Let’s Talk About Wet Towels on the Bed

by | Jul 22, 2022 | Life, Marriage, Resolving Conflict | 49 comments

Emerson Eggerichs leaving wet towels on the bed

So the wet towels anecdote from Love & Respect has gone big on social media this week.

And I wanted to share it with you!

As some of you may remember, I’ve been appalled at what Emerson Eggerichs said in his book Love & Respect (again, the most used marriage study in North American churches) about how he would leave wet towels on the bed, and his wife would ask him to stop. When she went away for a week with their daughter, Emerson and his sons enjoyed having her gone, and he told her that when she returned. They liked not being reminded to clean up after themselves.

He told  her she was being disrespectful, and she learned her lesson and stopped asking.

I don’t know what made me think of this this week–I think someone sent me a graphic from their Facebook Page (I’ve been blocked, so I don’t see it), but I decided to post about it on social media.

And it went big, and I wanted to make sure you all didn’t miss it!

I started with this graphic:


Emerson Eggerichs Wet Towels

Can we PLEASE do something so this stops being the #1 used marriage study in North American churches?

This has to stop.

My ministry completely changed direction the day I sat down and read Love & Respect. Until that day, I figured, “I love Jesus, these authors love Jesus, we must all be saying the same thing!”

Nope. We’re not.

Love & Respect scored 0/48 on our healthy sexuality rubric, while the Gift of Sex by the Penners scored 47/48.

Definitely not saying the same thing.

On our survey of 20,000 women for The Great Sex Rescue, Love & Respect was named the most harmful resource.

Churches, we can do better.

See our open letter to Focus on the Family about Love & Respect to understand more of the problems with it (if the wet towels didn’t do it well enough).

I followed that up with a testimony about Love & Respect. 

On Tuesdays on their social media, they post a testimony of someone who benefited from Love & Respect.

Someone sent me last week’s (come to think of it, I think that’s what got me started on all of this this week!), and it said this:

“Love & Respect was revealing in our marriage. I thought my husband was the problem, when it was me that was the problem. I had to change me. I had to respect my husband and treat him the way he desires. I needed to submit to him the way Christ asks me to submit to Him. That changed everything!”

I asked on Facebook if anyone noticed any red flags with that, and we had a huge conversation!

On Twitter I also reminded people that Emerson Eggerichs thinks men have a need to be in authority over women:

"A groundbreaking look into what true, sacred biblical sexuality is intended to be. A must-read." - Rachael Denhollander

What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?

It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.

Great Sex Rescue

What would you have done with the wet towels?

Then I decided that it was worth a bigger conversation about how to deal with the wet towels. That conversation is still going strong as I post this!

So what SHOULD a wife do if her husband leaves wet towels on the bed and won’t stop?

For the last few days I’ve been talking about a ridiculous and infuriating part of the book Love & Respect, where author Emerson Eggerichs talks about how he left wet towels on the bed, his wife asked him to stop, and he felt this was disrespectful. The resolution was that she stopped asking.

On Instagram, I’ve had people tell me–“but she was in sin by nagging.”

First, nagging is not a sin. Second, it is not nagging to ask someone to stop doing something that is wrong.

But regardless, how else could this be handled? What are boundaries that she could draw with what she’s willing to do or put up with that can help this not become her constantly asking him to stop doing something childish.

Let’s brainstorm! I’ve got some ideas here, but I’d love yours in the comments.

1. She could put the wet towels in a pile on the floor on his side of the bed (leaving them on the bed, even if on his side, can make the bed mildewy and i don’t think that’s a good alternative).

2. They can buy different coloured towels so that it’s obvious which are his. She never hangs up his towels or washes them unless they’re in the hamper.

3. She can announce, “If you’re going to make the bed mildewy or gross, I’m going to start sleeping in the guest room.”

4. She can create a pile on the floor on his side of the bed where everything gets put–his dirty clothes; his clean clothes; anything he leaves on the floor. She can say: I’m happy to do laundry and put it away (assuming she does most of the housework), but I only do laundry that’s in the hamper.”

In other words, if your spouse leaves laundry and clothes all over the bed or the room, you do not have to clean them up. It is okay to say, “I deserve respect, and my work and time deserve respect.” So if you tend to do the laundry, you don’t have to do it unless it’s in the hamper.
What other ideas do you all have?

UPDATE: Many are saying she needs to be direct and likely get counseling. I completely agree–I’m just assuming that she has already been direct (“please stop leaving wet towels on the bed”). But I agree. That should be the first step, and this couple would desperately need counseling with a counselor who DOES NOT recommend Love & Respect.

Sheila Wray Gregoire


A couple of things I do want to say based on the conversation on Facebook.

If it was ONLY the wet towels, and it was just a small thing in marriage, it really wouldn’t have been a big deal. Rebecca’s writing more on that line in our weekly email that goes out today–make sure you’re subscribed!

The problem comes when this is part of a pattern of disrespectful behaviour on the part of the husband towards the wife, which this clearly is (since he labels her asking him not to do something unsanitary that ruins their bed as being disrespectful TO HIM, and he chronically ignores the request).

A few others were saying that what I was suggesting in passive aggressive. It’s not. It’s simply setting a boundary of what you’re willing to do. You may be perfectly willing to do laundry, but you may not want to be treated like a maid. So you’re not going to pick up stuff that people leave on the floor. That’s not passive aggressive; that’s a boundary.

And if you announce these and let him know, that’s honestly fine.

I also had a lot of comments along these lines:

I just can’t help feeling that if a marriage is like this—if the wife is having to decide how best to handle behavior that I personally wouldn’t tolerate in a 5-year-old…then is it really a marriage?? Or does she have an extra child, but one she can’t discipline, correct, or reason with? And why on earth would a man think this was attractive? What woman would want to have sex with a man who acts like a child?

Couldn’t agree more!

I think what makes me the most flabbergasted about the wet towels in Love & Respect is that Emerson Eggerichs seems to have no insight on how bad this incident makes him look.

Others have told me that in their video series they use this example too, and he’s very smug about it.

The complete lack of insight that this makes him look very, very childish is astonishing to me. Does he live in such a bubble that he doesn’t know that most couples actually expect to treat each other well, and for their partner to act like an adult?

The number of women commenting that he sounded like a child–and does he not realize that women don’t want to have sex with a man who is acting like a petulant child–was HUGE. That’s the primary response. We’re doing a series starting in October (we have others first in August and September) where I’ve got a bunch of new peer reviewed studies to share with you about how this type of attitude can affect libido within marriage for women. Women may actually have a strong sex drive on their own, but when they’re married to a man who is acting like a child, they have no desire for him. It’s fascinating.

I wonder if this is part of the reason that so many marriage books portray women as having no sex drive? When the books act like it’s okay for men to act like children, is it any wonder that women lose their libidos? Fascinating stuff.

Anyway, that’s it for this week.

I’ll continue my conversation about how to get things in place to make dealing with aging parents easier next week–and thanks to so many in the comments this week with some great thoughts! (especially appreciated Boone the lawyer with some good ones!). But I just thought you all should see the huge outcry on social media about the towels for now. It’s been quite the ride!

And now let me know what you think: What would you do about the wet towels? Why was he able to get away with this anecdote for so long? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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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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  1. Jo R

    Why do people not have towel bars in their bathrooms to hang their wet towels on?

    Putting a wet towel in a hamper, when the hamper is not then carried immediately to the laundry area for washing, seems just as bad in one sense as putting it on a bed, at least as far as the potential to grow mold and mildew on surrounding items.

    Do lots of people use a towel just once, then wash it?

    I think I’d have to put a couple inches of water in the tub, then put the towel in it, since the person evidently likes using a wet towel.

  2. Nathan

    NOT nagging…
    You ask your spouse repeatedly to stop doing something bad, because s/he won’t stop doing it.
    You remind your spouse repeatedly to do something that needs to be done, because s/he hasn’t done it yet, and it’s important

    You’re doing something bad. Your spouse asks you to stop. You acknowledge the bahvior, own the fact that you did it and that it was wrong, apologize, promise to stop doing it, and stop doing it. Your spouse continues to complain about it and bring it up over and over even though the bad behavior is long gone.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Well put! It’s not nagging to ask for what you need when your request is reasonable, but the other person routinely dismisses you and ignores you.

  3. Jane Eyre

    Imagine this: the guys from college all get together and do a vacation on their own for a week. They rent a house by the water, with no household help. They are all responsible for cooking and cleaning. Maybe they divvy up the chores so that two men clean and two cook. Now imagine those men treating each other the way Eggrichs thinks a husband should treat a wife: fouling the place up because his job is cooking, not cleaning. Not thanking someone for cooking because your job that week is to sweep up all the sand that gets tracked inside. Et cetera.

    If you wouldn’t treat your pals like that, why treat your WIFE like that???

    (This feeds into my longstanding belief that anyone who has spent actual serious adult time as an unmarried person sees this stupidity for what it is. Plenty of people who married young have basic consideration and empathy, so it’s not a problem for them, either. But try to imagine adults treating each other this way outside of marriage and you see how foolish it is.)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! And I think the reason he wouldn’t treat his friends like that but he would treat his wife like that is because of gender essentialism. This is something Keith (my hubby) talks a lot about: The biblical command to do unto others as we would have them do unto us can be twisted if we don’t think that the other person is anything like us. If you think women actually LIKE cleaning up after you and that they were made for this, whereas men don’t like it, then you can think, “I don’t need to treat my wife the way I would want to be treated because she doesn’t want the same things I do!”

      In fact, that’s really the very premise of his book.

      And so you can convince yourself that treating your wife in a way that is really, really bad if done to anyone else is actually okay, because she’s just a woman.

      • Jane Eyre

        I follow the thinking exactly, but it ignores Jesus’ actual teaching. He didn’t say “treat men like men want to be treated and women like women want to be treated.” (Even if he did, if your wife is saying she doesn’t like being treated this way, you’re obviously failing.) He said to treat others like YOU want to be treated.

        You know this, of course, and Keith knows this… just think it’s important to point out that they would get fired if they treated their colleagues like this, would lose their friends if they treated their friends like this, but somehow, think it’s an okay way to treat their wives. The very people they are commanded to love and cherish ’til death do them part, a vow they don’t make to their colleagues, friends, roommates, siblings, etc.

        • EOF

          And husbands get away with this because the church has brainwashed their wives into believing they can’t leave the marriage.

          How different would their teachings and marriages look if divorce WAS an option??

          • Mara R

            And Driscoll was being all manly manning, taking one for the team, complaining about wives who “let themselves go” because their husbands can’t divorce them.

  4. Another Lisa

    He got away with the wet towel anecdote by brow beating the voices of the women who disagree with him. Isn’t he known for saying he pities the husbands married to women who disagree with him? Isn’t he known for calling dissenters disrespectful?

    He gets away with it because he doesn’t have to listen to women (on the grounds they are disrespectful), and Christian men aren’t calling him out as childish and disrespectful. These men haven’t been taught women need protection from faulty Christian teaching. I honestly believe it’s a blind spot for them.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think you’re right! He gets away with it because other Christian men praise him for it. That’s the whole problem.

    • EOF

      Yes, Christian men need to call out the BS in his book. But the ones who read it want to be treated as kings and as superior to women.

      • Angharad

        He won’t listen even if millions of men called him out on it. Guys who speak out about this kind of thing get labelled as ‘effeminate’, ‘hen pecked’ or ‘letting their wife wear the trousers’. It’s so deep rooted in the minds of people who follow/promote these beliefs that this is the only right way to behave, that anyone, male or female, who disagrees with them is automatically viewed as wrong.

        • Jane Eyre

          Proper response: “I am man enough that I do not need to demean my wife.”

  5. Anonymous305

    And then there are people who say, “to you, cleaning and saving money is part of love, but not to him. Understand that he feels differently about what love is. Don’t expect a non-OCD person to become OCD.”

    To me, the fact that women lose their desire for sex around childish spouses means the women aren’t pedophiles, and that’s good!!!!

  6. CMT

    1000% agree childish behavior in men is DEEPLY unattractive.

    It’s… interesting that some people thought it was passive-aggressive for a wife to set a a boundary in this situation. IMO people in general don’t get boundaries and church culture in particular can be really bad with them. Why is this so hard??Is this something other people have noticed?

    • EOF

      I agree one hundred percent.

      In addition to this, there’s a horrible irony in this. Wives are forced to parent their immature husbands, who they are supposed to obey. It’s an impossible situation to be in.

  7. Boone

    If I’ve been out hunting I don’t leave my shotgun or rifle in the middle of the living room. I clean it and put it up. I don’t wait for somebody else to do it.
    If I’m working on a piece of farm equipment I don’t leave my tools all over the barn for someone else to take care of them. I clean them and put them up.
    If I’m cooking I don’t leave a mess in the kitchen. I wash everything and put it up. Why should I expect someone else to come behind me and clean up my mess. Not to pick up after yourself shows immaturity and arrogance. I’m a man. Its my responsibility. I’d hate to be so insecure in my masculinity that I had to shame my wife into picking up after me.

  8. Nathan

    > > “I love Jesus, these authors love Jesus, we must
    > > all be saying the same thing!”

    Or another way that seems to happen a lot…

    “This book says ‘A Christian and biblical marriage book’ right on the cover! Everything in it MUST be true and valid!”

    • Angharad

      It’s amazing how many badly written books get blamed on the Bible.

      I met someone who worked for a Christian publishing company. She said that sometimes, she used to get manuscripts with notes attached saying “This book won’t need any proofreading as it was dictated by the Holy Spirit, so it is perfect as it is.” She said she used to groan when she saw that, because she knew the book would be so badly spelled and ungrammatical that it would be really difficult to read. And that was even before she got started on the actual content!

      • Sarah

        I work for a Christian organisation where some of my role is book editing, and I’d laugh loud enough for the whole office to hear if I got something like that 😂

  9. Meghan

    One thing I’ve been wondering in this whole entire conversation: why is the towel outside the bathroom to begin with? Why does he walk into the bedroom to dry off, dripping water all over the carpet along the way? It’s almost like the cruelty is the point.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I wonder that too? Maybe he dries off in the bathroom and then walks to the bedroom wearing just the towel to get dressed? That’s the nicest spin I can put on it?

      • Meghan

        That actually makes sense. It’s not something I would have thought to do since our bathroom is attached to our bedroom, and before I married my husband I lived alone or with my mom so it didn’t matter. But I totally can see why someone would have a wet towel in the bedroom now that I think about it. I was just imagining in my head this dude emerging from the shower dripping wet, then walking to the bedroom to dry off while still trailing a bunch of water! (Cause the towel was so wet.)

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      To be fair, in our house we all get changed after showers in our rooms 🙂 we just dry off first so we don’t drip, get dressed, and then hang the towels back up in the bathroom. We only have one bathroom so it’s in-and-out as fast as possible in case someone else needs to use it!

      • Anonymous305

        I leave the bathroom with the towel around my hair, and hang it up later. My husband can hang up the towel before leaving because he doesn’t have any hair.

        Like Veggietales. “Why do you need a hairbrush? You don’t have any hair!”

        Now that I’m thinking about it, why was it embarrassing for Larry to be in a towel when he’s usually naked? 🤔🤔🤔

      • Meghan

        Oh we change in our rooms too, we just dry off as much as possible with the towel first in the bathroom. Then hang the towel up and go get dressed in the bedroom where the air isn’t so humid. I grew up as an only child in a household with a single mom (so walking from the bathroom to the bedroom naked wasn’t even an issue), and now my husband and I have a bath attached to the bedroom. The few times I’ve had to dress inside the hot humid bathroom due to privacy issues have been very uncomfortable! I can see how my situation growing up and living with my husband now wouldn’t be universal.

  10. Michelle

    First, I’d like to say how thankful I am to have found you guys. Your family is such a breath of fresh air! In 2018 my husband ended up admitting he had been cheating on me our whole relationship (dating up through 14 years of marriage) and it all started from a porn addiction during childhood. We saw a few Christian counselors and the 2 books they lived by were Love and Respect and Every Man’s Battle. Thankfully I never read the first. (Instead opting for Intimate Deception). But my husband couldn’t even read past the first few pages of Every Mans Battle because the first story was so graphic he felt tempted in his thoughts. I’m so glad I never read Love and Respect, from all the reviews I’ve heard on both books, both are so dangerous to marriages and I basically just wanted to say you guys are so awesome for calling them out and such a godsend to be speaking the truth so many need to hear. God healed our marriage and things are going well. But I want to say thank you for being honest in a world where many Christian’s would prefer to stay in their patriarchal mindset instead of seeing the truth that we are all made in God’s image and therefore are equal in His eyes. God bless

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for commenting, Michelle! I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to walk through, but so glad that you’re getting to the other side! That’s wonderful.

      And thank goodness you never read those books! I’m glad you were saved from that!

  11. Daryl Eggink

    I could see if a bachelor left his wet towel on the bed or wherever “the dropper type individual” wanted to leave it.. but I can’t even believe a married person would think this is ok? This is not an example of love and respect towards your spouse. Why this towel dropping story would even be an example in their book is an embarrassment for those who call themselves Christians. We need to set the bar higher.. no pun intended.. Married Christians should be a living an example of love to the world..in every essence of the word..It is after all, the greatest commandment Jesus gave us.

  12. Laura

    Another major problem I found in Love & Respect was where Eggerichs told wives that if their husbands comment that they need to lose a few pounds, the husbands are only doing it because they care about their wives’ health. But, if the husband has a drinking problem or an addiction to porn, she cannot confront him about those issues because that’s nagging. I was so PO’d when I came across this in the book.
    So, the message I get here is this: Eggerichs thinks it’s perfectly okay for a husband to comment on his wife’s weight gain, but the husband can drink and look at porn all he wants because the wife cannot confront him on that. So, misogynistic and sexist!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I was going to use that very example on Facebook today, but decided to go with a different one! I’ll likely do that one on Sunday!

      • Laura

        This is a very important one to use. A lot of women already struggle with body image issues and for Eggerichs to tell women they need to accept that their husbands should comment on their weight gain is wrong. Especially, if wives cannot confront their husbands on harmful behavior like abusing alcohol and watching porn. I think Eggerichs also said wives shouldn’t comment on their husbands’ weight.

  13. Kya

    To add another point, women (and especially mothers) are told consistently to be extra careful that we don’t start treating our husbands like one of our kids. But where is the accompanying teaching that men need to ensure they don’t act like children around their wives?

    (And I’m not saying only women in unhealthy marriages have to watch out not to start parenting our husbands–I’ve accidentally turned Mommy Mode on mine once or twice, and I am married to an amazing man who pulls more than his weight and should never be treated that way. The unequal emphasis in teaching just bugs me.)

  14. Christie

    I’ve been married twice.
    Ex-Husband – abusive. Constantly disregarded requests that I made. The wet towel would have just been one more thing. His wants were always more important than me.

    Husband now – considerate, kind and my partner in life and housework. He apologized to me yesterday because he didn’t do the dishes while I was at church (note – I usually do them and I didn’t ask him to. He had intended to do it as a surprise, but something came up.) Current husband can leave a towel out and, while it will annoy me, it certainly would not be the same as it was with my ex. But frankly, given who he is, I doubt he would do it under normal circumstances anyway.

    Your explanation about how this is different in a good marriage is spot on. People in good marriages often have NO CLUE what hell it is to be in a destructive marriage and their awful advice not only shows that, but it can lead to even more destruction and abuse.

  15. Towel Man!

    You always misrepresent this story. You forget the part about how the whole house was hers, certainly not his and not theirs. He just drew the line at the towel.

    This place has become a Proverbs wife place. I don’t mean 31, except about a good wife impossible to find (this place shows that off in spades) but the first 30 proverbs. You know dropping water and edges of roofs.

    You remind me of the Sleeping with the Enemy husband. Control FREAK. Trust me the only wet towels husbands are using are their secret swim lesson towels so they can fake their own deaths to escape you harpies. This blog is the anti teaching of everything Christ taught and lived.

    And just because you believe in “science” and not the Bible this 6’5 300 lb man did a month long experiment to test just how mildewy those dang towels made the bed. I’m twice the size of the author and I know this will shock you- not one bit of mildew after 30 days.

    Okay get back to being miserable and serving your father, the one who whispers in your ear and says did God really say…

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You left wet towels on the bed for 30 days?


      Thank you for telling us what kind of man you are. Have a great day!

      • Z

        Sounds like he’s a bit bitter, Sheila, don’t you think? A bit bitter that women are not being accepting of sloppy, lazy and unGodly men. A little bitter than these women are inciting men to ‘love and good works’ (Hebrews 10:24) as is the Apostolic command. And maybe a little bitter that, deep down, he knows exactly what Jesus would think of his attitude towards women if Jesus were here, and he doesn’t like to think about that. Bitterness in these cases usually comes from refusing to listen to one’s conscience.

    • Tim

      The right to be a slob is a strange place to draw a line, don’t you think?

      How would you characterise the story for someone who hasn’t read the book?

    • Mara R

      Towel Man: “Okay get back to being miserable and serving your father, the one who whispers in your ear and says did God really say…”

      I love how these self-righteous “God thinks like I do” guys go straight to “if you don’t think like I do (and by extension, like God thinks) then you listen to the devil, are a Jezebel, a witch, Lilith, whatever etc.

      He can’t just say, I disagree with you and think that you get this story and narrative all wrong. He has to play the y’all are contentious and constant drips of the Proverbs variety. He does this to try to shut down an uncomfortable conversation that he doesn’t want to happen. He likes his comfort zone of being a slob and a jerk and we just won’t leave him alone about it. Therefore the devil is our father.

      He doesn’t fear God as much as I do. Because I KNOW that deciding where someone else stands with the Almighty is WAY above my pay grade. That attitude is an “Angel’s fear to tread” attitude that I don’t want to get mixed up with.

    • Sarah

      I have to say, I find it genuinely hilarious that you put wet towels on our own bed for a month to prove a point to someone you’ve never met.

      Are you ok, dude? Therapy might help.

      • Anon

        Don’t listen to him; he’s a pathetic troll. He’s that guy who thinks he’s showing all the “harpies” here what a big, strong, smart man he is, but is actually proving himself to be a spoiled, lazy, selfish, entitled toddler throwing a temper tantrum. Towel Man, you think all the ladies here are Jezebels? Well, face a mirror and say hello to Ahab!

  16. R

    When his wife went away, I’ll bet you she did everyone’s laundry beforehand and even made food for them to eat while she was gone.

    When he told her they didn’t miss her, I wish she has said, “OK, I guess I’ll just leave, then,” and had walked right back out the door. Perhaps this stupid book never would have been a thing.

    • Mara R

      I had mentioned sometime in the past that I thought Eggerichs might be on the Narcissism scale.

      After reading your comment this morning, it got me to thinking about the Narcissist that I finally had to divorce

      He complained all the time about the way I cleaned the house. In truth, I couldn’t keep up with his constant mess making and he never acknowledged that any of the messes were his. They were always mine and the kids’, even when they clearly weren’t.

      I’m sure he didn’t miss me at first when I left. He’d been unfaithful for years and liked having the freedom of no wife expecting him to behave himself on any level.

      Well, anyway to make a long story less long, he now has a horrible mess of a house on his hands. It’s so bad none of our kids want to step foot in it (they are all grown and gone).

      He’s had some girlfriends help him clean until they got tire of being used. He has had some of his siblings help him clean and hired a few maids that won’t come back.

      Anyway, he may not miss me. But I’m pretty sure he misses having a house that wasn’t perpetually disgusting.

      And I don’t miss cleaning up after Captain Chaos at all.

  17. Jo R

    Women unavoidably spend so much of their lives sleeping on beds that range from damp to soaking wet (menstruating and the post-sex puddle for the former, perimenopausal night sweats for the latter).

    It just boggles our minds that people would then deliberately make a bed wet when it’s so easy to avoid doing so.

  18. Sheila Wray Gregoire

    I no longer allow posts through that defend the book Love & Respect, because of the multitude of stories that I have collected from women who say this book enabled abuse in their marriage, so I have deleted a comment.

    However, I will address something quickly.

    A few people have felt that I have mischaracterized the wet towel story, since elsewhere in the book he said he knew it was wrong and he was trying to stop, but sometimes he forgot, and the issue was truly that she was nagging. The nagging really was the issue.

    To that I would simply reply: If Emerson Eggerichs honestly thought leaving wet towels on the bed was wrong, and understood that this was hurting his marriage, then why was he encouraging his sons to disregard their mother’s request that they stop too? Why was he encouraging his sons to be slobs as well? If he knew it was bad, why not support the mother in trying to train the boys differently, so they could have better marriages?

    What evidence do we have in Eggerichs’ actions that show that he honestly felt he was in the wrong?

    One more thing: It’s important, when reading a book and judging an anecdote, to look beyond the author’s spin and simply ask: what was actually happening? What are the facts, and who is doing what?

    And in this case, the facts are simple:

    He leaves wet towels on the bed.
    She asks him to stop.
    He doesn’t like that.
    She goes away for a week.
    He is a slob and encourages the boys to be as well.
    When she returns, he tells her he didn’t miss her.
    She learned to stop asking.

    Those are the facts. Did he put a different spin on it? Sure. But that is what he said happened. And remember–he encouraged his sons to disrespect his mother.

    • Tim

      I think you’ve summarised it pretty well at the end there. I ended up getting the book out from the library to see for myself if it’s that bad (which probably isn’t what you were trying to achieve but there you go).

      Obviously some of that nuance was missing from the original FB post image, but of course you can’t get it all into 50 words or whatever you had to play with. AND you also omitted some context that makes Eggerichs’ story seem even worse, like the fact that it’s crowbarred into a chapter on recreational companionship under the heading “For a while there, Sarah wasn’t friendly”! And maybe this is just a quirk of the Ebook edition I have, but the story is broken up by this quote: “a husband can be his wife’s ‘friend of her youth’ but be rejected as his wife ‘[ignores] the covenant she made before God’ (Prov 2:17)”. Which is (a) a dubious interpretation of a proverb about infidelity and (b) incredibly mean-spirited if it’s intended as a comment on Sarah’s behaviour in the ‘nagging’ story.

      The whole way he presents it just comes across as petulant and childish, even if you accept his assertion that Sarah was being overly critical in some ways (and as you say, we shouldn’t just take that at face value).

      Side note: my wife and I are halfway through GSR and finding it super helpful. Wish we’d known all that before we were married. Thanks!

      Side note: are you familiar with the concept of ‘steel manning ‘? I came across it in the context of engaging with people with a conspiracist world view, but I bet you end up having some pretty similar conversations with L&R defenders and the like. Perhaps you might find steel manning a helpful approach, and I think you’d be better placed to do it well on these issues than just about anyone else.


      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Cool, Tim! I’ll look that up.

        Yes, I think it people actually read it it is far worse than I’ve made it out to be. I think the people defending him are just taking him at face value, that nagging is the worst thing. But think about it: She wouldn’t be nagging if he weren’t still being a slob!

        • Tim

          It is a really weird story to include in a book about how to have a good marriage!

          The 30 sec version of ‘steel manning’ is it’s the opposite of ‘straw manning ‘. So rather than focusing on the weakest points of whatever idea you’re arguing against (as people very often do these days), start by summarising the strongest argument for it in a way that a supporter of that idea would be comfortable with. And then, when you raise questions or make criticisms, the standard kneejerk réponses that people tend to make (“you just don’t understand”/”you’re not taking the idea seriously”) are obviously ridiculous so people have to engage seriously with your ideas.

          From that article I linked above:
          “Steelmanning requires that we think deeply about what’s being presented to us and find ways to improve it. By addressing the improved version, we show respect and honest engagement to our interlocutor. People who like the way you approach their arguments are much more likely to care about what you have to say about those arguments
          Second, people are more convinced by arguments which address the real reason they reject your ideas rather than those which address those aspects less important to their beliefs.”

          In theory anyway. I haven’t actually had a chance to put it into practice as i only heard about it recently and it requires quite a lot of research. Though in your case, on these issues, you’ve done all the research already.

          Anyway, just a thought. Do with it what you will.


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