PODCAST: Why Is Emerson Eggerichs Scared of Women Talking?

by | Jan 18, 2024 | Connecting, Podcasts | 31 comments

Why is Emerson eggerichs afraid of women talking in Love & Respect

You’re not going to believe what Emerson Eggerichs’ idea of friendship is.

We’re in podcast 2 of a 3 podcast series, Let Men Be Men! Our thesis is a simple one: we believe that men can be emotionally healthy, competent, responsible people. We believe that men can, and are, awesome. But our evangelical resources portray men as fragile, insecure, incompetent toddlers. And that’s not okay.

Last week we looked at how insecure and pathetic our resources portray men, including silly things like falling apart if a woman gives directions the wrong way. Next week we’ll look at how our resources portray men as dads.

But today we’re going to focus on Emerson Eggerichs’ idea of friendship in his best-seller Love & Respect, and it boils down to one simple thing: women are supposed to watch men do something (like read a book or paint a wall), without doing anything at all, and without talking. They just have to watch their men do something. That’s it.

That’s ridiculous. And we’re going to talk about it!

Every year we focus on another awful aspect of Love & Respect, because it is a completely toxic book.  I hope one day it will stop selling, and I can stop talking about it! But until then, here goes, because seriously, you’ve got to hear this (and I even have a recording in his own words).

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

Timeline of the Podcast

0:10 It’s January, so let’s revisit Love & Respect
4:30 Eggerighs give examples of what relationship looks like in marriage
12:55 “Women, just be quiet and don’t talk, that will fix everything”
24:15 Is there a Pink and Blue difference in handling emotions/feelings?
34:45 Andrew joins to talk about men’s emotional potential
38:50 What does wanting this silence show about a relationship?
46:00 How does this teaching affect couples?

Emerson Eggerichs is confusing friendship with worship.

Over and over in his book, he talks about how men value silence. How men’s idea of friendship is a wife’s presence and her watching him while he does something or enjoys himself. So she is to watch him paint without reading a book, cleaning up, or even putting on suntan lotion. And she certainly can’t talk. She is to sit on a couch while he reads a book, and just watch him, even if she feels she should do dishes (I don’t know how those dishes get done).

And above all, she must always, always be silent.

This is all from the “R” chapter, for relationship, in Eggerichs’ acronym for respect for men, CHAIRS:

  • C conquest
  • H hierarchy
  • A authority
  • I insight
  • R relationship
  • S sex

When you first look at that, you think, “well, maybe at least the R will be healthy.” And then you read it, and it’s like–nope. This is crazy too. 

Incidentally, this is also the chapter with the infamous wet towel incident, where he is leaving wet towels on the bed, and the solution is that she stops complaining and stops talking about it (so once again, she must be silent).

The number of times women are told to be silent in this book is astonishing. One gets the feeling he doesn’t like women all that much, and I bring on Andrew Bauman onto the podcast to talk about why it is that Eggerichs may be so intimidated by talking, and why men run from vulnerability. Because this is not merely an introvert/extrovert thing–this is confusing friendship with worship. And it’s weird and toxic and I can’t believe no one called this out.

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Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Emerson Eggerichs in Love & Respect is afraid of women talking

What do you think? Is it weird to want your spouse to never talk but merely watch you? Why did no one see this as a red flag? Let’s talk in the comments!


Sheila: Welcome to the first Bare Marriage podcast.  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your sex life and your marriage.  And I am joined today by my husband, Keith.  

Keith: Hey, everybody.

Sheila: As we have our annual January look at Emerson Eggerichs.  Last week we started off 2024 with our podcast on let men be men and how so much of evangelical marriage advice actually makes men into—

Keith: It’s infantilizing.

Sheila: Yeah.  It really is infantilizing.  And we think men can be more than that.  We think men can be better than that.  And so we kind of have a three-part series on let men be men.  And this is kind of part of two.  We’re going to do one next week as well.  But every January since 2019 we like to talk about the book Love and Respect.  

Keith:   That fateful day.

Sheila: Yes.  Because that’s what started me on this whole journey was reading Love and Respect for the first time in January of 2019.  I just hadn’t read a lot of other Christian marriage books even though I was blogging about marriage because I didn’t want to plagiarize.  And I kind of figured they love Jesus.  We love Jesus.  We’re all saying the same thing.  And then I read Love and Respect, and it was like a nuclear bomb went off in my living room because I realized how dangerous this book was.  And that put us on this journey of writing The Great Sex Rescue, of doing our research, of actually being able to measure how harmful the messages in books like this are.  And so in January of 2019, I had that first big series on Love and Respect.  In January of 2020, I published our 6,000-word open letter to Focus on the Family which really took off. 

Keith: Because they support the book.

Sheila: They do.  And they refused to back down.  And then we’ve looked at how he misuses Scripture, how he actually takes out whole portions of Scripture with dot, dot, dot so that it sounds like the advice given to how slaves are to treat the emperor is the same as what wives are to do to husbands and things like that.  Completely misusing Scripture.  We looked at how he makes—

Keith: Because the point is not to look at Scripture to learn, it’s to come to the Bible with our idea of how a marriage is supposed to look and then prove it from the Bible.  

Sheila: Exactly.  Exactly.  We looked at how he made fun of abuse victims in sermons at Houston’s First Baptist.  And incidentally, Houston’s First Baptist just settled a lawsuit two weeks ago where they had covered up the sexual abuse of Paul Pressler.  So yeah.  So anyway he primed First Baptist to disregard abuse allegations in that sermon.   We looked at how he didn’t recognize marital rape in one of his podcasts.  All kinds of really problematic things, and I’ll link to all those in our podcast notes including our synopsis.  But today I thought, “You know what?  Rather than doing something really heavy let’s just look at some of the run of the mill relationship advice he has and see what that can be like.”

Keith: Yeah.  And some of his ideas about what men are like, right?  In honor of our let men be men series.

Sheila: Let men be men.  So that’s what we’re going to do today.  And before we start that, we just want to do—I want to do a big thank you to all those who did complete our marriage survey.  That survey is now closed.  But thank you to those.  Thank you to those who participated in our fundraising last year.

Keith: Thank you so much.

Sheila: So we met our goal.  But we are still looking for monthly supporters, and so I will put a link to that.  You can either support us through the good fruit faith initiative of the Bosco Foundation and get a tax deductible receipt within the United States.  Or you can join our Patron, which is super fun as well.  No tax receipt but you get to be a part of our Facebook group.   

Keith: And you can do both.

Sheila: You can also do both.  Exactly.  So we will put links to that because that helps us do the work that we are doing.  Just to call the church to more, to health, to actually look, like Jesus, in 2024.  Isn’t that a good idea?

Keith: Sounds great.  

Sheila: Okay.  So let’s start by doing the opposite.  To introduce this, to set this up, this is a teaching.  I want to look at Emerson Eggerichs’ teachings not on sex and not even on authority, complementarianism, hierarchy that we talked about in marriage.

Keith: Although authority and hierarchy slips in.  It always does, right?  Because that’s what it’s all about.  Oh my gosh.

Sheila: It always does.  We’ve talked about this so much.  You did that great series on the Danvers Statement last year.  But I want to talk about just the mundane advice.  And so Emerson Eggerichs—the big thing that he’s claiming in his book Love and Respect is that women need unconditional love and men need unconditional respect.  Okay?  And he spells respect for men with the acronym CHAIRS, which stands for conquest, hierarchy, authority, insight, relationship, and sex.  So basically, a man needs unconditional respect, which means that he is an authority.  You agree with his insight.  You give him hierarchy in the marriage.  You give him shoulder to shoulder relationship, and you give him sex on demand even when he’s drinking or straying or any of these things.

Keith: Yeah.  This is what men need.  Because if you do this, then they will be amazing, wonderful people who will always treat you well.

Sheila: This is what men need.  Right.  Even if they’ve been jailed for domestic violence, even if they’ve had affairs, and he has those as anecdotes throughout his book.

Keith:   And setting a boundary for bad behavior is not respectful.  I mean, at least, it never comes up.

Sheila: Yeah.  Except in the appendix, which we’ll get to in a minute.  

Keith: Yeah.  We’ll talk to that.

Sheila: And what I want to focus on today is his idea of relationship or shoulder to shoulder relationship.  

Keith: Yeah.  Because that’s the one that doesn’t sound immediately toxic, right?  So conquest, hierarchy, authority, insight, which basically means don’t trust your own insight.  Trust mine.  Sex.  He needs sex.  You don’t.  Those are all clearly toxic.  Right?

Sheila: Right.    

Keith:   So R is the only one that doesn’t immediately sound toxic.  Relationship.  Men need to be in relationship, which is great, right?

Sheila: Yeah.  It sounds good.

Keith: And even the idea that men relate differently than women, okay.  That’s possible.  Let’s talk about that.  That doesn’t sound immediately toxic until you read the chapter.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And so I’m going to actually let him tell this to you in his own words.  So here is an Instagram reel that they published on their own Instagram channel where he is explaining this need for relationship.  And as we listen, I will be using my Love and Respect mug because healthy people need both.  And you can get this from our store.  We have lots of fun merch.  When they call you Jezebel.  We have merch about biblical womanhood.  All kinds of stuff.  So we will put a link to that.  And when you buy our merch or support us on Patreon, you help us do what we’re doing.  And now, without further ado, let’s listen to Emerson Eggerichs.

Emerson Eggerichs: See?  If you give a man a lot of time shoulder to shoulder, he’ll eventually open up.  But if you don’t give him a lot of shoulder to shoulder time, being friends, just because we like each other, and we hang out together, and we do things—see?  What you think is that that’s not a quality time.  Just sitting there and watching a football game. And I get that.  But what will happen as you’re doing that, you’ll find his spirit being energized, softening, and you’re now his friend.  Oh you know what?  I want to share some things with you that’s been going on.  So you women are too impatient.  You force it.  Don’t force it.  Just be with him.  We had this couple that came to this conference, and they got into huge fights because he was out painting.  And she looked at him through the kitchen window, and he says, “Come out here and be with him.”  So she came out and started talking.  He said, “I don’t want to talk.”  She said, “You got to want to talk.”  He said, “I don’t got to want to talk.”  “You got to want to talk because you called me out here.”  “I don’t got to want to talk because I called you out here.  I just wanted you with me.”  And she stomps off.  They got in a huge fight.  Then they came and heard this.  And so she applied it because women are very teachable.  So then he still painted.  She comes out with a lounge chair and just sits there.  No book.  No suntan lotion.  And she didn’t critique.  He missed a spot.  No.  She just sat there and watched him.  And she said it was absolutely mind boggling.  Once he realized what she was doing, that she was applying it, he started grinning.  And she sat there 45 minutes and then got up, not saying anything.  And then she said, “That energized you, didn’t it?”  And he said, “Oh yes.  You have no idea.”  And she said, “No.  I don’t.  I don’t.”  

Sheila: So that is how—he actually opens his chapter on relationship with an anecdote very similar to that.  So let’s go over what he means by men wanting shoulder to shoulder time.  

Keith: Yeah.  Because when he started talking about shoulder to shoulder, that makes sense.  Okay?  Because we actually talk about shoulder to shoulder as well.  There’s face-to-face communication, and then there’s shoulder to shoulder which is sort of like sometimes you’re doing—you’re just—you’re not interacting directly.  You’re doing something together, and your relationship builds over that.  So he’s talking about watching a football game.  Okay?  So watching a football game, there might not be a lot of communication, but we’re doing something together.  And it’s bonding us together because we’re having a shared experience.  But that’s not what he goes on to talk about.

Sheila: No.  He doesn’t.

Keith: He goes on to talk about a woman coming out and sitting on a chair and watching him paint.  It’s like this is what shoulder to shoulder means.  This is not shoulder to shoulder.  I mean this is she’s literally watching paint dry for him.

Sheila: I know.  And this is what he says throughout the chapter.  You would not believe it if you actually read it.  But this is what he says throughout the chapter is that the important thing is that she is silent and that she does nothing.  So he opens the chapter with an anecdote very similar to that.  And then he has a bunch of other stuff.  So I’m just going to read to you a little bit.  I took a bunch of excerpts from this chapter.  I’ll just read some of them.  So he says, “When your husband says, ‘Hey, honey, come in here and watch Discovery Channel with me,’ what happens?  You come in and sit down, and he does indeed watch Discovery Channel.  Possibly commenting now and then about the size of those elk or look at the teeth on the crocodile.  But most of the time, he’s fully absorbed in what he’s doing.  Watching TV.  If you are a typical wife, you will sit there thinking, ‘I’ve got laundry to fold.  I have to make dinner.  The kids’ lunches for tomorrow still aren’t packed.’  Eventually, you will get up and walk away because you need to do all these things.  And besides, you and your husband aren’t really doing anything anyway.  He’s just watching TV with you sitting there beside him.  You’re not communicating.  So how could this be building the relationship?”

Keith: Okay.  I got two things about that.  The first thing is, obviously, if you want some shoulder-to-shoulder time maybe go pack the lunches with your wife, dude.  If there’s all this stuff to be done, if you want shoulder-to-shoulder time, go be shoulder to shoulder and get the fricking housework done.  The stuff that needs to be done to make this house run.  This is what they mean by leadership.  I sit and watch Discovery Channel while you figure out a way that you’re going to get all the work done later.  But now sit here and adore me for half an hour during this episode so that I can feel adored and then my kids can have their lunch made by you later.  This is ridiculous.  What kind of a partnership is there?  But the second thing I thought was really interesting about it was he says occasionally he may comment.  Right?  So it’s like okay.  So he’s allowed to talk, but you’re not.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And he says that repeatedly.  That she’s not allowed to talk.  So let me just read you a couple of excerpts about that.

Keith: Because in that reel we just did a second ago where he’s like, “I don’t got to want to talk,” it’s like, “I don’t want you to talk.”  What kind of husband says to his wife I don’t want you to talk?  How about just being like I just want to spend some time together?  Let’s treat her with a little bit of respect.  If men need respect—people say that we misunderstand Eggerichs because he doesn’t say women don’t need respect.  He says women prefer love.  Men prefer respect.  But when you say to a person, “I don’t want to talk to you.  Come here and watch me.  I don’t want to talk to you,” how is that not disrespect?  It’s completely disrespectful.

Sheila: Okay.  I’m going to read you a couple of the quotes about the silence.  Okay?

Keith: Okay.  I’m going to get even more mad probably.

Sheila: He says, “Why do men like this shoulder-to-shoulder silence from their wives?”  Okay.  

Keith: Okay.  I have a couple of ideas.  

Sheila: And this is how he defines friendship for men is the silence of women.  So friendship for men, he says, means your wife being with you, watching you, doing nothing while she is completely silent.  And almost all of the anecdotes with the exception of one in this chapter revolve around women being silent and doing nothing while the man does what he wants to do.  The only where she actually gets to do something too is when they go hunting together and don’t talk.  But she didn’t actually want to go hunting either, so that’s kind of iffy as well.  But that’s the only one.  

Keith: Yeah.  That’s crazy.

Sheila: So for instance, he’s got this one of his own marriage.  He says, “During our first year of marriage, Sarah and I were in our apartment.  I was reading, and she was on the couch.  She said, ‘Shouldn’t we be talking?’  And I replied, ‘I’m content just being with you.’”  And then he goes on to say that’s what he wanted to have happen.  So let’s set the stage.  He’s reading a book.  She’s just sitting on the couch.  And he’s like, “Yeah.  You need to stay there doing exactly what you’re doing while I read my book.”  How is that kind?  

Keith: How is that shoulder to shoulder?

Sheila: And then he says, “The wife who wants to show her husband that she likes him, that she is his friend, will be patient with his strange request to just come out here and be with me, watch what I am doing, but let’s not talk.”  So it’s not do this thing with me.  It is watch what I am doing but don’t talk.  

Keith: Yeah.  Yeah.  Because this is the thing is it’s not about partnership.  It’s not about us together sharing a journey, us together sharing a relationship.  It’s really about I am here to save you from loneliness.  Like the MacArthur thing.  The man is the center, and he saves the wife from a life of loneliness by giving her this wonderful family and this wonderful home so that she can adore him and watch him paint the wall because he’s so amazing.  And it energizes him that she—it’s total idolatry.  I’m hearing this—I’m watching this whole thing, and it’s like, “Behold, oh Israel, your gods, which brought you up out of Egypt.”

Sheila: Did Aaron say that with the golden calf?  

Keith:     With the golden calf.  Right.  We are making men the center instead of God.  Right?  Why can’t she even just knit?  If he’s painting the wall and he really wants her there, can she not knit?  Can she not do something?  But no.  She has to give him her 100%, undivided attention for no reason other than to “energize” him.  I mean I just see that as idolatry.  I don’t understand how it’s not seen that way.

Sheila: It’s like worship.  What it’s really say is, “Hey, women, you need to come and worship your husband.”

Keith: It seems that way to me.  Yeah.  It sounds very strong.  But it’s like—but that is the underpinning.  That’s why MacArthur can say things like wives are saved by their husbands.  And people don’t go, “What?  That’s not theologically abnormal,” because we have this whole undergirding that we don’t even realize that the story really is the men.  And women are the little helpers that we add on to make the men get what—done what they need to get done as opposed to the two of them honestly being one flesh.  The male and the female together, in the image of God, representing God to the world.

Sheila: Yeah.  You know now I used to—well, we both used to teach on this shoulder-to-shoulder friendship.  We’ve taught about this quite a bit.  But what we meant by it—I remember some of the examples that we used.  You and I really like going hiking.  So we’ll go hiking, and we’re doing something together.  And while we’re doing that, we end up talking.  Right?  But it’s like we are both hiking.  It’s not like you are doing something, and I am watching you do it.  We are both doing it.  

Keith: Yeah.  And moreover, I mean there’s lots of times where you and I will just sit, and we don’t need to say anything because we just—I mean we have a secure relationship that’s gone on for years and years and decades.  And we don’t always need to talk.  Sometimes are just comfortable with each other.  And that’s a beautiful, wonderful thing that you can just sit and be with each other.  And you don’t need to talk.  And you don’t need to be doing something together.  You just enjoy being with each other.  And that is a wonderful thing.  And he’s using that to push a very different thing.  Okay.   Because it’s one thing to say, “We don’t need to talk because our relationship is so secure and intense and wonderful that we just love being with each other,” and it’s another thing to say, “If you want to talk to your husband, don’t.”  If there’s something you want to bring up, don’t.  Don’t you dare.  Telling women to—don’t push things.  You’re too impatient.  If I want to say something to you, I’m going to say something to you.  If you want to say something to me, you’re going to say something to me.  And if we want to sit in silence, we’ll sit in silence because that’s our relationship.  But this is a very different thing.  It’s specifically expressing to women to not be who they want to be in the relationship because men are this way.  So therefore, you have to change to be like him which, in fact, is kind of unhealthy because a guy who doesn’t want to talk to someone ever and wants them to watch him doing stuff—again, it’s—

Sheila: Yeah.  It’s not a healthy guy.  I’m going to talk about that later.  I’m going to have a licensed counselor on to talk about that bit.  But what you just said about how we can be silent but it’s because we have a relationship.  He actually says the opposite that here.  Did you notice that?

Keith: I didn’t hear that.

Sheila: He says, “When you are silent with him, when you don’t talk, then he’s going to be energized, and he might start to bring things up.  He might feel comfortable talking to you.”  And, again, this is like—this is really the opposite because comfortable silence is built on relationship.  I had someone share with me—and I haven’t been able to find the quote for this because Love and Respect has recently put all their blog posts behind a paid wall.  So you can’t look at their blog posts anymore.  So they put everything on a membership site.  But someone in the comments said that they heard a talk by Sarah Eggerichs, and they wrote the book Mother and Son about how sons need their mother’s respect, and how she learned to show respect to her son.  So when she was driving him somewhere for six hours, she didn’t say anything.  They just sat in silence as a way to respect her son.  What a horrible thing to think that as a mom you’re not allowed to talk to your kid or that he would actually like that.  And that’s what this is doing is it’s telling women your words are a problem.  You are a bother when you speak.  He doesn’t want you to talk which means he doesn’t want your opinions.  He doesn’t want your thoughts.  He doesn’t want to have to think about you.  He just wants you to be there kind of like a pet, right?  

Keith: Yeah.  I was thinking about that too.  He’s talking about come in here.  I don’t want to talk.  I want you in here.  If you just want something, get a dog, dude.  That’s what you’re looking for.  

Sheila: Yeah.  So let me read you a couple of the other things he says about silence.  

Keith:   All right.  Okay.

Sheila: So at one point, he quotes 1 Peter 3 verse 1—

Keith: Of course he does.

Sheila: – like this, “The shoulder-to-shoulder wife now sees new meaning in ‘won him without a word.’”  So that phrase won him without a word is from 1 Peter 3, and he’s talking it completely out of context here.    

Keith: This is their favorite verse in the whole Bible.

Sheila: He does.  He uses it so many times in Love and Respect.  That we are supposed to win him without a word.  So wives, if you want your husbands to change, don’t say anything.  You’re not allowed to use your words.  In context, what that’s talking about—Peter is writing to a wife, who is married to an unbelieving husband who doesn’t know God.  And remember, they’re wives in the Roman Empire.  The husband had the right to kill them.  And so Christian wives had  to walk this fine line.  And he’s saying, “Look.  Just win him without a word.  You don’t need to say anything.  Right?  Let your godly behavior show through.”

Keith: When you’re in a position of complete subservience to another human being, where you have no power over them, and they can do you harm and you want to show your Christ—you want to show Christ to that person, in that situation, it’s best to just be Christ like and not preach at them.  And just live that life.  And then they may see your goodness and turn towards you.  Right?  That’s what he’s saying.

Sheila: Yeah.  And he’s talking about unchristian husbands.

Keith: Yeah.  Exactly.  Right.  Yeah.

Sheila: Yeah.  And Emerson Eggerichs applies this to how Christian husbands don’t want their wives to talk.  And that this is universal.  And he talks about this as a universal pink and blue thing that all men are like this throughout the book.  

Keith: Yeah.  Because the goal is to have men be like Roman husbands to their wives.  The assumption is that’s the way men should be.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And, again people, this is the best used marriage study in North America in churches.  And we’re going to keep talking about this book until that stops.  Because how did nobody notice this is weird?  Yes.  It’s toxic.  But don’t you think this is just kind of weird?  What kind of man wants his wife to look at him watching TV, to watch him reading a book, and not say anything?

Keith: Yeah.  And the thing in the 1 Peter verse, win him without a word, doesn’t mean convince him of your point.  It’s completely misinterpretation of that verse.  It’s talking about winning him to the faith.  So how does it apply to arguments or disagreements between two Christian couples?  It doesn’t.  It wasn’t written for that purpose.  And yet, he uses it for that.  Win him without a word.  This is the point because it’s not about following the Bible.  It’s not about following God’s concepts.  It’s about creating a household where the man is in charge like a Roman man was in charge of his household. 

Sheila: You know the wet towel episode?

Keith: And this is the thing I love just because they talk about we’re feminists.  And we are bowing to feminist culture because we want women to be equal, right?  Instead of following the Bible, we are bowing to culture and trying to make women equal.

Sheila: Yeah.  That’s the accusation against us. 

Keith: That’s the accusation against us, right?  Okay.  So the very first chapter of the Bible says, “In the beginning, God created the male and female.  Created He them.”  They’re in the image of God.  Both of us together equal in the first chapter of the Bible.  Okay?  What they’re doing is they’re taking the Roman culture the Bible was written in and they’re idolizing that and following that and saying this is the Bible truth.  They’re following culture.  There’s thousands and thousands of years men have tried to keep women under them.  They try to be over them.  The Christian view is don’t be an overlord.  Jesus said to them, “Not so among you.  The greatest shall be the servant of all.”  Hierarchy is the actual antithesis of Christianity.  But they’re bowing to the culture of patriarchy and saying this is the way God wants it to be because it works for them. 

Sheila: It’s crazy.

Keith: It’s terrible.  They’re the ones that are bowing to culture.  Not us.

Sheila: And can you imagine if I just sat there watching you make bird lists?  You’re a birder.  Okay.  So often, you’re—

Keith: Doing my spreadsheets.

Sheila: Before we left for Australia, you’re making your spreadsheets.  Imagine if I just say there watching you make a spreadsheet.  And I wasn’t allowed to say, “So where are you thinking that we’re going to see the pacific whistling duck,” or whatever it was that we saw.  I’m not allowed to ask that.  I just have to look at you making a spreadsheet and not say anything.  Wouldn’t that creep you out?

Keith: Yeah.  Well, it’s idolatry.  It’s idolatry.  It really is.

Sheila: It’s not relationship.  And yet, this is actually in his chapter on relationship because relationship is two way.  This is just her worshipping him.  It’s truly bizarre.  And that’s throughout the—there’s multiple anecdotes in this chapter.

Keith: Because they always present it as either the man will be in charge or the woman will be in charge.  Right?  And so we can’t have the woman in charge because we know that’s really horrible.  But it’s like can we not just be together.  Can we not do things together?  Can we not be equals?  Can we not actually have a relationship?  Can we not do shoulder to shoulder like actually shoulder to shoulder doing stuff together?

Sheila: Yeah.  And, again, even the decision making, we found in our survey for The Great Sex Rescue 78.9% of Christian couples functions as equals.  So all this stuff about how this is pink and blue and men and women are like this it actually doesn’t work that way in real life.  And yet, he’s presenting this as if this is the way all men are.  And it’s bizarre.  Why did nobody say this is weird?  Did red flags not go off as pastors were reading this book?  Because I don’t think most pastors want their wives just sitting there doing nothing.     

Keith: No.  I agree.  But there is this other culture underpinning of the stoic silent male, right?  So there’s this idea that men don’t talk about their feelings.  Men don’t express themselves.  Men are these walls of silence where they bear everything quietly.  And that’s this—another cultural idea that Emerson is tapping into and equating with biblical truth again and bowing to culture, which says that men are like that and saying, therefore, women, you need to adjust to that rather than interrogating that and saying, “Is that healthy”.  Is it healthy for men to be completely stoic and silent and not talk about their feelings?  Because I’m sure it probably is true that men are more like that than women.  But is that because God made us that way?  Or is it because culture made us that way?  And I think very much it’s that culture made us that way.  And so by saying that that’s the way God made us, again, we are bowing to culture.

Sheila: And even the one reference that he does have in this chapter to research is from Deborah Tannen.  And even she talks about that.  That the reason that men don’t share their feelings as much is because of culture.    

Keith: So he cites someone in the reel?

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  Well, not in the reel but in the chapter in the book.

Keith: In the chapter in the book.  Okay.

Sheila: But even she says, “Yeah.  This is culture.  It is culture.”

Keith: Yeah.  She says it’s true that men are more likely to sit and not talk than women.  Yeah.  And I think that’s why the red flags didn’t go off because people look at it and go, “Oh yeah.  That’s my experience.”

Sheila: But even though it might be more true and even though it’s a stereotype, it isn’t universal by any stretch of the imagination.  So I actually looked this up.  Okay.  I looked up a lot of peer reviewed studies on personality attributes because extroversion is one of the big five personality attributes.  

Keith: Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert.  Mm-hmm.

Sheila: Yeah.  And there is very few gender differences on whether or not men and women are extroverted.  Both men and women tend to be extroverted.  Okay?  But the individual aspects of extroversion differ among the genders.  So there is agreeableness.  There’s assertiveness.  There’s a couple of other—I can’t remember them all.  And so some of those differ.  But overall women and men tend to be (cross talk).

Keith:   I didn’t know that there were different elements of extroversion.

Sheila: Yeah.  When they actually measure it in scholarly journals.    

Keith: Okay.  And we know that from the Bible that women are supposed to be amiable.  Was that the word you said?

Sheila: Agreeable.  Mm-hmm.

Keith: Agreeable.  We know from the Bible that women are supposed to be agreeable and men are supposed to be assertive because that’s the way God intended it.  Right?  Oh my gosh.

Sheila: Yeah.  Even though love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are not gendered.    

Keith: You’re getting into 1 Peter 3 now.  We don’t want to hear that stuff.

Sheila: But then there’s other ways that we can measure extroverted, introversion that we often think about like the MBTI.  The Myers-Briggs personality.

Keith: Just grossly whether you are one or the other.

Sheila: Yeah.  Whether you’re extroverted, introverted.  And what’s interesting with the MBTI is that—I was looking at some studies that show that this is even different across regions.  So I looked at—

Keith: Right.  Yeah.  Again, because it’s cultural. 

Sheila: Yeah.  So Canadians are more extroverted than Americans.  And French Canadians tend to be more extroverted than English Canadians.    

Keith: Yes.  I can attest to that.

Sheila: Yeah.  So there’s differences between Quebec and New Brunswick, the francophones in Quebec and New Brunswick and in the rest—against the rest of Canada.  So yeah.  ROC as we call it.  ROC and the francophone rest of Canada.  But what they did find is that among English males—okay?  In Canada.  So we’re going to take out Quebec and New Brunswick, the French portion of New Brunswick.  Among English males 53.4% are extroverted.  Among English females 57% are extroverted.  So it’s basically the same.  So women have a slight extroversion preference, but it’s basically the same.  Other studies of the Myers-Briggs in the U.S. have found there’s more of an introvert preference rather than an extrovert preference.   But, again, it’s virtually the same.  There’s only a few percentage differences.  There isn’t a huge pink and blue difference between extroversion and introversion.  It just isn’t there.

Keith:   Let’s say you are in a relationship where he is an introvert and she is an extrovert.  Okay?  There is a big difference between saying, “Hey, honey, I love that you’re an extrovert.  I love that you’re so out there.  But I need some quiet time.  And some of the time we’re together can we just be quiet?  Because as an introvert, I just need some of that quiet space.”  That’s a very different thing than I don’t have to got to want to talk.  Don’t talk to me.  Come in here and watch me paint the wall.  That’s not introversion.  That’s just—it’s ridiculous.  I mean this is not healthy.

Sheila: Yeah.  That’s immaturity and emotionally unhealthy.  But the other thing—the other aspect that really gets to me is he talks repeatedly about how women while they’re sitting there doing nothing are thinking, “I really should be doing the dishes.  I really should be making the kids’ lunches.”  And so let’s think about what’s actually happening here.  So we know that men have more free time on average than women do.  Okay.  Not a lot.  But men have more time—

Keith:   The studies have shown that.

Sheila: Yeah.  That men have more free time than women.  And women do the majority of household tasks.  That’s largely why men have more free time.  So in the little free time that she has, she is supposed to sit there doing nothing watching him do what he wants to do while the housework isn’t getting done.  And so then she needs to hurry and get all this stuff done because he’s still not helping her.  Emerson Eggerichs says nothing about him actually helping her make those lunches or do the dishes.  Right?  So she’s supposed to leave the tasks that need to be done so that she can sit here and watch him paint or watch him watch TV or watch him read a book.  Okay.  So that then she can go back and get all this stuff done.  And yeah.  She’s not even allowed to knit or cross stitch or do her own hobby.  So her free time is supposed to be taken up doing nothing but watching him.  And that is supposed to be healthy for a marriage.

Keith: And, again, it’s another way that men are infantilized because she becomes a task for him.  Right?  So she’s got to get the lunches done.  She’s got to get the housework done.  She’s got to do all these things, but right now she can’t do those things because she has another task.  And that task is to sit here and adore him so he can be energized.  Right?  So he is a task for her.  Right?  So what woman is going to be attracted to a man who she feels is—this is a high maintenance person that I have to look after.  Right?  The whole time he is saying, “Watch me paint.”  I get this idea of a little four year old learning to ride a bike.  “Look at me, Mommy.  Look at me.”  Maybe that’s a little harsh, but—

Sheila: No.  That’s what I got too.  Oh, the best part about this chapter on relationship—okay?  Do you remember the wet towels episode?

Keith: Oh my gosh.

Sheila: The famous wet towels episode.

Keith:   Yeah.  Yeah.  Of course.

Sheila: Okay.  So for those of you who do not, we have talked about this a lot.  Emerson Eggerichs and his sons leave their wet towels on the bed, candy wrappers on the floor, and crumbs all over the counter.  And his wife, Sarah, would ask them to stop.  Ask him to pick up his wet towel.  Now think about this.  It takes no more energy to put the wet towel on the floor than it does to put it on the bed.  And at least if you’re putting it on the floor, it’s not making the sheets damp.  Okay.  But he’s going around leaving his wet towel on the bed so that she, presumably, has to walk around after him picking up his wet towel so the bed doesn’t get all moldy.  So he’s making work for her.  He could just put it on the floor.  I mean even that isn’t good enough, but it’s better than leaving it on the bed.  But she’s not allowed to say this because he tells the story in this chapter of how she went away for a week.  And when she came back, he told her that he didn’t miss her and that the sons hadn’t missed her because it was so great not to be nagged.  And so she learned not to speak.  And that was the takeaway is that she is not to speak.  

Keith: Yeah.  Because it’s one thing to say, “Hey, I forget I leave the towel on the bed,” and that’s the way it gets portrayed.  Well, I’m a human.  I make mistakes.  Right?  But it’s like if she has to do all the housework, if that’s her job and you don’t have to do that, when you’re making that job harder for her, it should be permissible for her to say, “Hey, maybe not make my job harder than it needs to be.”  And that should be acceptable.  And we should have that kind of a discussion in the family especially when the boys are leaving trash around the house.  

Sheila: And he is teaching the sons to disrespect the mother.  

Keith: Yeah.  Because the underlying issue is that her—because people say, “He’s not saying that she’s not allowed to talk.”  But it’s like what’s the underpinning idea here is that they can’t inconvenience these boys and the man because they are men.  

Sheila: And the way that you inconvenience them is by talking.  That’s why this anecdote is in this chapter.

Keith: So he’s making her job worse.  Making a job harder.  But her to call him on that is disrespectful.  Right?  And who gets to define what’s respectful or disrespectful.  The guy who says, “Come and watch paint dry.”  No.  Seriously.  

Sheila: I know.  

Keith:   Right?  But there is no check and balance here.  There’s no but he also needs to do this or she needs to do that.  It’s all—it’s just insane.  It’s just insane.

Sheila: It absolutely is.    

Keith: And I don’t know what kind of guy wants a relationship like that.  I mean what kind of guy wants a—if you really want a relationship with a woman where you’re painting a wall and your expectation is that she should come and watch you paint the wall and just adore you while you paint the wall, go to therapy.  Get a counselor.  Because you have some issues to resolve from your childhood.  How is that a man?  How is that a person?  Even in the stereotypical concept of a man, right?  Independent leader.  All that stuff.  How is that a man? 

Sheila: Okay.  Let’s take that thought, and we’re now going to turn to a therapist.  And we’re going to talk about whether it actually is healthy for a man to think that the perfect relationship is one in which a wife never talks to him.  So let’s bring on Andrew Bauman.  Well, I am thrilled to invite back to the podcast, Dr. Andrew Bauman.  You’ve got your—you finished your PhD since you were on last.

Andrew: It took about ten years but finished it up.

Sheila: So congratulations doctor.  And Andrew is the codirector of the Christian Counseling Center for sexual health and trauma in North Carolina.  He is the author of a number of books that I recommend quite a bit called The Sexually Healthy Man, Pornified, lots of other ones.  And you’ve got a great one coming out that I just endorsed.  I don’t know when that’s launching.  When is that one coming out?

Andrew: It will come out with Baker Books not until November.  Next November.

Sheila: Oh, well, we’ll have to you back on for that.  

Andrew: Yeah.  It’s called Safe Church: How to Guard Sexism and Abuse in Christian Community.

Sheila: Awesome.  And I just thought—when I was watching this reel from Emerson Eggerichs, I thought I really need a counselor, who has worked a lot with men’s emotions to come on and give us some thoughts, teach us how to think about this reel.  And I thought of you.  So you have watched the reel.

Andrew: I have.  Mm-hmm.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  Did you have any first thoughts on that?

Andrew: Yeah.  I mean my initial thought—I mean I had a lot of thoughts on it.  A lot of feelings.  But I’m really strongly—I have a strong passion that I believe in the goodness of men.  That I believe in the emotional maturity of men.  I think because so many men have been socialized into not feeling, into not practicing emotions then they get the bad rap of somehow men are less emotionally intelligent.  And the studies—look up the studies.  I was reading an article on Forbes recently.  And there is no difference.  There is no difference between the emotional intelligence of women than men.  And we long for connection.  Men long for connection.  We’re unpracticed.  We’re not cave men.  We’re unpracticed.  Right?  We’ve been taught how to compete.  We’ve been taught how to be tough, how to be hard, all the socialization to masculinity.  And yet, we are missing something deeply fundamental.  But it’s not because we are made that way.  It’s not because we are somehow less emotionally capable than women.  And so that was kind of my initial thought of it just completely misses the point and gives men a pass to not engage where we deeply long for the most which is deep connection and intimacy especially with our partners.

Sheila: Yeah.  It really was bizarre.  Why would a man think that friendship means that his wife doesn’t talk to him whatsoever?  That she is totally silent.  

Andrew: Yeah.  I mean, again, that can open up Pandora’s box of women being silent and maybe she’s not a mutual.  She’s not an equal.  She’s there for sex.  She’s there to be used.  She’s there for my pleasure rather than an actual equal, mutuality.  We can actually encourage each other, sharpen each other.  We can actually inspire each other.  We are equals.  And that’s not the case in that type of (cross talk).

Sheila: And I think too there’s this idea that women like to talk and men don’t.  And there’s actually not a lot of research on that.  Research doesn’t support that.  Even in terms of introvert, extrovert.  It isn’t like women are all extroverts and men are all introverts.  This is not a gendered thing.  And yet, it’s often presented that way.  That women want to talk and men don’t want to talk.  And women just have to realize that men don’t want to talk.  But why would a man—if you’re looking at this relationship where a man just wants a woman to watch him and never talk, what does that say about that man’s emotional maturity or where he’s at emotionally?

Andrew: Yeah.  That he has no idea how to connect on a deep core level.  She’s utility.  She is an object.  She’s there to applaud him and mother him but not partner with him.  

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  And that is kind of a weird dynamic, isn’t it?  I think we’re getting more into that in next week’s podcast.  But we can foreshadow it today.  But that is a weird dynamic where women are both under men, so they don’t want to talk to us because we’re not their equal.  We’re just supposed to be used.  But at the same time, we’re supposed to coddle them and say, “Well done.  I’m watching you.  And well done.”  And so we’re either under them or we’re their mothers.  But we’re never on the same plane.  

Andrew: Yeah.  Because it feels threatening, right?  It feels threatening.  And so if you are a man who has not done any type of emotional work, has not done any type of story work, on dealing with his deep wounded self, right?  Then there is that insecurity that just projects.  And this is where patriarchal theology, misconstruing of biblical verses used to help men be distant, use their voice to subjugate and harm women, all that plays in.  This is where it gets into a big web where men can just be let off the hook rather than—and I get this all the time.  Literally every day.  Why do you hate men on your Facebook page?  Or whatever.  And I’m just like since when does accountability equal hatred.  I believe in men so much so I want to call them to more.  And my hope is that—and I feel like it’s coming.  As a society, we are calling men to more because we believe in them.

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  Yeah.  Men were not made to be emotionally stunted.  They were not.  And yet, I know you see a lot of that in your practice.  That’s so much of what you talk about is how to help men be vulnerable.  Isn’t that what this actually comes down to is that he’s afraid of being vulnerable?  And that’s why he doesn’t want to talk.

Andrew: Terrifying.  Yeah.  Terrifying.  In our men’s groups, literally, we spend majority of the time sitting knee to knee, 12 inches apart from each other’s face, and practicing intimacy.  Staring in each other’s eyes, right?  And it’s terrifying.  But the first day, Thursday night, they’re all weird and making jokes and trying to get out of it.  By Sunday, they’re doing over 10 minutes of eye contact and literally are changing their relationship with intimacy and vulnerability because they long to be seen.  And it’s just been distorted through pornography, through other means where they don’t know how to actually connect.  But we really want to connect, but then we’ve eroticized it, sexualized it, and what not.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  And that robs men of something that we all need, right?  We all need intimacy.  We all need—like you said, we all want to be seen.  And yet, the way that Emerson Eggerichs portrays that is men want to be seen for what they’re doing.  So you need to sit there, and you need to do nothing and just watch them as they paint or as they read a book or something which is bizarre.

Andrew: I just want to add this.  Do I like it when I’m praised by my wife?  Of course.  Of course.  That is awesome. That feels good.  But that’s not her job, right?  That’s actually my job to parent the undeveloped little boy that’s still in me.  The little boy that longs for his mother to hold him, that longs for his father to pursue him because that didn’t happen in my story.  Right?  And so that young part is still undeveloped, and I can so easily—if I don’t take responsibility for that, I can project that onto my partner that that’s somehow her job to parent the underdeveloped parts within me.  And that’s not.  That is my job to do that for myself.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  This is awkward because I don’t like—I try not to speculate too much on their personal motives or what’s going on personally that they write a lot of this stuff.  But Emerson Eggerichs has actually talked about it.  But as a child, he witnessed his father strangle his mother.  And then he was sent off to military boarding school and his parents split up for awhile and then they got back together.  You think of that kind of trauma that he went through—which is horrific.  But when that isn’t healed, I think it can result in things like this and thinking this is normal because this is not normal.  What he is presenting as healthy friendship is not normal.  

Andrew: Unprocessed trauma is always reenacted in our present day relationships.  Always.  Always.  Unprocessed trauma is always reenacted.  And so if you don’t deal with those deep childhood wounds, it will come out through your writing.  It will come out through your speaking, your teaching.  Whatever vocation you choose, it will come out in your intimate relationships as well as your profession.

Sheila: What really shocks me though is that this book became a best seller.  And that reel that we showed that’s him—he’s almost talking word for word from the book.  This is very similar to the opening anecdote in that chapter in his book.  So he is still saying this 20 years later.  He hasn’t changed the way he talks.  He’s still talking exactly the way he wrote the book, right?  How did nobody notice this was weird?  I’m reading this.  I’m seeing this.  And it’s bizarre.  It was actually brought up to me first by someone in our patron group saying, “Have you read the relationship chapter?  Because it is really freaky.”  And then I looked at it, and I’m like, “Yeah.  You’re right.  This is bizarre.”  But somehow this book became the number one marriage study, and this is what he teaches friendship is.  And people haven’t said anything.

Andrew: Yeah.  I remember the church I used to work for.  This was the book that they went through with all their couples.  This is the normal—this was the book for the couples.  And all I can say is it was normalized.  It’s been normalized.  And voices like yours are beginning to push back against something that’s—this is where I think the church is so far behind just normal society, the secular world, of just like no.  This is crap.   This is actually really bad advice that will hurt marriages ultimately.  It may make a man feel good for a little bit.  But not his deep core longing.

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  And so you must see this.  Tell me a little bit about how this does affect couples because I know you see this in your practice where they come.  And she’s like, “He won’t talk to me.  I have no idea what’s going on inside of him.”

Andrew: I mean I like to compare it to French, right?  It’s a new language.  It’s a new language.  And once you learn, it’s a beautiful language.  It’s very beautiful.  But you’re very unpracticed.  And so I don’t often use sports metaphors, but I use this one often.  It’s many times I’ll see a woman who has done tons of work, incredibly lonely, read all the books, and longing for her husband to show up.  And she’s in the minor league.  She’s almost professional emotional intelligence wise, and he’s literally playing T ball.  And it’s not because he’s not able to play the game at a higher level.  It’s that he’s unpracticed.  And so we say, “Hey, here’s how we can practice.  Here’s how we can quickly move up the ranks because your partner needs you.  She wants you.  She’s sticking with you.  And yet, she’s incredibly lonely because you’re not speaking the same language.  You’re not playing the same game.”  If the minor league baseball player gets on the field with somebody who is playing in middle school, they’re going to get their butt kicked.  It’s not going to be a close game.  That’s not mutuality.  And so how can you quickly move up the ranks?  Well, here’s how you’re going to lift weights.  Here’s how you’re going to begin to become emotionally intelligent.  And I have found that months of therapy, reading the books, doing the work yourself you can quickly get there.  You can quickly get there and develop that part of you and that shadow part, making peace with that part inside of you to really meet your spouse in a deep way, in the intimacy, the sex.  It’s beautiful because they’re connecting in a place that they’re meant to connect with at the deepest levels of humanity.

Sheila: Right.  That’s great.  And I like what you said that people can actually get there.  And so I’m assuming.  I am not a counselor, but I’m assuming this comes from two different areas.  One is just recognize the wounded self in you and why you’re afraid of vulnerability because there’s part of you that you feel shame.  You’re trying to hide.  If you open up, you might realize stuff about yourself.  You’re trying not to think about.  I assume that’s a big part.     

Andrew: Yeah.  Yeah.  Yeah.  We’re scared of dealing with our shadow, our darkness, and so we run from it.  We become addicted.  Right?  We numb out.  And so if I truly have genuine intimacy with my partner, she will see me.  Well, guess what?  I don’t want to see me.  I don’t want to see that I’m still a scared little boy hiding in a man’s body.  So I’m going to project.  If I’m a pastor, I’m going to preach about modesty a lot.  I’m going to push away, right?  I’m going to make it about the women.  I’m going to make it about them rather than actually dealing with what I need to deal with inside of myself because I’m terrified at what I might find.

Sheila: Right.  Okay.  So you got to do that self work.  But then what’s the couple work?  Can you just give us an example of one exercise that you might do with couples?  And I know this isn’t going to cure everything.  Okay?  This is deep work people have to do but just to give us an example.    

Andrew: Similar to our men’s groups, right?  We’ll have the couple face each other, right?  Eye to eye.  And then one of the exercises we do is called sentence stems.  Sentence stems will do an incomplete sentence.  So we’ll start off simple.  I see in your eyes and then they just complete the sentence.  I see fear.  I see sadness.  I feel in my body, right?  And then they name what they feel in their bodies.  I feel deep shame when, and you just keep going.  Almost like a metronome where they don’t actually think very much.  But before they know it, they’re getting in really deep territory of the dynamic between them.  When I’m lonely and crying and you just ignore me, I feel—and it gets quickly—and before you know it, both—they have to remain eye contact the whole time.  Right?  So you’ll see a lot of times they’ll look up.  And it’s like okay.  Where did you go when you looked up?  Well, we’re used to doing it alone.  I’m used to figuring it out in my brain, finding the answer, and then offering it in a perfect, little, wrapped up way.  And what we want to do is begin to develop intimacy within the mess.  No.  Figure it out with each other eye to eye.  And figure it out as a team.  And that’s just one exercise of many exercises that we do to begin to get to the deep core wounds of the marriage.  The way my wife, Christy—Dr. Christy Bauman and I work is we say the marriage is a third entity.  So you have two individual selves and, for a healthy marriage, you have to have—you have to both do your individual work.  But then you have this third entity called the marriage soul.  And how are you going to tend to this third entity?  And so that’s kind of how we focus—how we set up our framework of—when we do marriage work.  Individuals have to do their own work to be individual healthy selves.  And then you—how do you together tend to this marriage soul to make sure it’s thriving?

Sheila: Right.  That’s beautiful.  And I think that’s just such a better picture of what marriage is supposed to be than just, “Hey, just sit there.  Don’t say anything and watch me.”  That’s so bizarre.  So I do hope the church is changing.  I hope that we can start to recognize when things are unhealthy.  So thank you for coming on and giving us your expert opinion.  And Andrew, why don’t you tell people where they can find you?

Andrew: Yeah.  Thank you for having me.  You can find us at christiancc.org, and then I blog at www.andrewjbauman.com.

Sheila: All right.  And I will put links.  I know your Facebook page is very active, and people are always sharing that.  So I’ll put links to that too in the podcast notes.  So thank you so much for being here.

Andrew: Great to see you.

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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. Terry

    Remembering the “four errors” of comp marriage. One of them was, what was it called, excessive deference by the wife. But there is NO SUCH THING as too much fawning, too much deference, too much submission, too much silence. No such thing. It’s almost impossible to come up with concrete real-world examples of that “error” because there really aren’t any.

  2. Angharad

    That is just…weird! What kind of guy is ‘energised’ by having his wife sit gazing adoringly at him in total silence for an hour or so? That is just so creepy and controlling.

    I’m reminded of the era when wealthy people had slaves in constant attendance, who had to stand, totally motionless and silent, behind their master or mistress until they were commanded to do something. And then straight back to silent immobility again. Since when were Christian husbands called to treat their wives like slaves?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      He actually distorts Scripture to say just that. He takes a passage aimed at how we should treat the emperor and then applies it to the husband by leaving out a bunch of stuff in the middle. I talk about it here.

      • Angharad

        Oh, and if EE wants something that is ‘very teachable’ in his life, I suggest he buys a labrador.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire


        • Estelle

          A labbie will be happy just to sleep while he is painting that wall. Better not get a border collie who will expect him to watch while he/she herds a flock of sheep!

  3. Elle

    This advice is beyond ridiculous! My introverted husband would definitely be creeped out if I were to stare at him while he played computer games, painted Star Wars models or did leather work. He would much rather me read a good book or watch an enjoyable chick flick while he enjoys his alone time.

  4. Laura

    After reading parts of L & R, I was so mad that I did not read the one about relationship, and it’s good that I didn’t. E.E. sets up so many dynamics for a toxic, unhealthy relationship. I get the impression that he is so insecure about himself that his wife cannot have her own interests and be allowed to do activities alongside him and talk. Like one of the posters suggested, E.E. should just get a dog.

    Just yesterday, I came to see my boyfriend after work. He was doing a workout on the front patio and brought out a chair for me. After a few minutes of not doing anything but talking, I decided to workout too. He liked that I did that. I told him I just could not sit there and watch him because it was too weird. He laughed. What may have looked weird to neighbors was me doing squats and tricep dips while wearing my boots and jeans, but I didn’t care. I like that my boyfriend and I can talk and do things together. We may not have been doing the same exercises, but we enjoyed being together.

  5. Jo R

    If he wants silence, then Sarah should definitely move out. He’s already admitted that he and his sons didn’t miss her for a week, so why not make it permanent?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I wonder that too.

    • Nathan D. W.

      Cause divorce/“pre-divorce” (as my father called domestic separations) is a sin and God hates that more than He hates mistreatment, obviously.

      • Jo R

        Yeah, it’s funny how men so often make marriage absolutely unbearable, then blame the women for wanting a divorce. 🙄

  6. Connie

    I married a farmer, at age 50, second marriage , second farmer. Imagine my surprise when he asked me to join him to the field, 10 miles away from home and he went to drive an air conditioned tractor round and round the field all day, and he expected me to watch him, on a very hot day. He didn’t even warn me to bring a book or knitting. He didn’t even read the book.

    • Anonymous305

      Pobrecita ☹️❤️☹️‼️

  7. Anonymous305

    This didn’t even work on my ex. When he was giving me the silent treatment because I had a vaginal infection, I sat in silence in hopes of proving my love, but he didn’t feel loved or energized because me sitting there wasn’t his love language (only sex was). He didn’t force me to do anything, so I just endured the silent treatment, but didn’t have sex until I was healed.

    Years later, I mentioned the silent treatment in a different (not related to infection) context to a marriage counselor, and she asked why I was so scared of silence. I explained it’s not silence by itself that’s scary, but the context in which his silence is telling me that I don’t deserve to exist. She said, “is that REALLY what it means?” Apparently, that’s the “wrong” way to interpret the silent treatment 🤦🏾‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️.

    • Kay

      Silence bugs me too. Not with everyone though, but definitely with the hubby. I’m not exactly sure why though. My guess is that it may stem back to getting the silent treatment growing up by my mom when she was mad— so years later I take “silence” as if someone (hubby) is mad at me for something.

      Definitely goes with not quite feeling secure. For me anyways….

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, my goodness! What an awful counselor!

    • Nessie

      Anonymous305 -That counselor is truly terrible! “Silence” and “silent treatment” are vastly different! If a counselor cannot distinguish the difference, s/he is not well-trained and should stop practicing until they can get some more schooling. Just… wow. I’m so sorry your were mistreated by a counselor like that, especially after all you had already been put through.

  8. JG

    This E.E. book sounds like Gothardism regurgitated. Thankfully I didn’t read it (and plan not to either).

    My husband and I have an at home business, so both of us are sometimes working on it at the same time. (We sell Lego online.) There are times when we are both inputting things in our inventory and neither one of us is talking, but I am not watching what he is doing since I am concentrating on what I need to do.

    If I were to sit and watch him paint a room and do nothing in the meantime, I would go stark staring crazy. It would be just as silly if I expected him to sit there and watch me read a book. I would rather help him get the room painted and visit while we work.

  9. Nessie

    I had similar thoughts about these guys just needing dogs.

    I noticed how EE (elsewhere) has complained about how *all* women wrongly use absolutes… then he does exactly what he has just complained about by lumping *all* men and *all* women into his categories. I’ve said it before, but God is way more creative than that: to make every man like every other man, and every woman like every other woman.

    As much as he pushes silence in women, I wonder if his dad was often explosive after she had spoken, so he learned to believe one caused the other. I cannot stand him and his dangerous teachings- get some good therapy, dude!- but he is one sad, scarred, and scared little boy who never grew up beyond the time of some serious traumas. He seems like a petulant 8yr old that feels he knows everything and girls are awful.

    I also wonder if the idea of just sitting and being still (while watching hubby) is such an out there idea just because it goes against our culture of busyness, so it “must” be right? So many in the comp camp cling to being “not *of* the world” and “set apart” ideas that anything that goes against it seems like it should be a good idea.

    Granted my husband and I are far from healthy yet (though working towards it) but I decided to try the “sit and watch silently” thing out for a couple minutes… it took about 30 seconds for him to become uncomfortable with me just watching him. His discomfort continued to increase so I stopped. Oddly enough, before that we had each been doing our own thing in the same room, not talking- just working on our own things. And that was fine.

    Always appreciate what Andrew Bauman has to share.

    • Kay

      There was a comedian who said something that if men wanted “friendship/companionship/relationship” then they’d just get a dog (Totally paraphrasing). So why don’t men just do that? It would save a lot of heartache! It’s almost that women are trophies- a prize to be won. Then “job” is done. Women are there not for friendship (cuz a man can get a dog for that), so what’s the reason for marriage then?

      • Anonymous305

        Kay, if you’re talking about Mark Gungor, his “joke” was that men put up with women to have sex, but personally, I wish the ones who see us that way could be content with a dog to save us lots of pain.

        • Nessie

          He is awful, and not at all funny. And yes, it’s such a shame men like that aren’t simply content with dogs for companionship. Although it hardly seems fair to the dogs…

  10. Jan

    My husband is decorating our kitchen as we speak…

  11. Willow

    I work in a 95% male workforce. Plenty of men *do* get a dog – and hire a housekeeper once a week, and periodically go on Tinder dates or otherwise pay for sex. Nobody is nagging them at home. They can drink a beer, hang out with the guys, and leave dirty wet towels around whenever they want. But – they are not necessarily happy. Great words from Andrew Bauman about emotional maturity for men, and the sports analogy. Most men (like women) do long for emotional wholeness and intimacy. They just often aren’t sure how to get there, or even have the self-awareness to know that’s what they’re seeking.

    A chaplain the other day talked about the Kingdom of God being wholeness. I thought about how the whole image of the Trinity is of separate beings pulling toward unity and wholeness. We all are members of the same body, and fragmented, we have a deep desire to seek others in communion.

  12. Pretty Woman

    Couple of things:
    1. My husband got a dog who follows him around all day and just gazes at him. He laughingly remarked, so this is what I’ve been missing so badly in the last twenty years! So maybe some men do like to be gazed at adoringly all day. They want to feel special and bask in someone’s attention. But more likely it’s because his parents were too busy for him when he was young, and he was often left with a babysitter, when sent to boarding school at a young age.
    2. This EE guy watched his dad strangle his mom. Strangling someone is the best way to get them to stop speaking. It’s a powerful lesson for a little boy. I wonder whether the emphasis on women’s silence stems from this incident.

  13. Christine

    Simple observation. Do these men really imagine that want women these days are desperate enough to enter into a relationship with them on these terms? And they wonder why women are leaving the evangelical church in droves and increasingly swerving marriage?

  14. Sue

    I dont know why you guys keep bashing on Emerson. Yes, he has said some idiotic things, but can’t we just ignore him and move on. Speak from the positive, instead of constant criticism of someone else. You sound like current American politicians. State your platform and expand from there.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Because his book is still the number one used marriage study in North American churches, and sells extremely well. So it is still hurting real people. As soon as that stops, I’ll stop talking about him. But when a lot of people are currently about to drink poison, you need to warn them.

  15. Bonnie

    Some years ago I read Love and Respect. I was very concerned about some of the issues Sheila has raised. Eg. Sarah not being missed much due to not having to hear her nag( think, how did Sarah feel? ) leaving towels on the bed and garbage on the floor, (think keeping boys as boys and what about their future wives?). I also thought it awful that if an issue needed to bring up she was to bring it up up gently.(think, walking on eggshells) NONE of this demonstrated respect to wife and mother!!
    But is it possible that this example about the wife not saying anything while a man paints is being exaggerated? He did say the wife in this example stated words to the effect, ” not getting it, undrrstandably” (implied) thus his use of humor, in this example of not talking while he paints may not be the best example. In the link where he talks about this, it’s cut off so I am wondering if he may have given more context. When I listened to him speak it took me to his web site. One of his articles was titled ” When she WANTS to talk, LISTEN…..”This sounds as opposite as possible to the example in the clip. I took a screen shot to send to Bare Marriage but don’t have an email. I very strongly believe issues should be called out as mentioned above and many others. I appreciate many sources besides Bare Marrige that this site has sent me to. But I would caution not to make too much over poor examples that may be in one context or taken out of context. Having stated this cautionary caveat, I also agree that there is correction when E. E. misinterprets Scripture or takes Scripture of of context. Thanks for all you do Bare Marriage team.


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