I love my wedding ring. When I glance at the ring on my finger my mind immediately goes back to May 25, 2012. That was the day Chad and I said “I do” to each other for the second time. My pastor spoke about our rings. You’ve probably heard something similar to this at most weddings you’ve attended:
A circle has no beginning and no end. Circles are used to symbolize eternity because they are never ending.
It’s easy to forget the joy we felt on our wedding day. When the newness of our ceremony wears off and life gets real. Sometimes our life gets real busy. Then there are seasons where life is real dull. There are times where we may feel like our marriage is more symbolic of a hoola hoop with a kink in it, than an eternal circle of refined metal.
Recently I read The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler (which is an AWESOME book by the way!), and in this book he talks about “the crazy cycle.” What was craziest to me, was this was the same concept I had referred to as “the vicious cycle” many times in the past.
First, let’s take a look at the word “cycle.”
When I hear that word, I instantly think about my monthly period. Since high school I have referred to my cycle as Sally, or Aunt Sally, and since high school I have loathed these 3-4 days of my 28-day cycle!
Merriam-Webster defies cycle as “a set of events or actions that happen again and again in the same order : a repeating series of events or actions.”
The vicious cycle looks something like this:
The husband gets comfortable in his marriage and begins to unknowingly make his wife feel unloved. In return, the wife begins to do one of two things. She either makes desperate attempts to get her husband’s attention OR she begins to belittle her husband out of anger and frustration. Either way, husbands don’t like either of these reactions, especially when they have no idea what started them in the first place. So what do they do? The husbands pull back even more, showing less love than before. This fills their wife with even more frustration! And so, the cycle begins.
Stop the cycle!
What I didn’t realize, until I read Matt Chandler’s book, was that Paul writes about this cycle in the New Testament.
“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)
Men, by nature need to feel respected. Women on the other hand, need to feel loved.
So what Paul is saying here is this, “Men, love your wife to fill her intrinsic need to be loved, and ladies, show your man the respect he naturally requires.”
When both husband and wife treat their spouse the way their spouse is made to be treated, the vicious cycle disappears! Vanishes. Like that, its gone!
During round one of our marriage, Chad and I were completely stuck in the vicious cycle. We were oblivious at the time, but we were in it.
I would get my feelings hurt that Chad seemed to want to spend more time with his friends than me. So out of anger and severe insecurity, I would let him hear about it. Guess what? Yep, this did far more damage than good. All I did was drive a wedge even further into our relationship. When I took things out on my husband, the last thing that made him want to do was spend more time with his angry, complaining wife. And take it from me, once the cycle starts, it’s not so easy to make it stop spinning out of control.
Now we are on to round two of our marriage. There are still times where anger and insecurities flare up inside of me. Sometimes I want to go off on my husband. In those moments I have to step back from the situation and take a personal inventory of what is going on inside my head and my heart. In those times of self-awareness, the Holy Spirit helps me see what is truly happening. Normally the truth is, Chad is clueless that I am feeling unloved and he is just going about his business in true Chad-like fashion. After seeing the truth of the matter, I have a choice. I can blow up and make it worse, or I can be gracious and show my husband respect despite my feelings being a little bruised.
If you and your husband are in a vicious cycle, I want you to know you can help make it stop. I urge you to go to God, who has the power to heal and restore all things that are broken. More than likely it will take time and won’t change overnight. It may help to start by apologizing to your husband, and ask for his forgiveness. They always say admitting you have a problem is the first step.
You may need to begin by simply asking God to help you to be gracious towards your husband. In our own strength, submitting to do what is right is not always easy. Luckily we can tap into the power given to us by The Holy Spirit.
If you are someone who opens up by journaling, write to God about your feelings. Find someone godly to counsel you, if you need to talk it out. Whatever it takes to stop the vicious cycle will be well worth it in time.
I would love to hear your feedback if you have made it out of the vicious cycle in your marriage. If you are someone whose marriage is in the midst of the vicious cycle and would like to share your thoughts on this matter, I would love to hear from you too!