FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Respect–A Man’s Greatest Need, Part 2

with Emerson Eggerichs | July 30, 2008
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In Ephesians, Paul instructs men to love their wives; likewise, women are called to respect their husbands. On today's broadcast, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, founder of Love and Respect conferences, reveals the secret for cracking the communication code in marriage.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • In Ephesians, Paul instructs men to love their wives; likewise, women are called to respect their husbands. On today's broadcast, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, founder of Love and Respect conferences, reveals the secret for cracking the communication code in marriage.

  • 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.

In Ephesians, Paul instructs men to love their wives; likewise, women are called to respect their husbands.

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Respect–A Man’s Greatest Need, Part 2

With Emerson Eggerichs
July 30, 2008
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Bob: All of us drift into patterns in marriage.  We're not even really aware of what we are doing.  But as Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says, some of those patterns can be very destructive.

Emerson: Couples get in a crazy cycle that when she feels unloved, she reacts in ways that are disrespectful to her husband.  She doesn't really mean to, but that's how she's coming across, and what the Scripture is saying is soften that, because he's not going to hear your deeper cry to be reassured that you're loved.  Because when a man feels disrespected, he tends to react in ways that he thinks is honorable but, which in a woman's world, shouts, "I don't love you."

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, July 30th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  If you've lost that respectin' feelin' in your marriage, we'll talk today about how to get it back.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.   We're talking this week about loving and respecting one another in marriage, and one way that you can express your love to one another in marriage is by making plans to attend one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences.  We host these conferences in cities all across the country, and the reason I'm drawing attention to it here, Dennis, is because this week our listeners have an opportunity to register for one of the upcoming fall Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences and to save up to $100 per couple off the complete weekend package.  But we have to hear from you before midnight on Friday night, that's midnight Pacific time, in order for you to take advantage of this offer.

So time is running out, and you need to contact us if you'd like to register for an upcoming conference and save up to $100 per couple off what will be great weekend getaway for the two of you.  You have a chance to spend a weekend at a nice hotel, to enjoy being with one another, to relax, to have some conversation, to get a wheel alignment.  And for those of you, and I know there are some of our listeners who are saying, "I wonder if our marriage can last until the Weekend to Remember."  Let me encourage you to block out this weekend conference on your schedule now and to ask God to meet you there and to do something powerful in your marriage.

If you'd like to register and would like the opportunity to save up to $100 per couple on the complete package, all we need to do is hear from you before midnight this Friday, and you need to let us know that you're a radio listener.  So if you call 1-800-FLTODAY just mention that you listen to our program or just mention my name –"Bob" – or go online at, that's our website.  You can register online, and if you do that, you'll come to a keycode box.  Just type the word "Bob" in the keycode box, and you will qualify for the special offer, and if you need the details of the special offer, you can find that when you go to today's broadcast and click for more information.  There's a link there that will give you all the details you need about this special offer for listeners.

So, again, we need to hear from you soon, and we hope you'll plan to attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.  It is a great way to express your love to one another to plan to attend one of these conferences, and it's a great way to learn about how you can honor and respect one another.  And that's part of what we want to talk about today, Dennis. 

Let me ask you this – in the early days of your marriage to Barbara, would you say that you felt respected by her?

Dennis: Yes, uh-huh.

Bob: How did she show you that respect?  How did she affirm you?

Dennis: One way – belief.

Bob: What do you mean?

Dennis: It was not an unquestioning belief, now that I think about it.


She was not a dutiful …

Bob: It wasn't just "Whatever you say, sir?"

Dennis: Yes, "Whatever you say, sweetie."  There were lots of questions in those early years of our marriage, but I never questioned whether or not she believed in me.  Even in the midst of the questions, there was always this unfailing attitude toward me that, you know what?  I think I may believe in you more than you believe in yourself, and I'm getting to know you, and I'm still believing in you.  You know, that's what marriage was designed to be – two people who get to know one another and love and respect one another in spite of what they see.

Bob: That was ministry to your soul, wasn't it?

Dennis: It was.  I honestly believe, to whatever degree, whatever God has done through my life, I owe largely to my wife, who did come alongside me in those early years when I didn't believe in myself, and she did.  And it was fuel, it was fuel for my soul, and I've seen a lot of men who don't feel believed in.  And nothing cuts a man's legs out from under him like feeling like his wife doesn't have an expectation that he can do good.

Bob: We're talking this week to Emerson Eggerichs, who has written a book called "Love and Respect."  He heads a ministry by that same name and does conferences all across the country.  Would your sense be the same – that your wife, Sarah, early on, showed that respect and belief in you?

Emerson: Well, it's a profound thought.  In fact, I remember at Wheaton College, where we were having a small group discussion.  I had not yet met Sarah, and the question on the table was, "What do you want to look for in a spouse?"  And I wrote one sentence, "I want to marry a woman who believes in me."

Dennis: Really?

Emerson: Mm-hm.  And subsequently, I've thought about that biblically – that the husband is the Christ-figure, the woman is the church-figure.  What does Jesus Christ want us to do toward Him – believe in Him.  This is deep within the nature of the male, and when a woman basically sends a message of contempt, "I don't believe in you.  I don't respect who you are," and what's even more powerful, it's an unconditional thing, as you reference – she believed in you even when you didn't believe in yourself. 

You know, I remember, years ago, Chaplain Welsh, who was the chaplain at Wheaton, one of the most godly men that I've ever met, talked about this individual, and he himself displayed it toward me, I thought many times since, but the idea was that he saw good, Evan Welsh, toward me, this chaplain, when I used to go to him down and discouraged for spiritual input, he saw good in me where there was no good, except in his seeing.

And then by his sheer belief and love and respect he, in a sense, produced in me what he saw in me to my initial humiliation but ultimate glory, and that's the same thing that you're referencing here and so, too, was Sarah.  Even though they questioned a lot, you know, questioning doesn't mean disbelief.  It's rooted in her heart for reassurance.

But isn't it sad, Dennis and Bob, when a woman comes to a point, because the man has failed, and she says, "You know what? I really don't know if I could ever believe in you again."  Now, trusting is a little bit of a different thing.  He might have violated that, but distinguishing His spirit from His flesh, Jesus said your spirit is willing, but your flesh is weak.  And at the nadir of His experience, He needed those three individuals, Peter, James, and John, and they failed Him that night.  They fell asleep on Him, and even though technically it doesn't seem much, it was to Jesus, but He didn't show them contempt.  "You failed me right when I needed you.  I had a need – my humanity – and you failed" – he didn't go there with that.  He believed in them, even though He knew that they would deny Him, He still believed in them, even though He knew they weren't trustworthy, per se.

Bob: He did say, "Could you not stay awake with me one hour?"


Emerson: That's right, but His conclusion was different than His introduction.

Dennis: Emerson, I found it interesting that you start out by saying you knew you needed to be believed in.

Emerson: I felt it.

Dennis: I didn't.  Honestly, I really didn't.  But interestingly enough, I came from an intact family, not perfect, but my dad loved my mom, loved me, and my mom loved me, and a solid Christian family.  You came from a home that – well, there was a divorce and a separation, there was some physical violence in there.  You describe yourself as wounded.

Now, it's interesting, perhaps that brought you more into touch with what you didn't have, and I just kind of grew up thinking, you know, I was okay, and then I get married and begin to see that I've got some insecurities.  I don't know what I'm doing.  How did Sarah meet that woundedness in your life to believe in you?  Practically speaking, how did she do it?

Emerson: Well, I believe she did express that belief in me, you know, and there is an unconditional element here of distinguishing the deeper heart of this individual, and I say to people who are married – you, of all people, need to know what you saw in that individual.  That's why it's such a sad day when people pass such severe judgment on the spirit of the other person.  I am cautioning people greatly not to take snapshots of nasty conversations.

People are incriminating their spouses today right and left because they're videotaping, at the end of an argument, that they themselves know that they triggered at the beginning.  But they discounted what they did because my spouse should know why I did that.  But what they did toward me is offensive and insulting.

So they're incriminating, and they're taking these pictures, then they're talking about it, particularly among women, they're very readily confessing this, they do this.  So then they conclude things about the soul, in this case, of the man, and the question I ask them, "Is he basically good-willed?"  And, I will tell you this, that it's okay to send the message that you believe in his spirit even though he's failing you.  Jesus did that toward the disciples.  Your lovely wife did that toward you.  Sarah did it toward me, and there is something within the male temperament – and I need to insert, he's not expressive/responsive.  He won't suddenly go out and buy flowers and just say, "Let's sit down and talk."

But over the period of – over the next several weeks …

Dennis: It will sink in.  You're saying …

Emerson: Well, and it sinks in immediately.

Dennis: You're saying we're a little slow for us to process this thing called belief.

Emerson: No, we are slower in our response to it.  It sinks in immediately.  It's there right away.  We get it, but we're what we call "compartmentalized."  So we think our feelings, and so we're hearing what she is saying to us, but we're not expressive/responsive.  We're not necessarily sentimental.  We don't go, "Oh, that is so sweet.  You're so adorable."

No, that's just not our language.  We're not sentimental.  We are warriors who go out and die for the family, literally.  But that doesn't mean that we're without feeling, and it doesn't mean that we're without thought immediately, instantaneously, but we then, over the next couple of days or three days, we'll do an act of service, we will respond.  Because, as she does that, we suddenly think, you know, particularly if I've been unloving, and then she's not only more loving than me, she is also respecting me, she's a better man than I am.

Bob: You're really calling both men and women to ask a fundamental question, which is who is my mate really?  Fundamentally, is my spouse somebody who is – you've described – what – a good

Emerson:  Good-willed.

Bob: A good-willed person who, from time to time, you'll see things that would run concurrent to that goodwill but, you know, for the most part, this is a good-willed person who has flashes of flesh that come through.  Or do I really fundamentally think that my spouse is that person at the end of the argument – that that's who they really are, and all the goodwill that I see most of the time, that's just a disguise.

Emerson: Yes.

Bob: Don't you think there are a lot of women who think, when their husband's flesh breaks through, when his carnality shows up, they think, "Aha!  This is the real person.  All of that goodwill that I see most of the time, that's just an act.  But deep down I know he's just hiding this reality, and that's who he really is."

Emerson: Yes, and that's the thing I'm cautioned not to do, because the daughter-in-law is probably going to do it toward their baby boy, and if their boy is 13 years old and talks to the mother for five minutes in a three-week period, she thinks she's died and gone to heaven.  That daughter-in-law will divorce him. 

And so what we have to do is come to the realization that men are different, and that's okay.  In fact, coming to a point of saying God made us male and female – not wrong just different.  And coming to that point – now, that doesn't mean that it's easy, but it is a severe judgment to make against the soul of an individual as evil-willed or Hitler's distant cousin, as I say, when the fact of the matter is, if a burglar came into the house, he would die in a heartbeat for this woman and the family.

So I'm just saying "soften."  It doesn't mean that you're not going to be heard.  It doesn't mean you're not going to be affected.  Go ahead and cry, go ahead and get mad, but don't pass judgment on his spirit because his flesh is weak.  Jesus didn't do that.

Bob: You had to deal with this with Sarah when she kept peppering your eggs, right?

Emerson: Well, and that's a great illustration.  She puts pepper on my eggs, and I don't like pepper on my eggs.  I've told her, I don't know how many times – just the other day she did it again – and, I mean, it's just – writing in the book – she does it on automatic pilot.  But I could begin to think, you know, if …

Dennis: Wait a second.  You've been married 30 …

Emerson: Yes, well, since 1973, mm-hm.

Dennis: And she's still peppering your eggs?

Emerson: Well, inadvertently.  But, you see, haven't I told her to stop it?  I leave wet towels on the bed, and she'll come and get the towel and put it before me, and I'll say, "You know, what a coincidence.  I was just going to go get that and hang it up."

Dennis: Barbara just showed me how to hang a towel up again. You know, I've been hanging it on the shower curtain rod, she wants it on the wall on the …

Bob: Well, and we do frustrate one another with these little things, and we think, "Can't this person" – I mean, this is a simple thing.  Can't she just not pepper the eggs?

Emerson: And that's the point, that's the point, because – don't I matter to you?  I mean, this is not a big issue here.  This isn't trying to bring about global peace, you know, so all I'm asking you to do is not pepper the eggs or I'm asking you just to pick up the towel. 

So what we do is we begin to take these episodes and let them become symbols to us.  If I really mattered, if they really valued me, on this little point they would do what I ask, but they don't do it.  So it must be that I don't really matter.  And that's what many couples are doing today, and, you know, what they've got to do is – I call it the "80-20 Rule."  1 Corinthians 7 says if you marry you have not sinned, but you will have trouble.

A pastor came up to me not too long ago, Dennis and Bob, and said, "Can I quote you on that?"  I said, the Bible teaches this.  I mean, the point is, thanks for the compliment, but there is no vacancy in the Trinity.

Dennis: Yes.

Emerson: But the deeper point here is there will be trouble, and the 80-20 Rule says, in effect, that 20 percent of the relationship is going to have a degree of tension, and if we don't allow for that, if we have an expectation it should be 95 percent, then what we're going to do, we're going to end up poisoning the 80 percent that is good, and the irony here is that when Sarah and I came to a point – you know, sailors prepare for a storm prior to the storm.  They don't get out on the sea and start freaking out, "Oh, there's rain, there's rain, what are we going to do?"  No – they've prepared, they've got the hatch ready to go, they prepare.  So when the storm comes, they just kind of go through it.

Bob: Elisabeth Elliott said it this way.  She said, "If a man is wearing a white shirt with an ink stain on the pocket," she said, "Your eye immediately goes to the ink stain, and that's our focus."  And she said wives do that with their husbands.  They find the ink stain in his life.  They just focus on that, and that now defines the whole shirt.  They don't say, "Boy, 99 percent of that shirt is white."  They say, "There's a spot there," and that's where their focus is.

Dennis: And what Emerson said earlier is what makes this so difficult – women take a videotape of the ink spot, and they are much better at archiving material for scrapbooks.

Bob: They go back at night and watch it again and again – the videotape.

Dennis: I mean, they're much better at this than men are, and that really goes across the grain of what God has called them to do, which is respect their husbands.  They're looking at the ink spot, they're looking at where he's deficient.

You say, in order for a woman to believe in her husband, to respect her husband, to help him become who God created him to be, she's got to recognize that he has a need to lead and to affirm that need to lead.

Emerson: Well, yes, and this is rich with content, and I'll comment on several things.  A metaphor a woman once made to me is "When I'm battling him on one front, I'm at war with him at all fronts."  There is that sense of global reaction, which, in a man's world, is unfair and dishonoring, and those are two huge values.  He just feels that unfair, and that's not honorable.  I mean, be mad with me because I'm not picking up the socks, be mad at me because I'm not doing the towel, but don't carry that into the car, don't carry it over into every other place.

But in defense of women, that integrated personality again, and the reason that she recalls this information isn't for the purpose of incrimination, although that's how we feel, she is wanting to go back and talk it through because she has a need to bring things full circle.  She wants to say, you know, "What happened here?  Why did it happen?  How can we improve?"  She wants to keep the relationship up to date.  It's what I call bringing it full circle in the sense that she, then, wants to say I'm sorry for what she's done.  She would like him to say he's sorry for what he's done, they seek forgiveness, maybe they hug, and somebody says something funny, and they go on again until the next conflict.

So in her world, though, what happens, we tend to say, "Drop it, forget it, it's over with.  I'm done with it, okay, let's move on now."  So part of the reason she gets historical, as we say, she brings those things up from the past …

Dennis: Plays the videotapes.

Emerson: Yes, is because she's trying ultimately to resolve and reconcile because she feels unsettled in her heart.  She feels like fingernails down a chalkboard.  There is a sense of unrest and tension.  So her purpose is noble, but what she has to realize if she keeps doing that too much, sometimes she's got to let go of some things, that 80-20 Rule, but if she comes across disrespectfully to try to motivate him to hear her deeper heart, "I'm going to show him disrespect to motivate him to be loving," which is our crazy cycle, that without love she reacts without respect, without respect he reacts without love based on Ephesians 5:33, that if she comes across disrespectfully to try to awaken him, to get him to decode her deeper need for love on these points, wherever they may be, he won't hear her.  He wears blue hearing aids, and she wears pink hearing aids, and there is a dissonance that results from that. 

Dennis: My fear for a lot of couples is they are getting divorced over things that they are going to really regret – not five years from today but six months from today, and they focus on weaknesses or focus on how they've been hurt, and they get separated and get isolated, and in isolation the enemy can convince a person of anything.  And they get convinced that their spouse is the enemy, "I am married to the enemy.  You know what? I'm going to get rid of my enemy."  And we didn't get married because we were enemies, we got married to achieve intimacy and to find a friend at the end of life means you've got to go through some valleys. 

In 32 years of marriage Barbara and I have endured a lot valleys together.  Some self-inflicted, others that just came our way in the process of living life, because life is not this – well, the way I like to say, it's not a Norman Rockwell painting.  It's not just this perfect, ideal picture of all your kids sitting around the table dutifully eating their Cheerios and going to school, you know, sweet and smiling.  It's not the way life happens.  You wish it would.

And you've challenged us today, Emerson, and I appreciate you doing that, and I think, Bob, what folks are going to want to do to be able to grasp, even deeper, some of what he's talked about is they're going to want to pick up a copy of his book.

Bob: I'm thinking of people I know who have been through some of those valleys; some folks who are in the midst of it right now, and I'm thinking, you know, if they would begin to apply what we've talked about today and what Emerson talks about in his book, it could revolutionize what's going on in their relationship.  Because fundamentally we're talking about applying the Gospel in your marriage relationship.  You're talking about taking what Scriptures teach, dying to self, and living with God's glory and another person's good as your primary agenda.

We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  It's called "Love and Respect," and I know many of our listeners have purchased the book and have read it.  If you've never read a copy of this book, let me encourage you to go to our website,  On the right side of the home page, you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast," and if you click there, it will take you to an area of the site where you can get more information about the book, "Love and Respect."  You can order a copy online, if you'd like, or you can call to order at 1-800-FLTODAY.  Someone on our team will make arrangements to have a copy of the book sent out to you.

And then let me encourage you to also plan to attend one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences and to spend the weekend together learning more about what the Bible teaches about what God's design for marriage is in the first place, how your communication can improve, how you can resolve conflict when it occurs in a marriage, how to address issues in your romantic or your intimate relationship.  All of these are things that we talk about in our two-and-a-half-day weekend getaway for couples called the Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference, and we're going to be hosting these in dozens of cities all across the country this fall.

Our FamilyLife Today listeners have an opportunity this week to register for an upcoming conference and to save up to $100 per couple on the complete Weekend to Remember experience.  All the details are available on our website at, but if you want to attend, and you'd like to save up to $100 per couple on this weekend getaway for husbands and wives or for engaged couples, go to  When you register for the conference, as you are filling out the registration form, there is a keycode box, and you need to type my name in there.  My name is Bob, and if you just type "Bob" in that keycode box, and that will qualify you for this $100-per-couple savings on the conference experience.

You can also call 1-800-FLTODAY if you've got any questions about when the conference is going to be in a city near where you live, that information is on the Web, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, someone can answer those questions for you, and they can get your registered over the phone.  Again, just identify yourself as a radio listener or a friend of Bob to qualify for the special discounted offer.  And if you want to take advantage of this, you have until midnight on Friday, that's midnight Pacific time, to qualify for this $100-per-couple savings on the complete conference experience, and we hope you will take advantage of the special offer and plan to join us one weekend this fall for a Weekend to Remember.  It will be a great weekend for your marriage.

Now, tomorrow we're going to continue our conversation with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, and we're going to find out when things do break down in a marriage, who should be the one to step forward and try to get things put back together again.  And he'll have an answer for us on that tomorrow.  I hope you can be here.

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 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.  


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