As we’ve learned over the past couple of weeks, a wife has one important need — to feel loved. Conversely, a husband has his own important need that must be met — to feel respected. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs has researched, taught, and written about this fact for more than 40 years, and he believes that this love and respect cycle continues uninterrupted until each of these needs is met.

This interaction is known as the Crazy Cycle, and it shows how important it is for the man to love his wife and the wife to respect her husband. Without those basic essentials, they cannot be happy, content, and confident about their relationship.

So where does that Crazy Cycle play out the most?

Generally, it’s in the tone of our difficult conversations with one another. In his book, Love and Respect, Eggerichs says that during the conflict, men interpret criticism as contempt for who they are as a man. To the man, it’s the ultimate disrespect — even if she is only criticizing him out of love. Naturally, this makes him want to distance himself. And when a man has difficulty processing a conversation and disconnects, shuts down, or disengages, his wife feels like he is saying, “I don’t love you.”

See how fast this Crazy Cycle has formed?

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In a previous blog, we made the statement that both love and respect are choices that couples can make. The idea of unconditional love is something most of us believe in, but for some reason, we don’t see respect as something that can also be unconditional.

Think about it: if a man feels he has to earn his wife’s respect before she gives it to him, he will feel like he is in a losing battle. He has to unconditionally love his wife, but he also has to earn her respect. That can feel daunting. And it leads to feelings of inadequacy and not being able to do things right.

In other words, “I can’t make her happy.”

So what we’re saying is that respect is the key to a man’s motivation towards his wife.  

Think about this, too: One of the areas where women feel unloved is when the man does not engage in conversations and in the things she feels are important. When he doesn’t understand what may be going on deeper inside her, such as the emotional connection that she needs, she can see it as him being uninterested and uncaring.

In other words, “He just doesn’t care about how I feel.”

And so, the Crazy Cycle continues!

So how do couples show love and respect and get out of the Crazy Cycle?

Eggerichs says the couples need to stop the Crazy Cycle and

Begin an Energizing Cycle

For the man:  Learn to spell love to your wife: c.o.u.p.l.e.

Closeness – she wants you to be close

Openness – she wants you to open up to her

Understanding – don’t try to fix her. Just listen

Peacemaking — she wants you to say I’m sorry

Loyalty — she needs to know you’re committed

Esteem — she wants you to honor and cherish her

For the woman:  Learn to spell respect to your husband: c.h.a.i.r.s.

Conquest — appreciate his desire to work to achieve

Hierarchy — appreciate his desire to protect and provide

Authority — appreciate his desire to serve and to lead

Insight — appreciate his desire to analyze and counsel

Relationship — appreciate his desire for friendship

Sexuality — appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy

If you haven’t had a chance to read our two previous posts on this matter (A man’s greatest need and A woman’s greatest need), we invite you to do so now. All we are saying with this post is that by not satisfying these basic needs for a man and woman, a vicious cycle called the Crazy Cycle ultimately takes hold of your relationship. It’s up to the wife and the husband to have a mutual understanding of each other’s needs and practice showing generosity and grace.

Do you want to get your hands on more books like Eggerichs’? Visit our resources page.

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Did we leave anything out? How are you trying to avoid a Crazy Cycle and instead foster more of an Energizing Cycle in your marriage? And how is that benefiting your marital journey together? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going at