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Depriving Her of C.O.U.P.L.E.—Six Ways to Disconnect with Your Wife

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In Love and Respect, Emerson Eggerichs highlights how to spell love to a wife, using the acronym C.O.U.P.L.E. When a goodwilled wife appears negative and offensive toward her husband, she is simply crying out for: Closeness, Openness, Understanding, Peacemaking, Loyalty, and Esteem. When her husband responds toward her with C.O.U.P.L.E., instead of withdrawing and stonewalling during conflict as is his male nature, it will energize his wife and she will respond with respect.

On the other hand, if an unloving husband wishes to be cruel and crush the heart of his wife, he need only do the following when it comes to C.O.U.P.L.E. When he keeps doing these six things, she will be the one who eventually withdraws and stonewalls. Why? She has lost hope of connecting. 

  1. If when she seeks CLOSENESS she continually hears, “You’re too nosey and smothering; get out of my face and quit invading my space, I can’t stand talking to you,” she’ll step back in hurt and close her heart to him.
  2. If when she seeks OPENNESS she continually hears, “You’re mothering me like a snoop; I don’t have to answer your interrogating questions nor tell you everything I am feeling,” she’ll eventually shut down on him.
  3. If when she seeks UNDERSTANDING she continually hears, “You’re impossible to figure out; I can’t follow all this detail and jumping around; you make no sense to me,” then she’ll back off and close off.
  4. If when she seeks PEACEMAKING she hears in response, “You’re always making a mountain out of a mole hill instead of getting over things and moving on; you need to be strong and independent. Quit expecting me to apologize so you can feel better,” then she’ll retreat and move into silence.
  5. If when she seeks LOYALTY she continually hears, “I told you fourteen years ago that I love you, and if anything changes, I’ll let you know, so quit being so insecure," then she is prone to keep her distance sexually and emotionally.
  6. If when she seeks ESTEEM she continually hears, “I am not your god here on the planet to make you feel good about yourself; love yourself and quit blaming me for your feelings of inferiority,” then she’ll shut down.

In a word, a wife seeks C.O.U.P.L.E. from her husband so that they can connect. So of course, when her husband does not respond favorably toward her desire for closeness, openness, understanding, peacemaking, loyalty, and esteem, it can only follow that the opposite effect will occur—husband and wife will disconnect.

Husbands, when your wife comes to you seeking out C.O.U.P.L.E., do your responses tell her that you wish to connect with her or disconnect?

Having said the above, I do not believe an honorable man really means three quarters of what he might flippantly say when frustrated and feeling disrespected himself. 

So, here’s the deal. Husbands, reassure your wife that you didn’t mean what you said here, if you came close to saying this. Humbly express your sorrow, asking her to forgive you. This is very important to the heart of a wife. 

Wives, please consider if your husband has made some of these comments and that he did so when he was feeling insecure, defensive, and disrespected. Please exercise discernment.  Did he really mean these things? Do they represent his heart? As I often say, show me the movie of his life, don’t show me a snapshot when he was being insecure and defensive in an isolated situation. If these do not represent his soul then don’t copy this and send it to him saying, “Read this! This is what you say to me!” He won’t hear the cry of your heart but will conclude you intend to shame him.  

We are all vulnerable. We say things we should not say and we hear things that don’t really represent what the other feels.  I say this because the above information can create more problems than it solves, so work with me. This information isn’t written to attack the other but for a husband to look at himself and seek forgiveness for getting carried away with his words and acting in a way less than an honorable man would act. And, this is written for a wife to extend forgiveness as he seeks it from her. 

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider