Break the Cycle

The first step is a doozy. You peer over the rock face, tell the kids you love them, and force your feet past your feelings. When you repel, you consciously choose to suspend fear and step out in faith. You trust your 200-pound frame (I haven’t been on a scale lately, so I’m dreaming) to a tightly woven rope. You look down and thoughts free fall through your mind, “What if the knot won’t hold? What if I’m the reason you sign those waiver forms? What if…what if…” You close your eyes, breath out, and take the plunge.

Over the past two weeks we’ve talked about a verse that can change your marriage, Ephesians 5:33: Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (I’m sure kids were kind to him on the playground) wrote Love and Respect. To sum up the book and the verse – men need unconditional respect and women need unconditional love. As expectations go unmet we start, what he calls, a Crazy Cycle: women don’t respect because they don’t feel love; men don’t love because they don’t feel respect. We scream out as we spiral down, “How do you break this cycle?”

The first step is a doozy. Someone has to choose to respect when feeling unloved. Someone will cherish when feeling disrespected. So thoughts free fall through our mind, “Won’t I end up like a doormat? Will she just embarrass me again? What if…what if…” Our problem is we easily see what is done to us before we see what we are doing to our mate – every ox thinks his load is the heaviest. How’s that working for you? To break the cycle, someone has to suspend animosity, pain, and fear and step out in faith. You trust your life to the One who tied your marriage knot. He wants you to know, “I designed it to bear the greatest weights – even your own fear.” So you close your eyes, breath out, and take the plunge.

When disrespected, you find a way to compliment her. When unloved, you go out of your way to show praise. You break the cycle by busting through your pride, ego, and desire for justice. You move your feet past your feelings. We assume our pain must be healed before we can show love and respect. After all, the desire for justice is godly, right? Remember, we will never be more like God than when we love out of our pain. And it’s far easier to act your way into a new kind of feeling than feel your way into a new kind of acting.

One way to avoid the cycle is to turn irritations into information. Next time your wife greets you with all the passion of an iceberg or your husband responds to you with a string of monosyllabic grunts, before you tune out or lash out, take a step back. People can go to a doctor because they have a headache only to find something more sinister lurking beneath the surface. The small irritations can be symptoms of a deeper sickness. Rather than wait for the cancer to spread in our marriage, take moments for periodic Eph. 5:33 check ups – be willing to ask an honestly hear the answer to these two questions:

1. For the husband to ask the wife, “Do you feel the depth of my love and adoration? What will make you feel more cherished?”
2. For the wife to ask the husband, “Do you feel the depth of my respect? What will make you feel more honored in our relationship?”

You never know if a knot will hold unless you put it to the test. What’s amazing is that I’ll trust my life to the knot tied by a 15-year-old skater dude at the rock wall, but I second-guess the God who tied my marriage knot. He designed it to hold, but unless we move our feet past our feelings, we’ll never know. Take the plunge. Repelling’s not much fun if you stay on the cliff. I think the same is true in marriage. But…that first step is a doozy.