's behind that anger? We can often get to the real issue rather than having conflict escalate around something that's not the real issue at all.
Dennis: You know, over three and a half decades ago Barbara and I were married, and I wish there had been a decoder ring where I could have learned that at that point. That would have saved us many evenings, especially during the first 10 years of our marriage when we stayed up, Emerson, very late talking, very late talking.
You know what? It was just two people, really desperately missing one another. Now, we've ultimately got there, and we ultimately do better understand each other. Notice the lack of absolutes there.
Bob: That's right, it's still a process, isn't it?
Dennis: That's exactly right. You learned something about how Jesus communicates love that you feel is very important for couples to understand if they're going to have good communication in their marriage relationship.
Emerson: Well, again, when I wrote the book, "Cracking the Communication Code," I realized communication is the number-one problem people talk about. So then the question was how do you apply that to marriage? And as I was looking at Ephesians 5, verse 22 through 33, which you know well as that greatest treatise in the New Testament on marriage, I realized Paul didn't talk about the mouth. And I'm thinking, "Well, how can I write a book on communication if, in that section, there really isn't any teaching on the mouth?"
Well, every text has its context, and I suddenly realized in chapter 4 and 5, he hits the mouth, so to speak, five times with how to communicate the way Jesus communicated. Because he makes reference how they had learned Jesus. And what's even more interesting, I said to couples is you can talk the Jesus way and your spouse not respond to you. Jesus talked the Jesus way and not everybody responded positively to Him.
Bob: But talking the Jesus way is going to honor God, and it's going to give you an opportunity to be clear in what you're trying to say, right?
Dennis: And it's practical. Let's face it, everybody is looking for ways to practically better love their spouse, and that's what you're doing here, beginning in Ephesians 4:15 – speaking the truth in love. Is that your first one?
Emerson: That's the first one. That the idea of speaking the truth in love, and he says "Put aside falsehood," and he talks about the old self and the new self, and he said you've got to put off that old self. Part of that old self is lying. You know, there was this negative that in each of these Scriptures the outline is very clear. He said, "Stop talking this way and start talking this way, because that's how you learn Jesus did it." Jesus, in this case, spoke truthfully, and I, in the book, talk about how Jesus always spoke what was true.
The question now for many couples is this – can I be a love-and-respect couple and lie?
Dennis: How do couples lie, though? I'm just kind of rehearsing it in my own mind. Apart from the obvious, which is outright deceit, you know, sneaking around behind your spouse doing something. Are there other ways couples lie to each other?
Emerson: Well, let's land on that one, because this is huge. There is a lot of adultery going on, a lot of divorce that we know about, and sometimes people have the attitude – a man might say, "Look, all right, I committed adultery, you know, get over it, woman." But he's not dealing with those three years of deception, the three years of falsehood and how that's undermined trust. It's kind of like forgive me and let's move on, but he needs to back up and realize that the Jesus way of talking does not include deception and lying like that, and that can destroy trust in a relationship.
So he's got to realize, as a Christ-follower, you know what? I was not truthful, and my wife is now struggling with trustworthiness. Well, when you violate the Jesus way of talking, you're going to undermine your relationship, and so you first of all have to land on the fact that this was pretty serious stuff.
In fact, here is what's interesting, Dennis and Bob. Many women will say, "I can forgive the adultery, but this untruthfulness, this is the thing that's getting to me. He lied to me, he betrayed me, he deceived me," and that is so huge.
Dennis: And many times men are very, very reticent to admit all those lies and embrace those lies and then ask for forgiveness for them.
Emerson: Well, and there is a place for being prudent about what we do share but, yes, if a man is holding back, and that truth will come out later on, it devastates, because at that point you're not making confessions, you've been caught.
Bob: You know, I think there are the obvious outright lies, the deceit, the hiding, but I think there's a hidden side to this untruthfulness that can come when a husband says, "Is something bothering you?" and the wife says, "No, I'm okay." But there really is something bothering her. She jus doesn't want to rock the boat. She is afraid if she says it, it will make things uncomfortable, so she just pretends like it's not there.
We can be not telling the truth to one another, think we're being peacemakers in the process and we're really just being peacefakers, right?
Emerson: That's right. Well, the number-one problem in marriage is not volatility, it's avoidance. You know, we sometimes think that the people who have the major problems are volatile. They're screaming. But research points out that sometimes those volatile couples are making a lot of healthy deposits, too. They're fighting on Friday night but on Monday night they're dancing with one another, so to speak.
So they aren't as awful as they sometimes appear, whereas the avoiding couples, you know, they seem to be peaceful, but they're really not dealing truthfully, which is your point, with the issues, and that's why when we say you get on the crazy cycle, without love she reacts without respect without respect he reacts without love. Who is going to move first on this? You know, who is going to be the first to say, you know what? I apologize. I came across as unloving. Or will I justify towards Sarah, my wife, that I was unloving because she's so disrespectful?
And will I lie about that in a subtle way – "Well, if you weren't so disrespectful I'd be more loving." Or should I really be truthful because the Lord wants me to be truthful, "All right, I was unloving," as an end in itself and just be truthful with Sarah. But that takes courage. Being truthful like that takes courage – to confess truthfully that I was wrong takes courage, and many of us don't have that courage. We haven't framed it that way. But for the males, I say, it takes guts.
If you're a man of honor, you will say, "I was unloving," rather than saying, "You were disrespectful and you caused me to be unloving." That's not truthful. Sarah doesn't cause me to be unloving. She reveals that I'm unloving. We have this principle – my response is my responsibility. Sarah does not cause me to be the way I am, she reveals the way I am. Therefore, if I am unloving in my response, it's my sinful issue that must not be blamed on Sarah.
Well, it takes guts for me to be truthful with myself and truthful before the Lord and truthful with Sarah, but that's the Jesus way of talking.
Dennis: You know, truth creates trust. Lies create mistrust. And if you've got a problem with mistrust, you've got to begin building by building upon the truth. There's a second set of words here you use that we need to apply in our marriage – uplifting words.
Emerson: Mm-hm. Well, and you're noticing a t-u, and then we're going to add f-t-s, and I call it TUFTS, t-u-f-t-s because the text seem kind of move through this. The next thing he talks about is edifying or this idea of uplifting. So truthful words, uplifting words, you're going to get into forgiving words, thankful words, and scriptural words. Those five concepts are there. That's what I call the Jesus way of talking.
And I can talk that way even if Sarah doesn't respond to me. Sarah can talk to me that way even if I don't respond, and ultimately the Christ-follower must say, "You know what? I'm going to speak the truth regardless."
You know, there was a widow who had been married to a man who had been a deceiver. He died, now she was courting this other man, and she says to this man, "If I marry you, will you be truthful?" The man said whether you marry me or not I'll be truthful.
There is this point where each of us has to come to where we say, "You know what? This is what the Lord wants of me. The Lord wants me to speak truthfully." There are consequences of that, and sometimes, you know, you can be cruel in speaking the truth. Some men say, "Well, I just tell my wife the way it is, and she can't handle it." That's truth without love. We must speak the truth in love. So the way in which you deliver it is crucial if you want to really be heard.
This next area of uplifting or edifying – the challenge there, again, is to be uplifting toward a person even if they don't deserve it, and this is not something that we naturally do, but Christ-follower says "You know what? The Lord wants me to build up my spouse, and He wants me to do this because He wants me to do this, and so I do it whether they deserve it or not."
Bob: Now, wait, what you're talking about sounds like empty flattery. You know, to uplift somebody even if they don't deserve it – what am I supposed to do? Say you look nice when you don't or that was smart when it wasn't?
Emerson: Good question, a good clarifying question. Let's take women out there who are listening. I have noticed, and perhaps you have noticed, and women will acknowledge this – over the years they begin to see the negatives. I think it's rooted in their mothering, their nurturing. They believe that God is kind of wanting them to help their husbands, and they begin to see these things about their husbands that they don't like, and they will rehearse these.
Women write me e-mails and will give me the list of issues and so on and so forth. Women are very list-oriented, and they'll talk among their girlfriends, they'll give the report, and they'll talk about these things, and over a period of time, they begin to fixate on that negative.
And the Lord is saying, you know, "Is that how I view your husband? I want you to begin to edify him. I want you to begin to look at the image of God that's in him. I want you to begin to acknowledge some of those things there that I see in him," and you edify those things that are inherently worthy of that. It isn't falsehood, the manipulation.
There are people out there who will apply love and respect. Women say, "Oh, this respect thing. I guess this is another technique, this is another way to kind of get my husband to change," and so she'll start giving him the gift of respect. Why? Because she wants to be loved. No, no, no, no, that can be manipulation. You build him up as an end in itself. He needs respect just as you need love.
What would you think of your husband who started speaking lovingly to you and at the end of the day said, "Now can we have sex?" You'd be appalled, because that's manipulation. That's having a hidden agenda. So, too, when we talk about respecting a man – you don't do that in order to get him to love you. The energizing cycle says his love motivates her respect and her respect motivates his love. That's that energizing cycle, and it does work, but you don't do it just for that sake.
Ultimately, you speak words of honor, you edify, you come across respectfully, because the Lord wants you to do that. But the key is to look for those areas in his life that reflect his image.
Dennis: And so what do you do with those areas like Bob is talking about where, you know, let's say he's an alcoholic. Let's say he's doing drugs. Let's say he's slapped one of the kids around, and he's been abusive.
Dennis: I mean, we're talking about issues that are critical issues to our children and to the future of our family here – how does that woman demonstrate respect in that situation?
Emerson: Right. You come across respectfully and truthfully. This is where people have a real tough time as though somehow contempt is going to motivate a person to deal with himself. Jesus Christ never showed contempt toward any person. When you confront a person truthfully, you confront them respectfully. You do it lovingly, respectfully, and this is where people really get clouded in their thinking. We're talking about how you approach the person, we're not talking about respecting the evil behavior.
But even in a situation where you now have gone onto the evil abuse situation, we need to come back to couples who basically have goodwill in just a moment, but in an evil situation, you can still say to that man who is an alcoholic, "I believe in your more than you believe in yourself. I married you because I know deep in your soul you're a man of honor, and I see the man that God made you to be deep in your soul, and this alcoholism has your flesh. This is not who you are, but I am going to confront this because we cannot continue to do this. I am going to turn to the pastor and to authorities because I believe in you more than you believe in yourself, and if you reject me as disrespectful that's not the case. I believe in your more than anybody, but enough is enough."
Now, you see, you can speak respectfully, you can even edify. There is a message of tremendous belief and encouragement in that.
Dennis: Right, that was coming through as you said that.
Emerson: It is huge, but, see, we aren't coaching people in how to do that. We somehow think that because someone has a huge major problem, that that justifies hostility and contempt as you confront them. That's ridiculous, and that's un-Christlike.
Bob: You talk about how Jesus' words were forgiving, and I think we all have an understanding of the need to forgive and to verbalize forgiveness, to seek and to grant forgiveness. You talk about how Jesus' words were words of thanksgiving and words of gratitude and how we can express our gratefulness toward one another.
The one on this list that I think is a little hard for us to get our arms around immediately is the idea of speaking scripturally to one another. What do you mean by that?
Emerson: Right, right. Well, Paul says we speak psalms and hymns and spiritual songs and so on and so forth. So he's talking there about the fact that you speak what are biblical truths, truths from Abba Father. I mean, when Jesus was tempted, He said, "It is written," it is written, it is written. Jesus was forever asking, "Have you not read," have you not read. So I think in relationship to one another, you don't preach at one another, but you come to one another.
Like Don Moen wrote the song, "God Will Make a Way," and there are times where Sarah had a double mastectomy, and she had cancer, and so we would get together, "God will make a way." You quoted a song in this case, a contemporary song, but it's rooted in the truth of scripture.
So speaking biblically means, "I am going to try to think is there a promise of Scripture that we should be holding onto? Should we be saying God will cause all things to work together for good?" That we use the Scripture in relationship to one another rather than, you know, we adopt the world's way. "I'm going to be vindictive, I'm going to retaliate, I'm going to divorce that bum." There are issues that we begin to speak and think so unbiblically, and we end up taking our life and our family down a course that will be very destructive.
Dennis: That's exactly right.
Bob: You know, sometimes this can seem almost trite to somebody. I'm thinking of a husband whose wife may be having a no-good, very bad day, and that person says, "Well, honey, the joy of the Lord needs to be your strength," and the wife is going, "That is not the Scripture I needed at this point in time." We have to be wise in terms of how we speak scripturally to one another, don't we?
Emerson: Oh, profoundly so. I mean, that's exactly right. Satan himself misused the Scripture in the temptation of Jesus. So you can use the Scripture in a way that clubs people and it's very superficial, and I think as adults we understand that. We're talking about a genuineness here that I really want to talk the Jesus way. Whether my spouse receives it or not, I want to be humble about this, I want to be uplifting, I want to be encouraging, but I want to be biblical about this. And you can do with humility, you can do it with self-deprecation. I'm struggling with this as well. So that's the tenor that we're seeking to convey here.
Dennis: You know, it occurred to me as we're wrapping things up here that we kind of began our program today in jest talking about a decoder ring. That's just like us as human beings – to want something we can rub or look into or that's magical or mystical and pop! Bingo! The answer is there.
The Bible, on the other hand, over in Proverbs, chapter 2, talks about seeking and searching and trying to find wisdom. What you've really imparted to our audience, Emerson, over the past few days is really skill in everyday living in the most intimate of relationships – marriage. And you've given people much better understanding of one another, but also of really how God expects us to be able to love and to be able to respect, and, personally, I just appreciate you, your ministry, and I'm glad you're out there and trust God's favor will be upon you, and we encourage our listeners to pray for Emerson and Sarah. They have to be in the enemy's sights and have to be a target in the spiritual battle. Stand firm, we need you, and the body of Christ needs this message.
Bob: Yeah, I think many in the body of Christ have indicated how much we need this message because they bought a lot of copies of your first book, "Love and Respect," which, by the way, we have in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if our listeners haven't read a copy of "Love and Respect," it's a great book, a very helpful book on marriage.
And we also have the new book, "Cracking the Communication Code." It's in our FamilyLife Resource Center as well. If you're interested in either or both of these books, you can go to our website, which is FamilyLife.com, and if you click the red button that says "Go" that you see in the middle of the home page, that will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about these books.
You can order them online, if you'd like. There is also information about your brand-new book that you've written with your wife, Barbara, which is called "Moments With You," that provides a practical way to practice healthy communication, and that is by reading a daily devotional together as a couple, and then there are some discussion questions at the end of the devotional, and an opportunity for you to pray together as a couple.
It's the follow-up to the bestselling book, "Moments Together for Couples." This one is called "Moments With You," and it's available in our FamilyLife Resource Center as well.
So if you're interested in any of these books, go to FamilyLife.com, click the red button, it says "Go." You'll find it in the middle of the home page, and it will take you to the area of the site where you can order these resources online from us, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY. 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we'll make arrangements to have any of these resources that you're interested in sent out to you.
You know, we are, what, four weeks away from Thanksgiving, is tomorrow four weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday, and I wanted to let our listeners know that this month if you are able to help FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount, we have a Thanksgiving gift we'd like to send you. It's an audiobook. It's the audiobook version of the book, "Thanksgiving, a Time to Remember" by Barbara Rainey.
In fact, this is a dramatic retelling of the Thanksgiving story that is something that many families have enjoyed over the past few years, something you can listen to as you drive to school each morning or as you're out driving around during the Thanksgiving season or listen to it on Thanksgiving Day as a family.
We would love to send you this CD as a way of saying thank you for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We're listener-supported, and so those donations are critical for the ongoing work of this ministry to keep it on this station and on other stations all across the country.
If you're making a donation online at FamilyLife.com, and you'd like to receive the audiobook, just type the word "remember" in the keycode box, and we'll know to send you a copy of that audiobook, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, you can make a donation over the phone and, again, just mention that you'd like the Thanksgiving audiobook. We're happy to send it out to you, and we appreciate your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Well, tomorrow we're going to have a movie star join us. He is the star of a brand-new movie called "Bella" that opens this weekend in theaters, in selected theaters around the country. It's a past winner of the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, and it's a great story that affirms the value of all life. We'll talk more about that tomorrow with our guest, Eduardo Verastegui. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.