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Strengthen Your Marriage with Love and Respect

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Author of: Before You Hit Send (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

Previous book: Love & Respect

New York Times bestseller: sold over 2 million copies

Communication expert has spoken to NFL, NBA, PGA, US Navy SEAL’s, and members of Congress

PhD from Michigan State—child & family ecology

M.Div., University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

MA, Wheaton—Communication

BA, Wheaton—Biblical studies

He and wife Sarah live in Grand Rapids, MI and have three adult children

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Marriage can be like a battlefield, and according to Emerson, it comes down to “love and respect.” If couples in conflict feel unloved and a lack of respect a negative cycle is set in place for the issues to be repeated, and communication is shut off.  He was inspired to write this book out of desperation as a pastor who was unable to solve married couple’s problems.  From women, he heard, “He doesn’t love me” and from men, “She doesn’t respect me.”  Both sides were failing to recognize and failing to deliver what the other needs.  With marriages becoming more like war zones and couples feeling unloved, Emerson set out to improve relationships while keeping marriage intact. 

The book is broken down into three cycles: The Crazy Cycle, The Energizing Cycle and the Reward Cycle.

When a woman is not validated or feeling loved by her spouse, her responses to him are often without respect.  Without the validation of respect from his wife, the husband in turn does not react with love.  Focusing on their own needs and wants, the needs of the other are neglected.  Daily conflicts unchecked can create bad habits that keep the cycle in place, leaving both parties irritated and frustrated.  Never feeling “good enough” or able to measure up to the other’s expectation creates a tension that destroys one’s self-image. The result is the cycle keeps happening with the same repeated damaging effects and communication shuts down. At the time this book was written, this cycle has reached into the church with 5 out of 10 couples divorcing.  Even with plenty of books and advice written on the subject, the crazy cycle prevails.  Within the Scriptures lies our instruction and understanding of life and relationships. Emerson shares that in the church, it is a tragedy to not apply the entire Word of God, i.e. Paul’s words in Ephesians instructing how wives and husbands are to love each other. God knows we will fail and that getting rid of old habits takes time, so Emerson says to let the Lord speak to you. Hearing the instruction of the Lord when there are times of conflict and discord will enable us to go to one another with repentance and forgiveness.

Men and women should learn a few things about each other, how they think, and how they function within marriage.  To show the difference, Emerson uses the visual that women are made with pink sunglasses receiving validation by being listened to and know that they are cherished. Men, however, wear blue sunglasses with the propensity of needing to know they are respected in the decisions made, plans for the future and will also be respected for their desire to serve and die for issues of honor. Neither one is wrong, only different unless there lies “an intrinsic evil.”  Respect for one’s husband does not include being abused or staying in a harmful situation.  In the moments of outbursts and conflict, couples need to keep in mind that no one walks in perfection, or without anger, and must learn the art of grace. Everyone is moving forward in walking out their sanctification, and needs a nudge in the right direction. 

Love to Wives: C-O-U-P-L-E

  • Closeness – Accept her need to talk and connect
  • Openness – Share thoughts with her
  • Understanding – Remember concerns and problems affect emotions
  • Peacemaking – Be willing to resolve issues
  • Loyalty – Look for ways verbally affirm loyalty
  • Esteem – Verbally express she is a treasure and highly valued, what she thinks is important

Respect to husbands: C-H-A-I-R-S

  • Conquest – Stand behind him and let him know he is supported
  • Hierarchy – Communicate respect and appreciation for his desire to protect and provide
  • Authority – Affirm trust in his ability to analyze and offer solutions
  • Insight Relationship – Stand shoulder-to-shoulder as his friend
  • Sexuality -  Be willing to consider him

“You can’t grasp the Holy Grail of perfection, which is always beyond your reach. But you can embrace love and respect, which will always provide more than enough to energize your marriage,” he says.

A real question is what to do when the two spouses don’t respond in kind to each other and what if there aren’t any results from putting into practice the theories written?  Emerson says this chapter “is the most important part of this book.”  There can be a fear among couples while in the process of moving forward that the spouse may not respond in a positive manner. Some spouses have expressed they have feared the mistreatment would continue, or the lack respect would worsen.  At the far end is the one who is afraid to try for fear it will work, and they are not ready for the change.  His response to them is to not give up, and to take note of the improvements that seem insignificant in the moment.  

He reminds us, “There is a great power in loving and serving each other out of obedience to the Lord…Look for the things that are happening.  Ultimately, we must depend on ‘the Helper,’ the Holy Spirit.  Delay does not mean defeat; something is most likely going on in the unseen places.”  He believes that prayer, talking to God, asking Him for help and the ability to handle the problems is the way to find out God’s heart.  We should be asking for His desires to be fulfilled in us, not for Him to fulfill our desires.  “The way for pink and blue to blend is found in Ephesians 5:33 (Husbands also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. NIV) It takes commitment on a daily basis in all our circumstances, and when we stay the course, we will find the key to blending together to reflect the very image of God.

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