The Love and Respect System: The Crazy Cycle


Without love, your wife will react without respect. Without respect, your husband will react without love. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs explains how couples find themselves on this crazy cycle!


Many couples spend most of their time on the Crazy Cycle, which is summed up like this:

Without love, she reacts without respect.

Without respect, he reacts without love.

The Crazy Cycle triggers and fuels itself. When a wife feels unloved, she tends to react in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband. When a husband feels disrespected, he tends to react in ways that feel unloving to his wife. And around and around they go on the Crazy Cycle.

The Crazy Cycle is easy to learn and remember:

Without love, she reacts; without respect, he reacts

Scripture offers the answer to the Crazy Cycle in Ephesians 5:33, “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband,” (NIV). This verse is the summary statement of the greatest treatise on marriage in the New Testament, Ephesians 5:22-33.

But, Emerson, don’t wives need respect and husbands need love?

Absolutely. However, the felt need during conflict differs. We asked 7000 people this question: When you have a conflict with your spouse, do you feel unloved or disrespected? 83% of the husbands said disrespected and 72% of the wives said unloved.

Our loving Lord knew this!

Here is great news: When a husband chooses to come across lovingly even though he feels disrespected, he can prevent the Crazy Cycle from spinning out of control. When a wife chooses to come across respectfully even though she feels unloved, she can stop or slow the Crazy Cycle, as well.

On the other hand, life gets insane when a husband says to himself, “I’m not going to love that woman until she starts showing me some respect! I’ll not talk to her!” Likewise, madness reigns when a wife says to herself, “I’m not going to respect that man until he earns my respect and starts loving me the way he should. I’ll teach him!”

We may feel justified in saying these things to ourselves, but the only result will be endless spinning on the Crazy Cycle!

Although the Crazy Cycle is not what God intends for any marriage, all couples get on it at times to one degree or another. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 7:28, Paul flatly states that when two people marry they “will face many troubles in this life” (NIV). Such troubles can come in many ways, but one of the most common is that the best of husbands will say or do things that feel unloving to his wife or the best of wives will say or do things that feel disrespectful to her husband.

However, there is more good news! The wife is not trying to be disrespectful; she is reacting because she needs to feel her husband’s love for her. And the husband is not trying to be unloving; he is reacting because he needs to feel his wife’s respectful approach to him.

When the need for love and respect is met, a spouse is energized. The key to motivating another person is meeting that person’s deepest need, especially during conflict.


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