Your One-Stop Handbook for a Biblically Based Marriage
Book Reviewed by Dr. David P. Craig
As someone who has been happily married for 28 years my wife and I have made a habit on reading and discussing at least one book on marriage a year. It’s a shame that so many people will spend 8-11 years getting graduate degrees and studying for thousands of hours and yet do not make the slightest effort to prepare for and make the best of their marriages. This was our third time reading through this book – which I can say without hesitation is the best single book on marriage I’ve ever read (and I’ve read around 50 books on marriage).
What makes this book worth reading? It’s based on a biblical principle from Ephesians 5:22-33. The principle is that what a husband needs most from his wife is respect; and what a wife needs most from her husband is love. Eggerichs fleshes this principle out thoroughly, clearly, and practically. He was a pastor who after writing this book ended up devoting his whole ministry to teaching the principle of “Love and Respect.”
In Part One of the Book Eggerichs discusses what he calls the “Crazy Cycle.” The crazy cycle is what happens to a couple when the wife is not respecting her husband and the husband is not loving his wife. This results in a habitual punishing cycle where lack of love (what the wife most needs) and a lack of respect (what the husband most needs) are perpetuated in a vicious circle. In seven chapters Eggerichs discusses why, how, and when this happens. He gives an abundant amount of real life examples to show how both husbands and wives get on the crazy cycle and how this cycle spins around and around as a result.
In Part Two Eggerichs discusses how to get off the crazy cycle and onto the “Energizing Cycle.” In chapters 8-14 he uses the acronym: C-O-U-P-L-E to show the husband how he can get off the crazy cycle by specific ways to meet her greatest need to be loved. Each chapter takes each letter of C-O-U-P-L-E to help the man practically and actively love his wife. The letters stand for: (1) Closeness – She wants you to be close; (2) Openness – She wants you to open up to her; (3) Understanding – Don’t try to “fix” her, just listen to her; (4) Peacemaking – She wants you to say, “I’m sorry” (5) Loyalty – She needs to know you are committed; (6) Esteem – She wants you to honor and cherish her.
In chapters 15-22 Eggerichs specifically addresses the wife and how by using the acronym C-H-A-I-R-S she can demonstrate respect to her husband (what he most needs from her). The letters in C-H-A-I-R-S stand for (1) Conquest – Appreciate his desire to work and achieve; (2) Hierarchy – Appreciate his desire to protect and provide for you; (3) Authority – Appreciate his desire to serve and lead ; (4) Insight – Appreciate his desire to analyze and counsel; (5) Relationship – Appreciate his desire for shoulder-to-shoulder friendship ; (6). Sexuality – Appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy.
The book closes with what he calls the “Rewarded Cycle”. Ultimately, as a Christian whether you are single or married you live in submission and obedience to Jesus. He encourages those in lousy marriages to be obedient to Jesus in unconditionally loving or respecting your spouse regardless of whether or not your spouse responds to you. In most cases spouses do respond better when we unconditionally and habitually love or respect them. However, no matter how our spouse reacts or responds to the way we treat them, it’s important to know that God is pleased with our obedience to Him.
Love and Respect in my opinion is the best book on marriage available today. If you only read and apply one book on marriage, this is your one-stop handbook for taking a bad marriage to good, and a good marriage to great! I can give testimony after 28 great years of marriage that God’s principles work – a husband was designed by God to need respect and a wife was designed by her Maker to need love. Eggerichs gives a plethora of illustrations, examples, and biblically fleshes out how to do these things in a way that is pleasing to God and beneficial to the flourishing health of a biblical marriage based on God’s perfect design of “Love and Respect.”