Perhaps the major problem that keeps so many couples somewhere between the Crazy Cycle and the Energizing Cycle is the fear that, even though they try to practice the Love and Respect Connection, it won’t work. Or, that they will be the only one in the marriage trying, and their spouse won’t reciprocate.
To these couples, my advice is always the same: Don’t give up because it doesn’t seem to be working. Keep showing your spouse unconditional love and unconditional respect. Look for even the slightest improvements. A husband doesn’t bring flowers, but he does fix the leaky faucet. The wife still has a headache more than you like, but she has toned down the negativity.
Here’s an example of a wife who felt nothing was happening but later was amazed. She called her ex-husband and apologized because she hadn’t always respected his position in their home. (She is a Christian, and he is not.) There was silence, and then he responded, “Thank you.” That ended the conversation, but several days later he called back at midnight in tears, wondering why she had made her apology. She explained she had to ask forgiveness for not being what she should have been as a wife. Again, the conversation ended abruptly. Not much seemed to be happening. Another week passed, and again he called at midnight. He had been thinking of everything he had done, and he was sorry. He went on about all of his mistakes – “some of the few kind words he has ever said to me.”
In another situation, a wife moved out and bought another home. I coached the husband on how to behave toward her in more loving ways. This went on for some time, and he was seeing little progress. Then one day she said, “Are you wanting me to beg you to ask me to come back home?”
The above are just a few examples of what can happen. Don’t give up because weeks or months pass with no response. Don’t interpret delay as defeat. Don’t assume that what you are doing is unfruitful. Most often, love or respect is working on your spouse more than you realize. Something is transpiring in the soul of that person. Have confidence that God will work.
Excerpts taken from Loveand Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.