April 1, 2010

Craziness Happens When the Issue Is No Longer the Issue

Sam leaves his dirty dishes on the table. Barbara comes home and sees them. She tightens her jaw in anger. The two of them then get into a huge quarrel.

Is Barbara mad because of the dishes, or is something deeper happening? My position is a simple one: when suddenly the issue isn't the issue with a wife, and her spirit deflates, the husband needs to look deeper to determine if his wife feels he is coming across to her in an unloving manner. The dishes are a real concern, but may not be the cause of her deflating. If this is the tenth time for him to leave the dishes on the table, her thoughts are, "If he really valued me and cared about me, he would listen to my many requests to clean up after himself. I wonder if I matter to him. I continually feel disrespected and am now wondering if he really loves me that much."

When a wife gets to this point, a husband needs to decode. If he announces, "You are making a big deal out of nothing" he is technically correct, but the dishes are no longer the issue. The dishes symbolize "love" to his wife. If he loves her as much as she loves him, he'd serve her like she serves him. Because he sees her as a good willed person, he would do well to pay attention.

Too, he needs to realize that if she left dirty dishes on the table, he would not feel unloved. In other words, when a wife feels unloved, a husband is tempted to dismiss her feelings as childish. Since he doesn't feel vulnerable in this area, she needs to grow up! That, though, will fuel the conflict. She has a need that he does not have, and God is calling him to trust his wife's heart.

Margaret over spends from the checking account. When Milt does the books, he explodes in anger. The two of them then get in an argument.

Is Milt angry because of the money, or is something deeper occurring here? I believe when suddenly the issue isn't the issue with a husband, he is feeling disrespected. Few husbands feel unloved. Because most wives love to love, few men feel unloved in conflict. Most men feel disrespected. The money issue, in this instance, is a real concern, but is not the root issue. If this is the fifth conversation about conserving the money, his thoughts are, "If she really respected me, she would listen to my requests to spend wisely. I don't matter to her. Why does she dishonor me?"

When a husband gets to this juncture, his spirit is provoked or deflates. When that happens, a wife needs to decode. If she announces, "You are making a big deal out of nothing" she may be technically correct, but the money is no longer the issue. The money symbolizes "respect" to her husband. Yes, he can be wrong for interpreting life this way but if she sees him as a good willed person, she would do well to pay attention.

Too, she needs to realize that if he over spent here and there, would she feel disrespected? If not, she must be cautious. She could dismiss his feelings as childish. Since she doesn't feel vulnerable in this area like he does, she could tell him, "Grow up!" That, though, will fuel the conflict. He has a more intense concern in this area because most men feel the responsibility to provide.

When I ask couples, "Do you ever get in an argument when at a certain point you sense the reason you are quarreling has nothing to do with what started the squabble?" Everybody nods, "yes."

That's when you are probably on the Crazy Cycle. You will keep spinning unless you understand the two concepts: LOVE AND RESPECT. Unless you decode the need to feel loved and respected as the root issues underneath the negative reactions, you'll keep reacting in useless repetition.

We asked 7000 people if they felt unloved or disrespected during conflicts. Eighty-three percent of the husbands said they felt disrespected and 72% of the wives said they felt unloved. Evaluate this in your own experience. The next time you are in a conflict, and you sense the issue is not the issue, what is the issue?


Liz said...

Joe and I are reading Love and Respect right now. It's been great! It's really opened my eyes and we can see the difference.

依政琦萍 said...

It's great!!..................................................

cw823 said...

If my wife asks me more than once to do something, no matter how trivial it may seem to me, if I know it's that important to her, then I need to do whatever it is, and do my best NOT to put myself in that situation again.

If we can avoid the bigger issues, then the little issues won't become bigger issues.

Karen said...

Our church just recently did the Love and Respect curriculum for our marriage retreat....it was awesome. It shed light on so many things that I think we both just assumed the other was overreacting to. I had so many "AHA" moments during it. I love that now instead of jumping on the crazy cycle and staying there, we have a way of jumping off of it much more quickly. I would recommend this to anyone...single, married, divorced, dating....even for parents so they can learn how to better relate to their kids.


Anonymous said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical...................................................

Elizabeth Mirabai said...

I cannot put into words the emotion i feel reading this website. My husband and I ahve an 11 year Christian marriage, adn an 8 year old son. We are dissolving our marriage, yet keep thinking of ways to reconcile. The Love and Respect Cycle is EXACLTY what we are going thru: I googled "feels disrespected" sicne my husband says it so much... and your site came up. the video talking abuot hwo teh wife says he is emotinally abusive is exactly what I keep saying. I am nto sure we will salvage our marriage, but this gives me hope that at least we can come out sane! I snet the video to my husband... I am sure he will agree to the amazing accuracy. God bless you thank you!

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