What Will It Take To Bring What Is Apart Together?

Recently, my husband and I had a wonderful lunch and a lively couples’ book discussion at our home. It’s always a pleasure to host and see people ease up and be themselves at the company and space you provide for them. We don’t have a lot of square footage in the house, but somehow, every one of our guests contributes to making it work for all.

Our intention was to make the meeting as enjoyable as it was instructional and informative. Humor plays both prophylactic and cathartic roles in a husband and wife relationship. And yes, everyone has to have comforting food, too, most especially when the conversation is likely to get intense at some critical points in the discussion. ?

When preparing for the study, Vic and I agreed that we’ll stick to the basic premise and foundational structure of the Biblical storyline of bringing together what has pulled apart. Marriage is a formally recognized union of two individuals in an intimate relationship. Surely, there is a lot of advice and a plethora of information to digest pertaining to married life.

What we committed to doing in our study is to highlight the heart of the Bible’s main message of unity through transforming love, being that Eggerichs’ book is marketed as a Bible-based self-help book.

Vic and I took a different approach in tackling chapters 4 to 8 of Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ popular married couple’s book, “Love and Respect.” We dug deeper into the theme and challenged a few of its audience-based premises. You see, while we do understand the intention of the author to help a husband and wife become more loving and respecting of each other, the disconnect that we see is that Eggerichs limited the expanse of love and respect by designating each virtue as a gender-assigned need or as described by the author, a gender-specific dominant language.

In fact, what the book perceives as a woman’s natural desire for love is actually a longing for acceptance or belonging, an inclination towards relationship and connection. Women have a higher degree of sentimentality compared to men. Instead of looking at it as a Propensity For Sentimentality, Eggerichs handles it as a love-based virtue.

And what has been referred to as a man’s need for respect in the book is actually a deep desire for recognition or an acknowledgment of strength or accomplishment. Men have been conditioned and expected to compete since very early in his life more so than women. It is a fact. Instead of tackling it as an ego or performance-based issue, Vic and I agree that in the book, a man’s inclination for recognition and achievement is mischaracterized as a respect-based virtue.

The Social Psychology of Respect: Implications for Delegitimization and Reconciliation

Since Eggerichs heavily referenced Dr. John Gottman’s research, we decided to share specifics in the group. We included several well-researched empirical facts and experts’ well-studied practical instructions to overcome marital conflicts. While we did encourage the husbands and wives to look into the deconstructed Christ-like definition of love and respect, Vic and I also facilitated an open discussion on a few real-life vulnerabilities and conflicts that a couple faces in their relationship.

Making Marriage Work

What we were aiming for in today’s discussion was to accomplish what we believe is the overall goal of the five chapters, which is to emphasize unity. We highlighted in our presentation that unity in marriage is a result of transforming love; a love that also produces respect. To help achieve this and stitch the chapters together, we incorporated Inso Kim Berg’s miracle question. We adjusted the question to highlight a narrative of bringing two individuals together as one unit. We hope the discussion was enjoyable as it was instructive and informative.

We opened the book meet by throwing a question that deals with what’s obvious and common —that it’s easy to demand a change from our spouse.

Miracle Question #1.

“Suppose tonight, while you slept, a miracle occurred. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice about your spouse that would tell you life had suddenly gotten better?”

Then towards the middle of the group discussion and after getting the knowledge and assuming that the group have acquired enough understanding of love, respect, and overcoming marital conflicts, Vic and I asked the second main question of the day. This time the question involves a self-reflective challenge of asking what you can do to improve your marriage. Here goes,

Miracle Question #2

“Suppose tonight, while you slept, a miracle occurred. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice about yourself (as a husband or a wife) that would tell you married life had suddenly gotten better?”

At the end of the discussion and after looking into the detailed study of forgiveness and expounding on a suggested dominant yet unifying language of a Christ-inspired love and respect between a husband and wife, we posted the third and last question. This time, the focus of the query is on the agreed couple’s goal of change. We concluded the discussion with a clear intent of joining two individuals to become one unit.

Miracle Question #3

“Suppose tonight, while you both slept together, a miracle occurred. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you, as a couple, would notice about your household that would tell you married life had suddenly gotten better?”

PowerPoint copy of what we used in today’s book meet.

And if you’re interested, check out the unabridged copy of what my husband and I put together in preparation for today’s book meet. Please note that none of our book meetings are intended to replace professional advice and interventions.

What will it take to bring together what is apart? Will it be a miracle? Or, will it be a transformed heart and mind — an attitude of faith? An attitude of faith that when both parties come to terms and acknowledge that God being the head leader and embrace Christ’s example of love and humility as a core inspiration, both the husband and wife will then see and live a co-equal share of power, openheartedness, and reliability. And that their marriage becomes a continuing discovery of a union of two becoming one.

Last year, Scott Treadway, lead pastor of Rancho Community Church presenter a Sunday lesson centered on purity and patriarchy. He briefly touched on God’s take on gender equality and the treatment of women. Follow the link for the full video of the sermon.

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