First of all, I drew names and the fabulous MANDY FRITSCHE won Dr. Eggerich’s book “Love and Respect for a Lifetime“. Mandy, I’ll email you to figure out how we can get you! Congrats!
Now, as promised, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Eggerich about how having babies can affect the love and respect in your marriage. I was so excited to hear from him– he’s like a guru on marriage and having his insights is so cool! Anyway, here’s what he had to say:
1. How do you see pregnancy and having young children impacting love and
respect in a marriage?
In Love & Respect I remind couples that God has created us male and female…not wrong, just different. Never is this more evident than when a woman is pregnant and enters motherhood. The nurturing nature of a woman is in full force…complete with a new set of hormones! Her attention is going to be primarily focused on her new baby, and the physical exhaustion that accompanies pregnancy and caring for children leaves little energy for her husband. A husband, of course, can feel a bit marginalized as she fixates on her newborn. He can feel replaced and disrespected. Added to this, he has his own set of concerns and responsibilities that come with caring for a new family. Is he adequate? Can he fully provide? If he feels disrespected and inadequate, he can withdraw in anger. Of course, that’s the last thing she needs. Feeling unloved and alone can devastate a young mother. So, she comes at him with negative, critical words with the expectation that he will decode her deeper need. Of course, he stonewalls more!
This couple is spinning on what I call the crazy cycle: without love she reacts without respect and without respect he reacts without love. Husbands and wives need to give one another an extra dose of grace. Every husband needs to realize his wife is not trying to be disrespectful or neglectful but is seeking something from him that he alone can give her: support and love. Every wife needs to realize that no husband intends to be unloving or to abandon her emotionally but he is in need of her affirmation and respect. I think this is why God says what he does in Ephesians 5:33. I unpack this all in greater detail in my books, Love and Respect and The Language of Love and Respect.
2. What can young couples do to keep a strong marriage when facing such major
Remember that they married a good willed person, not someone who is out to get them. They are a team, but within this team they will each respond from their own nature. Again, not wrong, just different! And most importantly, placing God at the center of their marriage before they face this major life change will prepare them to draw on His strength and wisdom during the challenging times. Ephesians 5:33 is a command from a loving God for a husband to unconditionally love his wife and for a wife to unconditionally respect her husband. This is God’s design because it works! If couples can live out this command the way God intended, they will build a strong marriage and family unit that honors Christ. When a husband does the loving thing, even though he feels disrespected, his wife softens. When a wife does the respectful thing, even though she feels unloved, her husband softens. Every couple must discover the power of love and respect. It takes work, but as my wife Sarah says, it works!
3. What one tip from your book do you think would be most helpful to parents
facing pregnancy and having a new baby?
Be friendly! That may sound strange, but when couples are feeling overwhelmed with all the tension in their relationship, I often tell them to start by being friendly towards their spouse. We don’t realize how negative our tone is, and how sour our expressions can be! I remember the time in our marriage when my wife Sarah realized she had become negative towards me and the children, to the extent that it had affected our family. She made a choice to be less negative and friendlier, and it changed the atmosphere in our home. Women especially have a lot of power in this area…to set the tone. Even when we’re exhausted, we can make a choice to soften our tone and lessen the negativity. If you need help from your spouse, asking them with a gentle, friendly tone will go much farther than asking in exasperation and anger. Though criticisms and complaints can control another person’s actions short-term, such negativity loses the other’s heart long-term. Putting on love and respect does not cause one to lose identity and influence.
4. How do you recommend young couples use your book to build a stronger
marriage? Is it something you suggest they read together? Separately? In a
small group setting?
It’s ideal if both spouses are committed to read the book together, perhaps even do the companion workbook, or join a Love & Respect DVD Small Group for additional support. However, we hear from many husbands and wives whose spouse is not willing to work on the marriage, and we encourage them to read the book themselves or even attend one of our marriage conferences alone. We have seen countless marriages transformed by just one spouse acting in obedience to God, by applying unconditional respect towards their husband or
unconditional love towards their wife (I give specific examples of what this looks like in my books). This should be done quietly and in obedience to God…not as a means to manipulate their spouse. The goal is to start by working on those things YOU need to change, not changing your spouse. Entrust your spouse to God.