Love and Respect, with Dr. Emerson EggerichsThe Crazy Cycle
Leslie Basham: The words you use are only part of your communication. Here’s Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: She says, “I have nothing to wear.” What she means is she has nothing new. He says, “I have nothing to wear.” What he means is he has nothing clean. You say the same words—same exact words. “I have nothing to wear.” But we mean totally different things by that.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, July 16.
In the month of July Revive Our Hearts listeners have been hearing practical interviews on: parenting, singleness, and inward beauty. We'll continue focusing on interviews and practical life topics all month. Coming up we'll look at: friendship, the value of an organized home, and how to find God in a time of suffering. Today we turn to marriage.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As you might imagine, we get a lot of letters and emails here at Revive Our Hearts. I love reading those. I read as many of them as I can. Day after day I’m reading the stories from women who are sharing their hearts about situations and issues in their marriage that they find frustrating or disturbing or bizarre. Conflicts in their marriage.
My heart goes out to these women. As a ministry we pray for our listeners. We pray for these situations, and we’re seeking day after day to bring material from God’s Word that will help us to be God’s women in whatever situation or season of life He has placed us.
I’m delighted today to have a man on the broadcast. We don’t do that real often. We probably should do it more often because we have so much as women that we can learn from men who are godly and biblically oriented.
Dr. Eggerichs, thank you so much for being with us on Revive Our Hearts today. I know that what you have to share is going to be a tremendous help and encouragement to our women listeners.
Dr. Eggerichs: Thank you, Nancy. I hope we will be an encouragement. I’ve been looking forward to this.
Nancy: You say in your book something that I think would be enough, if it’s true, to make every woman who’s listening went to buy the book. Now let me say that this book, Love & Respect, is not just for women. It’s for women and men. But we’re speaking today primarily to women. You say that the principle in this book—the principle of love and respect—is the key to any problem in marriage.
Dr. Eggerichs: Yes.
Nancy: That’s quite a statement.
Dr. Eggerichs: Yeah, I lied. I just lied. No, it is true, and I believe it because it’s based on Ephesians 5:33 where you could say this is God’s last word to the church. It’s His whisper to us. "Listen to Me, children. Listen to Me on how to make your marriage successful." There is the apostle Paul who establishes the fact that he’s revealing to us what’s coming from the heart of Abba. It’s a powerful thing to meditate upon.
He says there, “Husbands must love their wives and wives must respect their husbands.” I believe, Nancy, that a wife has one driving need and that’s to feel loved for who she is. When that need is met, she feels fulfilled. She has a love tank connected by a hose and she needs to breath in that love like she breaths in air. It just is so fulfilling when she feels loved. But when he comes along and steps on that air hose, she negatively reacts.
Nancy: So that’s why God commands the husband, “Love your wives.”
Dr. Eggerichs: That’s exactly right. It is agape love that he needs to give her. The second part of that verse is saying that the wife needs to show respect to her husband. Apparently, he needs to feel respected for who he is, apart from his performance, like he needs air to breath. He has a respect tank connected by an air hose; and when she steps on his air hose, he’s not particularly pleased.
So the secret—there is a code, so to speak, that we kind of discovered. There is what I call a love and respect connection. When a wife feels unloved, she pushes her husband off her air hose. But what she doesn’t realize is that she stands on his in the process.
Nancy: So when she feels unloved, she says or does things that make him feel . . .
Dr. Eggerichs: . . . disrespected. For instance, suppose it’s January 15 and she says, “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it! I put on thirteen pounds. All those Thanksgiving meals, the Christmas parties, the New Year’s celebration. I can’t believe it. I feel fat. I feel ugly. I can’t do anything with my hair. I don’t have anything to wear.”
Well, he’s a sensitive guy, and he listens to her. The next day he’s at this Christian bookstore and the lead book is Dieting for the Christian Woman.
Nancy: Oh, oh, oh, I hear it coming.
Dr. Eggerichs: Every man makes this mistake once, right?
Nancy: But not more than once.
Dr. Eggerichs: That’s right. The subtitle of the book is Post-Holiday Menus. So he buys this book and comes home.
Nancy: And thinks she’s going to love this.
Dr. Eggerichs: Yes, but he thinks now though that he’s at Cape Canaveral. She goes ballistic. Unbelievable! You see, Jesus said, “Have you not read He who made them from the beginning made them male and female.” I liken it to the fact that God designed women to look at the world through pink sunglasses, they wear pink hearing aids, and they speak through a pink megaphone. He designed men to wear blue sunglasses, blue hearing aids, and speak through a blue megaphone.
Nancy: So we look at the world differently.
Dr. Eggerichs: Yes. She says, “I have nothing to wear.” What she means is she has nothing new. He says, “I have nothing to wear.” What he means is he has nothing clean. You say the same words—same exact words—“I have nothing to wear.” But we mean totally different things by that.
Or a wife can say, “That’s the worst meal I’ve ever made.” He says, “No, it’s not, honey.” She says, “What are you saying? Are you saying I’ve made thousands of worse meals than that?” Well, no, he’s just trying to comfort her. “You’ve never made a bad . . .” We get into these misunderstandings.
Well, back to the diet book. When he brings that diet book to her, he’s speaking a message through his blue megaphone. “Here’s something that might help you.” But it goes through her pink hearing aids, and it starts creating dissonance. It’s screaming at her, and she hears this message through the diet book to her from him, which is, “I do not accept you. I do not approve of you.”
So when she’s going ballistic on him, she’s screams, “You men have two brains—two brains! One’s lost and the other’s out looking for it.” So here’s the point. When she feels unloved, and everyone listening knows, “I can’t believe that he would buy a diet book. I would never do that.” So she reacts and that reaction is natural for her, and she’s sending a message. The message is, “I can’t believe how unloving you are. I need reassurance that you love me for me and I don’t have to look like a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.”
So one of the reasons we say that this is the secret, in a sense, that answers many of the problems . . . Here’s what we say. When you’re in a conflict with your spouse on a topic, that’s real. It could be money. It could be sex. It could be in-laws. It could be the children. But when you see the spirit of your spouse deflate, at that point in time, I believe in this case, a wife is feeling unloved. He thinks she’s just bothered by the weight. It’s not the weight. That became a symbol to her. That issue was real, but suddenly she’s feeling, "Does he really love me for me?" She’s threatened at the core of her being.
So we say this message of love and respect that we’ve written about really does explain almost every situation when we see—that’s the caveat—when we see the spirit of our spouse deflate or pull back or get wounded or close off. So what I do is I call this the "crazy cycle." Because when she feels unloved, she reacts in ways that feel disrespectful to him. When he feel disrespected, continuing on the circle, he reacts in ways that feel unloving to her. This thing can get crazy because it triggers itself. Without love, she reacts without respect. Without respect, he reacts without love. Without love, she reacts without respect. Without respect, he reacts without love. This baby starts to spin.
Nancy: Now we’ve got a vicious cycle.
Dr. Eggerichs: Oh and it’s a huge thing, and his spirit can sink. But let’s suppose she’s in that bookstore three weeks later and she sees the lead book, The Key to Marital Bliss—Communication. So she grabs it, starts reading it, “Oh, this is us.” She buys it. That’s the third book she’s purchased this year on marriage for them to read. She brings it home, and she reads it from cover to cover.
Nancy: Underlines it, highlights it.
Dr. Eggerichs: Well, don’t get ahead of me on that. She’s thinking to herself, “He needs to read this but he’s really busy, so I’m going to highlight in yellow.” You already jumped on it because that’s what the gals would do. I’m just trying to be helpful.
Nancy: I’ve got a pink hearing aid here.
Dr. Eggerichs: Exactly. So she sets that book down next to him where he sits when he watches TV. Suddenly he sees that book there and his blue hearing aids go into dissonance because he thinks she’s saying something to him through her pink megaphone. That message is this: “I don’t accept you. I don’t approve of you. I don’t respect you, buster, unless you change right now.”
That’s what he hears. That’s not what she’s trying to say. But if it’s the third book this year on marriage, he’s sitting there thinking, “The first two books she brought home on marriage we talked about, but we got in a huge fight—a huge fight. If I say something, I’m in trouble. If I don’t say something, I’m in trouble.”
Nancy: You’re just in trouble.
Dr. Eggerichs: But if I say nothing, I’m in less trouble. So he stonewalls. He shuts down. When you shut down and stonewall and pull back from a woman at the level of intimacy when she’s wanting to increase the feelings of love and relationship only to see you neglect the book or not even want to talk about the book, that screams, “I don’t love you.”
But that’s not the message he’s trying to send. What he’s trying to say is, “You used to look up to me in dating. You used to have that glow about you at the wedding. But that first year of marriage, that seemed to be exchanged with a sour, dark look. You know what, I know you love me, but somehow I don’t think you like me. In fact, you even told me that you don’t respect me. This is just another illustration that I’m not acceptable to you, that you don’t approve of me. You don’t respect who I am.”
There’s a core value in him. In the same way she needs to be loved for who she is apart from her performance, this is what’s novel about what we’re saying, a husband needs to feel that you respect him in his spirit apart from his performance. Remember Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Today because of deep feminism and other factors, even though these women are motivated by goodwill, they’re evolutionists in their worldview. They believe that you can show contempt toward a man if he isn’t who you want him to be or he should be.
What we’re saying is that no man feels fond feelings of love and affection in his heart toward a woman he thinks despises who he is as a human being. He closes off.
Nancy: So the very thing she’s wanting, she’s shutting down.
Dr. Eggerichs: She sabotages it.
Nancy: Emerson, you’ve been married for how many years?
Dr. Eggerichs: Since 1973 to my wonderful wife that I met at Wheaton College—Sarah.
Nancy: Your wife, Sarah.
Dr. Eggerichs: Princess in Hebrew. Princess.
Nancy: Do you and Sarah have any life message in this whole subject? Have you ever been on this crazy cycle?
Dr. Eggerichs: No, no, we’re perfect.
Nancy: Never. That’s why you have this ministry.
Dr. Eggerichs: I practice in the bathtub. I just walk back and forth sometimes. And so does she. So no, no, we can’t relate with that question. (laughter)
Nancy: Early on in your marriage, did you ever get on the crazy cycle?
Dr. Eggerichs: We get on the crazy cycle every week because she looks at the world through pink and I look at it through blue. But the other day, I was writing the book, Love & Respect and I said, “Are you listening to that radio program?” because it was on and it was bothering me. So she didn’t respond.
I said, “Are you listening to that radio program?” Still no response, and I know she’s in the other room. I said, “Sarah, are you listening to the radio program?”
“If you would be quiet,” she said, “I could listen.” She thought I was asking her to listen and I was really wanting to lead up to the fact that if she’s not listening, would she please turn it off.
See, so you get into these . . . and we almost spin on the . . . we almost go . . . Whoa, boy this got out of control almost about a simple, little thing. So we get on the crazy cycle like everybody else. As we say, we practice what we preach.
I discovered something in Ephesians 5:33, which in part will explain that. There God says, as His last word, “Husbands must love their wives and wives must respect their husbands.” She has one need—to feel loved for who she is. He has a need to feel respected for who he is apart from his performance. What we discovered is no husband feels fond feelings of love and affection in his heart toward a wife he thinks despises who he is as a human being.
Nancy: Could I get you to say that sentence one more time a little more slowly because I want that to sink in. I think that’s such an important point.
Dr. Eggerichs: No husband feels fond feelings of love and affection in his heart toward a woman who he thinks despise who he is as a human being. We can say all day long that you don’t despise him, but if he feels that you despise him, then there is a tendency for him to shut down. Just as a man may not intend to be harsh and angry, but no woman responds sexually to a husband who’s harsh and angry until he somehow reconciles with her.
So even though he may not have intended to be angry, it doesn’t do any good because your nature as a woman clams up. So too, a woman may not be intending to be disrespectful but something happens in the spirit of the male. He’s too vulnerable at the level of intimacy about that.
So we discovered through a love and respect connection that when a wife feels unloved, she reacts in ways that feel disrespectful to him, and she doesn’t see that. When he feels disrespected, he reacts in ways that feel unloving to her, and he doesn’t see that. That’s what we call the crazy cycle.
Without love, she reacts without respect. Without respect, he reacts without love. This goes on and on and on and on among goodwilled people who are divorcing at epidemic rates. We believe it’s because they’re on the crazy cycle and don’t know it and/or don’t know how to get off of it.
Nancy: Now, there will be some of our listeners, as often happens on this program, who will respond by saying, “You’re always talking to the women about their issues. I wish somebody would say something to the men.” Let me just say that it’s not my calling and it’s not the calling of this ministry to speak to the men. God has called me and thus Revive Our Hearts to minister to women.
So this program this week may seem a little one-sided. It is one-sided. But I want to be quick to say, and thank you, Dr. Eggerichs, that in your book you address both men and women. In fact, there’s a whole section of the book I didn’t even read. I would counsel the women who buy this book to skip the section maybe that’s directed toward husbands because that can just create all kinds expectations that we don’t need to have.
So, men, you do speak to men and you challenge them about how to communicate love to their wives. But what we’re talking about this week and what we need to hear as women is what does it mean to respect, for a wife to respect her husband, to show respect and help us understand as women some of the things that we may not intend to communicate disrespect, but they do?
Dr. Eggerichs: Let me back up even further on the comment that sometimes women think why are we challenging the women when the men need to be challenged? Historically the last forty years, the men are the ones who are being told to be loving. Dr. Dobson had our program on three different times in thirteen months and he said, "I missed it. I missed it." And he said truthfully we who are experts in the family area have been challenging men to be more loving. The idea of really challenging women has been far less. That was his testimony.
So from a historical standpoint, the number one complaint that men have is I’m tired of being beat up. So I suppose we need to be a little fair to men on that side. But here’s the other reason I bring that up. The key to getting a man to pay attention isn’t by coming at him in ways that he perceives as disrespectful. “You’re not living up to it. You need to change. You need to . . .” All of that sends the wrong message. It sabotages the very thing that we’re trying to do.
You cannot motivate a man to be loving by coming across in a way that’s disrespectful any more than you can motivate a woman to be respectful by doing a whole series of unloving things. The man says, “I’m not going to love that woman until she starts respecting me.” It ain’t going to work. We know that. As a woman, you know that.
So too you need to understand something. “There’s no way that I’m going to respect him until he starts loving me.” It won’t work. It simply won’t work. We cannot continue to send the message, “You need to change.” Furthermore, the reason women do that, they know that if he just made some slight adjustments, she’d out-love him. “He has no idea what I would do for him if he would just make this little change here. I mean this guy would think he’s died and gone to heaven and he’s going to get there sooner than he wants to if he doesn’t cut this out.”
The point is she has a longing for him to know and to feel what she’s feeling here, the hurts, and if he would just slightly do some different things . . . But what happens in that process, on the crazy cycle, when she feels unloved, going back to that idea, she tends to react in ways that are very disrespectful and doesn’t see it.
She may think it’s just a noodle in the face to him. “I’m using disrespect. I know that, but he should know that’s just a noodle,” and it’s used to get him to awaken. But in the man’s world, that disrespect feels like a brick in the face. So what he does, he just locks up on that.
One of the things I encourage a wife to do after she’s had a fight with her husband, for instance, to go into the bathroom, shut the door, be in there by herself and look at herself in the mirror and reenact as best she can the conflict that she just had with her husband. Research points out the dark look in the eyes, the sour look, the scolding finger that comes up. Reenact it. Come back across at yourself in the mirror the way you came across. Then ask yourself, "Is there any man or any person in this world who talks to him that way?"
So what’s happening? This is one of the things we say to women how they can begin to introduce some things. You need to understand that he’s not usually shutting down on what you say because men banter and debate with one another all day long. But we do so with a twinkle. We do not look at it with a scouring look, a dark look, that kind of look that could be interpreted as, “I despise who you are because of what’s happened here.” Men pull back from that.
One of the things we encourage a woman to do is to say, “Okay, how can I come across in a way that feels more respectful to him even though he doesn’t deserve it?” Let me repeat this, Nancy, to all who are listening. He doesn’t deserve it. He hasn’t earned it. It’s not a matter of him being superior to you. It’s not a matter of you being inferior to him. He won’t treat you like a doormat. Trust me on this. Even though it may feel that the result is going to be you deferring to him and just giving in to anything. No, no, no.
We’re talking about how you confront, in this instance maybe his unloving behavior. You must confront it as respectfully as you can. The behaviors that he has demonstrated are unloving. Now, I know you feel like you’re forsaking the feminist team when you do that. I know you feel like you’re losing power when you do that.
But when you do that in faith toward Christ in particular—and try it several times. We’ll even talk about a respect test here. But to enact that, watch what happens. If you’re husband has any degree of goodwill, if he has any degree of goodwill, you’ll see him soften and you’ll see him actually look at you. He will engage you. Because when you come across respectfully, let me just say it this funny way, you’re a better man than he is at that moment.
You see, you’ve entered the honor code, and now he knows you’re more loving than he is. He knows he’s less loving than you. He knows you’ll confront him on something that’s been distressing. He knows you’re a good woman. What he sees though here is that this is another opportunity you have to send him a message that he’s not acceptable, that you don’t approve of him, you don’t respect him, and you’re using this in some ways as another chance to change him.
He doesn’t hear the deeper cry for love. He just thinks, “For whatever reason, you just don’t like me, and he loses energy. He loses energy. But when you do it respectfully, it’s unbelievable. It would be the same as him coming across to you lovingly.
Most women will hear anything a man has to say if he says it lovingly. Women will engage every conversation. She won’t like what she hears, but if he comes across, “I don’t know how to say this. You don’t deserve me to come across as unloving, and you know the family origin of stuffing my anger. You’re the best woman, but I was frustrated when this happened. How do I say this in a loving way? I want to say it lovingly to you because I’ve hurt you so many times in the past, but we got to talk about this.” Every woman I know, “What time do you want to talk? You want to talk right now?”
She doesn’t want to hear what’s being said, but she’ll engage it because he’s speaking a deeper language. Every person who speaks the mother tongue of another person listens. When you speak the mother tongue of respect, he will engage you, which is what you want. But the feminist movement has given women a license to be disrespectful when they feel unloved, and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work.
So they’re at a crossroads. I know the women listening who have never heard this before are in shock. It’s so foreign. It rings true and yet they're frightened. They’re replaying in their minds, “Oh, I’ve blown it. I’ve blown it. I’ve blown it.” You can recover real quick, but you’re going to have to make a decision.
“Am I going to continue to do what I have been doing, being disrespectful and demotivating him to be loving, or could I actually do something respectful in response to his failure to be loving? That doesn’t seem wise." Well, have you ever really tried it on a consistent basis? You’re really at a crossroads. It’s a crisis maybe. But it’s . . .
Nancy: It’s a crisis of faith.
Dr. Eggerichs: It is, but it could be kind of exciting, couldn’t it?
Nancy: We’re going to be talking about that all this week and I hope our listeners will order a copy of the book, Love & Respect, because there’s far more in there than what we’ll be able to cover on the program this week. It’s going to be some principles that really may radically transform your marriage.
You may be thinking there is no hope for this marriage. There is no hope for this man. There is no hope for this relationship. Before you come to that conclusion, I want to just appeal to you to listen, to hear out the heart of a man this week who’s going to help us understand how some of the ways we respond and react can affect the men in our lives and what we can do about it to be the women God wants us to be and to build the kind of marriages that God wants us to have.
Father, thank You that in Your Word You have given to us a way that is right. The way of the world seems right, but we get into it and we find that it’s put us on a crazy cycle, and You’ve given us an opposite way. Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts. They’re infinitely different than our thoughts. But Lord, Your way is right.
As women, we want to listen to You; we want to listen to Your Word; we want to receive what You have to say; we want to learn how to respect, how to show proper godly, biblical, honor and respect for the men that you have put into our lives in ways that will free them up to fulfill Your command to them to love the women You’ve put in their lives. So Lord teach us Your ways. Transform our hearts from the inside out.
Then I pray that particularly in some marriages, perhaps represented by our listeners today, that You would do a miracle of grace and transformation as you find a woman who’s willing to say, “Yes, Lord, I’m willing to let you change me.” Thank you, Lord, for Your grace. I pray in Jesus’ name , amen.
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been praying for us as wives. We all need God’s strength if we’re going to get off the crazy cycle our guest, Emerson Eggerichs, described today
To help you get off and stay off the crazy cycle, I hope you'll get a copy of this conversation on CD. When you are in the middle of a stressful day and you're being tempted to revert to old patterns, you'll be able to put on this CD and be reminded of the importance of love and respect.
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Nancy: I appreciated how honest this woman was. She said, "It seems like every six to eight weeks my husband and I argue, and it's over the same things. I'm tired of fighting. I want to change in my marriage and my home."
Then this listener told us about a breakthrough. She said, "About two weeks ago my husband and I had an argument, and then I discovered your website." She had found the terrific resources there that are available for women at ReviveOurHearts.com and TrueWoman.com. In just a short time she had already seen a big change in the way that she related to her husband as she acted on all that she was learning from Revive Our Hearts.
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