Posted by: JennyRain | June 30, 2010

What’s Love Got to Do with It? Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Welcome back to our series on relationships!

Today we hear from a relationship expert that I have long admired, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Dr. Eggerichs has rocked the relationship talk in circles of faith by translating God’s commands to love and respect our spouses into “twenty-first century-speak.” The most recommended book as John and I were considering marriage a year and a half ago was Love and Respect by Dr. Eggerichs and now a year and a half later – I get it!

Ok, well, John would tell you I’m still working on it, but you get what I’m saying.

Dr. Eggerichs (and his lovely wife Sarah) and the team at have helped thousands of couples through seminars, small group materials, publications, DVD series, online forums, and many other resources. The Love and Respect ministry is dedicated to helping couples not just survive in marriage relationships, but thrive.

Further, as I have gotten to know his daughter Joy (who you heard from yesterday) I realize that the amazing woman she is becoming is because she has two parents who intentionally practice God’s commands to Love and Respect on the home front. What they teach works y’all!

It is an honor and privilege to have Dr. Eggerichs guest post today so please join me in welcoming Dr. Eggerichs to the Rain!

Unconditional Love and Respect Defined

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Since my book Love and Respect came out in 2004, one of the questions I hear the most is some variation of, “Are you telling me I have to unconditionally respect my husband’s bad behavior and become a door mat? Everyone knows respect must be earned!”

Interestingly, in our culture we don’t have a problem understanding unconditional love…in fact, we see unconditional love as the right of every human being. Imagine expecting our children to “earn” our love! We would disapprove of such parenting. Most of us have no problem separating the person from their behavior when it comes to love. Love the person, hate the sin. Right?

But mention unconditional respect and some women go through the roof! Immediately, visions of weak, dependent women flood their minds – along with the inevitable label – DOOR MAT. Or, they must enter the room with a cheerleading outfit on and waving their poms poms in worshipful adoration of their husbands with a beer in hand and watching SportsCenter.

So is this what Christ had in mind for married women?

Not at all!

Let’s take a look at what the Word of God has to say about unconditional respect.

When the Bible reveals that a wife is to respect her husband, it is shown in the same way a husband is to show love to his wife (Eph. 5:33). Both are unconditional.

However, unconditional does not mean you remove all the healthy conditions that make a marriage succeed.

Unconditional does not mean you go along with bad behavior, giving another person license to do whatever he or she feels. Unconditional does not mean superficial praise. Unconditional means that you give the person the gift of love and respect as you confront the issues. In other words, you recognize that a hostile and contemptuous attitude is ineffective in helping resolve the issues.

We expect a husband to unconditionally love his wife not by endorsing anything she wants to do but by lovingly confronting those things he believes are wrong. The gift he gives her is the gift of a loving tone, facial expression, words and actions while confronting unacceptable behavior. When God instructed Hosea as a husband, “Go again, love a woman… an adulteress” (Hosea 3:1), God did not expect Hosea to show love to Gomer his wife, by going along with her adultery.

Similarly, when Peter instructs a wife to win her disobedient husband with her respectful behavior (1 Peter 3:1,2), God did not expect the wife to show respect by going along with her husband’s disobedience.

Unconditional love and respect does not sanction bad behavior.

If your spouse lies, steals, cheats or abuses, you must take a stand and lovingly and respectfully confront this. In the book of Acts , chapter 5, Peter did not affirm Sapphira, the wife of Ananias, for going along with her husband’s lie. She lost her life because she did not respectfully take a stand against her husband’s evil.

A husband may not deserve respect because he has not earned respect, but a wife’s disrespect for him is ineffective long-term—and not biblical.

No husband responds to disrespectful attitudes any more than a wife responds to unloving and disrespectful attitudes. Yes, if a wife is lovable, it makes it easy for her husband to love her, but the command of God to love one’s wife has nothing to do with her being lovable. And if a husband is respectable it makes it easy for a wife to respect him, but the command of God to respect one’s husband has nothing to do with him being respectable.

Put it this way, this is about how we come across when addressing issues. This is not about our spouse’s worthiness.

Unconditional means NO CONDITION can arise that stops you from dealing with the situation in a loving or respectful manner.

We might say your love or respect is UN-situational or UN-circumstantial. No situation, circumstance or condition in your marriage can CAUSE you to react in hostility or contempt. No matter the conditions, God calls you to show love and respect to your spouse. No matter the conditions, you have the freedom to choose a loving and respectful demeanor. No matter the conditions, your spouse cannot stop you from loving and respecting.

Here’s what one woman told us after she learned to unconditionally respect:

I can honestly say that the pain of laying down my pride and going against society’s way of earning respect has set me free. I am not a doormat, as Satan would like us to believe. I have been elevated to a place in my home that I used to fight for. My husband comes to me for advice if need be. That is much more rewarding than spouting it off when it is not asked for or appreciated. We communicate and we want to be together. The chemistry that I thought was permanently dead is renewed. God did it all. (Lisa S.)

The Love and Respect message is not about a husband earning his wife’s respect by being more loving any more than it is about a wife earning her husband’s love by being more respectful. Always, Love or Respect is given unconditionally, according to God’s command…and when you obey his commands, something wonderful may happen in your marriage!



  1. dr. eggerichs — i so appreciate hearing more of your thoughts and heart on this subject. i read your book during a very painful season of my life and know that i missed a lot simply because of the treading-water i was doing at the time. but reading this very cliff-notes version of your heart behind unconditional respect is eye-opening and, in many ways, freeing for me. it builds on a conversation i had with joy this past week — one that my heart didn’t even know i needed to have — about how to show this kind of respect in the midst of an abusive and unhealthy relationship. between my convo with her and your wise words here today, i feel like i have a much clearer (and biblical) understanding. thank you.

  2. Wow. I think I added most of this blog post to my Evernote. Such wise, rich words to meditate on and ingest while living in a world that doesn’t get what marriage is supposed to be.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Dr. Eggerichs, thank you for taking the time to write this post–a perfect “refresher course.” My husband and I each read your book and God used it tremendously in our marriage–strengthening and challenging areas we didn’t even know needed it. I know it sounds cliche, but it was truly life changing for us. Thank you.

  4. […] Wednesday: Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: Dr. Eggerichs is Joy’s dad and the founder of the Love and Respect ministry based on his best-selling book called Love and Respect. He has logged thousands of hours with couples helping them to understand how to improve their marriages and align them with biblical principles. The wealth of relationship knowledge Dr. Eggerichs brings to our relationship discussion is sure to encourage and delight. […]

  5. This is something I am working through in my marriage right now. Learning to reserve the roles in my marriage to where each of us is honoring what we were uniquely made for has been a challenge as new Christians. Unconditional respect is hard for me because I often set unrealistic expectations of my husband, then condemn him when he fails, and he didn’t even know what the expectations were in the first place!

    I am prayerfully working on my words and tone, and trying to seek God’s voice in the timing and setting I bring things up that are still so hard. I am also prayerfully working through learning to focus on how God wants to change me, and leave the changing of my husband to God alone.

    Thanks for the snapshot of the book– I have it and will be finishing it soon!


  6. […] you missed part 1 by Joy Eggerichs and part 2 by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – go check em […]

  7. […] you missed part 1 by Joy Eggerichs and part 2 by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – go check em […]

  8. […] of hosting Dr. Emerson Eggerichs who told us first hand what it should look like. After reading his post, I better understood what this stuff called love and respect was all […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: