An Addict Discovers the “Secret” of Ephesians 5:33

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“This book saved my marriage,” a man recently wrote me. He went on:

I read your book Love and Respect, and I felt the need to reach out and say thank you. I'm a thirty-year-old man who has gone in and out of several addictions. Sex, porn, drugs—legal and illegal—and alcohol. I've totally burned my wife's trust and for several years now we have been on the brink of divorce. This book opened my eyes for why I do what I do, what I'm looking for, and most importantly, what I need to be giving.

As much as I loved to hear this man’s testimony, and certainly was flattered by his statement concerning the effect of my book on his marriage, the truth is, his “180-degree turnaround” as he would later put it himself was not a result of my book but rather of the Book. More specifically, he is referring to what I call the “secret” hidden in Ephesians 5:33.

In this passage, Paul writes, “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” As a pastor of twenty years who studied the Bible for thirty hours a week, of course I had read that verse many times and even preached on it several times from the pulpit. But somehow I hadn’t noticed the connection between love and respect—that wives need love and husbands need respect.

Through further study of Ephesians 5 and other marital passages in the Scriptures, I discovered that the Love and Respect connection is the key to any problem in a marriage—including a husband’s addictions to sex, pornography, drugs, and alcohol.

The grateful husband above wrote, “This book opened my eyes for why I do what I do, what I’m looking for . . .” Throughout all his addictions, from sex to alcohol, he was not looking for sexual satisfaction or the thrill of being high; rather, he was looking for respect!

Of course, this is not to excuse any of his actions that were clearly sinful and wrong as simply a result of his wife not giving him the respect he was looking for. Not at all. We are all responsible for our own actions, without placing blame on others, and this husband made some absolutely terrible decisions.  

However, he would eventually discover, as I once did many years ago, the “secret” of Ephesians 5:33—that his wife needed his love, and he needed her respect. No doubt, they found themselves often on the Crazy Cycle—without love she reacts without respect; without respect he reacts without love—which drove him to look elsewhere for the respect he desired.

So, my new friend, this book did not save your marriage; rather it is God’s “secret” of Ephesians 5:33, which has been hidden in plain sight for two thousand years. Indeed, it is the key to any marital problem.

-Dr. E