I’m Passing the Torch on Love & Respect. 10 Ways You Can Pick it Up

by | Jan 17, 2020 | Uncategorized | 71 comments

This has been a huge week on the blog as we end our year-long look at Love & Respect.

And, as promised, today I want to share your comments and pass the torch to you all, so that you can continue the work.

I was so encouraged by how many comments came in this week, especially after the open letter to Focus on the Family about Love & Respect. I’m going to feature some of them here–but please know that if I don’t feature yours, it’s not that I didn’t appreciate it! I’m just pulling out different ones that show different things.

Boundaries work; unconditional respect and coddling does not.

Many, many women (and men!) told stories about how confronting their husband and standing firm is what actually changed their marriage, not showing “respect” in the way Eggerichs instructs. I love this, because it’s exactly how I opened the week with our Iron Sharpens Iron series: Confronting your spouse is not a sin! And as we continue that series in the next two weeks, we’ll get even more practical.

This comment sums up the whole week in three quick sentences:

“Respect” that enables sin is not actually respect at all!

Years of “respect” did not motivate my husband to seek help for pornography addiction.
Setting firm boundaries did.

And this one tells a very similar story:

 I came to Christ later in life and was eager to do things the “right” way. I looked to resources such as “Love and Respect” to teach me how to be the perfect Christian wife. When I recoiled from messages about submission and silence I assumed it was my fleshly, sinful nature that needed subduing. I realize now it was the Holy Spirit in me that was recoiling from unbiblical teaching. Thank you for teaching me that I have the Holy Spirit in me just as much as any so-called Christian writer. My husband recently told me that if I hadn’t taken such a direct, assertive, take-no-prisoners approach to his drinking early in our marriage that he would most certainly have ended up unemployed, in jail, estranged from our children, etc. And I had always thought I had mishandled the situation because I hadn’t been more of a doormat. It turns out if I had followed Eggerich’s advice my husband would’ve been lost to alcoholism and our family would’ve been destroyed. Instead, my husband is now an amazing (and sober) husband and 

So happy for her! Here’s another:

I read Love and Respect with my former fiancé when I was younger, and we were working through some issues. He was struggling with a serious mental illness, refusing treatment, and treating me more and more poorly as our engagement progressed. This book had the effect of gaslighting me so terribly – making both of us believe any issues we were having were primarily my fault for not respecting his decisions. Also, he began interpreting my disagreement about anything as disrespect as well, saying that I was challenging his biblical mandate to lead. Two weeks before the wedding I called it off – best and bravest decision I’ve ever made. Afterwards I went to counseling to work through what I would now consider spiritual abuse that resulted from this book, which weaponized my faith against me in the relationship, using the Bible to suggest I should continually submit to a man who was harming me. I’m now married to a wonderful man who has never treated me as less than his equal – who listens to me, respects my boundaries and believes I am also worthy of HIS respect. The best relationship decisions of my life required defying all of the messages I received from this book. I have no doubt that the marriage I was getting ready for based on the principles of this book would have crushed my very soul. So grateful that you are speaking up about the damaging messages it holds!

Love the people apologizing for recommending Love & Respect in the past

Here’s someone on Facebook, sharing my Open Letter:

Apology for Recommending Love & Respect

Here’s another on the blog from Becky (and there were many more):

I publicly repent for my part in bringing a Love and Respect study to my former church 12 years ago, and I am so deeply sorry for the damage that may have caused to my friends. L&R definitely perpetuated destructive patterns in my marriage. Now that my husband and I are egalitarians — treating each other as equals — we are creating a healthy culture in our marriage.

Becky

My husband and I concur that L&R is not truly helpful and we have seen it be hurtful to multiple marriages. I cannot recommend it and have apologized to some who read it because of my suggestion. I don’t remember every person, so please consider this my public apology. Even if this book isn’t straight up hurtful (……..), there are so many truly balanced options out there that hearing his lop-sided opinions isn’t necessary. Also! Using one’s professional expertise and training in the negligence and harm of others makes one an accomplice! Psychotherapeutic malpractice, in this case.

Belinda

I want to lend my voice.

I publicly repent of recommending Love & Respect from the stage at marriage conferences when I hadn’t even read it (I believed the hype that it was good). I publicly repent of quoting Eggerichs in some of my posts and in my book without having read the whole book. It was irresponsible and wrong, and I am doing my best to make up for it now.

Speaking up about this actually BRINGS people to Christ.

I’d love to write more about this phenomenon soon, but I want people to truly get this: Millennials and Generation Z are fleeing the church in droves, and a lot of it is because of toxic teaching like Love & Respect. This comment was my favourite from the whole week. This is why I do what I do. Kristen, I’m glad you’re here!

I am a single twenty-something with a complicated relationship with the church. Though I do not profess to be a practicing Christian currently, there are times when I consider returning. However, I cannot abide toxic and/or legalistic teaching. And as for the view of marriage presented in Love & Respect? If that’s what a Christian marriage looks like, count me out.

Sheila, I know I’ve said this before, but your blog is one of the few remaining things in my life that keeps me remotely tethered to the faith of my upbringing. You and your crew give me hope that I might return to it one day.

Focus on the Family, you should be ashamed. If Eggerichs’ view of marriage is what you truly endorse, then let me tell you that it’s not a pretty picture, and it certainly does not show the ideal of Christian marriage in a good light. I’d rather be single for the rest of my life than to enter the kind of marriage that you endorse by continual promotion of Love & Respect. And I do NOT say that carelessly. If you wish to have any type of positive witness in contemporary society, you are doing it wrong! 

Kristen

I’m Passing the Torch; Now it up to You to Speak up About Love & Respect

Sometimes it seems daunting. We know something HUGE is hurting people, but we’re small. We don’t have a big platform. What can we really do? And yet, I’m amazed at how God routinely uses the “foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” (1 Corinthians 1:27). That’s not say that we’re foolish–but in the eyes of the broader Christian machine, we’re small. We’re unimportant. And yet God is using us.

God used David to bring down Goliath. And God can use an army of men and women who are committed to Him and who refuse to listen to bad teaching to change the broader church’s direction on marriage. All you have to do is speak up where you are, and there will be a tipping point.

Here’s the comment I woke up to yesterday morning which made me happy for the whole day:

After sharing your post yesterday, I heard back from multiple pastors who agreed that this book is problematic. Some looked into it for the first time, but no one gave pushback defending it especially after reading the post. My current pastor decided against using it for our next marriage conference. That’s a win.

I also heard several stories from women (some who I hardly knew) who got peace yesterday that they weren’t the problem—as they were led to believe when their small group did this book. Love & Respect has left a trail of devastation in marriages. Your post helped bring healing. 

Aspen

She simply shared and spoke up. Didn’t take very long. But it made a big impact–and healed some women’s hearts, too! Another woman wrote this on Facebook:

I have just shared this with a leader of a group I’m apart of that strongly recommends this book. Thank you for putting my feelings into words for me.

And then a few minutes later posted this:

I’m happy to report that she actually feels the same way and recently sent her thoughts to the pastoral leader of the group as well.

We’re making a difference! YOU can make a big impact, too, where you are, and it doesn’t take very long. And here’s how:

1. Leave a comment on the Open Letter to Focus on the Family

If you agree, and you haven’t commented yet, please do so, even if it’s just to say, “I agree and stand with Sheila.” The more comments that post has, the more credibility we have! (Can we get it to 1000 comments? That would be AMAZING!).

2. Speak out if you notice the book on a friend’s bookshelf.

Don’t be mean about it; ask them what they thought of the book. Then you can contribute some of your own thoughts–“I found that his take on respect was very problematic and could hurt people”; or “I found it very problematic that in his sex chapter, he said that sex is only about the husband’s physical release, and never once, in the whole book, mentions women’s sexual pleasure.” Then mention that it’s been found to be the most harmful book by Christian women, and offer to send her some articles about it.

3. Speak to your pastor/women’s group leader/church librarian if the church is hosting a Bible study or if the church carries the book.

Share any of my articles with them (the open letter to Focus on the Family is the most comprehensive), or you can share a letter i’ve prepared. I also have a summary page of issues with Love & Respect that you can share with people. The thing to keep stressing is how much the book enabled abuse. Let’s keep the focus on the harm that it has done, not on doctrinal differences.

God used David to bring down Goliath. And God can use an army of men and women who are committed to Him and who refuse to listen to bad teaching to change the broader church’s direction on marriage.

4. Suggest other resources to study

Love & Respect is not the only marriage book out there–there are plenty that are better! Here are just a few that I would suggest that make awesome studies: How We Love by Milo and Kay Yerkovich; Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud and Townsend; Love in Every Season by Deb Fileta. For women’s Bible studies, I also have 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage with videos for 6 week studies or 8 week studies, and they’re free! Find them here.

Instead of Mothers and Sons (Eggerichs’ new book on mothers respecting their sons), look at Rebecca’s book Why I Didn’t Rebel (which is far better), or, for younger children, check out Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart from Connected Families.

5. Share the Open Letter wherever you can

Share the letter on your social media to alert other people to the problems with Love & Respect and with Focus on the Family. And if Eggerichs is speaking at your church or one near you, share the letter on your social media, or share it with local news media so that they know what is coming.

6. Leave a review of the book where appropriate

If you have read the book (don’t just take my word for it; it should be an honest review), then leave a review wherever you can and warn people what’s in it.

Are you PeaceKEEPING or PeaceMAKING?

There’s a huge difference between the two. And if you don’t get it right–you’ll never be able to feel truly intimate in your marriage.

There’s a better way!

7. Let Focus on the Family know how you feel.

Especially if you have been a donor in the past, or are reconsidering your donations now, send them a note. (Writing to them when you have never been a donor/listener isn’t as effective). If you receive emails from them promoting Love & Respect or Eggerichs’ new material, Mothers and Sons, reply and ask them why they have not responded to my letter (and include a link).

8. Apologize to any people that you may have encouraged to read Love & Respect

Like the apologies I noted above, this can go a long way. Check back in with any who were in a Bible study you led, or any you gave the book to. Make sure they’re okay. And share the open letter with them so that they recognize the problems. Apologies give others permission to question what they’ve read as well. This whole big series and big year has been me trying to apologize and make amends for recommending it in the past without doing due diligence.

9. Dispose of the book wisely.

Don’t donate the book where others may get a hold of it. Cut up the pages and put it in recycling (we can do that here in Canada), or cut it up and put it in the garbage.

10. Continue the work critiquing Love & Respect

We have not yet taken a look at the Mothers and Sons curriculum (I’m kind of scared to, actually; I’m afraid it will send me in another major funk), but it’s being promoted VERY heavily by Focus on the Family right now. (If you have it, I’ll pay you for it and pay for postage if you want to get rid of it! I just don’t want to buy it myself. So let me know!). But if you have it, and you’d like to write a review of it, I’d be happy to link to it.

There are also some studies that would be worth doing with Love & Respect to get some more data. For instance:

  • In the parts of the book where it’s addressed to BOTH the wife and husband, how many paragraphs does he spend telling the wife how to shape up vs. the husband?
  • If you have the DVD series, how many minutes does he spend explaining what the wife is doing wrong vs. what the husband is doing wrong?
  • In the book, list all of the things that the wife does which he considers disrespectful, and then group them. For instance, it seems to me that he consistently labels her simply expressing her opinion or her feelings as being disrespectful. It would be great to have a list of all of the things that he labels disrespectful. Again, then I could put it up on the summary page about Love & Respect so it’s all in one place.

Some of these would make an awesome thesis for someone in seminary, too!

I just don’t have time to do these things, because I’m working on writing my own book. But if others wanted to take over the work, I’d be happy to serve as a repository for it. If this seems like overkill, remember: this is the second best-selling Christian marriage book of the last 15 years. It is the most commonly studied book for marriage Bible studies. If we are going to reach a tipping point where people will recognize how toxic this is, we need to be as thorough as possible.

So I hand the torch to you, and I’m excited to see what God will do with an army of people wanting to see Jesus put first in marriages once again!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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71 Comments

  1. Becky

    You are an amazing force of nature. I am so impressed with your godly, prophetic advocacy.

    Reply
  2. Gretchen Baskerville

    Hi Sheila,
    You’ve done such a good job. You’ve inspired the rest of us.
    For example, I started looking at other books.
    Horrible Christian books on marriage/pre-marriage are everywhere.
    Be careful and warn others about H. Norm Wright’s premarital workbook for Christians, “Before You Said ‘I Do.'” This is what my church recommended when I got married.
    The workbook never brings up risky behaviors: Abuse, adultery, prostitution, chronic lying, drug addiction, gambling, battering, child sexual abuse, or other behaviors that would destroy the trust in a marriage and jeopardize its future.
    There was no instruction to break your engagement or even to get counseling. It was as if these marriage-endangering problems didn’t exist in anyone you might meet at church. And when “undesirable behaviors” did crop up, the readers were told they could “learn to adjust.”
    That book mentions, but brushes aside red flags (“infidelity, dominance, being controlling, unfair use of anger”), saying only they aren’t appropriate in a Christian home. Yet the book claims that its purpose is “to help you decrease the risk element in marriage.”
    In my mind, many Christian books are grossly negligent and possibly unsafe to use or give to others.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Gretchen brings up a good point–we should be looking critically at other books, too. I’m wondering if people would like it if I included a “whitelist” and a “blacklist” of marriage books, with my reasons? The problem is that I could never do all books because I don’t have a lot of time to read them. But is that something others would be interested in?

      Reply
      • Wendy

        Yes! So interested! I am getting married this spring and would love to have resources like that to draw to help my fiancé and I as we prepare for marriage! Finding good books has been a challenge for us so far.

        Reply
        • Anon

          Me too! I’m aware that the marriage/marriage prep book field is also a bit of a minefield!
          (BTW, Good Girls Guide to Great Sex has been SO helpful to me for ‘that side’ of things – our marriage prep course didn’t cover sex at all apart from advice to ‘talk about any problems’ – the assumption was obviously that we were already sexually active, but we’re waiting for marriage, so really could have done with a bit more advice in that area!)

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I’m so glad you find it helpful!

      • Kya

        That would be wonderful! Especially if you could add anecdotes (for example, “This book would be especially helpful for people in X situation”).

        Reply
        • Libl

          I’m reading a book by a leading therapist for men who are abusers. Creating extra work and damaging your spouse’s things in ways like leaving wet towels on the bed (especially if it is her side) is a sign of narccistic disrespect and abuse. It is a subtle way of punishing, hurting, or abusing them, and showing your own superiority, especially if asked not to do it and they disregard your request.
          A decent, normal, caring person would hang the towel up as requested, and apologise if they messed up again.
          I am so sick of wives being knocked down for wishing their husbands behaved like adults and picked up after themselves. I’m so sick of martyr wives saying, “It only takes me 30 seconds to pick up his clothes from the floor.” That’s 30 seconds every day for 50 years that he steals from you because he feels entitled to mess up the house because you’ll just clean it for him.
          My grandfather never treated my grandmother that way.

          Reply
          • Maria

            Good for him!

          • Kim P

            Libl do you mind sharing the name of that book you’re reading!?

          • libl

            Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            That’s a really interesting point, Libl, about narcissistic disrespect and its characteristics. There really is so much of that in Love & Respect. I truly don’t know why people think it’s healthy advice, or even normal advice. It’s almost like–if he wrote the whole book with no anecdotes it would be bad, but not terrible. But WITH the anecdotes? That’s he’s presenting as if they’re normal? It’s bizarre. Husband buys wife birthday card instead of anniversary card. She gets upset. He feels “disrespected”, and a fight ensues, which she started (apparently) by her disrespect. But wouldn’t MOST women feel at least a little put out that he bought the wrong card? That’s just a trivial example, but he went on and on about how she caused the problem by not simply acknowledging his effort. So many anecdotes (like the towel) are like that. HE does something really wrong that would upset most women; but SHE started the problem by then becoming upset. It’s so bizarre.

    • Arwen

      Gretchen, I did enjoy his other book, 101 Questions To Ask Before You Get Engaged. I own the book and didn’t see any problematic things in this one. It asked some serious hard questions. Questions i never even thought of before. Control, family boundaries, finances, sexual issues, abuse, forgiveness, pre-nuptial agreements, childhood trauma, in-law dynamics, parenting styles, careers, adultery, reasons why someone would or wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their life with you. The risky behaviors you mentioned are spoken about in this book. There wasn’t a question that wasn’t asked in that book even uncomfortable topics, like disability, were brought up.
      I have given this to many people around me who don’t come from intact families who desperately needed godly wisdom when it came to relationships/marriage. I have seen people end their engagements because they discussed the uncomfortable questions found in this book, instead of the typical immature conversations they have like, what’s your favorite movie. It’s also helped me greatly! So, give this book a read and let us know what you think.

      Reply
      • Maria

        Reasons why someone would not want to spend their life with you… seems like a question that could give an abuser advantage over their spouse. Abusive personality lies. Non-abusive person tells truth, revealing weaknesses. Maybe better to just get to know the person and their flaws before deciding? Instead of relying on them to tell you?

        Reply
  3. Nathan

    Sheila, you’re right in that just realizing how toxic that teaching is isn’t enough. We need to speak out against it AND offer a better alternative. As I always say, the best way to overcome bad ideas is with good ones.
    And many have correctly pointed out that the “respect” that L&R talks about isn’t real respect, it’s servitude, or worse.
    And just for the record, I myself have NEVER left wet towels on the bed, even when I was single. I’m not a clean freak, but even I know how gross that is!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Nathan! It is gross.

      Reply
      • libl

        I bet Emmerson never left the wet towel on his side of the bed.

        Reply
        • E

          😂 I wonder if he would have classified his wife quietly moving the wet towels to his side of the bed as ‘respectful’ confrontation. I mean, that’s passive aggressive as all get out, but judging by his other examples of how wives are supposed to bring up issues, this might be something he would approve of! 😜
          (Those laughing, joking emojis are laughing in a very sad, have-to-laugh-or-else-i’ll-cry, kind of way)

          Reply
  4. Catherine

    Because you mentioned his other book above, I’d be interested if you or any of your other readers have any thoughts on Mother and Son by Eggerich. I purchased the book with a deep desire to want to keep lines of communication open with my son as he grows up. And I have worked my way through the first several chapters now several times but get so overwhelmed that I get discouraged and can’t seem to get any further. I’m trying to figure out if it because Eggerich’s approach is right and I’m currently an ineffective communicator to my young boy and therefore its overwhelming to try to re- program the way I speak. Or in light of your recent Love and Respect deconstruction – is it possible that Eggerich’s Mother and Son book is in a way “grooming” young boys to grow and be the men in the examples within his Love and Respect book? Could this be why I find it so difficult to Implement his Mother/Son strategies?
    Would love any insight from those who have read that book

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Catherine, I can’t believe that it is a healthy book, and if you’re feeling discouraged, then listen to your discernment! I’d heavily recommend Why I Didn’t Rebel by my daughter Rebecca. It focuses on keeping authentic relationship and communication with teenagers, in a way that is emotionally healthy.
      If you’d like to get rid of the book, we’d love a copy that we didn’t have to buy! I’d pay for postage for you to send that to us, and then we could send you Why I Didn’t Rebel in return! Just let me know. 🙂

      Reply
      • Catherine

        Sheila – I’ll send you an email with “Mother and Son” in the title

        Reply
        • Lydia purple

          If you are looking for encouraging parenting books I highly recommend Everything Sally (andClay) Clarkson. She has a blog, podcast and a ton of books, 4 grown children who love Godand she wrote at least one book together with her son about their relationship (Different). Everything they do is about godly relationships between parents and children. I love her podcast, it is always super encouraging.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thank you for that, Lydia!

    • Kim P

      In my experience so many Christian marriage and parenting books caused more confusion and frustration than provided clarity
      and help. Many friends have said the same… I couldn’t make it through the book, I felt like a failure as a wife/mother, I can’t even remember the main point except that I need to die to myself more, etc. I have never felt overwhelmed or discouraged reading Sheila’s work! There is a difference, though I’m not sure how to articulate it. Anyone have any thoughts? I remember one commenter said something ab repeating the same bad message over and over. There is a sense of mind-numbing repetition and down-talking or hand holding as if we aren’t intelligent adults in these kinds of books.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I think the big difference is that far too many books make their starting premise gender roles–men should do this, and women should do this. A far better starting point is, “What does Jesus want us to look like in our marriage? How does Jesus want us to act? What is the best way to working towards what Jesus wants?” When the starting point is one of power and hierarchy, then there really is nothing that a woman can do to improve the marriage except for “be quiet” or “be nicer” or “pray harder”, and that isn’t what God calls us to, as I spoke last week about being Warrior Wives.

        Reply
        • Maria

          Maybe the secret to being a good man is to be a good human being? And the secret to being a good woman is to be a good human being?
          Because men and women have differences in biology, some principles will be implemented differently. So, an expectant mother might be tempted to dismiss the concerns of her husband over her diet. (Although, if she doesn’t value her husband’s opinion about how to care for a baby, even a baby in the womb, why marry him and have kids with him?)
          An expectant father might want to be allowed to control what his pregnant wife eats. (But if he thought she was too stupid to be pregnant, why marry her and make a baby with her?)
          So, yeah. The need to respectfully listen to and consider the opinions of someone you’re in a relationship with is a human thing. That principle has a unique expression when a couple has a baby together. Also, it’s a human thing where respecting boundaries is important, like not telling another adult what to eat. The temptation to do so when you’re scared for your baby would be really difficult to overcome, I imagine. (All I can do is guess, never been a father and never will be.)

          Reply
        • Kim P

          Definitely a huge difference! Completely agree about the starting point and well, everything you said! 😉 There’s something too with the wording or tone in those dangerous books that I can’t put my finger on? I feel like a child being lectured or scolded perhaps?

          Reply
          • Maria

            Do the authors come across as having a “holier than thou” attitude?

      • Maria

        Yeah, some Christian books are all about telling the reader “you’re not good enough if you don’t do it my way.” On the other hand this blog is never written like that, even when difficult truth’s are stated. No condemnation of people, just of toxic ideas.
        Here’s how some (not all) Christian books come across. “I have no idea who is reading this right now, but whoever you are, you need to work harder at being less selfish.” That is NOT the sort of thing you can find on this blog.
        Right now I’m questioning whether or not the following way of thinking is healthy: A book or a person tells me to do something that I don’t want to do. Then I question if it’s just me being selfish or lazy. But the only reason I chose that moment to ponder that is because a book told me to do something that I felt resistance to.
        Why do I give the author that much power over my mental state? Why not separate character reflections from other people’s suggestions. How? I guess start by regularly reflecting on my selfish tendencies. And willingness to re-evaluate my position on things, because when I become less selfish, I see through a clearer lens. If my resistance to the suggestion was due to selfishness, it will fall away with the selfishness.
        So, I’m trying to do character assessment more as general maintenance and less as a reaction to what someone says I should do. Seems to be better than what I was doing before.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That seems very wise, Maria!

          Reply
  5. Elissa

    Thanks for including some alternative resources for marriage Bible/book studies! I was going to ask about that. Which would you recommend for couples in healthy marriages? (Those who don’t necessarily need to work on setting boundaries in their relationship?)

    Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yep. Should have recommended mine! But mine is more for women; How We Love is for couples. So for women, I’d do mine! For couples, try the Yerkovich’s.

        Reply
        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          Yeah your book is for women but to be fair, we did it as a couples small group book and it worked great. 🙂 The principles are gender-neutral, and so you just have to change the pronouns/husband to wife and it works for husbands, too!

          Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love How We Love! You discover so much about yourself. I think that’s a great resource.

      Reply
  6. Nathan

    Catherine asks…
    > > is it possible that Eggerich’s Mother and Son book is in a way “grooming” young boys to grow and be the men in the examples within his Love and Respect book?
    I haven’t read either, but from what I’ve about both, my guess is that yes, this is exactly what Eggerich is doing.

    Reply
  7. Kristen

    That’s the most I’ve tweeted in almost three years, but I wanted to do my part. And I’m glad to be here, too, Sheila! Thank you and your team again for all the hard work!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It was wonderful, Kristen. Thank you!

      Reply
    • Nathan

      I can well believe that you’ve posted that much. The “Open Letter” thread from Wednesday had more comments than any I’ve seen in a long time!
      Hopefully that means that more people are figuring this out.

      Reply
      • Kristen

        I truly hope so, Nathan. And I don’t know that marriage will be part of my life one day, but if it is, I’m so glad I have the knowledge and discernment that I’ve learned from Sheila and others like her.

        Reply
  8. Reese

    Jesus calls ALL of us to love others “as we love ourselves”. Eggerich’s book is the first place I had ever heard of unconditional respect and I never could wrap my head around it. Respect is earned and is a two-way street. Respect can also be lost, in any relationship, just like trust.
    Unconditional love, yes.
    Unconditional respect, no.
    Husbands and wives must both respect each other, and must both love each other.

    Reply
    • Maria

      Respect for a person’s human dignity? Should be granted to everyone. But that’s not usually how the word is used, in my experience. Seems it’s usually more “respect my decisions, no matter what.” So if I were to go literally wallow in a pig pen and then demand you respect me, and you say “OK, I find that decision respectable” that would be insulting! You’d be expecting me to be stupid enough believe it.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        HA! Great point.

        Reply
  9. Nathan

    I was going make a comment about love vs respect and how one is granted and the other earned, but Reese put it perfectly!

    Reply
  10. MrsC

    Out of curiosity, I checked to see Love and Respect on Amazon. It has 4.5/5 stars by over 3,000 people! We have a lot of work to do!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, we do!

      Reply
  11. Bethany

    My sister actually seemed to always have that thought process. ” Because I’m your older sister, respect me and never question me!” Well she was verbally abusive anytime she got mad, and I never submitted to her idea of “respect”. Because her idea of it was a monarchy with her on the throne. To this day I refrain from using the word and Instead try to describe what I’m saying clearer, than just saying respect. I just put it together that’s the same sort of “respect” that the author is demanding husband’s deserve. And now I understand sooo much more, why it’s not working. Even if given, nothing was ever enough for her. She was never satisfied with anything long.

    Reply
    • Nathan

      My wife’s older sister had that same attitude. She called it “assistant mommy syndrome”.

      Reply
  12. Maria

    Sheila, your courage is a real inspiration. Thank you. Keith, Rebecca and Connor and all who work at To Love, Honor and Vacuum: thank you, too, for the courage you display.

    Reply
  13. Tiffany

    Thank you for suggesting disposal methods for this book. Donating books is like a reflex for me, I would never consider destroying one… until this one. Unwanted copies of this book deserve to be destroyed.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep! We just don’t want them ending up in someone else’s hands and hurting them! Or ending up in another church library (or, even worse, in the Third World where lots of donated Christian books go).

      Reply
      • Chris

        Sheila, I haven’t read the book. I have not read your books either. I am sure yours are good, and I am sure Emersons are bad. Just throw the book in the trash. Because thats where it belongs. However. Advocating the burning of books puts you in really bad company. I get your passion but do you really want to be lumped in with the firefighters in Farenheit 451 or the brownshirts? This is ammunition that some one like EE will use against you.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Hi Chris, I get what you’re saying, which is why I recommended recycling or garbaging it. But many, many people have sent me pictures of bonfires with it, or cutting it up with a saw to use as charcoal in a barbecue. I’m haven’t asked for this; people have just been tweeting it. Personally, I think it’s rural vs. urban. I’m pretty urban; I recycle and put stuff in the garbage. But if you live out in the country where people have frequent bonfires, then that may make more sense. (I prefer recycling; I don’t think it helps the environment to burn paper like that). The main thing is to dispose of it in a way that others won’t read it.

          Reply
    • Meghan

      Me too! I pulled it off the shelf when I was doing a donating purge and absentmindedly added it to the pile. Then as I was gathering everything up to take to the thrift store that supports a local pregnancy ministry I was like “wait hold up I don’t want anyone getting hold of this nonsense” and moved it to the trash pile instead.

      Reply
  14. Arwen

    Oh, wow i had no idea this book was the 2nd biggest selling Christian book out there! I never heard about it until 2-3 years ago. I guess it just says something about the community i hang around in. Interesting. I’ll defiantly pass on your articles & podcasts whenever this book or topic comes up.
    Question: Sheila, what’s your though on love must be tough? I have heard good things about it but haven’t read it. If you have read it would you recommend it?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I read it thirty years ago and thought it was good, and I have been recommending it. But some people have shared some quotes on Twitter recently which are concerning–about how women sometimes bait their husbands into abusing them, and how you can’t divorce even if he abuses you, and some others.
      I think Leslie Vernick is a much better author and expert in this field. But I am glad that Dobson at least told women to draw boundaries, and that they deserved to be respected.

      Reply
      • Susanna

        I’m really glad to hear you say that, because I have heard those quotes too and so have felt really uncomfortable with how you have spoken favorably of it and said that FotF might have been better when Dobson was still at the helm.
        I don’t give Focus a pass at all for their refusal to acknowledge this problematic book, but I do know several other ways that they have shown growth and improvement since Dobson stepped away, and they are so much better for it. (I’m not a fan and I don’t consume their content anymore, but I know that much.)

        Reply
  15. Holly

    Sheila: If there is a way to just write you, I am willing, but like you i am busy and do have a book to write… one day… in the mean time if God has laid this on your heart or you have this grave difficulty with Dr. Eggerich & his wife, AND you have not already spoken with them, i suggest you repent to the Lord and do that next. We are blessed in our day to have many good resources to draw upon wisdom and help for living with a sinful spouse (when we ourselves are sinful to boot), and it does behoove us to ‘check & balance’ any book against the claims and teachings in the greatest book of all times, and will be continual the greatest selling book of all times, the HOLY BIBLE. Staying in this place of need of wisdom, grace, discernment, humility, and asking for grace to discern what does the Lord require of each one of us. One day we all will be asked to give an account of our deed & words done in the body, if you would like biblical references of what i am suggesting here in this writing, you can find them. If we seek we shall find. As far as it depends upon each one of us, seek to live at peace with all men. Also, why did God create woman? Do you know the answer to this biblically speaking? Gods peace to you Sheila, He came to set us free…. hsh

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Holly, we detailed in the podcast about talking wtih Love & Respect. I’m curious as to why you should assume that I need to repent. Also, as for why God made the first woman–we dealt with that on Friday. To be a warrior wife! As for speaking publicly about false teaching, that is EXACTLY what we should do. This is not a Matthew 18 thing where we go directly to the person. When you teach in public, the biblical model is to be corrected in public.

      Reply
    • Maria

      What is it that Shiela is supposed to be repenting of? Warning vulnerable Christians about the dangerous teachings in this book? Or maybe protecting the reputation of Christianity by pointing out how that book goes against biblical principles? What if a non-Christian read it? What would they think about Christ? That he hates women?

      Reply
  16. Lami

    Hello Sheila ,
    When I replied your tweet on January 5 2019 where you said Keith loves and respects you, by telling you i backed out of the Love and Respect teaching, I had no idea your discoveries would lead to you taking on this project for the past year.
    I remember feeling something was wrong when I first read this book in 2014 just before our wedding. A pastor recommended it to my fiance (now husband), and he had led with a caveat “Be open minded even if you have issues with the book”.
    So when I found the message one-sided and contemptuous of women, I assumed I wasn’t being open-minded and sought to apply it to my young marriage. The results were not great. My husband is an egalitarian who respects and loves me, and vice-versa, so he did not fit the mold of the man described by Eggerichs- respect and and gender roles – obsessed.
    Needless to say, we discarded the book and committed to following Jesus and serving each other.We have been very happily married for 5 years, and my husband enjoys reading your blog too.
    I understand why you have gone as far as you have with this project, Love and Respect is a highly influential book. I just attended a church in Ontario last week where a series was being done on this book. Needless to say I won’t be going to the church anymore but I’m thinking of emailing the pastor in charge with your letter explaining concerns.
    Anyone looking for a great resource on marriage please use : What Did You Expect by Paul David Tripp instead. It will even enrich your view of the gospel and Jesus.

    Reply
    • Meghan

      Oooh did you also get super frustrated with your husband because he wasn’t leading in the way you were taught he should? That’s what happened to me! Thankfully he convinced me he wanted a partner, not a servant, super early on in the marriage.
      And I am especially glad that I don’t fit the mold of what a stereotypical woman “should” be, because I was able to separate out the things that actually apply to me and the things that don’t and glean useful stuff out of the things that do. Same for my husband, who also doesn’t fit the stereotypical male mold. I feel like we narrowly escaped something terrible after reading all these posts and comments!

      Reply
      • Lami

        Meghan,
        Oh yes! “I feel like we narrowly escaped something terrible after reading all these posts and comments!” is SPOT ON.
        I feel like we’ve had the same experience. Yes, I got discontent with my husband and became quite critical of him because he wasn’t being “the spiritual leader”.
        When in actual fact, I’m married to an accommodating, sweet partner who is committed to treating me like an equal or a partner!
        Thank God we read something so toxic but never experienced the effects of it.
        It has made me super-discerning now.

        Reply
  17. Mara

    I know you are tired of this topic and want to put it to bed by passing the torch. And I agree that, after all the work you and your family have put into this fight, you all deserve a break, perhaps even a well-earned sabbatical from the topic as you purse the real reasons you began blogging and doing ministry.
    However, I really appreciate what you said in the podcast about the fact that you may still need to respond to things that come up.
    The battle isn’t won till there is an apology or retraction or even something so small as FotF quietly removing L&R from their recommended resources.
    My fight was against Driscoll sometime back. I got so tired of it and thought that that Goliath would never fall. But I couldn’t stop (along with many warriors greater than myself) until he stepped away from the pulpit in Seattle. Yes, I know he is preaching again in Arizona somewhere. But he is no longer considered one of the top 50 pastors in the US and he doesn’t have nearly the influence that he used to.
    Eggerichs may never fully go away either, I suppose. But he must not retain the influence that he has had up to this point. And FotF needs to get a grip. If they refuse, they also need to not have the influence that they have enjoyed in the past.
    Enjoy you R&R from L&R.

    Reply
  18. Kari

    I have the Mother and Son book and I am happy to send it to you Sheila if you haven’t found a copy yet. My mom sent it to me but I haven’t read it because of my concern about Love and Respect.

    Reply
  19. Sandy

    Sheila thank you for this post and all the past posts on this topic. I enjoy your blog as you advice is reasonable and not extremist as some Christians are prone to give. Like for example no divorce under any circumstances.
    I am quite often told by friends (who are divorced or in the process of divorcing) that when the husband is abusive (as opposed to other reasons for divorcing), there is nothing good about the husband even when he is doing good as doing good could be a form of manipulation or motivated by intentions to own or control the wife. This situations seems hopeless as it means that the husband does not love his wife otherwise there would not be abuse. I am trying to figure if there is anything to save in my marriage if my husband is not genuine in any way.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Sandy, I’m so sorry. That sounds awful. I hope you have a licensed counselor you can talk to who is trained in abusive situations, because these things are not easy to navigate, and they really take an emotional toll. My prayers for you.

      Reply
  20. Ashley

    My situation is a bit different from many of your readers. I’m divorced now, after his cheating and emotional abuse. I’m in an online support group for separated and divorced Christians. A few minutes ago I saw a post by a woman promoting Love and Respect, saying she wants her next marriage to model that. She said she thinks the only thing missing from the book is he doesn’t address what to do when the husband harms the children. She said her husband drove her kids to a suicide point, and she still thinks this book is incredible. 😳
    I think one thing that happens (like with me when I read the book early in my marriage) is we wives read the part about husbands loving us and it all resonates. We want to be loved like that! And if we think that part is so on-point, the rest must be too.
    Anyway, I left her a long comment. I said while the book has some excellent points, it’s also damaging. I mentioned your survey. I mentioned how damaging it is in toxic situations, and how badly it handles sex. We’ll see what kind of comments I get. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for speaking up, Ashley, and at least warning other women before they read it–especially unsuspecting ones. That’s great! And I’m glad you’re checking back in and that you’re doing well.

      Reply
  21. Alette

    Great Post This info has helped alot. Thanks

    Reply

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