Most of her life, Joy Eggerichs has been watching her parents share the message of her father’s enormously popular book Love & Respect. She’s now working with her parents to continue that ministry through her organization, Love and Respect Now. She uses her platform to address some of the hangups that arise as men and women try to relate to each other in a culture that’s very different from the one in which her parents grew up. She works alongside her father, Emerson, and the two recently teamed up to produce The Illumination Project, a curriculum tailored to millennials who want to be more wise in the way they relate to others.
Joy offers a great deal of practical advice at Love and Respect Now, so we thought we would ask her some of the questions our audience sometimes asks us and explore some of her thoughts on her dad’s book.
1. We’ve got some men in our audience who really struggle to connect with the ladies. What advice do you have for a single man who’s got a knack for opposite-sex awkwardness?
Well, I know a lot of women who feel just as equally awkward. Should I throw out a date and time and tell everyone to show up to Awkward Ave? Or maybe I should just direct everyone to check out my post, “Why Am I Socially Awkward? How to Not Puke at Parties” and this video called, “Getting Past the First Date + An Interactive Conversation.”
One helpful thing is to get feedback from the people who know us well. Ask for honest insight about what they think you could improve upon when interacting with the opposite sex. It’s not always fun to hear, but sometimes our awkward encounters are a by-product of not being aware of how we come across. Usually only a few simple changes will help us reflect our true character more accurately.
And maybe go on a practice date with your mom?
2. You’re a young, single bachelorette who sometimes speaks to crowds that include single men. How do you handle it when men who don’t know you get a stage crush and show an interest?
To give credit to the maturity of most of the men out there, I haven’t had too many uncomfortable situations. For the ones I have had, I simply try to follow my mother’s advice: Be friendly to everyone. AND THEN RUN!
3. One of the main messages of Love and Respect is that a woman’s primary way of relating to her husband is to respect him. What do you say to women who hear that and bristle?
Well, when you phrase it like that, I think we would all bristle. The sad reality is that our culture describes a man’s desire for respect in a demonstrative, demanding way. But the message of Love and Respect is based on Scripture, which I believe to be the Word of God. I also believe God’s Word is there to help us, not to hurt us, so we need to stop and figure out what this means for us as husband and wives. First Corinthians 7 says, “If you marry, you have not sinned…but you will have trouble.” This passage, combined with the truth of Ephesians 5:33 — that a husband is called to love his wife and a wife is called to respect her husband — also lines up with proven research about marital conflicts. In the majority of cases, husbands will say they leave the conflict feeling disrespected by their wives, and the wives will leave the same conflict feeling unsure of their husband’s love.
The key for husbands and wives is to remember that we are different. If we approach conflict thinking that our spouse will respond in exactly the same way as we do, then we will most likely stay trapped in what my father calls “The Crazy Cycle” — without love she reacts without respect, and without respect he reacts without love. The cycle spins on and on until a wife stops and figures out what makes her husband feel disrespected or when he stops and figures out what he does to make her feel unloved. Of course, at the end of the day, we can’t force our spouse to do anything. We ourselves have to decide if we will be the mature one who tries to decode what the other person is feeling and make the changes first.
Someone always has to go first.
The coolest thing happens when couples give voice to these feelings. The other person usually says, “That is what made you feel disrespected? I never knew!” or “That feels unloving to you? I didn’t know.” The reality is most people married their friend, not their enemy, so it’s helpful when we can remember that.
Oh, to answer your original question, why do women (including myself) bristle when they first hear that men need respect? Because we’ve been taught by our culture that showing respect to a man will make us weak. However, what I’ve observed in my own life and in the lives of thousands of other women is just the opposite: The principles of Love and Respect are tools that actually empower us as communicators, sisters, daughters and lovers.
4. What do you think a woman should do if she’s in a friendship with a man who is emotionally intimate with her but doesn’t appear to have a romantic interest in her?
If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked this question. I’ve heard from so many people who are confused about whether someone they know is interested in more than a friendship. So many, in fact, that I did a whole series about it called, “Can Guys and Girls Be Friends?” In it, I talk about “snacking,” this thing where one or both people in the friendship are getting their time and emotional needs met by someone they could be dating, even though neither party is moving anything forward. It’s a tricky place to be in, but if we focus too much on preserving the friendship and continue to keep snacking, will we ever be hungry enough for a full meal? Will we ever take the risk to date and marry?
Perhaps my favorite post was the one in which I used Timothy Keller’s wife as an example of someone who finally got to a point of deciding that her friendship wasn’t going to be available to ol’ Timmy-boy unless he was ready to pursue something more.
If marriage is something we want, we need to be wise in how we invest our emotions. Choosing momentary loneliness may actually create the space needed for us to see and be seen by someone who is ready to invest in a relationship and move us forward emotionally and romantically.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Joy. To learn more about Joy, go to LoveandRespectNow.com or follow her on Twitter @JoyEggerichs and @LoveRespectNow. You can view her session from Pursuit 2014, Boundless’ first-ever weekend event, when you buy the DVD.