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Learning How to Avoid the Crazy Cycle [Video]

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I received the following from a wife:

Six years ago, I became a widow at age 36 with three young children.  My husband and I were married very young; myself right out of high school and he was 3 years older than myself.  I had many wounds from my own father's death when I was 11 years old, which left me in a very dysfunctional home.  

My husband was the typical man who was full of life and full of energy; very driven in all that he did.  He was in the military for 12 years and then law enforcement the rest of our married years and was killed in the line of duty December 12, 1999.  

He had no idea how to meet my needs and I had no idea that his personality was God's design.  Most of my years I was crying out for his love and attention and most of the time he was shutting me out...stonewalling.  We simply had no idea how to get off the crazy cycle… we stayed together only because of our commitment to Christ…. since his death, there has been a great peace and gladness I have experienced in that we never gave up.

When he was killed, I had to mourn our lives together, along with the loss of his life…God has given me complete healing and peace over my first marriage.  I see how two young tender hearts fell in love, and through ignorance, got on the crazy cycle and never could figure out how to get off...I can't convey to you with words how grateful I am for reading your book.  I would give anything to be able to rewind 24 years and give my husband a new bride with this wisdom.

If only she had learned about the Crazy Cycle! It’s letters like this that spur me on to share this God-given message.

The Crazy Cycle

The Crazy Cycle happens when a wife feels unloved but reacts in disrespectful ways and when a husband feels disrespected and reacts in unloving ways.

Ephesians 5:33 is the summary to the greatest treatise in the New Testament on marriage. There God commands the husband to love and the wife to respect.

The Crazy Cycle happens when we do not grasp what Ephesians 5:33 is revealing.

What Ephesians 5:33 Says

When I pondered what Ephesians 5:33 is saying, my thought process went something like this: “A husband is to obey the command to love even if his wife does not obey this command to respect, and a wife is to obey the command to respect even if the husband does not obey the command to love.”

Do you see this in Ephesians 5:33?

Then I reasoned further: “A husband is even called to love a disrespectful wife, and a wife is called to respect an unloving husband. There is no justification for a husband to say, ‘I will love my wife after she respects me’ nor for a wife to say, ‘I will respect my husband after he loves me.’  God commands us to love and respect in obedience to Him out of trust for Him.”

Do you see this in Ephesians 5:33?

I then saw why it is so hard to love and respect. When a husband feels disrespected, it is especially hard to love his wife. When a wife feels unloved, it is especially hard to respect her husband.

I know you see this!

The Illumination

At that point came the illumination that made sense to me and many people.

When a husband feels disrespected, he has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel unloving to his wife. (Perhaps the command to love was given to him precisely for this reason!)

When a wife feels unloved, she has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband. (Perhaps the command to respect was given to her precisely for this reason!)

The AHA Moment

And then came what I call the “aha” moment: this thing triggers itself. Without love, she reacts without respect. Without respect, he reacts without love—ad nauseam.

Thus was born the Crazy Cycle!

Some get this immediately and recognize it every time they start spinning.  Are you in that group?

Or, are you like others who must re-visit this repeatedly until one day it dawns on you, “Hey, my wife isn’t trying to be disrespectful but is feeling unloved!”  And, “My husband isn't trying to be unloving but is feeling disrespected!”

At that moment comes the breakthrough and we thank and praise God!

A Husband Takes Action

"In our discussions and arguments I would often feel defensive and unable to give in. It seemed that if I did I would suffer harm and loss. After your teaching I felt so different. My eyes were opened to this good-willed person (my wife!) and how what she was saying (when decoded) could be a huge benefit to my life. My listening has changed dramatically. We just don't have those same argument cycles.”

A Wife Takes Action

“I just finished the C.H.A.I.R.S. (acronym on How to Respect Your Husband) portion of the book and every chapter brought back a memory of something he said once, that I could not decode because of my pink hearing aids... It has been like finding the Rosetta Stone for our marriage. How did I miss out…?

A Couple Takes Action

“We had decided to end our marriage and then we enrolled in the class. The best thing we learned was that we are good-willed people… Now everything has changed for us...We have learned through the class how to love and respect each other and make God happy at the same time. We have learned how to avoid the crazy cycle and get on the energizing cycle. This is the best thing that has ever happened to us and we are SOOOO happy now!”

May I Invite You to Take Action?

Will you make this commitment?

"I will not take up offense when my spouse defensively reacts in ways that feel unloving or disrespectful to me.  Instead, I will decode that my spouse is feeling disrespected or unloved, and then talk to them about what I did that distressed them in order to seek their forgiveness. I WILL AVOID THE CRAZY CYCLE."

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the simple truth about Love and Respect in Ephesians 5:33, and thank you that You have given this command, in part, so that we will not act in unloving or disrespectful ways. Thank you that we can take action to avoid the Crazy Cycle. Amen.


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

Questions to Consider