Here's where my alphabetical project has become a drag. I was eager to read, "The Bingo Palace," by Lisa Erdrich, which I had long ago picked up in a bargain bin. When the time came to read my E book, I couldn't find it anywhere. It's absolutely baffling. I think there's a book troll in my house hiding the better books. So, the other E author on my shelf was Dr. Emerson Eggerichs' book, "Love and Respect." Several of my friends had read this book and liked it. It didn't sound appealing to me, but since they liked it, I figured I would keep an open mind. I should have learned my lesson from reading "The Bridges of Madison County" after so many of my friends said, "Oh, it's the best book! Robert James Waller really knows how a woman feels." Groan.
In fairness to Eggerichs, I listened to the abridged audio book, so maybe the better stuff is in the unabridged version. As it is, listening to all five CD's put me in a very bad mood. I thought there were only four CD's, so when I put in that fourth CD and saw that there was still one more to go after that, I thought, "NOOOOOOO!" The cover of the book "Love and Respect" states, "The love she most desires. The respect he desperately needs." And that's pretty much the whole book. Really.
Dr. Eggerichs' message is that all of the problems in marriages result when women are feeling unloved, and men are feeling disrespected. Okay, I can see how that can be said for some marriages, but all? What if the woman feels like her husband doesn't respect her opinions, or the man feels like his wife is distant and unloving? Nope. According to Eggerichs, this kind of role reversal just doesn't exist.
Does he base this on any kind of scientific study? Nope. He bases it off his own family's dysfunction. His parents divorced, then remarried, then separated again, then got back together again. Some communication problems followed him into the early years of his own marriage, and he came up with a new way to communicate with his wife. When their arguments get heated, he responds by saying to his wife, "Honey, that felt disrespectful. Did I just now come across as unloving?" And oh yeah, he quotes Ephesians 5:33 and Ephesians 5: 22-24 again and again and again, mostly as a way of stating that the husband has a God-given place as the head in the hierarchy of marriage.
I'm not denying the legitimacy of God-inspired scripture, but Eggerichs' tone and delivery is an insult to women's intelligence. Most of my Christian sisters and I accept our husbands as the head of the household. We discuss decision-making issues with them, because we respect our husbands and believe that they were chosen by God to be in our lives. We don't need one man's interpretation of scripture hammered into our heads like propaganda designed to proclaim our inferiority.
Eggerichs also insults working mothers by claiming that most women just work because their families need a second paycheck, but it's not an ideal situation. It saddens me when a Christian brother or sister contributes to the war on working mothers. I am so very grateful for all of the mothers I know whose work has touched my life. I salute my children's teachers, the two doctors who delivered my three children, the labor/delivery nurses, our family physicians, and my own awesome mom who was a teacher for 18 years. I don't believe these women just needed a paycheck. They chose their careers because of their passion for what they do, and they have been awesome role models of people who are great at what they do and still put their families first. In fact, many of these women feel they are not only pursuing their passion, but are fulfilling a calling that God put before them. What would our country be like if everyone accepted Eggerichs' view that mothers should not work outside the home? Shortage of teachers. Shortage of doctors and nurses. Shortage of...well, pretty much every industry would be affected.
One woman in Eggerichs' book states that her daughter doesn't ever want to get married because she refuses to submit to a man. The woman blamed herself for not being a better role model of being cheerfully submissive. More and more young, professional women are choosing cohabitation over marriage. If we as Christians want to change that statistic, the solution is not to lecture wives on being more cheerfully submissive. The solution is to provide examples of healthy marriages where husbands and wives are mutually loving and respectful.
I give this book a D. What keeps me from giving it an F is that I can see how marriages that are in a horrible downward spiral could benefit from some of the communication techniques offered. I agreed with Eggerichs a lot more toward the end of the book when he counseled those who fear that taking the first step won't be reciprocated. Even if your spouse continues to be unloving or disrespectful, you only answer to God for your own actions. I think that's wise advice, however, I think both love and respect should be mutually given to BOTH spouses, and not gender assigned one or the other, like pink or blue.
It occurs to me that this blog is ranting, long-winded, and kind of mean. I promise next week will be less grumpy. I'm almost finished reading Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning," which is awesome, inspiring, honest, and beautiful.