I'll conclude my review of Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. I have previously expressed my opinion that Dr. Eggerichs mis-diagnoses the source of marital conflict. He takes a traditional pop-psych. therapeutic view of man's depravity. Man is basically good-willed, but perhaps ignorant (which is why we need an expert like Eggerichs to discover the "secret" and reveal it to us) or misunderstood. This view permeates the book, and influences the counsel the book gives.
As I worked through Part Three: The Rewarded Cycle, a question quickly came to me. Why didn't Dr. Eggerichs put this section in the beginning of his book? This is the only part of the book that really takes God seriously at all. The first two parts only seem to use God as a genie in a bottle to make my marriage more bearable for me. That tone is present in Part Three as well. But at least God is more pervasive. In fact, Eggerichs even mentions Heaven.
I was pleased to read sentences like these. "To the world it may make no sense for a wife to put on respect toward a husband who is harsh and unloving. It makes no sense for a husband to put on love toward a contemptuous, disrespectful woman. But it makes sense to God. These seemingly fruitless efforts matter to God because this is the kind of service He rewards." That may be the best paragraph in the book.
But such God-centered heavenly-mindedness doesn't last long. "There is still more to the Rewarded Cycle. There are rewards to help you cope right here, right now. Heaven will wait. God's timing is in control of that, but you can always use a little more help with understanding and living with your less-than-perfect spouse." Back to letters and behaviorism. Overall, Part Three is the only section worth reading in the whole book, and it just barely. One can tell from reading the book that Dr. Eggerichs begins the book with man. Therefore, God is not understood properly. God's purposes for marriage aren't even dealt with. This is ironic considering that God created and oversees marriage.
I'll give some general thoughts on the book overall.
1. The Gospel is mysteriously absent in the book. There is not really a call for repentance, or trust in Christ. There isn't really a proper dealing with the issues of forgiveness.
2. God seems to be a genie in this book. This book will make idolaters worse, more proficient idolaters. I see spouse worship plastered throughout the book, and never addressed. That's bad.
3. The book is based on behaviorism. The danger with this is that the heart isn't dealt with. One can read this book, follow what it says, and feel good about the result. Apart from God. With little thought of the Gospel. With no view to Heaven.
4. Because the book is so man-centered and behavioristic, with a bunch of do and don't advice, I can't see the methods serving any long-term purpose. Eventually, the couple will realize that, like any list of behaviors to perform, they will fall short. When that happens, they may become discouraged and feel like they were right all along. What's the use.
5. When that thought comes up for a couple, there's nothing in the book to free them from their quest to save themselves, and fix their marriage. There's no Gospel.
6. Concepts like love and respect aren't properly defined or even described. So I can't see how anyone would know if they're actually doing it or not. There's just a generic feel to the book, probably because so much of it is based on the experiences of the author, rather than the Bible.
I will judge the quality of a book on marriage by how thoroughly and accurately it expresses ultimate issues. God. The Gospel. Heaven. If marriage isn't put into such a framework, then the counsel is bound to fail. Love and Respect just doesn't properly deal with these issues. So in the end, I think it will heal the wounds of the readers lightly.