Pride Goeth Before a Marriage Conference
By Connie Cavanaugh -
Women buzzed around the “Love and Respect” marriage conference registration table in the church foyer, eager to sign up. The men leaned on the walls, staying well back. They had been to these gigs before and weren’t too keen on spending money to learn how messed up they were. The women, me included, secretly hoped our husbands would hear all the things they were doing wrong, smarten up, and become more like us.
The conference facilitators were Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs. I had seen their video clips on their web site and I figured Emerson would disarm us with laughter, then he’d swoop in for the kill: all the men would see their mistakes and repent, they would commit themselves to try harder and we women would go home validated. I couldn’t wait!
Erelong I would discover that pride goeth before a marriage conference.
We gathered on Friday night and took our seats amid the noisy throng. As expected, Emerson had us hooting with laughter as he dramaticly played both roles in a marital spat. Before long I was riveted to my seat as he talked about the way our culture had vilified men for 30 years — in an attempt to raise awareness and create gender equality, popular culture has normalized male bashing and tried to feminize men. He explained that God created men and women equal but different and it was that “different-ness” that provided the romantic spark as well as fostered the misunderstandings.
The more Emerson talked, the taller my husband sat. I, however, was sinking, stunned by my naivety. This was a spiritual encounter with Truth and it would set me free from the cultural lies I had swallowed for years.
I watched my husband and dozens of other men fight back tears when Emerson talked about a man’s primal need for respect in a culture that is saturated with romantic notions of love but sadly lacking in respect. I learned that a man gladly serves and dies for country and family from a sense of honor. That is his way of showing love. Too often, he isn’t thanked or even recognized.
I learned things my parents and grandparents grew up knowing, that when a man works hard and provides for his family, he is serving them in love and this service is worthy of respect. Because my husband has always been quick to say, “I love you” and is very affectionate, I didn’t realize that while my need for love was constantly being met, his need for verbal respect was seriously underfed.
The one who needed to change was me, not my spouse. I had to start expressing my respect and stop taking his contribution for granted.
There was a decidedly different feeling in the air when the crowd was dismissed that night. Gone was the she-dragged-me-here look the men had arrived with three hours earlier. They could hardly wait to come back the next morning.
My husband was pumped! He yakked my ear off all the way home in the car. I was so raw with emotion I barely had the stamina to whisper, “Can you ever forgive me for not voicing my respect and appreciation more often for who you are and all you do?”
For too many years I assumed my husband was the one who needed to do all the changing, if he would just be more like me everything would be great, I thought. The good news is that while pride goeth before a marriage conference, humility cometh after.