Thursday, April 1, 2010

Love & Respect: Chapters 5-7

In these next three chapters Eggerichs attacks the fears that men and women have which keep them from attempting the Love & Respect solution.  I am going to cover all 3 chapters in this post.  I am going to concentrate on the reasons the wife withholds her respect, since I am a wife and that is what applies to me.

Chapter 5: She Fears Being a Doormat; He's Tired of "Just Not Getting it"

Who should make the first move? . . .You can't wait for your spouse to go first, even though it is preferable. All of us want our spouse to be the first to start doing the respecting or the loving.  But can you afford to wait passively for this to happen, like some kind of neutral bystander?  Can a husband wait for his wife to respect him before he becomes more loving?  Can a wife wait for a husband to really love her so she will then show him respect? 
The fear, of course, is that you will show love or respect to your spouse, as the case may be, and get a bad response.  So you tend to pull back, waiting for the other person to move first.  But what are your options?  Holding back your love or respect will just keep the Crazy Cycle spinning away, but being mature and making the first move could slow it down. (p. 74-75)

  Making the first move is so hard!  SO HARD!  My pride level has to be taken down a notch, and this isn't an easy thing.  If I make the first move because I think "I'm so mature" and the better person, my husband will see right through my hypocrisy and it gets us no where.

Some wives fear that taking a respectful attitude during a conflict with their husbands will render them powerless.  These women do not believe a husband will change into a loving man unless he is awakened to his flaws.  And the only way he will awaken to his inadequacies and faults is to hear his wife's grumblings, corrections, and contempt... The typical wife knows instinctively that correcting and mothering her husband are not good ways to approach him, but what else can she do?  If she keeps winning battles this way, it could help her win the war of changing him into the kind of man she feels he ought to be.  She keeps on using negativity because she feels empowered by it.  She thinks it gets through to him.  She knows being nice doesn't get through to him because he just seems to ignore that. . . But over the course of the marriage, something slowly dies between them.  She wins the battles, but deep down she knows she is losing the war. (p.76-77)

  I can never change my husband.  The only true change comes from the heart, and the only one with heart-changing kind of power is God.  I need to stop trying to change my husband with my nagging, and criticism, and start being a wife of prayer.  I need to give my control (which I've never really had, but sure have tried) over to God, and let him make my husband into the man HE wants him to be...something which I could never do.  My job is to respect him as he is right now, with all his faults, and submit to him as my husband.  Easy? No.  Rewarding?  Yes, I believe so according to what the Bible says in 1 Peter 3:1-6.

Chapter 6: She Worries about Being a Hypocrite; He Complains, "I Get No Respect!"

Obeying God's Word does not make a wife a powerless hypocrite.  Actually, it makes her a woman who loves and reverences God. . . We are not called to change everything or everyone.  We are only called to be obedient, and God will handle it from there.(p. 89-90)

Trusting and obeying God's Word because we love and reverence God never, ever makes us a hypocrite!  When the alarm goes off in the morning, we get up, even when we don't feel like getting up. Because we do what we don't feel like doing, does that make us hypocrites?  No, it is a sign we are responsible people.  Showing respectful behavior when we don't feel respectful is evidence of maturity, not hypocrisy. (p. 91)

  Those statements were the only thing that really stood out to me in this section.  This is not an area I struggle with  mainly because my husband is definitely a man worthy of respect....

Chapter 7: She Thinks She Can't Forgive Him; He Says, "Nobody Can Love That Woman!"

When you forgive him for being unloving, you give up your right to hold a grudge or be disrespectful in return. By forgiving you gain strength and freedom, and amazingly, in many instances you halt the crazy cycle. (p.103)

Jesus said, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7).  Do you know why Sarah can readily forgive me for being unloving?  My mature wife has accepted by faith that, in the eyes of god, her disrespect is equal to my lack of love. . .Forgiveness comes when we see our own unrighteousness.  How can we refuse to forgive an offense when we, too, have offended? (p. 103)

  PRIDE...keeps me from seeing my sin, and makes me unforgiving to the sin of others, HUMILITY... opens my eyes to my true sinful self and lets me forgive the sin of others. Oh yes, I struggle with this.  In fact I struggle with this so much that I have  chosen to skip the next 7 chapters of the book.  Why?  Because they are purposely directed at husbands, and how they can show their wives love.  I know how easy it is for me to read something like that and see every little thing that my husband isn't doing, and become frustrated and discouraged because he's not  the perfect husband.   Then nag and push him to be exactly like Eggerich's says he needs to be in the book and make us both miserable.

How do I know this so well?  In the past I have been a reader of Christian romance novels.  Although I knew the characters in the novels were fictional, and in most cases unrealistic, it planted the seed of expectation in my heart.  I began to expect my husband to act like these dashing fictional characters who swept their wives off their feet, and never did a thing wrong.  After reading those books I always felt a little disappointment and dissatisfaction in my marriage.  It took me a while, but once I began to realize how the books were affecting me, I stopped reading them.  I still enjoy reading fiction and don't mind a little romance mixed in with the story, but I try to be much more discerning in the things I do choose to read. 

So, with all that said, I'm skipping over those chapters and moving on to Chapter 15.  Starting in Chapter 15 Eggerichs writes about the energizing cycle and what the wife can do to keep it spinning by respecting her husband in specific ways.

Ah, but that is another post for another day... Right now it is time for me to get off the computer and get going for the day.  Today is the beginning of Spring Break and I've got lots of fun activities planned for the next week and a half to keep us busy and keep them from getting bored and getting into trouble.  I'm thanking God for the beautiful weather we are expected to have!  I couldn't have timed this heat wave more perfectly!