Here we go on Love and Respect. I want to share about this book because it emphasizes in different words what Ann and I call stepping on each others question. Emerson Eggerichs describes it as stepping on each others air hose. When that happens as a man or woman we tend to reflexively move towards what he calls the 'Crazy Cycle'.
The Crazy Cycle states that Without Love (from him) She Reacts Without Respect. Without Respect (from her) He Reacts Without Love. Without Love (from him) She Reacts Without Respect. Without Respect (from her) He Reacts Without Love. Even the best of marriages get on the crazy cycle. The trick is in getting off of it quickly before you do harm to your marriage.
Emerson states that we see and hear the world through our gender. I would say that through this journey Ann and I have taken, that intentionally thinking about our gender has been one of the top transformations in growing our relationship. God did design me with a masculine soul and Ann with a feminine soul. Knowing that and understanding the differences has been essential in more fully connecting with one another.
The foundation for his work comes from the ancient scripture passage that states, "Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." This is familiar to many. A unique feature of this book is the term unconditional respect. I'll discuss that more in the next post. This important addition to the idea of unconditional love is essential in marital happiness.
Emerson makes the point that Paul is speaking in the form of a command here. Men, love your wives. Wives, respect your husbands. He believes that we are called in these directions because we won't naturally do the opposite of what we are created for. As men we generally desire respect even if we can't necessarily put good words to it. But many men can say, "Gee, I feel like I do a great job at work, but when I get home I feel totally inept." In the opposite regard women can feel cherished and valued at work, volunteering, mothering, but not by their husbands.
His phraseology in this area is that men have blue sunglasses and hearing aids and women have pink sunglasses and hearing aids. Men hear and see through blue and women hear and see through pink. In other words, unintentionally, we miss each others hearts because the man experiences it through and relates out of a masculine soul and the woman experiences it through and relates out of a feminine soul.
I believe the biggest question in a man's soul is 'Do I have what it takes or do you respect me?'. I learned this from Larry Crabb. A woman's biggest question is 'Do you think I am beautiful or am I loveable?' Since the primary question of our souls is different we often end up stepping on each others questions without intending to. In Emerson's words we step on each others air hoses. When ones air hose is stepped on one gasps for air and will do just about anything to get the other person off of it.
So, if Ann steps on my air hose (in essence I interpret her actions or words as, I don't respect you or no, you don't have what it takes) without discipline I'll react in an unloving manner. I'll be stepping on her air hose (she's hearing me as, no you aren't lovable and no, you aren't beautiful) and without discipline she's coming at me in a disrespectful manner. Boom, we are on the Crazy Cycle.
Again, every couple gets on the crazy cycle the key is in getting off of it as soon as you recognize it. This is much more difficult than it sounds because we can feel so 'right' when the other is on our air hose.
I'll share more about moving off the Crazy Cycle to the Energizing Cycle in a later post. Next I am going to discuss Unconditional Respect and objections to the ability to offer respect unconditionally.