Respect Your Wife and Love Your Husband

Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, is a very helpful book for marriage counseling. It describes the Crazy Cycle and the Energizing Cycle. It recommends the C-O-U-P-L-E and C-H-A-I-R-S acronyms. And it does all of this based upon Ephesians 5:33, which it calls the “simple secret to a better marriage.”

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (NKJV)

Based upon this verse, Dr. Eggerichs concludes that what a wife needs most from her husband is unconditional love, and what a husband needs most from his wife is unconditional respect. This is good, biblical advice. I emphasize this truth in marriage counseling. But though this provides an excellent paradigm for a healthy marriage, we do well to understand that there is more. A wife does not only need love and a husband does not only need respect. Do you agree?

A wife does not only need love and a husband does not only need respect.

A strong marriage relationship, especially between a husband and wife who are Christians, requires mutual love and respect. As believers, we are called by Jesus to love one another (Jn. 13:34). Furthermore, we are taught by Paul to submit to one another (Eph. 5:21). In fact, this call to submit to one another occurs in the same context as Ephesians 5:33 and serves as a broader principle that applies to all of our relationships as believers, especially marriage.

A strong marriage relationship requires mutual love and respect.

So, in a certain sense, yes, a wife should give careful attention to showing appropriate respect to her husband, and a husband should give careful attention to showing appropriate love to his wife. That is how Paul concludes his marriage counseling in Ephesians 5 and that is what Love and Respect emphasizes as well. But all of this should happen within a relationship that is committed to mutual respect and mutual love at the same time.

So how does a husband show respect to his wife? And how does a wife show love to her husband? Those are good questions to ask and discuss with your spouse, your pastor and your Christian friends. The answers will not contradict Ephesians 5:33. They will strengthen it.

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