According to author Emerson Eggerichs, love and respect are the two most important ingredients in a relationship. Why are they so important? Because the primary desire for men to to be respected and the primary desire of a women is to be loved.
Unfortunately, this difference can cause small incidents to develop into huge conflicts. Men and women handle conflict differently and because of this, it’s often hard for couples to relate to one another during emotionally turbulent moments.
“Males are 85% more likely to withdraw and put up a stonewall during conflict because his heart beats get to 99 beats per minute, so he has to calm himself down.”
Unfortunately, when women see this wall go up, they perceive to be an act of hostility.
“She couldn’t imagine doing that, but what she doesn’t realize is that men do this out of an act of honor, they’re trying to deescalate conflict.”
So which one is it? Is it an act of honor or hostility? Well, it depends on your perspective.
“This research also found that women tend to be critical and complain in a vast majority of conflicts with the husband. When the men were asked what the criticism felt like, they said that ongoing criticism felt like an act of contempt, and yet we know that women do it as an act of care.”
Men and women perceive things differently because of the way their brains function. So what is true?
“About 2,000 years ago, Ephesians 5:33 said that a husband must love his wife and a wife must respect her husband.”
According to Emerson, the second part of that verse has been very controversial, because women don’t always feel respect for their husbands.
“I don’t feel it, I’m not going to be a hypocrite, he’s not superior to me, I’m not inferior to him, I’m going to treat you like a doormat, he hasn’t earned it, he doesn’t deserve it, and I’m not going to give his license to do what he wants.”
Emerson says that what he discovered was that if a marriage was void of love, it was usually void of respect as well.
“When a wife feels unloved, she reacts in a way that feels disrespectful to her husband though she’s not intending to be disrespectful, but it’s very natural for her to be disrespectful when she feels unloved. When a man feels disrespected, shuts down and withdraws, it’s very natural for him to have to appear unloving, but he’s not trying to be unloving.”
Emerson calls this the crazy cycle.
“Without love, she reacts without respect, without respect he reacts without love.”
The couple together can end the cycle by understanding each other and seeking to fulfill their God-given call.