October 1, 2008


I love how people apply the Love and Respect message. There is something about this message -- or subpoints of this message -- that bring about life change in people. Sarah and I continue to be overjoyed and grateful to God.

A husband writes, "My church held a conference here in Vancouver BC Canada with your DVDs. Just before that I was having a hard time in my relationship with my wife. Your views on relationships and what God expects of us through Ephesians was astounding. It changed us and our relationship went from constant nagging and fighting to realizing that my response IS my responsibility. I find myself constantly going back to that -- in all situations that get heated between us. Its gradually gotten better and better. It wasn't over night, and I failed at it many times, but it echoed in my head each and every time ("my response is my responsibility"). So I thank you for all your hard work and instruction using the Bible. I have even suggested this info to some other ppl I know that are not Christian and it opened new doors for them too. Dunno if they will become Christian but it provided an avenue to answers they had not taken into consideration."

At the Love and Respect conference I point out that when a couple gets on the Crazy Cycle (without love she reacts without respect and without respect he reacts without love) that in order to get off the crazy cycle the one who sees himself or herself as the most mature moves first. (We all want our spouse to move first by stopping their unloving or disrespectful reactions before we do!).

That begs the question: how do I know if I'm the mature one? One sign of maturity is owning up to this truth: my response is my responsibility. In other words, my spouse is not causing me to react in unloving or disrespectful ways on the Crazy Cycle. Instead my spouse is revealing my unloving or disrespectful reactions on the Crazy Cycle. OUCH!

At first, that phrase (my response is my responsibility) is intimidating. However, as we see with this husband once he subscribed to this truth, the nature of his marriage changed for the better. Actually, his maturity of owning up to his own reactions gave him benevolent power and influence in the relationship. But up to this time he didn't know that he could influence his wife this way. Sadly, he thought he exercised power and influence by making his wife responsible for his responses! How foolish to think blame works! But when he demonstrated maturity by taking ownership for his own unloving reactions, his wife allowed herself to be influenced by his mature reactions, which she perceived as loving. The same holds true for a wife toward her husband. When she demonstrates maturity by taking ownership for her own disrespectful reactions, her husband allows himself to be influenced by her mature reactions, which he perceives as respectful.

As indicated by this husband, this positive change did not happen immediately nor was it easy. But over time something good began to happen.

Having said this, Sarah and I don't like the phrase "my response is my responsibility." To say that we hate that phrase is a bit strong, but at times we hate it!!! Truth be told, we all hate that phrase. Blaming Sarah for my unloving reactions is so much easier. But here's the deal. Holding Sarah responsible for my responses is completely ineffective. In other words, though I don't like the phrase "my response is my responsibility", the alternative explodes in my face. Both Sarah and I discovered that holding each other responsible for our own responses is as effective as selling brass knuckles to Mother Teresa.

Some things just don't work. Have you discovered that some things just don't work?

Copyright by Emerson

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