Marriage expert: Love & respect part of ‘Crazy Cycle’
Nov 21, 2012

ORLANDO (FBW)—Emerson Eggerichs, founder of Love and Respect Ministries, was a keynote speaker during the Florida Baptist Convention annual meeting Nov. 12. Eggerichs, an internationally known speaker, spoke to the crowd about his field of expertise—marriage. 

Eggerichs, who earned his PhD in family studies, opened up the session asking attendees to reflect on times of marital conflict. “What is the issue when the issue isn’t the issue?” he asked.

“I’m going to share with you that there’s usually one thing going on in a woman and one thing going on in a man, and they’re not the same,” 

Eggerichs said. “Let’s see if I can make the case for that.”

Drawing from personal experience. Eggerichs invited the crowd into the early years of his marriage to his wife of 30 years, Sarah Eggerichs. The couple, both attending Wheaton College at the time, decided to spend a weekend at his parents’ house. 

According to Eggerichs, he forgot his contact lens case and improvised, placing two juice glasses with water and his contacts on the back of the toilet. He got up the next morning and went looking for his contacts—only one remained. 

ENGAGING Emerson Eggerichs asks couples to pray together after speaking on marital conflict at the Florida Baptist State Convention. FBC photo
“She drank my contact,” he shared, drawing loud laughs from the crowd. 

Eggerichs recalled the back-and-forth conversation he and his wife had that day.  According to Eggerichs, Sarah could not believe he would place two cups of water on the back of the toilet while Eggerichs was dumbfounded that she would drink out of a glass on the back of the toilet. 

“At a certain point in this conversation, Sarah’s spirit deflated,”         Eggerichs said. “Suddenly, the issue wasn’t the issue. The issue wasn’t that she had swallowed my contact; something else was going on. What is the issue when the issue isn’t the issue, and you see the spirit of your spouse deflate or erupt?”

Eggerichs continued to demonstrate his point using another personal experience. The couple had decided to spend Christmas at Eggrich’s parents’s house.  Sarah, according to Eggerichs, was Miss Congeniality of her small, southern town of Boone County, N.C. And for Christmas, she made him a jean jacket.  

“All the presents had been opened except for this last one, and she was beaming from ear to ear,” Eggerichs said. “She handed me that present. I opened it up—jean jacket. I said ‘Thank you,’ and I put it on. And I liked it. She said you don’t like it.”

Eggerichs sincerely liked the gift, but Sarah didn’t think he did and the conversation went on for several minutes. 

“At a certain point, my spirit deflated. Why? Because it wasn’t about the jean jacket at a certain point,” Eggerichs said. “The issue was no longer the issue which was the jean jacket. There was another issue, something else going on. But the question is what is the issue when the issue isn’t the issue, and you see the spirit of your spouse deflate?”

The issue, according to Eggerichs, is centered on the ideas of love and respect in relationship to the male and female psyches. 

Eggerichs said the University of Washington completed a study with 2,000 couples over a period of 20 years in its Love Lab. Eggerichs noted that the university was not deemed a “conservative entity.” 

“But what’s interesting is that they got gender specific. Even though we all need love and respect equally, she needs love equal to his need for love and respect. We need it equally,” he said.

The study concluded that 85 percent of those who stonewall are men, Eggerichs said. In these times of marital conflict, he said, “the husband shuts down at a certain point; he disengages.”

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