FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Respect–A Man’s Greatest Need, Part 1

with Emerson Eggerichs | July 29, 2008
Play Pause

Does your husband feel respected? If he doesn't, your relationship could be heading for trouble. That's according to today's broadcast guest, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of the book Love and Respect.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Does your husband feel respected? If he doesn't, your relationship could be heading for trouble. That's according to today's broadcast guest, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of the book Love and Respect.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Does your husband feel respected?

MP3 Download Transcript

Respect–A Man’s Greatest Need, Part 1

With Emerson Eggerichs
July 29, 2008
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Let's say you're a wife married to a man who is not being the husband or the man that God wants him to be.  How can you motivate him to change?  Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says there is one sure-fire way that won't work. 

Emerson: Showing disrespect for the purpose of changing him into a loving individual.   You cannot show disrespect to someone and motivate them to be loving any more than a man can say, "I'm not going to love that woman until she starts showing me more respect."  Duh.  That is ineffective.  You cannot use unrighteous, unholy means to achieve worthy, holy ends.  It doesn't work.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, July 29th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  If you've been showing your husband disrespect and hoping that somehow he'll change, in the words of Dr. Phil, [Dr. Phil's voice] "Are you nuts?"

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.  We're going to spend some time today addressing what does work and what doesn't work in a relationship between a husband and a wife, which is what we spend time addressing throughout our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences that we host in cities all around the country, and our regular listeners know that this week they have an opportunity to make reservations for an upcoming conference in the fall, and if they'll register this week, they can save up to $100 per couple off the complete weekend experience. 

All the information is on our website at  When you get to the home page, look on the right side of the screen where it says "Today's Broadcast," and if you click there, you'll see a link that will take you to a page that gives you all the details about the Weekend to Remember conference and how you can register and, again, save up to $100 per couple off the complete experience.

Of, if it's easier, you can call 1-800-FLTODAY.  We've got folks who can answer any questions you have about the conference, let you know about dates and locations, and you can register by telephone.  All you have to do is identify yourself as a radio listener or mention my name, just mention Bob, and you'll qualify for the special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners.

Now, this offer is only good through Friday at midnight Pacific time.  So if you want to take advantage of this opportunity to get registered for an upcoming conference and to save up to $100 per couple off the complete package, go to our website or call 1-800-FLTODAY and make plans to attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.

And, of course, this week we're talking about marriages and about what's at the core of what a husband longs for in his relationship with his wife, and you may think you know what that is, but you don't, necessarily, right?

Dennis: That's right, and we are different, and we've got someone with us all this week who is helping equip husbands and wives know how to meet one another's needs.  And today we're going to focus on helping wives meet their husbands' needs.  Dr. Emerson Eggerichs joins us on FamilyLife Today.  Emerson, welcome back.

Emerson: Thank you, Dennis, Bob.

Dennis: Emerson heads up the Love and Respect Ministries, lives in Grand Rapids, is that right?

Emerson: Yes.

Dennis: Got a couple of kids at Wheaties College?

Emerson: Well, our oldest had gone there, but all of them now are graduates.  He went on to – he played soccer at Wheaton and then transferred, played basketball at Hillsdale, graduated there.  David and Joy, our next, both graduated from Westmont College in beautiful Santa Barbara.

Dennis: You and your wife Sarah have been married since 1973, and you've written a book called "Love and Respect."  Let's talk about this subject of helping wives know how to respect their husbands.  Before we start on how she can do that, pull back and explain to a wife why a husband needs to feel respected.  Are we just a group of insecure whiners?  I hear the feminists today kind of pounding the table – "Men are insecure, let women be who they are and just ignore them."

Emerson: Yes.  Well, and it's an excellent question because it's such a foreign idea.  Even a woman listening right now who heard you say a man needs respect, she says, "Oh, I can't believe you said that.  I don't feel any respect for him.  He doesn't deserve respect, he hasn't earned it."

You know, the dictionary definition of showing respect, as you show respect to a superior – "He's not superior to me.  I'm not inferior to him.  And if I did show him respect, he might treat me in a subservient way.  He might treat me as a doormat.  He could even emotionally abuse me.  But, other than that, Dr. Emerson, I'm open to hearing what you have to say about this."

Dennis: No defenses at all going up at all, huh?

Emerson: No.  But this is where the culture is at, and she's not an evil-willed women.  These women are not mean.  I've gotten unbelievable letters, but one of the common questions is – "What are you talking about?  I want to show him respect but I don't feel it when he doesn't love me in meaningful ways."  So that's what we're up against, and the number-one thing women say when we address this subject – "This is so foreign."  This is so foreign.  So it is a huge cultural issue because deep feminism motivated by good-willed women, intellectuals, but they're not Christ-followers.  They're evolutionists in their worldview, basically said "We've been given license to show disrespect toward men because they are men, and they need to change.  They need to progress down the evolutionary line quicker.  They're still Neanderthal."

Dennis: I want to stop you for a moment there, because I don't think most women or, for that matter, men, understand how poisonous this has been in the past two or three decades.  Feminism really has poisoned women's attitudes toward men.

Emerson: Yes.

Dennis: And that's hurt men more than they realize, hasn't it?

Emerson: It's hurt both of them, and what's even more difficult in the crazy cycle that we talk about based on Ephesians 5:33, that a husband must love his wife because she needs to feel love for who she is apart from her performance.  She has that air hose connected to the love tank, and when he stands on that air hose, she's an unhappy camper.  He has a need to feel respected for who he is apart from his performance.  He has that respect tank connected by an air hose, and he needs to breathe in that respect for who he is, apart from his performance.  Remember, Jesus said the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  Jesus never showed contempt toward the spirit of the individual.

What I've discovered is that no husband feels fond feelings of love and affection in his heart toward a wife he thinks despises who he is as a human being.  What happens on the crazy cycle when she feels unloved, she reacts in ways that feel disrespectful to him, and here is what feminism has basically done – show him disrespect for the purpose of changing him into a loving individual.  And the point we make is you cannot show disrespect to someone and motivate them to be loving any more than a man can say, "I'm not going to love that woman until she starts showing me more respect."  You know – duh.  That is ineffective.  You cannot use unrighteous, unholy means to achieve worthy holy ends.  It doesn't work.

So even there, coming back to the feminist movement, I know they're motivated rightly.  They want men to awaken to their need to be more sensitive to the women, but in the process, when you are belligerent and contemptuous, and Dr. Gottman at the University of Washington studied many thousands of couples over many years, they now know the two key ingredients for successful marriages – love and respect.  That's what they said.  Love and respect, and I thought, "That's what Paul said in Ephesians 5:33 2,000 years ago, which had been hidden in plain sight. 

But the point here is that women don't understand that this is a need that the man has.  It's not about him deserving it, it's not about him earning it, it's not about him being superior, it's not about her feeling it.  It is a need that he has apart from his performance, just as she needs to feel love for who she is apart from her performance.

Bob: I know you've heard this, though – "You don't know my husband."

Dennis: Yes, and we get letters from wives who are describing the giant amoeba that is sitting in the easy chair.  You know, he is down to a few beers, maybe, maybe he goes off to the Internet to watch some pornography like his wife is clueless about that, and she is saying, "Emerson, get real."

Emerson:  Yes, yes.

Bob: "You want me to respect this guy?"

Emerson: Well, first of all, I didn't come up with the idea.

Dennis: Okay, it's not your idea, but you are, as we are, too …

Bob: You are an advocate of the idea.

Emerson: We're a little suspicious, aren't we?

Dennis: As males, we are advocates of this, but the ultimate reason we're an advocate for this is the Bible.  I mean, it is what the Bible teaches, so we're wanting to equip women to do this in a real world.  How does she do that in that real-world setting?

Emerson: Yes, well, and when Peter wrote and Paul wrote, it was a real-world setting.  So I have this favor, as you do, that this makes sense, and I believe that God reveals things for a purpose and, again, I was not a church person, I wasn't a believer.  So I had to come to this point.  When Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God," did I submit to that worldview?  Is that something I'm really going to believe – that Abba is there, Abba Father, who loves me and is purposing.  And the commandments – John the Apostle of Love said, "The commandments are not burdensome."  So when God commands us to do something, like the good old Southern preacher – when God commands us to do something, he is saying, in effect, "Don't hurt yourself."  So trust the Father, first and foremost, that this is God's command to us.

But there is the giant amoeba sitting there, okay?  What does she do?  Well, first of all, maybe he is an evil-willed man, but I encourage her to consider 1 Corinthians 7 – in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul, who pens that, says that the husband – verse 33 and 34, the husband is concerned about how to please his wife, and the wife is concerned about how to please her husband.  So the question before her is this – does that man get up in the morning with a desire to displease her?  My conjecture is probably not.  He is a good-willed man.  He is not intending evil.  So he's got good intentions.  He may be offending her and may be coming across in ways that are very upsetting to her, but in the deepest core of his being, if anybody should know, she married him, is he a basic good-willed man?  Would you entrust the children to him on a Saturday?  If the answer to that is "Yes, he's a basic good-willed man," then she's got tremendous hope.

Now, if she thinks he is Hitler's distant cousin, then that paradigm, that image, is going to be difficult, because she's already concluded he's an evil man.  And why is he evil?  "Well, because he doesn't talk to me."  Well, that doesn’t constitute evil.

Dennis: See, I think you're hitting on something here.  A lot of wives feel like they can't respect their husbands because their husbands just neglect them.  They fail to pay attention to them.  And that's not evil, it's just the absence of good.

Emerson: Well, and what she would consider the absence of good, even, and indifference could be the epitome of evil, but I think – the way I word this, again, on the crazy cycle that without love she reacts without respect and without respect, he reacts without love.  The message he's trying to get through to her is "I don't feel respected by you."  So what does he do?  Most men stonewall.   Gottman's research – 85 percent of those who stonewall are men.  So he shuts down. 

When you show contempt and belligerence and disrespect toward a man, he will not break down and cry.  He doesn't go, "I can't believe how you're treating me."  He won't do that.  He just clams up.  He stonewalls.  He's dying inside, but he just says, "I don't deserve this.  Forget it," and he just turns on the TV set and sits there.  He shuts her out as a self-protective mechanism. 

I encourage women to realize that this is probably what's going on.  And if they will then practice what God is saying in His Word, they'll find that that giant amoeba – and I love that word picture – is not who she thinks.  She has been misinterpreting.  We can all take snapshots, and in her world, you take a snapshot of somebody who is sitting there and won't talk – in her world that makes no sense.  But you and I know that if he was our best buddy, and he was sitting there ignoring us, it's because we stepped on his air hose earlier.  We said something to him that shut him down, and we know that.  She doesn't know that.

Dennis: Take us to the ABCs, then, of how a woman can respect her husband.  Give us some how-tos, some practical handles.  You've helped her step off of the air hose now.  Let's put some air in the tank.

Bob: Does she need to verbalize it?  You've been talking about that.

Emerson: A couple of things – first of all, it's respectful behavior that Peter says – you went into respectful behavior without a word.  And, see, if you ask a million women what the key to marriage is, they'll all tell you communication.  That's not what the apostles taught as an absolute.  Communication is fundamental, we've got to communicate at some level, but the way in which you win a man, for a woman, is through quietness, and that's not a sexist, chauvinistic statement.  I have discovered now, by coaching women through this, it is incredibly powerful; it is incredibly powerful.  But it's respectful behavior and not necessarily verbalization, although it's a great way to break the ice if she were to seek forgiveness for having been disrespectful. 

But, first and foremost, I say to a woman, "I know you're not going to believe me about what I'm going to say to you, but it's not what you're saying to him that's probably shutting him down.  It's how you're saying it."  It's the delivery system.  Men can handle content.  We debate with one another all day long.  We will argue with women all day long in our male arena, we banter, but we do so with a twinkle.

Gottman's research, again, and many of the quantitative researchers out there have discovered that when a woman is upset, a sour look comes over her face, dark eyes, the scolding finger.  It's been said that women will scold six times more than men in a conflict, and that finger, that motherly finger comes up.  She's trying to get a message through to him, "I'm hurting, and you need to stop this, and you need to change."  Her whole motivation is because she feels unloved, and she's trying to do the loving thing to increase love between them. 

But when she comes at him with that dark look, that facial expression, I say to a gal, "After you've had a fight with your husband like that, go into the bathroom, shut the door, turn on the light and reenact that as best you can in front of the mirror and look at yourself while you're coming across.  Is there any man in his world who talks to him that way?  Is there anybody in his world that talks to him that way?"

Now, imagine your daughter-in-law doing this toward your son?  What is your son going to do when he sees somebody talking to him in a way that you never talked to him, your husband never – nobody ever talked – the only thing he can conclude is "This woman despises who I am, and I know I would die for her, I would die for her, and yet" –  and your son is going to be confused.  Your husband is confused as well.  So we come back to the first and foremost thing – ask yourself this simple question – is that which I am about to say going to feel to him like disrespect or is it going to come across respectfully?

All you have to do is soften the tone, that tone, that facial expression, the gesture – soften it.  Deliver the message that he is unloving.  You can say things to him all day long if you deliver it respectfully.  Say, "I don't know how to do this respectfully, I may say this disrespectfully.  I don't want to come across disrespectfully.  I'm hurting because you matter to me more than anybody.  But what happened here just is so distressing to me.  But how do I say this in a way that you don't feel I'm trying to emasculate you or be disrespectful.  I want to do the respectful thing, but I'm hurting.  How can I get through to you?  Because it's not fair for me to show you contempt.  That's not what I'm trying to do." 

If she would approach it that way, every man I know would look at her and engage her.  So even there, with emotion, if she'll use the right words, the respect language, but if she will even soften it, you know, saying, you know, "What happened here?"  And this is very hard for her.  This is not natural.  See, the reason God commands the husband to love, because in the home, when he feels disrespected, it's not natural for him to love.  So he's under divine imperative.

In the home, when a woman feels unloved, it is not natural for her to be respectful.  It is natural for her to be disrespectful.  So God has commanded her to show respect at the point of vulnerability.  So it takes a little practice.  But I do not believe women are powerless.  I don't believe they're hopeless, helpless victims.  I believe they have incredible power, Peter did, and when they do this, when they put it on with their facial expression, their tone, their word choice, and ask themselves, "Is this going to come across to him respectfully," go ahead and say to him whatever and watch what happens.

Dennis: I'm glad you mention the word "power," because the Apostle Paul spoke of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, self-control.  And that's really what you're talking about here, is a woman who is being filled, empowered, yielded to the Holy Spirit.  She is a follower of Jesus Christ, she has the Holy Spirit, and she has the same power that raised Christ from the dead.  She is not powerless. 

I'll never forget, Emerson, a woman who used to work in my office.  She had been married for, I think, close to 50 years, and she told me one day what she said was some of the finest advice she received as a young lady who was engaged before she was about to be married.  Now, this was who knows how many years ago – back in the '20s or '30s when she got this advice.

Her mom said to her, "Sweetie, if you crown him king, he will crown you queen."  Now, I think every woman wants the love from her husband that makes her a queen.  The problem is, I think, many times, like the husband can do, they are waiting on their spouses to provide what they need before they act.  You've made the point that women are to respect their husbands whether or not they are getting love from him or not, right?

Emerson: Yes, exactly.  And that is suffering, and it's unfair, and even the word "reverence" – and, see, the whole language that is used sends chills up women's spines.  So we come back to this idea.  It's unconditional.  We're not talking about him deserving it.  We are also talking about a good-willed man.  Now, he has a bad hair day on any given week.  We're talking about an imperfect individual.

But one of the things I discovered – take this illustration.  Let's suppose I'm a four-star general, and I was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I decided that I wanted to lead a special force group, and I asked for a special assignment to select 300 men, and it was going to go in the heart of combat, so it was going to be all male in this case, and so I'm standing before these 300 men, and they've been working, doing different things, and I said, "Men, I was watching you today, and you stink.  You absolutely stink.  This is horrible.  I asked for special assignment on this, and I was watching you guys, and it's absolutely miserable.  But where you're going to be in the next six months, the world is going to hear of this unit, and I'm going to lead the charge, and I'm going to be in front, and I'm going to be the first one to die.  Get your head up, young man, and look at me.  I believe in you more than you believe in yourself.  You've got more athleticism than anybody I've seen in a long time.  You, too, get your head – look at every one of you.  Get your heads up and look at me.  I believe in you men, I respect you men more than you respect yourselves.  You stink, that's for sure, but where you're going in the next six months, the world is going to hear of this unit, and I'm leading in front, and I hope you'll follow me.  You will follow me, because I'm going to lead."

I say to ladies, "Ladies, you may not understand this, but when men hear that kind of language and that kind of leadership, men do two things in the face of that.  They serve.  And the second thing men do, and I say, "Listen to me.  The second thing men do in the face of unconditional respect is they die.  They die.  They literally give their lives."  Feminism has said if you show respect toward a man like that, he will treat you in a subservient way.  I said, "I'm going on record to say that's a lie – not a good-willed man.  He will not treat you in a subservient way, he will serve you."

The second thing they say, "Well, if you treat a man with unconditional respect like that when he doesn't deserve it, and you don't feel it, he'll kill you emotionally."  No, no, no, no, he will die for you, he will die for you, and that's the image we've got to have.  In fact, one man said to his wife, "I love you so much, I'd die for you."  She said, "Oh, Harry, you keep saying that, but you never do."

Dennis: One thing you've made real clear, though, for a woman to be able to do this, she will have to suffer.

Emerson: That's what Peter is saying.

Dennis: Yes, some of the fine print after 1 Peter 3:1-6, the passage that follows that is that if you suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.  But the apostle goes on to say, "But set Christ apart in your hearts as Lord, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."

Emerson: There it is, the same word, same word.

Dennis: There is that facial expression that you're talking.  So as you suffer, you don't screw your face up, as a woman, and let your husband know you're suffering.  That defeats the purpose of delivering respect to him, and as you suffer, suffer well.  I don't think this message within the Christian community is being talked about enough today.  I think we're talking far too much about happiness and success when, indeed, when you look at the Bible, the Bible is talking about suffering well.  Because a lot of life means we're going to have to suffer.

Bob: You know, you stop and think about it, what you're talking about here, it's pretty interesting that folks are responding to it the way they are – to your book and, really, to the message that we're giving at our FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, because at some level you're calling people to sacrifice, and maybe even to suffer.  And most people aren't going to go buy a book and say, I want a book that helps me know how to make sacrifices or how to suffer, if that's, in fact, the case. 

But, I have to tell you, I've been talking to people who have read your book – in fact, I was talking to somebody not long ago, and I said, "What do you think about it?"  And this was a relative, she said, "I really like it."  And then she said, "In fact, I'm really convicted."

We've got copies of your book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if our listeners have not read it, let me encourage them to go online and request a copy or call 1-800-FLTODAY and make arrangements to have a copy sent to them.  I think they will find it very helpful, and then let me remind our listeners, as well, that this week is your final opportunity to register for one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, and to save up to $100 per couple off the complete weekend package.  We've been making this offer available for our listeners last week and again this week, but we need to hear from you before midnight this Friday night, Pacific time, if you want to take advantage of this special opportunity to save up to $100 per couple on the complete package.

All the details are on our website at  When you go to the home page, on the right side of the screen, you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast," and if you click where it says "Learn More," you'll see a link to a page that has all the information about the special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners, and all you need to know about registration is when you call 1-800-FLTODAY, or if you're registering online, you need to identify yourself as a radio listener.  When you call, jus say "I listen to your program on the radio," or you can say "Bob sent me," and they'll know that you qualify for the special offer.

If you're registering online, there is a keycode box on the registration form.  Just put my name in the box.  Just type in "Bob" and, again, you'll qualify for the special offer.  But we've got to hear from you this week.  So either call or register online and make plans now to attend an upcoming FamilyLife Today Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.  It's a fun, romantic, relaxing, rejuvenating getaway, and you'll also get practical biblical help for building a stronger marriage relationship, and we hope you'll make plans to attend.

Well, tomorrow we're going to continue to talk about how important respect is in a marriage, especially for a husband, and about what a wife can do to demonstrate respect for her husband.  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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow.  


We are so happy to provide these transcripts for you. However, there is a cost to transcribe, create, and produce them for our website. If you've benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs?

Copyright © FamilyLife. All rights reserved.