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Book Summary: Love & Respect – The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs

Love & Respect (2012) uses biblical scripture, the author’s experience as a marriage counselor, and insight from other relationship therapists to help couples connect. By following the principles it lays out, husbands and wives learn to show each other the kind of love and respect they both crave. In the process, conflicts get resolved and marriages become energized.

Introduction: Improve your marriage by learning how to give and receive the love and respect you and your spouse need.

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs had already spent years counseling married couples and studying the Bible when the lightning-bolt revelation finally hit him: the key to helping spouses in crisis was held in the words he’d been studying. Specifically, it was in Ephesians 5:33. “Each one of you (husbands) must also love his wife, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Needing love in a marriage isn’t a new concept. Eggerichs had been preaching love, love, and more love to the couples he counseled, but he knew something was missing. He found it in the context of Ephesians 5:33.

Book Summary: Love & Respect - The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs

Eggerichs’s revelation is that the Bible is telling husbands to love their wives because love, specifically, is what wives crave most. And it’s telling wives to respect their husbands because respect is what husbands crave most. Yes, both partners need both love and respect to some degree, some men want love more than they want respect, and some women want respect more than they need love. But for the most part, what Eggerichs has observed during his years of counseling, and what Ephesians tells us, is that love is the primary need for women and respect is the primary need for men.

In this summary, we’ll see what happens when those needs aren’t met. But don’t worry, throughout the process husbands will learn how to show their wives the love they desire, and wives will learn to show their husbands the respect they covet. When they do, bad marriages can become good, good marriages can turn great, and great marriages can get even better.

The crazy cycle

He’s forgotten their wedding anniversary before, but this year he remembered to make dinner reservations and buy a present, and he just made a quick stop to get her a card. He’s excited about their night together, and so is she.

She’s ready when he arrives home, and her eyes light up when she sees the present and card. Until she opens it. It’s a birthday card.

Her face drops. She makes a comment about how he’d never buy the wrong part for his beloved car, but he can’t pick the right card for his wife. Shows what he really cares about.

He can’t believe it. He tried so hard, and all she can focus on is the one little thing he got wrong. He snaps back. He’s glad he got the wrong card if she’s going to have that kind of attitude, and then he storms out of the room.

In a matter of minutes, this couple went from a romantic anniversary together to a sullen night alone in separate rooms. Why?

“Angry exchanges are caused when the husband appears careless, depriving his wife of love, and when the wife reacts with criticism and complaints that are vehement, depriving the husband of respect,” Eggerichs writes in Love and Respect.

That, in a nutshell, is what Eggerichs calls “The Crazy Cycle.” Husbands act unlovingly toward their wives, often without meaning to, but love is what wives want most from their husbands. So, being deprived of their greatest need, wives tend to question their husbands, which is their way of reaching out for love, but this can be interpreted by husbands as disrespectful, and respect is what husbands want most from their wives. So, being deprived of their greatest need, husbands tend to shut down, which is their way of doing the honorable thing and not fighting with their wives in a moment of hostility, but it can come across as unloving, and love is what wives want most from their husbands. So … The Crazy Cycle starts all over. Again and again.

This theory is based on Eggerichs’s years of experience as a marriage counselor, scientific research done by other couples therapists, and, most importantly, a verse from the Bible’s New Testament, Ephesians 5:33, which we already mentioned: “Each one of you (husbands) must also love his wife, and the wife must respect her husband.”

Lacking love and respect, couples can get dizzy spinning on The Crazy Cycle. But if they connect with Love and Respect, they can stop the spinning before it gets out of control.

The love and respect connection

To break The Crazy Cycle, husbands must connect to their wives with love, and wives must connect to their husbands with respect. Ideally, that happens simultaneously. Realistically, someone has to go first, but who should it be?

Before we get to that answer, let’s be clear about what not to do. Don’t say, “I need your respect/love, so start respecting/loving me and then I’ll give you the love/respect you need.” That attitude is unloving and disrespectful, and it’ll trigger a negative reaction. Plus, it puts all the responsibility on one partner to supply both the love and respect in the relationship, which will probably make them shut down.

Instead, whichever spouse sees themselves as the most mature is the one who should go first and initiate the Love and Respect Connection. There’s a risk in going first, but a mature person can handle it. And imagine if your spouse took the initiative and went first, wouldn’t you respond positively and show them more love or respect?

Wives are encouraged to ask themselves – is this going to sound respectful or disrespectful to him? If you’re not sure, there are some hints on how to show respect in a later section of this summary titled “C-H-A-I-R-S.”

This doesn’t mean wives should let their husbands behave however they want. If a husband fails his wife in some way, she can confront him about that behavior and ask for change, but she can do it with a respectful tone in her voice and expression on her face. This approach is far more likely to win her husband over than scornful criticism.

Since no one is perfect, husbands are encouraged to stay strong when they do face contempt from their wives. They need to look past their tone and understand what’s in their wife’s deepest heart. Before reacting to her, they should ask themselves, Is this going to come across as unloving? There are some tips about how to show your wife love in the next section, which is titled “C-O-U-P-L-E.”

During a conflict when emotions are high, it can be hard to control our tone or look past a perceived attack. At some point, we end up back on The Crazy Cycle. This happens to every couple, no matter how great their relationship is. When it does, just keep trying, as the Bible instructs in Proverbs 24:16, “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.”

If you sense you’re about to get on The Crazy Cycle, these two sentences can help you get off before it starts spinning: “Honey, that felt disrespectful. Did I just now come across as unloving?” If you listen to the answer, and follow up with an honest conversation, no one has to get crazy.


Imagine your wedding picture torn in half, you on one side and your spouse on the other. This is what happens when conflict deteriorates a relationship. Most wives then see it as their mission to tape the picture back together. They want to COUPLE.

This is where Eggerichs got the name for his C-O-U-P-L-E principles, an acronym that stands for Closeness, Openness, Understanding, Peacemaking, Loyalty, and Esteem. Husbands can follow these principles to give their wives the kind of love they want. And when wives follow the C-H-A-I-R-S principles detailed in the next section, the couple gets off The Crazy Cycle and gets on The Energizing Cycle. This is where his love leads to her respect, which leads to more of his love, which leads to more of her respect – and around and around it goes.

When it comes to Closeness with your spouse, the first few moments set the tone. When you come together at the end of the day, take the time to talk and share as soon as you see each other. Wives will also feel closer to their husbands when they hold hands, hug, or show physical affection without wanting sex.

Many men feel interrogated when their wives ask questions about their day or how they’re feeling, but it’s important for men to be Open at these times because their wives are looking to connect. Your wife will feel your openness when you share what happened in your day, make eye contact while you talk, and discuss financial concerns and future plans with her.

The C-O-U-P-L-E principles are connected. Closeness and openness are similar, and they both feed into Understanding. If you move closer to your wife and you’re open with her, she’ll feel like you’re trying to understand. You don’t have to fully understand your wife, you only have to try. She’ll feel like you’re trying when you listen and repeat back what she said, listen without analyzing or trying to fix, and show appreciation for anything, and everything, she does.

Peacemaking may be the most important C-O-U-P-L-E principle because, as Eggerichs says, “Without peace in your relationship, she doesn’t feel close, she doesn’t feel you’re open, and she certainly thinks you don’t understand.” Wives feel at peace in their marriage when husbands let them vent without getting angry, when husbands forgive and don’t nurse bitterness, and when they admit they’re wrong and apologize with, “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?”

Loyalty isn’t just about remaining faithful, it’s also about a wife knowing that your love is unconditional. She’ll feel assured of your loyalty when you keep your commitments and include her in social gatherings where other spouses are left out. Esteem is closely linked to loyalty because praising your wife in front of others will assure her of your esteem and loyalty. She’ll also feel your esteem when you try something new with her, value her differing opinions as valid, and choose family outings over guy events.


Just like husbands can learn to show their wives unconditional love with the C-O-U-P-L-E principles, wives can learn to show their husbands unconditional respect with the C-H-A-I-R-S principles – Conquest, Hierarchy, Authority, Insight, Relationship, and Sexuality.

The term “unconditional respect” is critical for the Love and Respect Connection, even though it may sound like an oxymoron since respect usually needs to be earned. But when it comes to spouses, especially husbands, Eggerichs believes unconditional respect is a requirement. You can do this with vocal tone, facial expression, and overall attitude. Again, this doesn’t mean you respect and condone all of your husband’s behavior, it just means you treat him respectfully, even during conflict.

The Conquest principle calls on wives to appreciate their husbands’ dedication to working and achieving. This is similar to the Hierarchy principle, which asks wives to recognize their husbands’ desire to protect and provide. The Authority principle requires wives to respect their husbands’ instinct to serve and lead, so it’s intertwined with both conquest and hierarchy. None of these principles mean wives are expected to be meek or subservient. Instead, they mean that by communicating respect and appreciation for your husband’s efforts difficult situations will be helped more than by lecturing or criticizing.

You can show your appreciation for your husband’s desire to work, provide and lead – the Conquest, Hierarchy, and Authority principles – by never putting down his job or how much he earns, respectfully voicing financial concerns while also offering solutions, applauding his good decisions, and being patient when he makes bad ones.

The Insight principle asks wives to appreciate their husbands’ inclination to analyze and advise. Yes, women have their own intuition, but they also have blind spots just like men, who have their own kind of intuition. You can show respect for your husband’s insight by telling him in advance if you need him to problem solve or just listen, you thank him for his advice without acting insulted, and you admit when you need help and seek his counsel.

The Relationship principle calls on wives to respect their husbands’ desire for connecting through activities, which is how most men interact with one another. You can show respect for your husband’s need for this kind of shoulder-to-shoulder relationship by accepting his invitations to do recreational activities together and by encouraging him to spend time with his friends instead of denouncing it to get him to spend more time with you.

If your husband is like most men, he has a sexual drive that is different from yours, and recognizing that difference is the key to the Sexual principle. If you shame, punish, or deprive his sexual drive, it degrades who he is. Instead, recognize his longing for sexual intimacy by responding more often to his advances, periodically initiating sexual intimacy, and understanding most men need sexual release like most women need emotional release.


Developing the Love and Respect Connection can help resolve marital conflict, increase understanding between spouses, and energize relationships.

Giving wives the unconditional love they need, and husbands the unconditional respect they need, can be tricky. Men and women can see the world through different lenses and speak in what seem like different languages. It takes time, effort, and patience to work through those differences, discover what truly affects your spouse, and build the Love and Respect Connection so you can get off The Crazy Cycle and ride The Energizing Cycle.

Eggerichs suggests spouses practice the C-O-U-P-L-E and C-H-A-I-R-S principles for six weeks and then give their relationship a close examination. After that amount of time, you should be able to see how far you’ve come, and how far you still have to go.

About the author

Emerson Eggerichs, PhD, is an internationally known communication expert and author of the New York Times bestseller Love & Respect. Just as Dr. Eggerichs transformed millions of marital relationships with a biblical understanding of love and respect, he also turned these principles to one of the most important relationships of all in Mother & Son: The Respect Effect. As a communication expert, Emerson has also spoken to groups such as the NFL, NBA, PGA, US Navy SEALs and members of Congress. He was the senior pastor of Trinity Church in East Lansing, Michigan for almost twenty years. Emerson holds a PhD in child and family ecology from Michigan State University, a BA in Biblical Studies from Wheaton College, an MA in communications from Wheaton College Graduate School, and an MDiv from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He and his wife Sarah have been married since 1973 and have three adult children.


Sex, Relationships, Religion, Spirituality, Marriage, Love, Christian Life, Inspiration, Bibles, Christianity, Parenting, Family, Self-Help, Medical General Psychology, Romance, Christian Living, Faith, Psychology

Table of Contents

Dr. James Dobson on Love and Respect
Introduction: Love (and Respect) Is Enough

Part I: The Crazy Cycle
1. The Simple Secret to a Better Marriage
2. To Communicate, Decipher the Code
3. Why She Won’t Respect…Why He Won’t Love
4. What Men Fear Most Can Keep the Crazy Cycle Spinning
5. She Fears Being a Doormat…
He’s Tired of “Just Not Getting it”
6. She Worries About Being a Hypocrite…
He Complains, “I Get No Respect!”
7. She Thinks She Can’t Forgive Him…
He Says, “Nobody Can Love That Woman!”

Part II: The Energizing Cycle
8. C-O-U-P-L-E: How to Spell Love to Your Wife
9. Closeness…She Wants You to Be Close
10. Openness…She Wants You to Open Up To Her
11. Understanding…Don’t Try to “Fix Her”–Just Listen
12. Peacemaking…She Wants You to Say, “I’m Sorry”
13. Loyalty…She Needs to Know You’re Committed
14. Esteem…She Wants You to Honor and Cherish Her
15. C-H-A-I-R-S: How To Spell Respect to Your Husband
16. Conquest…Appreciate His Desire to Work and Achieve
17. Hierarchy…Appreciate His Desire to Protect and Provide
18. Authority…Appreciate His Desire to Serve and to Lead
19. Insight…Appreciate His Desire to Analyze and Counsel
20. Relationship…Appreciate His Desire for Shoulder-to-Shoulder Friendship
21. Sexuality…Appreciate His Desire for Sexual Intimacy
22. The Energizing Cycle Will Work If You Do

Part III: The Rewarded Cycle
23. The Real Reason to Love and Respect
24. The Truth Can Make You Free, Indeed

Conclusion: Pink and Blue Can Make God’s Purple
Appendix A
The Biblical Framework for Love and Respect
Appendix B
What About Exceptions to the Love and Respect Pattern?
Appendix C
What If Your Husband Is a Workaholic?


Discover the single greatest secret to a successful marriage! Touted as a classic among marriage books, Love & Respect reveals why spouses react negatively to each other and how they can deal with conflict quickly, easily and biblically. A New York Times best-seller with over 2.1 million copies sold.
Cracking the communication code between husband and wife involves understanding one thing: that unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her. It’s the secret to marriage that every couple seeks, and yet few couples ever find. While both men and women deserve both love and respect, in the midst of conflict the driving need for a woman is love and the driving need for a man is respect. When either of these needs isn’t met, things get crazy.

Based on over three decades of counseling, as well as scientific and biblical research, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and his wife, Sarah, have taken the Love and Respect message across America and are changing the way couples talk to, think about, and treat each other. If you want to feel peace, closeness, value, and to experience marriage the way God intended, this book will help you get there.

Love and Respect is for anyone: those in marital crisis, the happily married, engaged couples, pastors and counselors, and small groups. This dynamic and life-changing message is impacting the world, resulting in the healing and restoration of countless relationships.

What readers are saying about Love & Respect:

  • “I’ve been married 35 years and have not heard this taught.”
  • “This is the key that I have been missing.”
  • “You connected all the dots for me.”
  • “As a counselor, I have never been so excited about any material.”
  • “You’re on to something huge here.”

Partner Love & Respect with the Love & Respect Workbook for Couples, Individuals, and Groups for an added experience. Love & Respect is also available in Spanish, Amor y Respeto.

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