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Book Jacket

1591455057
Hardcover
304 pages
Jan 2001
Integrity Publishers

Cracking the Communication Code: The Secret to Speaking Your Mate's Language

by Emerson Eggerichs

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:

Chapter Two

In Marriage, the Mouth Matters

Almost everyone has probably heard or read the nursery rhyme that makes the brave but naive claim “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” And almost everyone who has outgrown the nursery knows that words can indeed hurt. As I deal with thousands of married couples every year, I see and hear that words cannot only hurt; they can destroy a relationship.

Sarah and I can also testify words have the power to hurt. Careless words, unloving words, disrespectful words, words spoken in anger or defensiveness—in the early years of our marriage we experienced them all even though we were very much in love and had committed ourselves to a life of Christian ministry together. For example:

We were both in our early twenties, married less than a year, when we visited my parents, who lived in Peoria, Illinois. We arrived and got settled in. That night, as I prepared for bed, I noticed I had forgotten my contact lens case. To improvise some kind of overnight storage for my lenses, I went to the kitchen, got two juice glasses, put water in each, and dropped my contacts into the glasses. Returning to the bathroom, I put the two glasses on top of the toilet tank, side by side.

The next morning when I prepared to put in my contacts, I discovered one of the glasses was empty and the contact was gone! As I tried to figure out what had happened, Sarah became the prime suspect. Anger began surging through my system, and I went to the door and yelled, “Sarah, did you do anything with my contacts in those two juice glasses on the back of the toilet?”

Sarah was out on the patio with my parents, and her first response was no. A few seconds later, however, I heard her say, “Oh, no!” and I had a distinct feeling we had a real problem. I was right. Sarah’s next words, in a nervous voice, were “I got up in the middle of the night and used one of those glasses of water to take a pill.”

In a nanosecond I was mad as a hornet. “You did WHAT? How COULD you? Sarah, how could anyone do something like this? There were two glasses sitting side by side on the back of the toilet, for heaven’s sake! You DRANK my contact!” [All spouses know that a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1)]

By now Sarah had joined me in the bathroom, the scene of the crime, but the door was open, and my parents were hearing every word. Sarah was stung by my anger and doubly so because of how I was coming across to my wife with my parents listening. She retorted, “Why would anyone in his right mind not tell everyone he did this and put a sign there ‘Do Not Use’?”

“And why would anyone drink out of a glass that looked used and was sitting on the back of a toilet?” I wanted to know.

“Well, why would anyone leave a glass of water there if he didn’t want it used?” she responded. Round and round we went, and things got crazy. A big part of what was fueling our mutual frustration and anger was that we had no money to replace the contact, an expensive item at that time. Adding to our anxiety was concern over my ability to read or drive.

Slowly we calmed down, and I started feeling foolish for going off like that on Sarah—and in front of my parents to boot. Within the hour Sarah and I prayed together and invited my parents to join us. I asked for forgiveness for my anger, and so did Sarah We also claimed the promise in Romans 8:28—that God would cause everything to work together for good for those who love Him. God did just that, but I will save the outcome for the conclusion of this book. Meanwhile, Sarah and I went on with learning to live together and love one another, but there was often tension that left us wondering when the next clash would come.

Our Happy Journey Would Turn into a Demolition Derby

We didn’t have a rotten relationship. Far from it! But we did have our moments, and those moments twirled us around like a spinning top, making us dizzy with confusion and consternation. We felt like two moonstruck lovers zooming down the wonderful track called marriage, but every so often one little word, or maybe a few little words, turned our happy journey into a figure-eight demolition derby, causing us to collide in ways that jarred and bruised us, leaving us a bit frightened by the verbal whiplashes we gave one another.

Ironically, my ministry took me into the area of marriage counseling. As I received—and handed out—hurtful words at home, I also heard about much more of the same from married people who came to my office for help. Usually it was a wife who came alone because her husband did not want to join her. The pain and confusion in these women were intense, and their tears flowed. These women longed to improve their marriages and wanted to do what they could to increase the feelings of love between their husbands and them.

I would strategize with them on ways to motivate their husbands to be more loving, and they would leave with new resolve to turn their marriages around. Almost inevitably, however, they would return with reports of more hurt and rejection: “He doesn’t want to talk to me,” “He just gets angry with me,” or “He uses words that hurt me deeply.” [Your spouse won’t hear your heart when your “sharp words cut like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18 CEV).]

What struck me, however, was that these same women would often confess, “I know I get nasty with him,” “I realize I should be more positive,” or “I know my words can shut him down.” And then they would almost always add, “But he should know that I really don’t mean these things. He should know I am hurting. Pastor, why doesn’t he understand me—and my heart? Why won’t he love me?”

How I Discovered the Three Cycles of Marriage

These stories were repeated over and over. I would despair as I tried to help wives who felt so unloved. I could see why they criticized, but the more they did, the less love their husbands showed them. Then, one day as I worked in my office at home, it dawned on me to ask “What does the Bible say about how to motivate a husband to be more loving?” Here I was, a pastor and Bible teacher, but I had never asked myself this obvious question! And as I sought the answer, I studied Ephesians, especially 5:22-33, a passage that contains the New Testament’s best teaching on marriage, which concludes: “However each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (verse 33 NIV). [In your marriage, remember that “all his guiding principles are trustworthy” (Psalm 111:7 GW)]

There it was, a command from God, because obviously He knows a wife needs love and a husband needs respect. As I meditated on verse 33, I began to see a connection between love and respect. I asked myself, “What happens to a husband when his wife meets his need for respect?” The answer came to me: “He is energized.” But energized to do what? It seemed to me that he would be motivated to meet his wife’s need for love.

Next I asked myself, “What happens when a husband meets his wife’s need for love?” And again came the answer: “She is energized.” Energized to do what? Of course! She is motivated to meet his need for respect!

As I completed this line of reasoning, it became clear that I had the answer to my earlier question “What does the Bible say about how to motivate a husband to be more loving?” The more I thought about how wives and husbands can motivate and energize each other, the more I recognized that I was onto something unconventional, extraordinary, and electrifying that could help many marriages. I soon came up with a concise way to describe the sequence in terms of a cycle:

The Energizing Cycle

His love motivates her respect.

Her respect motivates his love.

Ideas were flooding my mind. Along with the positive, energizing cycle in Ephesians 5:33, I also recognized a negative, “de-energizing” cycle. I asked myself, “What happens to a husband when a wife does not meet his need for respect?” The answer seemed plain: he is not energized in the marriage, and he loses his motivation to meet her need for love. In fact, it seemed to me that, if a husband is disrespected by his wife, he loses his feelings of love and affection for her and is prone to react in ways that feel unloving to her just to “teach” her to be more respectful! (This, of course, is ineffective!)

“And what about the wife?” I asked myself. “What happens when her husband does not meet her need for love?” Again, the answer was plain enough: an unloved wife is not energized in the marriage, and she loses her motivation to meet her husband’s need for respect. She is prone to react in ways that are critical and disrespectful when she feels unloved! (This, too, is ineffective!)

At this point I knew I was onto something really huge that went a long way toward explaining why husbands and wives go back and forth with the crazy behavior I heard about in my counseling office—and also engage in from time to time with Sarah! A concise way to put this negative connection between Love and Respect came to me as follows:

The Crazy Cycle

Without his love, she reacts without respect.

Without her respect, he reacts without love.

I had worked out the Energizing Cycle and its counterpart the Crazy Cycle, but there was still one more crucial question to deal with: “Can either a husband or a wife justify treating each other unlovingly or disrespectfully?” My mind shifted into overdrive as I went back to study Ephesians 5:33 to see what the verse was not saying. What I realized is that the passage does not say, “Each husband must love his wife if and only if his wife first respects him.” Nor does the verse say, “Every wife must respect her husband if and only if her husband first loves her in ways she deems meaningful.”

The answer to my question was quite clear: both the husband’s love for his wife and the wife’s respect for her husband must be unconditional, an act of grace, of unmerited favor. This idea was so important that I searched for a concise way to put it in “cycle” language and came up with this:

The Rewarded Cycle

His love blesses regardless of her respect.

Her respect blesses regardless of his love.

In other words, as a husband or wife unconditionally loves or respects, God blesses or rewards this person’s faithfulness. Regardless of how your mate may act, your respect for your husband must be unconditional; your love for your wife must be unconditional. There is no justifying anything else. This is God’s command to the husband and wife independent of a spouse deserving love or respect. One cannot argue with God, “My spouse must first earn my love or respect before I will obey Your command!” And this is, without question, a tough assignment. The husband is commanded to love his wife even when she is disrespectful, critical, and full of contempt. A husband must go the extra mile and meet his wife’s deepest need for love while his own need for respect goes unmet and is even denounced because he “hasn’t earned it” in her opinion. Even tougher, however, due to cultural conditioning, is that the wife must respect her husband even when he is unloving, cold, and inconsiderate. [Unconditional respect means showing “complete respect, not only to those who are kind and considerate, but also to those who are harsh” (1 Peter 2:18 GNB)]

Let me highlight the novel aspect of this message in our current culture: unconditional respect toward a husband. This concept is laughable to many wives because of what they think unconditional respect means. Some ask, “So am I to give my husband license to do whatever he wants? Am I to say, ‘I respect the way you rarely talk to me. Sure, spend more time with your buddies than with me’?” That is absurd to any woman. What most gals fail to understand initially is that unconditional respect isn’t about giving a husband carte blanche. Instead, it means confronting his hurtful behavior respectfully—confronting him without the rolling of the eyes, heavy sighs, hands on the hips, pointing fingers, sour looks, and over-the-top comments like “You have no love in your heart for me!” This isn’t easy, but contemptuous corrections are ineffective long-term.

Unconditional Respect for Husbands? No Way!

The idea that she must show him unconditional respect because he has a deep need for it is simply counterintuitive for a woman. She thinks, “He is supposed to love me. Then he will have my respect.” Even more daunting is the fact that unconditional respect for a husband is countercultural. When I made my Ephesians 5:33 discoveries in the late 1990s, feminism had been holding sway for many years and had leveled the playing field in the minds of many women. If any man hoped to receive any respect at all from a woman, he better earn it!

I began to think, “This idea of unconditional respect for husbands sure won’t play in Peoria!” Wondering if I was incorrect in my thinking, I decided to search elsewhere in the Bible for confirmation of Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:33 that the wife must respect her husband unconditionally. That confirmation came through with deafening force when I came upon 1 Peter 3:1-2. Here Peter is talking to wives who are married to “disobedient husbands” who are either unbelievers or carnal believers not following Christ as they should, and he makes the bold claim that “even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

I believe that when Peter mentions “disobedient husbands,” he is thinking of everything from husbands who were not believers to Christians who were harsh, gruff, and not treating their families very well. Nonetheless, Peter tells the wives that their unconditional respect is foundational to winning these men. The unbelieving husband can be won to Christ, and the carnal Christian can be won back from a life of disobedience. In fact, unconditional respect motivates any husband to change poor behavior. A wife’s respectful words, tone of voice, and look on her face convict him. Over time, she can win his heart. When she meets his need to feel respected, she impacts his heart in the same way a husband touches his wife’s heart when he meets her need to feel loved. In marriage, this isn’t about people deserving love or respect but needling love or respect. Peter says nothing about these husbands earning or deserving their wives’ respect. The truth is the guy is disobedient to Jesus Christ and very undeserving! Let me repeat: he does not deserve respect! Peter simply says, in effect, “No matter how he acts, come across respectfully toward the big oaf anyhow.” In other plain and simple words, “Show him unconditional respect.”

The Three Cycles Happen in Everybody’s Marriage

As these ideas from God, by way of Paul and Peter, flooded my soul, I was awestruck at first and then overjoyed. I literally stood up and shouted, “Glory! Glory to God!” Then I called, “Sarah, come here!” (Actually, she was halfway there already. Her husband does not often shout “Glory!” when he’s studying.) As she came hurrying in, I said, “I think I have just had an illumination. Look at these connections I found between love and respect.”

As I explained my rough diagrams of the Energizing Cycle, the Crazy Cycle, and the Rewarded Cycle, she got the point almost instantly: “These cycles are what happen in our marriage—and everybody else’s marriage too!” she exclaimed. “It’s so simple, but it still captures what we all experience.”

“What do you think about the Rewarded Cycle and the unconditional part?” I wanted to know.

“The Rewarded Cycle is what touches me most,” she replied. “This is it! Someone in the worst of marriages can listen to this teaching, and God can do a mighty work in that person’s soul even if her spouse isn’t there at the conference!”

Sarah and I continued to talk about the three cycles, especially the Rewarded Cycle because it seemed so freeing to her. She, too, thought God had put me onto something really huge, and she was eager to share these ideas with everyone she could. She had always been burdened by much of the teaching on marriage that said, in so many words, “If you do this and this, everything will be hunky-dory—and if it isn’t working, there is something wrong with you.” As she put it, “The Rewarded Cycle isn’t saying there is a magic formula for marriages. Sometimes we must do what we do out of love for God. We must obey God regardless.” When we do love or respect, God rewards us. This is the greatest of all motivations to act on this. A person can do this even if a spouse doesn’t respond.”

I give a much shorter version of how I discovered the Love and Respect Connection and the Crazy Cycle in Love & Respect, but I believe it is helpful to explain what happened in more detail in this book that will focus on finding mutual understanding and better communication in your marriage. For you and your spouse to get the most from this second book, it is critical to see the importance of how Love and Respect interplay in the three cycles. In our Love and Respect Conferences, we always start with the Crazy Cycle because that is where so many couples find themselves to some degree at least some of the time. They struggle with communicating, and the things that trigger a lot of the craziness often begin with what comes out of the mouth.

Even after husbands and wives get the idea of how Love and Respect can change their relationship for the better, the battle has just begun, as Sarah and I well know. Discovering the Love and Respect Connection is one thing; living it out is another. Practicing Love and Respect takes work, lots of work. And much of that work has to do with how we use our mouths. In marriage, the mouth matters a great deal. But even more important is the heart because what is in my heart will come out of my mouth. As Jesus said, your mouth speaks from that which fills your heart (see Luke 6:45).

Paul Had a Lot to Say about How to Use the Mouth

Paul knew the teachings of Jesus, and I am sure he was thinking of Jesus’ words when he wrote his letter to the Ephesian church. Look especially at what Paul says in Ephesians 4 and 5 where he makes several points about how Christians are to use their mouths:

We are to stop falsehood and speak truth (4:25).

We are to stop unwholesome words and speak words that edify (4: 29).

We are to stop the clamor and the slander and be kind and forgiving (4:31-32).

We are to stop silly talk and coarse jesting and be thankful (5:4).

We are not to get drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (5:18-19).

All of what Paul writes in Ephesians 4 and the first part of Ephesians 5 applies to all Christians, but note that he goes on to talk specifically to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22-33. I am sure Paul knew that if anyone needed to apply what he had just said about how to use the mouth, it was married couples.

In later chapters we will look more closely at some of the passages cited above, but for now we can ask ourselves this question: “Can I expect my spouse to have confidence that I have love or respect in my heart if I speak untruthful, unwholesome, unforgiving, unthankful, or unscriptural words?” Obviously, the answer is no, but by the same token we can ask another question: “What might happen in my marriage if my words are truthful, wholesome, forgiving, thankful, and scriptural?”

Your Words Reveal What Is in Your Heart

Be aware that your words are a very good indication of what is going on in your heart—and your spouse knows it. If a husband pledges Love and a wife pledges Respect, but they speak words that feel unloving and disrespectful, they simply plant seeds of doubt about what is really in their hearts. For example, if Sarah is talking with me about something and I reply with an absentminded “Uh-huh” as my attention wanders to the television screen or the newspaper, she might easily start to feel unloved.

Or imagine if we get into a discussion where we disagree and I finally become exasperated and say, “You just don’t seem to get it, and I am baffled by the dozen or so unconnected things you just said that had no bottom line. I don’t think I will ever understand you,” she would feel more than just a bit unloved. She would start questioning if I really do love her in my heart because my words are telling a different story. She might try to laugh it off, saying men could never understand women anyway, but while she might be laughing on the outside, something else could be going on within. As Scripture observes, “Even in laughter the heart may be in pain” (Proverbs 14:13).

It is not hard to see why a wife can feel insecure. She feels strongly that if her husband loves her in his heart, he will communicate that love. This does not necessarily mean that a husband must shower his wife with romantic poetry daily. But she expects him to somehow, sometime tell her of his love if it is in his heart.

Men also need assurance. If I try to share how satisfying it was to have helped someone who came to me with a problem and Sarah answers with a mere “Um-hmmmmmm. That’s great, honey. What do you want for dinner tonight?” I could begin thinking she does not value my work all that much.

Or if I invite Sarah to just sit and relax with me for a while to watch the pair of Canada geese that come every year to take possession of the small marsh behind our home, but she says, “You know I have things to do right now, and I really don’t have time to watch some geese,” I could easily deduce that being with me is not a big value for her and that what energizes me does not show up on her radar screen as very important.

And if Sarah kept saying things like “You go ahead and watch the evening news. I need to call some friends,” it would be a small jump for me to wonder if she really wanted to be with me because I am her good friend, and from there it would be just another small jump to wondering if she really respected me in her heart.

The point is that husbands can also feel insecure if they do not hear words coming from their wives that say in many subtle or not-so-subtle ways “I respect you.” Any man knows that if his wife respects him in her heart, she will communicate that respect. This does not mean that a wife must compose songs of admiration and sing them to him at sunrise and sunset. But at some time, in some simple way, the message will come through if respect is truly in her heart.

Right about here you may be saying, “Wait a minute, Emerson. Just because I slip up and use careless words doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t have love or respect in my heart. Give me a break. I can’t speak perfectly all the time. I can’t always say just the right thing every moment of the day.” That’s a good point, and Sarah and I would both agree that neither of us speaks perfectly all of the time. As James says, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man” (James 3:2). James was well aware that we do stumble, and he warns “the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do” (James 3:5 NLT). For this very reason, Sarah and I realize that if we are interested in living out Love and Respect, we must do all we can to measure our words more carefully. We cannot talk perfectly, but we can ask God to help us talk less imperfectly! Scripture clearly advises us to use our mouths to speak more wisely. Just two examples:

• “The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips” (Proverbs 16:23).

• “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things” (Proverbs 15:28).

Those Hot-Button Words Can Cause Trouble

After living and teaching Love and Respect for over eight years, Sarah and I are constantly amazed at the power of words and how they are spoken. And it’s my educated guess that almost every couple has certain hot-button words or phrases that can cause trouble between them. For example, when Sarah is quite concerned (irritated) about something I have done or said (again), she uses the expression “You always…” Whenever I hear “You always…,” I immediately lock up inside and think, “That’s not true. I don’t always [do or say whatever Sarah is accusing me of].” I am tempted to launch a counterattack on how wacky her claim that “I always…” sounds and avoid listening to what she is really trying to say. [Losing your temper causes a lot of trouble, but staying calm settles arguments” (Proverbs 15:18 CEV)]

Fortunately, over the years I have learned to tune in to what Sarah is trying to communicate when she accuses me of “You always…” These words, which once were a real hot button for me, do not mean “You do this 100 percent of the time.” She assumes that I know she is not making a statistical judgment of my behavior. What Sarah is trying to do is get my attention concerning her feelings and help me understand her annoyance. She uses “You always…” to capture the intensity of her disgruntlement. She is saying, in effect, “You really frustrate me right now!”

For the most part, I have accepted Sarah’s use of “You always…” for what it is, and I try not to let this hot-button expression distract me from her real point. I realize that Sarah doesn’t use these words to disrespect me. Ultimately she speaks this way to increase the understanding and love between us. She wants me to grasp the hurt in her heart; she does not want to create hurt in my heart.

For example, I sometimes find the back door has been left unlocked all night. When I ask Sarah if she had used the door and forgotten to lock it on the way to bed, she defensively replies, “You always blame me for the door being unlocked. It’s always my fault.” Since I know I don’t always blame her, the temptation for me is to get irritated and reply, “I do not ALWAYS blame you.” So instead of getting into a “No, I don’t”/”Yes, you do” exchange, I try to recognize that Sarah feels attacked—and all the more so if she had nothing to do with the door being unlocked. I am learning to get the facts straight rather than jump to conclusions and make accusations.

In fact, lately when finding the door unlocked, I ask Sarah about it in a much gentler way, and she is less likely to say, “You always blame me.” When spoken to gently, Sarah is much more likely to respond in the tone she used just this morning: “No, I’m pretty sure I didn’t leave the door unlocked. I had gone to bed, and you went out to the garage for something, remember?” And then, as usual, I recall that I am indeed the culprit, and I sheepishly apologize for even thinking she might have left the back door unlocked.

On my side of the ledger, words I use that can set Sarah off are “Honey, may I make a suggestion?” When I say these words, Sarah often hears a message of genuine disapproval. Why is this so? Because the thing about hot-button words is that, when they are spoken, the listener tends to expect the worst possible meaning. For example, suppose I say, “Sarah, may I make a suggestion to you concerning your role as vice president of Love and Respect Ministries?” Immediately, Sarah is tempted to think, “I am failing in my role as VP, and it is so serious I am jeopardizing the entire Love and Respect operation.” In her mind Sarah knows this is not so, but emotionally she experiences an impulsive surge that tells her she has done something that deserves a pink slip.

Over the years Sarah has learned not to allow that impulsive surge to cause her to react defensively. She realizes that when I say, “May I make a suggestion?” I am seeking to approach her in a sensitive manner. My comments are truly suggestions for her to receive and use as she sees fit.

At this point in our marriage, because of her natural impulses, Sarah does not shout for joy when I infrequently say, “May I make a suggestion?” Instead she engages me with maturity and a willingness to listen and, after the conversation, expresses appreciation for my input. The hot button is a warm button now. Using and reacting to hot-button words is just one way Sarah and I can start spinning on the Crazy Cycle like everyone else, but we can find ways to slow and stop the craziness. As Sarah puts it, “We go there, but we don’t stay there.”

I will come back to hot-button words in another chapter and talk about how to rephrase certain expressions to make them less hot for your spouse to hear. For now I simply wanted to share that Sarah and I are very aware of how powerful our words can be as we try to practice Love and Respect. I get many letters from spouses who also know the power of words, especially once they have been introduced to Love and Respect.

His Hockey Theory Put Them on the Crazy Cycle

One husband wrote to tell me of what can happen even when sitting in a Love and Respect Conference listening to me teach. I had just finishing making a point about how women grow up socializing and loving to talk things out face-to-face, while men grow up learning they should provide, protect, and even die for their wives. As I expounded from the platform on these concepts, it caused the husband to recall a personal theory—speculation about male and female behavior—that he had worked out: “In Minnesota, guys grow up playing hockey, and girls grow up watching guys play hockey.”

At that moment the hockey-theory husband heard me start to talk about how men can be goaded into physically wanting to fight if they’re not shown respect. For reasons known only to him, the husband leaned over and whispered his hockey theory to his wife. Her only comment was “That irritates me.”

When his wife used the word irritates, what he heard her saying was that she did not respect him or his theories. “I totally shut down,” he writes. “I turned my back on her and moved to the other side of my seat.”

As I went on to talk about how easy it is for husbands and wives to become trapped in the Crazy Cycle, he realized that this was exactly what had happened! His letter continues:

I began talking to myself, saying, “Hello! You are in a marriage conference, and the man on stage is actually talking about what you are doing right now. He is saying how easy it is to get into the Crazy Cycle and how difficult it is to break out of it. WAKE UP!”[“Starting to quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before the argument gets out of control” (Proverbs 17:14 GS)]

The husband goes on to relate that he couldn’t snap out of his funk. The session soon ended, and during the break he avoided his wife and would not speak to her. Fortunately, she realized they had been trapped in a Crazy Cycle, and when she finally caught up to him, she immediately apologized for what she had said. The burden was lifted, and the two of them were soon laughing about the irony of attending a marriage conference to make their marriage stronger and falling into the very trap the conference was designed to help them avoid!

The husband who chose an unfortunate time to share his hockey theory with his wife concluded his letter by observing that they had both learned a valuable lesson from what happened: spouses really need to be aware of what they are saying to each other and how they are reacting to what is said. He adds that he and his wife do not ride the Crazy Cycle too often, but their experience at the conference where they first learned about the Crazy Cycle proves that it can happen anywhere and at any moment “because of how we are naturally wired.”

This husband has good insight. He realizes that husbands and wives are wired differently and, when those wires get crossed, the communication sparks can fly! Why did God create husband and wife to be so different? How important are these differences to learning how to communicate—and how can we identify them? We’ll answer these questions in the next chapter.

Used by permission. Adapted from Cracking the Communication Code by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Copyright 2007).