The Love & Respect Experience: A Husband-Friendly Devotional That Wives Truly Love
by Emerson Eggerichs
The Love and Respect Experience “I’m desperately praying for the Holy Spirit to help me change and be a more respectful wife. It hasn’t been easy though, and I fail much more often than not.”
And They Lived Happily Ever After … Not Necessarily
For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.
One of our chief concerns at Love and Respect is not that people hear the message, important as that is, but that couples who attend a conference or read the book will go on to practice love and respect effectively in their daily lives. Of course, I realize each couple has this very same concern, and that’s why my heart goes out to those I hear from who “get it” but who aren’t able to “stay with it” consistently. They have learned that Love & Respect sounds simple, but it’s not so easy to do. Maybe “not natural” is a better phrase. I understand Sarah and I don’t find it easy or natural either, and we have conducted Love & Respect conferences over two hundred times during the last ten years!
These are some of the many confessions I’ve heard from spouse who are struggling:
‘Love & Respect works great when we are practicing it, but we are not consistent. It’s hard not to fall back into old patterns. I am so defensive it isn’t funny.”
“I am continuously amazed at how quickly we can go for a spin on the Crazy Cycle. I want to cry thinking how my level of knowledge far outweighs my level of obedience.”
At this point you may be wondering: Why is Emerson starting this book with such bad news from couples who fail? How can this help?
Hear me out. I am not trying to discourage you; I want to encourage you by saying right up front that Love & Respect is not a magic bullet. You will try it and find that you won’t always practice it perfectly. To realize this truth and use it is a great source of strength and power. I love Proverbs 24:16 because it gives me such hope. Good people are not perfect, but God says: “A righteous man [or woman] falls seven times, and rises again.” And how do you “rise again?” Here are three guidelines:
1. Never give up. If you want to have a strong marriage, you need to accept temporary setbacks as part of the game. In baseball terms, keep stepping back up to the plate. According to the baseball statisticians, even Hall of Famers fail to get a hit seven out of ten times. And Babe Ruth, perhaps the greatest slugger of all time, struck out over thirteen hundred times, more than anyone of his day!
2. Seek forgiveness from God and you spouse. A wife writes: “I failed to communicate respect to my husband. I’ve asked the Lord to forgive me, and I am preparing an e-mail to ask my husband to forgive me as well.” A husband reports: “I know now how I failed as a husband, friend, and lover, and I’ve asked God and my wife for forgiveness.” Ephesians 4:32 says it all: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV). Sarah and I often find ourselves turning to each other and saying, “I’m sorry – again.”
3. Ask God to take your hand. Psalm 37:24 promises that though you stumble, you will not fall, for the Lord will uphold you with His hand. We need God’s helping hand, and it’s always there for us, if we ask Him humbly and confidently ask for guidance.
The storybook ending is always, “And they live happily every after.” We know that’s now really true because the slips, the bumps, and the falls do come in crazy ways. Life is not a matter of attaining some kind of marital nirvana. “Living happily ever after” means knowing how to deal with the imperfect parts of life – not accepting them with resignation but dealing with them through God’s forgiveness and help and always getting back up when you fall. In a very real sense, the rest of this book is about just that, as you and your spouse will discover as you mine the riches of Love & Respect.
PRAYER: Thank the Lord for His forgiveness, His grace and the righteousness that only He can bestow. Thank Him for His promise that though the righteous fall, they can rise again and continue to build a strong marriage with love and respect. Ask God to put it in your heart to refuse to let defeat defeat you.
ACTION: Make personalized copies of Proverbs 24:16 that say, “For a righteous spouse falls seven times, and rises again,” and put them up on bathroom mirrors, inside cupboard doors, and in other places where you will see them every day.