The Crazy Cycle
This past Saturday our church hosted an annual Sweetheart Banquet – a special event around Valentine’s Day intended to honor God’s design for marriage. In addition to enjoying a delicious catered dinner, my wife Jen and I provided some teaching based on lessons from The Language of Love and Respect: Cracking the Communication Code With Your Mate. Early in the presentation, Jen and I shared how a common conversation can spin out of control, something called “The Crazy Cycle.” When this happens in marriage, it’s like our spouse’s heart closes and locks us out. Since we received some good feedback on Saturday I thought I’d share it with you. My part is in regular font, while Jen’s part is in italics:
I’ll ask what’s for dinner?
I’ll say that we’re having chicken.
I’ll ask what kind of chicken, because there are some ways of making chicken that I don’t like. And if she’s not giving any more details, it’s probably because she knows I won’t like it.
When he asks what kind of chicken, it’s because he thinks I’m making chicken that one way he doesn’t like it and never fails to let me know whenever I’m making chicken. When he tells me that all over again, I feel like he doesn’t appreciate all that I do for our family. And I really don’t want to hear about it again, so I’m not giving any details hoping he’ll just leave me alone and let me cook. So I tell him it’s baked chicken.
When I hear baked chicken I think, ‘Oh no,’ because the one kind of baked chicken I don’t like is the kind where some cream of something soup is poured all over it. And I know she likes that kind of chicken, and that she probably wants to make it that way. So I say what kind of baked chicken?
Now he’s doing it again. He wants to remind me that he doesn’t like that kind of baked chicken that I like, and that his mother never made it that way, and that makes me feel like his mother is more important to him than I am. After all, I’m here cooking for our family and where is his mother? Not here! So I just say, you’ll see.
When she says I’ll see, it makes me feel like she doesn’t care about what I like. And didn’t I work all day and earn money to pay for the food and the oven? She clearly doesn’t appreciate me so I’ll just tell her…well, I’m not that hungry anyway.
When he says he’s not that hungry, I think to myself ‘yeah, right.’ Wait, better for me to say it out loud, “Yeah, right. You just don’t like my cooking. It’s bad enough when the kids complain but I have to hear it from you too? If you weren’t so cheap, you’d take us out to dinner.”
When I hear her call me cheap…oh, it’s on now. I tell her that I wouldn’t be so cheap if she could stick to our budget.
So I say that I do stick to our budget, which is why I can only buy cream of something soup to make baked chicken. Of course, I’m not even making it that way because I didn’t want to get into this argument in the first place, but – hey, here we are so I might as well push his buttons a little.
And when I hear her say she has to buy cream of something soup, I say I knew it! Because I did! And I say you don’t care about me or what I like at all!
And when I hear him accuse me of not caring about him while I’m making him dinner, I say he must not love me because all he cares about is getting dinner and not about me. And now, I’m not going to make anything.
And when she says she’s not going to make anything for dinner, my point is proven that she has no respect for what I do for the family.
Together: So the last thing I’ll ever do is give in to what s/he wants!
OK, does that seem familiar? Couples easily find communication spinning out of control on “The Crazy Cycle” when love and respect is lacking in the conversation. To proactively fix – and avoid – this common occurrence, we shared examples from our own life together about how to apply Ephesians 5:33, “Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (ESV) Honoring God’s design is how we ‘crack the code’ when it comes to communicating with our spouse.
Do you ever find yourself (and your spouse) on The Crazy Cycle? What do you do to stop the cycle from spinning out of control? How do you avoid the cycle altogether?