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How not to treat your spouse

 

How not to treat your spouse

Photo by Noella Choi

In his book Love and RespectEmmerson Eggerichs makes the scriptural argument that a woman’s deepest need is to be loved or made secure. And a man’s deepest need is to be valued or significant. Eggerichs also tells how not to treat your spouse. He calls it “the crazy cycle,” where a woman hears a comment from her husband that makes her feel unloved or threatened. And that makes her more likely to react in a way that communicates a lack of appreciation, which makes him feel disrespected.

Well, as Shakespeare put it, “A rose by any other name smells just as sweet…”

I ran across this article in Psychology Today by author Steven Stosny, “Marriage Problems: 50 Ways to Cause Fear and Shame.” Interesting how closely Stosny’s fear-shame dynamic parallels Eggerichs’ love-respect crazy cycle. To me, this is further proof that all truth is God’s truth. Hear it first from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, where he gives husbands and wives the right way to respond.

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Here are a few of the no-nos in Stosny’s Psychology Today list of 50 ways to cause fear and shame. Each action on the list can undermine that deep need for security and respect and invite a downward spiral toward isolation and worse.

  • Ignore her.

  • Tell her to get over it.

  • Yell or get angry at her.

  • Flirt with other women.

  • Dismiss her ideas.

  • Exclude him from important decisions.

  • Imply his inadequacy.

  • Disrespect his work.

  • Make comparisons to other men.

  • Rob him of the opportunity to help.

Do you find yourself falling into any of these traps with your wife? The worst thing you can do is stay silent about them, because that builds resentment and leads to isolation. The key is communication and action. Ask yourself, “What can I do to reverse the crazy cycle to build her security?”

Better yet, ask your wife. Tell her that you recognize your communication together is not what it should be. Tell her that you want to know whenever you say something hurtful. Ask her what she needs to hear from you to feel loved and secure.

Or maybe there are some things your wife is doing that are causing damage to your relationship and to your need for value and respect. What could she do to help you feel more significant? Once again, the best thing you can do is talk about it. In a respectful and honoring way and at the appropriate time, mention how you feel when she says certain things. Tell her how much her words and her opinion are important to you and your desire to be the best that you can be.

How not to treat your spouse is to speak thoughtless words, return insult for insult, and let resentment and bitterness lead to isolation. Always remember that your mate is not your enemy. God has given you to each other to provide love and respect, significance and security. You were created to be His perfect gift to each other.

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