Hi this is Pastor Ken, Thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message. As we continue in our series of marital conflicts found between common sense aka worldly wisdom and the Word of God.

This week I want to look at how to get what we need out of our marriages. Essentially there are different things that men and women need from marriage. I have spoken of these in past episodes. Primarily, women need to know that they are loved for the things they say, think, do and believe if the relationships they engage in are to be in good standing. Men on the other hand are more interested in knowing that they are respected for what they think, say, do and believe. If they find that someone, anyone really, does not respect them for these things, a good relationship cannot ensue until this problem is remedied. Make no mistake, men need to be loved, just not to the same extent that they need respect. Likewise, women need respect, however, the love of others toward them is their primary concern. These two relational needs, love and respect, also translate well as the need for security and sufficiency. If a woman feels secure in a relationship all is well within that relationship. This truth is magnified when it pertains to the marital relationship. If a man feels as though he is seen as being sufficient to accomplish goals set for him, he will thrive in those relationships. Again, this truth is amplified in the marital relationship.

These relational needs, love and respect, security and sufficiency, are so important to us as women and men that they rank extremely high on our list of needs. In fact, if they are absent for more than a short period of time, a family tie, a friendship, or even an employment my not survive. Within the oneness relationship of marriage, they become critical. The duration of time that can be successfully managed if these needs are going unmet there is dramatically shorter than in any other relationship.

These needs simply have to be fulfilled. The intensity with which we will seek to have them met is almost unmatched. The marital conflict between natural thinking and God’s word is derived from how we get these all-important needs met.

Worldly wisdom tells us that there is a formula for having these needs met. When these primary needs are unmet, an intensifying level of stress occurs. As I said a moment ago, if the relationship is secondary, in other words it is with extended family, friends or an employer, the level of stress will be problematic, but if it occurs within the primary relationship of marriage, it is even more intense and escalates even more quickly. The reason for this is that married couples rightly believe that the person they are one with should recognize above all others what the needs of their spouse are and have an unencumbered desire to meet those needs. They see little to no difference between the importance of a husband or wife’s desire to meet their spouse’s needs and a mother’s desire to feed her children or a father’s desire to provide for his family.

When the stress associated with these primary needs being unmet escalates the natural inclination is to withhold the needs of the other. In other words if my need for respect is unmet by my wife or if I feel she sees me as insufficient to be successful in some way, my natural response to that will be to withhold love from her. It is important to note that this action is initially in no way intended to be mean or uncaring, but rather to cause her to see that I have a need that is not being met and the intensity with which the lack is affecting me. At this point in the process, my withholding of her need is simply to help her identify a problem exists. The problem is that as Dr Emerson Eggerichs identified in his book, Love and Respect, we have just entered the “Crazy Cycle” Dr. Eggerichs notes the “Crazy Cycle” as follows; Without her respect, he reacts without love, without his love, she reacts without respect. He calls this a cycle because until it will continue as long as it goes unchecked.

As a result, in my example above, when I withhold my love from my wife to help her see I have found her to be disrespectful, it actually provokes further disrespect instead of the correction I was hoping for. This sends the cycle spinning further, and I become increasingly unloving as she responds with increasing disrespect.

What is actually occurring is a power grab of sorts. I feel the need to be respected, she feels the need to be loved. I must be found sufficient in her eyes, she needs to feel secure in our relationship. Worldly wisdom dictates that if you truly need something and it is not being given to you, you must take it. So when a wife is feeling unloved, or a husband is feeling disrespected the inclination is to make their spouse give what is needed. The formula as I shared moments ago is this. If your spouse is being unkind by withholding what you need, then be more unkind to them to make them want to be kind to you…What?!? That’s crazy! Yes…yes it is. That strategy has been faithfully employed as best I can tell throughout human history with extremely limited success…and yet millions of people are still trying to make it work this very moment.

So what is the Bible’s answer to this very real problem? The common sense approach which I just noted really makes no sense at all, is selfishness. “I’m not getting what you are supposed to give me so I am going to withhold that which I am supposed to give you”. God’s word indicates that our problem is one of spelling. It is not S-E-L-F-I-S-H-N-E-S-S that we are supposed to employ to remedy this problem it is S-E-L-F-L-E-S-S-N-E-S-S. God’s word indicates that our response to having our greatest relational need withheld is not to selfishly withhold our spouses need but rather to give it to them…in bushels. Romans 12:10 says, “In love prefer one anotherPhilippians 2:3-4 says, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 1 Corinthians 10:24 tells us, No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. The paradox is this. If I try to make my spouse meet my needs, she will be left wondering who will meet hers, and will feel as though she must first make sure her own needs are met before focusing any attention on mine. However, God’s word says that if instead, I focus all of my attention on meeting the needs my wife has, she will be freed to focus on mine because hers are already being met.

In his book, Dr. Eggerichs identified a second cycle he calls the “Energized Cycle”. This cycle states that when a husband treats his wife with love, she responds by treating him with respect. As he experiences her respect, he in turn responds to her with more love. This cycle reflects the correct response to an unmet need as noted in the scriptures above. However, without the correct motivation, attempts to move forward in this way will soon falter. So what is the motivation that will allow us to continue to meet the relational and other needs of our spouse, freeing them to meet ours?

The necessary motivational switch is found in correctly identifying where the command originates. The “Crazy Cycle” occurs because the command to meet the need is a selfish one and comes from the one who is in need. When I command my wife’s respect, she understands that I do not have the authority or ability to enforce such a command, and so she quite naturally resists the command from me. Let there be no mistake, I and other men also quite naturally resist the command from our wives to give them the love they need for the same reasons. As a result if the command is seen as coming from our spouse we will either choose to resist, or comply in the hopes that they will also meet our need. Both are examples of selfish thinking. However, if I acknowledge the command comes from God as I illustrated for you a few moments ago, then my response is toward Him and not my spouse. If I do this, I will love her as she needs me to, but I will have done it for my God who instructed me to. Dr Eggerichs identified this as the Rewarded Cycle”, His love given to his wife as unto Jesus Christ regardless of her respect toward him, Her respect given to her husband as unto Jesus Christ, regardless of her husband’s love toward her.

The concept behind the “Rewarded Cycle” is actually laid out quite clearly in scripture. Ephesians 5:21 tells us to Submit to one another (give the other what they need) out of reverence for Christ (because it is what God’s word tells us to do).

Questions to answer:

What is your natural response when your spouse does not meet your needs?

Is that response Selfish or selfless?

In what ways would you respond to them differently in the same situations if Jesus were in the room?

Actions to Take:

Ask God to help you to begin responding to your spouse in response to your love for Him.

Read Love and Respect by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs as a part of your marriage building strategy.

So now, focus on meeting your spouses needs freeing them to meet yours, and do it because your loving Heavenly Father asked you to…and go be awesome!