Do you remember the first “stupid” argument you got into with your spouse? I do! It was about whether chili is considered a soup or not. We had only been married a few weeks and Brenda made her version of chili which included celery, not many chili beans, and spaghetti. After taking my first cautious taste, in the most loving way possible I said, “This is not chili! Who ever heard of chili that was brothy, with chunks of celery, served over spaghetti?” As you can imagine these words of love and admiration motivated Brenda to show her love and respect for me. She said, “You are wrong! Chili is a soup and it is supposed to be brothy! Just because your mom made it that way doesn’t make it right. You’re wrong and I’m right.” In the matter of a few seconds we were in a tailspin which later I learned was called “The Crazy Cycle.”
I wish I could say that the rest of our arguments have all been as silly as our chili challenge. We have had seasons in our marriage where we were caught in the jaws of the Crazy Cycle. Brenda has gone to bed feeling unloved and I have turned my back to her feeling disrespected. The more she felt unloved, the more she did not respect me. And the more I felt disrespected, the less I loved her. This, my friends, is the Crazy Cycle. Thankfully we have learned a few things over the past thirty three years and have worked hard to interrupt the Crazy Cycle when it begins. Here are a few truths that have helped us have a great marriage from a book called Love and Respect by Dr. Emeron Eggerichs.
- Men and woman were created differently. Brenda’s primary need is to feel loved. She was created to love, want love, and expect love. My primary need is to feel respected. I was created to want and expect respect. Yes, both of us need to feel love and respect, but our primary needs are different.
- When I withhold love from Brenda, it is very difficult for her to respect me. When she withholds respect from me, it is very difficult for me to love her. Our natural response is to fight back to get that which we desperately need and crave. Without love from me, she reacts without respect; without respect from her, I react without love. This is how the Crazy Cycle begins.
- My love for Brenda should not be dependent on whether she respects me. Brenda’s respect for me should not be not dependent on how I love her. They are both to be unconditional. This is the only way to break the Crazy Cycle. If we continue to withhold love when disrespected or respect when unloved, we will forever be on the Crazy Cycle.
- I have learned that Brenda wants me to honor her and cherish her, not to try and fix her, but listen to her and be willing to say sorry when I have messed up. Brenda has learned that I want her to appreciate my desire to protect and provide for her, to serve and lead her, and to appreciate my desire to work and achieve.
- We have learned to quickly identify when we are on the Crazy Cycle and to remind each other that we are on the same team. We love each other, are for each other, and often need to ask each other for forgiveness!
Next week I want to talk about the importance of offering and accepting forgiveness. It is critical for every relationship you are in, especially your marriage.
PS: Here is a link to the book Love and Respect.
PSS: If you look in our recipe box, you will find chili under the soup section! We still use celery and serve it over spaghetti, but have added a few more cans of beans and meat with a few more teaspoons of chili power. We call it BellPfohl Chili. It is one of our favorite soups!