Based on the Love and Respect Book by Emerson Eggerichs
Does it seem to you that often the interactions with your hubby, when you are supposed to be “communicating”, can end up in frustration and hurt?
Do you say something with good intentions only to be misinterpreted by him, an argument starts, feelings are hurt and you wonder how in the heck that just happened?
This month in our Finer Femininity meeting we talked about what Emerson calls the Crazy Cycle. Remember, in my post “Who Is Right?” we talked about a man and a woman having different opinions, preferences or tastes and how they end up in conflicts because of this. We found out that neither of them is wrong, they are just different.
This last meeting we saw what happens when something is misinterpreted as disrespectful to the husband, and he in turn says something that is unloving, so she returns it with disrespect and he answers unlovingly….etc., etc. Round and round it goes, maybe day after day and year after year. This is called the Crazy Cycle.
Emerson gives an example:
Their first Christmas as newlyweds, his wife sews him a very nice jean jacket. She spends hours and hours on it. Christmas morning she saves this best gift for last and hands it to him with expectant excitement.
He opens it, takes it out and looks at her, smiles and says, “A jean jacket! Thank you!”
That was it.
She’s a little deflated. She asks him if he really likes it…. he says he does. She needles him and asks him again if he truly does like it and he answers that he does. Then she says that it seems he doesn’t like it and he reassures her that he sincerely does.
She doesn’t believe him…..
You see, in her family, when someone was given a special gift, the thanks were profuse and long-lasting. It was oooed and ahhhed over. It was brought up again and again.
This was what she was used to, so she misread her husband’s reaction. She began to get what seemed like disrespectful to him.
He interpreted her interrogation as questioning his integrity so he started to get irritated and came off as being unloving. She couldn’t believe it! After all she had done for him (the jacket), he would treat her this way! And so her disrespect rises, which in turn brings out more unloving remarks from him….etc. etc. Round and round it goes…..
THIS is called the CRAZY CYCLE and these little misunderstandings can turn into hurt feelings, resentment and building walls. And they can last for years and get bigger and bigger.
Ladies, who is going to jump off this merry-go-round first? Well, since we are mature women who want to heal our relationship…..we are!!
We have to stand back and ask ourselves, Am I coming off as disrespectful?
We must understand that a man needs respect….and this is his vulnerability. No, he is not narcissistic, neither does he have a big ego. That doesn’t mean he isn’t sometimes selfish and egotistical (he is not a perfect man)…but in general he is a good-willed man and respect is very important to him.
So….when you are having a conflict with him, or even just a conversation, watch your words and your tone.
“If your husband has good will, you have power to affect him through your unconditional respect. When your husband feels disrespected, his spirit may deflate. What does that mean? More than likely, it is the critical point right before his behavior changes to what appears unloving (he stonewalls or he becomes harsh, sarcastic, or angry). When this happens, challenge yourself to take note of what you just said or did. Take responsibility for your part and see what happens. If though, you hold onto your disrespect as his fault, and refuse to confess and make adjustments, you deprive yourself of this influence.”
Remember, we expect our hubbies to love us unconditionally, even if we are at times not very lovable. In turn, we should give to him unconditional respect even if he doesn’t always deserve it.
Lastly, Emerson asks us to practice having a “quiet spirit”. Our husbands will be won by a respectful behavior and a quiet spirit (1Peter3).
“This is central to your empowerment as a wife. This is not sexist teaching. Just as your husband needs to learn to live with his wife in an understanding way, which touches her spirit (1Peter3:7), you need to learn the discipline of a quiet spirit which opens his heart.”
At the end of our meeting I read this Application Exercise to the ladies that we were all to take home with us:
“This week if there is a conflict, we want you to remain verbally quiet, when you want to argue or defend yourself. We are not kidding. See if you can go quiet and remain quiet. Remember, you are slowing down the Crazy Cycle by doing this. You can do it!”
Does this take work? Is it hard? Is it worth it? Yes, yes and yes!
Remember this: Our Lord never said it was going to be easy. But He did say He is with us every step of the way. Our marriage is the most valuable thing we have on this earth, besides our Faith. So it is worth the struggle to overcome ourselves on a daily basis.
We don’t have to be a doormat….no. We need to be strong and dignified, but we must also give until it hurts. Wives and mothers know this, we experience it regularly.
The men have their own work to do in the relationship but we pray and leave that part up to God. We can only change ourselves.
We will turn to Our Lady and ask her to help us to have a quiet spirit, that we do not return what we deem as unloving actions or words with disrespect, but that we remain quiet. And that it is a good quiet, not one with a bad attitude.
Let us ask her to help us to see his side, too, and to realize that he has vulnerabilities like we do….
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom. pray for us!