I hear from many couples who read Love & Respect and understand how to slow down and even stop the Crazy Cycle, but they struggle with how to keep it from starting up again. They try to react less negatively to each other, but it’s like turning down the settings on their flamethrowers. They don’t consume each other, but they don’t give each other cups of cold water too often either. Their marriage may be a little less crazy, but it’s not as enjoyable as the words Love and Respect would seem to promise.
Learning how Love and Respect can stop the Crazy Cycle is only the beginning. Every couple needs to realize they must consciously make the effort to get on what we call the “Energizing Cycle” which provides tools they can use to communicate better and more effectively.
I want to emphasize that slowing and even stopping the Crazy Cycle doesn’t result in automatically experiencing the Energizing Cycle. Putting out the negative doesn’t kindle the positive, nor is success merely the absence of failure. What we all must learn to do is go beyond being reactive and be proactive.
So how do we go from reactive to proactive in our marriage? I discovered the answer in the Energizing Cycle one day as I made a connection between Love and Respect that I had not seen before in Ephesians 5:33. The verse clearly says the husband must love his wife as much as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband.
I believe God prompted me to ask: “What would happen if a wife met her husband’s need for respect?” The answer seemed obvious: “He would be energized. That is, he would be motivated to love her in return.”
As I pondered that, another question arose, and its answer became obvious: “What would happen if a husband met his wife’s need for love?” Of course “She would be energized and motivated to respect him in return.”
Having seen this positive energizing connection between Love and Respect as stated in Ephesians 5:33, I decided it was like a cycle – an Energizing Cycle: “HIS LOVE MOTIVATES HER RESPECT. HER RESPECT MOTIVATES HIS LOVE.”
So back to our question: What can husbands and wives do specifically to proactively stay energized in their marriage?