Thinking Out Loud

December 2, 2011

The Love and Respect Devotional Experience

Working in around books all day, I have been fully aware that the book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs has been a bit of a sleeper title.  By that I mean a book which releases somewhat quietly, but then builds; and while other titles from 2004 have either become mostly forgotten or been discontinued altogether, Love and Respect shows no signs of slowing down; in some areas it is still taking off.

So when our friends at Graf-Martin Communications were doing a blog blitz on a recently-released spinoff, The Love & Respect Experience: A Husband-Friendly Devotional That Wives Truly Love, I knew I was getting a second chance to view the material up close. 

But how to review a devotional book?  Do I speed-read every entry?  That proved not to be an issue.  Finally getting around to opening the book, I discovered the feeling one might get upon opening a book and having hundred dollar bills (or, for our UK readers, fifty pound notes) fall out of every page.  It’s that rich.  I read chapter one.  Then chapter two.  Then chapter three.  Then, seeing an extensive note on it at the back, chapter thirteen.  Which directed me to consider chapter five.  And so on.

However first, I began with the introduction.  This is a book that aims to cut to the heart of the problems often encountered in the couple devotional genre.  He finds the material too feminine in orientation.  She wants to just read the material on her own.  Either spouse feels they’re being “prayed at” or corrected in the middle of the prayer time that follows. 

Next, I skipped over to page 273, an appendix offering a summary of the Love and Respect concept as taught in the original book, in seminars and available (only) at the authors’ website on DVD.  Since the book has been out for more than seven years, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the L&R concept is:

Without love, she reacts without respect
Without respect, he reacts without love

That’s the great axiom of the book, and there are at least two other corollaries which follow from it directly, the most obvious being:

His love motivates her respect
Her respect motivates his love

The decision to include only 52 chapters implies a weekly time together for couples, though the authors are clear that this is just one of many possibilities and also note that nowhere does scripture mandate that couples read and study the Bible together, much to the relief of a few of you reading this.

Finally, I need to reiterate what is essentially spelled out in The Love and Respect Experience subtitle: This is a book which has, by very strong design, been crafted as male-friendly.  The leather-bound cover (at a very reasonable price) adds to the ‘macho’ feel of the book, but the subtitle is also clear that this is not a men’s devotional book either.

I can’t recommend this book enough, especially at a time of year which is a ripe opportunity for couples to purposely launch some kind of Bible study and/or prayer time together.  And the seasonal gift-giving possibilities here can’t be overlooked either. 

A copy of the devotional was provided by Graf-Martin Communications, a Kitchener, Ontario firm which works with publishers and author agencies to provide additional promotion and publicity for books and book-related products.

January 29, 2011

Relationships and the Internet’s Dark Side

Although the online version I posted exactly two-and-a-half years ago no longer resembles the print version I would still like to see published, I am convinced that The Pornography Effect: Understanding for the Wives, Daughters, Mothers, Sisters and Girlfriends contains information and ideas not being discussed elsewhere.

To bring those ideas to a wider audience, and to help confront what is still, 30 months later, a most serious problem, I’ve decided to occasionally reprint chapters of it here where there is a much larger readership.  The full text of the current draft is set up in a WordPress blog, but reformatted so that it reads like a book from start to finish.  It takes only 50-60 minutes to read and uses only two full screens to present the fifteen chapters in that draft edition.   You can link to the whole book here.

As a guy trying to write something that is intended to read by a dominantly female audience, I know that women are into relationships. So I thought that beginning there would be a good jumping off point. The point is that when guys view internet pornography it changes the relationship… (wait for it!) …with their computer.

I see two possible responses here.

Jim has done a bit of gaming, he knows how to check his stocks and mutual funds online, he has a friend who blogs, he’s got two e-mail addresses and he’s looking into switching his long distance from a standard carrier to VOIP on cable. Then he discovers the internet’s darker side.

Dawn, his wife, asks him to check her e-mail for a message from her mom, and from nowhere, she hears his voice answering her, “I’m not going anywhere near that thing.” He walks out to the patio and shuts the door.

Dawn’s understandably bewildered. Why doesn’t he want to check it? She opens the door, asking, “What’s the matter, did it bite you? Did you get an electrical shock off the keyboard?”

Around the block lives Rick. He loves to play the 300 variations on Solitaire he bought online, has a few friends he e-mails, likes to read articles from major newspapers online, and subscribes to a few comics to brighten the time when he gets home from work. Then a friend sends him a link to a site he thinks Rick will ‘enjoy.’ His eyes grow wide as the first image appears onscreen. His friend sends links to other websites.

Rick’s wife Alicia is unable to ignore what’s happened in the last few weeks. Rick has suddenly become an expert on all things related to the online world. He knows ‘search’ like never before, he’s suddenly an expert on downloading all manner of things, and it’s getting harder and harder for her to get any time online. Sometimes he’s up an hour early in the morning, and sometimes he’s up an hour late at night.

Alicia has entertained some suspicions, but anytime she walks by the screen all seems normal enough. But there’s no doubt in her mind that her man has suddenly transformed himself from a casual computer user to a rabid computer nerd. Or something.

Two guys. Two similar family dynamics. Two computers. But two entirely different responses. In the one case aversion, in the other case, immersion or saturation. One guy is treating the computer the way he might treat the family dog if it bit him. The other guy has suddenly become a handy guy to have around if you have any computer questions.

The point here is that those same reactions – aversion or immersion – can also affect the dynamics in a family. For sake of simplicity let’s ascribe the same reactions to couples with the exact same names.

Jim is suddenly cold toward Dawn. She doesn’t know why he doesn’t find her appealing anymore. She gets her hair styled, but he doesn’t seem to notice. There are fewer hugs. Fewer intentional touches. Jim’s aversion could be because he’s finding sexual fulfillment online. Jim’s aversion could be caused by the fact he simply feels guilty and suddenly finds sexuality – even sensuality – for lack of a better word, dirty.

But over at Rick’s house, Alicia couldn’t be happier. Jim has come alive sexually in ways she’s never seen before. Secretly, she wonders where he’s getting all these new ideas. But things are far too exciting to stop and think about it. She figures that maybe he read a book or an article in a newspaper. At any rate, she’s not going to complain.

Within the context of happy marital relations, Rick and Alicia’s situation would seem to be the better of the two, but what is Rick thinking – or pretending – while all this is going on? And what would a psychologist say about the fact that of the two men, Rick is the one who appears to be ‘acting out’ on his newfound interest?

The ‘acting out’ question is critical here because if exposure to internet pornography changes the relationship dynamics between a man and his wife or his girlfriend, could it have consequences for his daughter, his sister or his mother? Don’t be too quick to discount any of those, because when you see the recurring types of sexuality, and the themes that are dominant on the internet, you soon discover that there is a fine line between using the ‘net to stimulate healthy sexuality between a man and woman who are in relationship, and more overt perversity.

Furthermore, it’s a slippery slope that I’m certain leaves some guys saying, “I never thought that could happen to me.”

I would submit that almost from the first minute of viewing, that exposure to internet pornography is going to change the way the guy – any guy – looks at any female, from strangers to women in close proximity. I would submit that for most guys, if the escalation of interest in online erotica continues unchecked, there would come a point where ‘acting out’ would be considered, if not actually carried out. (In other places of course, you can read stories that indicate just about all the perpetrators of sexual crimes trace their behavior back to exposure to pornography. Logically, that doesn’t mean the story will end there for every man, but it means that with those for whom it did end there, its beginnings are undeniable.)

Even if nothing criminal ever happens, the consequences could be huge. One silly off-the-cuff remark to a female coworker could end a longtime career; a remark that wouldn’t have been made if certain thoughts hadn’t been planted in his head. One indecent suggestion to a friend’s wife, a cousin or a neighbor’s wife could totally destroy families, friendships and neighborhoods; a suggestion that would never have been vocalized if the person didn’t think that such behavior could be considered normal.

Someone once compared the things that enter our thought life to what happens when farmers sow seeds and later reap the harvest. The little verse goes:

Sow a thought, reap an action;

Sow an action, reap a habit;

Sow a habit; reap a lifestyle.

One thing is certain, whether there’s aversion or attraction, interpersonal dynamics are changed. Someone has said, “You are what you eat.” You certainly are what you read or view on television or your computer screen.

I don’t think anybody who stays connected with pornography remains the same person they were.

…Continue reading here…

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