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Guest Blog: Joy Eggerichs

My friends, today you have the unique and great privilege of reading some words from Joy Eggerichs. Joy and I, for the past year or so, have had lots of similar friends, and have been brief acquaintances... but I didn't really have the opportunity to sit down and chat with Joy until earlier this month. And WOW, I have been missing out! Joy is sincere, honest, intelligent, and she cares very deeply about the hearts of women.

Joy works for Love and Respect Ministries, a marriage ministry started and prompted by her father, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and his now-famous marriage book of the same title, "Love and Respect." She is engaged in some very deep and fascinating research regarding several aspects of marriage, and she has volunteered to share some of her questions and heart here at The Outdoor Wife.

So please, take a moment to read what Joy has to share, and please contribute to the discussion by answering her questions in the comments!


Being the daughter of and working for the man who wrote a book on marriage titled, “Love and Respect,” has made it impossible to ignore the word 'respect' and what it means to me.  I will admit, Ephesians 5:33 is not a passage many of us women jump for joy when reading.

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” 
Ephesians 5:33

I have had to ask myself this question and would like to pose it to you…

Question: Is respect only earned or should it be given unconditionally?

For myself, when I first looked at society as a whole, I thought that I should live life in a way that earns people’s respect. I am only responsible for me, right? And as a Christian, I should probably show humanity unconditional respect even if I don’t respect or agree with their behavior. From my view of Jesus in scripture, that seems to be the way he operated with people on earth.

Looking at marriage (as a single person) I thought through my idea of what unconditional love and respect would look like. Personally, I want both. So, are love and respect different? I think this can be the hardest question I get from people.  It’s hard to define because love and respect will play out differently depending on the person.

Some people believe that men and women are exactly the same. If this is what you believe, then deciding that God could give us different instructions based on our sex would be irrelevant to you.  You will disagree with me, and that’s okay.

My conclusions are based on what I have read and observed.  Those experiences, as well as research on the male and female brain gives me confidence to state: we are different. What people can wrongly assume is when we say someone is different; we are stating that they are lesser in value.

This is wrong.

My mother and I both know we desire respect, but my mother voices the desire because she feels so assured of my father’s love.  If I am honest with myself, I know I expect respect, but I don’t dream about it the way I dream about being loved.  But, since I know I want both, why wouldn’t scripture say, “Husbands and wives, unconditionally love and respect one another?”

My dad has said, “We all need love and respect equally. However, as years pass in marriage, (especially in conflict) felt needs differ.  For example, most husbands are assured of their wives’ love but wonder if their wives really like and respect who they are as a human being.”

He points out this difference can be due to wives loving more naturally (generally speaking) than husbands. This explains why God does not command a wife to agape-love her husband.  Only a husband is instructed to agape (unconditional) love.  God instructs wives to respect in a way He does not instruct husbands.  This may mean it’s not as natural for women to unconditionally respect.  My dad says men live by an honor code, so respect can be easier for them (again, generally speaking).

Understandably, I sense resistance to the instruction of unconditional respect because we have seen cases of abuse. We can think of the women who stay in relationships with men who yell, “Respect me woman!”  But again, as I have learned from my father, we are never to respect evil behavior, but we have the power to respectfully confront evil behavior.  The Biblical instruction becomes a gift and a tool that is full of power.  Showing contempt for someone will never work.

Would anger and contempt motivate you to change?

Abuse aside, most of us are dealing with men who naturally are flawed (so are we) but are not evil men. So then, what are we called to do? Should respect in marriage be earned? Is that what Ephesians 5:33 means? If my future husband says his love has to be earned, I will feel like our partnership is performance based.  I will live feeling like I can never good enough.

That’s no fun.

I realize that regardless of what society says, I will trust (even when it doesn’t make sense) this instruction’s ability to strengthen and create freedom in my future marriage. It might not be easy or natural, but like I said earlier, I am only responsible for me.  This is about how I come across, not about my husband being perfectly respectable.  I hope his demeanor is loving, instead of demanding that I appear perfectly lovable.

It finally clicked for me when I read the results of our ministry’s research over the last year. We asked around 7,000 people if in conflict they feel more unloved or disrespected?

83% of men said they felt more disrespected.
72% of women said they felt more unloved. 

Equal but different.

Therefore, my conclusion can only be to trust the likelihood that he called me to be obedient in a different way.  And that’s ok.

Questions: Do you agree? Is respect only earned or should it be given unconditionally? Has anyone seeing the positive effects of being obedient even when it doesn’t feel natural to our character?


  1. Joy, I've found this concept to be pivotal in the overall direction of my marriage. Once I was aware of this concept, I started to notice that I was disrespecting my husband regularly over things that were relatively insignificant to me. In other words, I was being a jerk to him over things I didn't even care about. I just wanted to be right. I just wanted to be the boss. So, I cut back. I started eliminating those minor disrespects and my husband changed before my eyes. Suddenly, he was asking me what he could do for me everyday and loving me in the ways that are most meaningful to me. Once I settled into the amazing feeling of having a husband who was totally digging me, I realized he was loving on me because he was CONTENT! He felt good about himself, which is all a decent wife really wants for her husband. So, at first it seems self-serving to respect your husband, but then you'll realize that, aside from getting what YOU want, you're building up and teaching your man-friend about the love of God. FTW!

  2. I think women tend to misread "respect your husband" as "unconditionally respect every decision he ever makes". And then, from his clothes to his conversation to his career we expect him to be perfect, or he is not respectable...and yet we are *called* to respect him?...a conundrum!
    I do think we are to respect our husbands unconditionally, and I think that means "to hold in esteem or honor" (for who God has purposed him to be, not necessarily for the choices he has made to date), and "to show regard or consideration for" (him as a human being). It is a beautiful privilege of our role as a wife to contradict the messages of inadequacy that men battle daily. I have definitely seen the effects of what a man can do when he feels good about himself!

  3. Love this post. Thanks so much for sharing. I wish I had more time to comment, but thank you again!

  4. Thanks for the feedback. I can say, as a single woman trying to "hypothesize" about how this will look someday it can be a little tricky. Hearing stories and comments like what you have shared is VERY encouraging!

    Thanks to you all and especially Nish for letting me post my heart on this topic...

  5. Such a hard concept to really live out, but such an important one to try!