In preparation for this session, read the Introduction to Love & Respect ("Love Alone Is Not Enough") and Chapter One, "The Simple Secret to a Better Marriage." The following questions are for use in individual study or study by a husband and wife together. Remember to answer all unmarked questions first, then answer questions marked by the male or female icon (whichever applies to you). Finally, answer the questions with the couple icon, if you're studying with your mate. (Suggestions for anyone planning to use this study with a small group are in Workbook Appendix I, page 201.)
Questions for Chapter One
1 On page 1 of Love & Respect, Emerson "absolutely disagrees" with the Beatles' conclusion that "all you need is love." Emerson goes on to say that five out of ten marriages are ending in divorce because love alone is not enough. Love is vital for the wife, but what we have missed is the husband's need for respect. Love & Respect is all about how the wife can fulfill her need to be loved by giving her husband what he needs-respect.
Do you agree or disagree with the paragraph above? Can a wife get the love she needs simply by showing her husband respect? What if he doesn't deserve respect? Do you think Emerson is talking about conditional respect, or unconditional respect? Put down some of your thoughts here:
* Compare what you wrote. Be aware that this very first question in the workbook could possibly be sensitive, so be cautious as you declare your "firm opinion." If you disagree with each other on the answers to the questions above, hold them until later in this session, when they may come up again.
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2 On pages 2-4 of the book are different testimonial statements by wives who have attended a Love & Respect conference, or read Emerson's books:
"I never ever realized how important, how life-giving, respect was to my husband."
"Just a few days ago, I decided to tell my husband that I respect him. It felt so awkward to say the words, but I went for it and the reaction was unbelievable! ... I watched his demeanor change right before my eyes."
"I wrote my husband two letters about why I respected him. I am amazed at how it has softened him in his response to me."
"I GOT IT! God granted me the power of this revelation of respecting my husband ... [it] has changed everything ... my approach, my response, my relationship to God and my husband."
From your point of view as a spouse, what do these statements say to you?
** As a husband I think:
*** As a wife I think:
* Compare your answers and talk about what you have covered so far. Some couples may find it easier to talk than others-do not force it; be sensitive to each other's feelings. Your study is just getting started, and you should have many good sharing times as you get farther into this workbook.
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3 In an introduction to Part One (page 6), Emerson writes:
"I wrote this book out of desperation that was turned into inspiration. As a pastor, I counseled married couples and could not solve their problems. The major problem heard from wives was, 'He doesn't love me.' Wives are made to love, want to love and expect love. Many husbands fail to deliver. But as I kept studying Scripture and counseling couples, I finally saw the other half of the equation. Husbands weren't saying it much, but they were thinking, She doesn't respect me. Husbands are made to be respected, want respect, and expect respect. Many wives fail to deliver. The result is that five out of ten marriages land in divorce court (and that includes evangelical Christians).
"As I wrestled with the problem, I finally saw a connection: without love from him, she reacts without respect; without respect from her, he reacts without love. Around and around it goes. I call it the Crazy Cycle-marital craziness that has thousands of couples in its grip."
You will be learning and talking about the Crazy Cycle a lot more as this study progresses, but for now, understand that Crazy Cycles come in all shapes and sizes, as Emerson's daily mail attests. One man caught in a severe Crazy Cycle wrote:
"We were in the middle of one of our fights.... My wife was saying things that made me fume. She had no respect for me at all. I knew she loved me but her belligerence was too much. Fed up, I turned and went into my computer room. I left her screaming in the kitchen."
Granted, the above letter describes a marriage with the Crazy Cycle out of control. But there are other ways to be on the Crazy Cycle or to start one. Here are three more examples, based on mail Emerson has received:
A husband and wife are looking at jewelry together while shopping. The husband points excitedly and says, "Look, honey, I think those earrings are what you're looking for!" Her condescending response: "No, they aren't! Those are yellow gold and I don't like yellow gold; I want white gold!"
A wife greets her husband as he comes in from work. She wants to share what happened that day while she visited a friend. He cuts her short with: "Don't bother me. Traffic was a nightmare. I just want to kick back and watch the news until dinner."
A husband and wife have had a disagreement (the same one they usually have). She wants to talk about it; he clams up. As she badgers him to share his feelings, he picks up a newspaper and is soon engrossed in the sports page.
Choose one or more of the situations reported above. What is going on? Why could the husband feel disrespected or the wife feel unloved?
* Compare notes on the examples above of how the Crazy Cycle can start up (or just keep going). If you don't seem to have a lot to discuss at this point, move on. You are just getting introduced to what the Crazy Cycle is and how it affects marriages.
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4 What is your response to the term, Crazy Cycle? Does it seem to apply to your marriage-at least some of the time?
___ YES ___ NO ___ MAYBE
Check any of the following that apply.
I see the Crazy Cycle starting up when:
___ a. My spouse appears unreasonable
___ b. I appear unreasonable
___ c. My spouse doesn't make sense
___ d. I don't make sense
___ e. My spouse is harsh and/or critical
___ f. I am harsh and/or critical
___ g. My spouse is inconsiderate
___ h. I am inconsiderate
___ i. We argue about sex, money, in-laws, or __________________
___ j. My spouse won't talk
___ k. I won't talk
___ l. My spouse talks too much
___ m. I talk too much
___ n. Other (describe your experience or viewpoint):
* Share your answers. Take note of what each of you has checked, but do not get into a lengthy discussion at this time. The main idea is that you both recognize how either of you could start the Crazy Cycle.
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5 In 1 Corinthians 7:28 the apostle Paul writes: "Those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this" (NIV). Did you ever stop to think that all married couples will have trouble? In other words, all married couples take a spin on the Crazy Cycle from time to time. Should couples conclude they have a bad marriage simply because they sometimes have troubles and things get a bit crazy? (Additional commentary is available in Workbook Appendix VI.)
* Share ideas on what each of you thinks about Emerson's claim that there will always be "trouble" of some kind to deal with in marriage. It may be small, it may be huge, but trouble is something that does come up from time to time.
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6 In Chapter One, Emerson recounts his early life and first years of marriage as he and Sarah rode the Crazy Cycle. Reread the story of "The Jean Jacket 'Disagreement'" ( pages 9-10) and analyze what Emerson learned. What was Sarah feeling? What was Emerson feeling?
* Compare what you wrote down. Can either of you relate to this story? Have you had similar things happen?
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7 During an argument after attending a Bible study (book pages 10-11), Emerson responds to Sarah's criticisms by saying: "Sarah, you can be right but wrong at the top of your voice." Does this statement ring a bell for you? Is your spouse ever right but wrong at the top of his/her voice? Are you ever right but wrong at the top of your voice? How does this keep the Crazy Cycle spinning?
* As you discuss this question with each other, the wisest approach is not to accuse your spouse, but to confess the times when you may have been "right but wrong at the top of your voice."
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8 Read the story of "And Then I Forgot Her Birthday" (book page 12). Has something like this happened in your marriage? Did you feel unloved or disrespected? Did your spouse? Think back and describe what happened as you remember it.
* Recalling a forgotten birthday may not make much difference to him, but it will to her. If a husband is the one at fault, he would do well to apologize. For more on how important birthdays and anniversaries are to wives, see Session Eight, page 115.
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9 On pages 13-14 Emerson describes a pattern in his marriage of "Loving Times and Spats of Ugliness." He and Sarah love each other, but they still irritate each other in certain ways-even to this day. Can you relate to their experience? In what way?
* This is another question where you should go easy on each other. Try to identify what happens when the positive times turn negative. Are certain words said? Are certain things done or not done? Always remember the key questions: Does she feel loved? Does he feel respected?
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10 In Song of Solomon 2:15, the lovers resolve to "Catch the foxes ... the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards." In other words, they don't want anything to spoil their relationship. What are some "little foxes" that threaten to spoil your marriage and keep the Crazy Cycle rolling along?
Though we will have "trouble" in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:28), that doesn't mean we should assume trouble is always inevitable. Some trouble can be caused because we have not dealt with the "little foxes" that we know are there. What could you do to reduce some of the crazy negativity that causes unnecessary trouble? Write down some different steps you can take to drive out the "little foxes."
* Share ideas on how to go "fox hunting." Each spouse will do well to think of things he or she needs to do, not what the other spouse needs to do.
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11 In "The 'Secret' Hidden in Ephesians 5:33" (book pages 14-15), Emerson explains how God helped him see the secret to defeating the Crazy Cycle. This secret is in Ephesians 5:33 (NIV):
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
In "How God Revealed the Love & Respect Connection" (book pages 15-17), Emerson explains how his study of Ephesians 5:33 began to show him a definite link between love and respect. He realized that a husband is to obey the command to love even if his wife does not obey the command to respect, and a wife is to obey the command to respect even if the husband does not obey the command to love. As Emerson saw it, Ephesians 5:33 didn't leave much wiggle room. A husband can't say, "I will love my wife after she respects me." Nor can a wife say, "I will respect my husband after he loves me" (see page 16). A husband's love for his wife must be unconditional, and a wife's respect for her husband must also be unconditional.
What do you think? Is there any "wiggle room" in Ephesians 5:33? Many wives believe (some with good reason) that their husbands don't deserve respect. What is Paul saying to wives who may feel like this deep down? (Additional commentary available in Workbook Appendix VI.)
* Keep in mind each other's comfort zone. (For example, some spouses like discussing the meaning of the Greek more than others.) The key point Emerson is making is Ephesians 5:33 clearly teaches that husbands must unconditionally love their wives and wives must unconditionally respect their husbands. This can be new and striking information for a wife, so the husband should be sensitive to her need to process this idea over time.
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12 For more on the concept of unconditional respect, read "Why Love & Respect Are Primary Needs" (book pages 17-19). See especially pages 18-19, which give additional comment on Ephesians 5:33 and then show how 1 Peter 3:1-2 also teaches unconditional respect for husbands. What kind of a husband is Peter talking about? How can a wife feel respect for a man who does not believe, or who is not treating her lovingly? Is she supposed to feel respect, or is Peter asking her to do something else? Write your thoughts below. (For additional interpretation of 1 Peter 3:1 and its application to husbands, see Workbook Appendix II.)
* As you share answers, you may want to just touch on this question. To go into it in depth (see Workbook Appendix II) may be something you want to do at another time. The key point is that 1 Peter 3:1 is a cross-reference support to Ephesians 5:33. Both passages teach unconditional respect for the husband by the wife.
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13 On page 16 of Love & Respect, Emerson relates that he still did not totally understand the Love & Respect Connection until God guided him to see that it is a connection that can be strained or even broken. Without love she reacts without respect, and without respect, he reacts without love-the Crazy Cycle.
Read pages 15-16 again to be sure you follow Emerson's reasoning. Does it make sense? Why or why not? How do his ideas apply to your marriage? Husband, do you think you understand how to love your wife? Wife, are you certain you understand how to respect your husband? What are some examples of how you believe you are doing this?
** I love my wife by:
*** I respect my husband when I: