Introducing the Crazy Cycle, a revolving door of conflict between you and your partner. Dr. Lynn Wicker helps you identify triggers to stop the cycle permanently.
Relationships are hard. Even the best ones can sometimes make us crazy. The on again off again conflict you experience with your life partner can seem maddening. The conflict may be his fault, her fault, nobody’s fault, but the outcome is still the same. Arguing, hurt feelings, blame and disconnect. We’ve all been there.
Ever wonder why the same craziness keeps coming back time after time about the same issue? Have you ever had the déjà vu feeling that you just had this same argument about three weeks ago and now, today, here you are again?
Well, if you can identify with any of that, I want to introduce you to the Crazy Cycle. No, it’s not a new piece of exercise equipment. Let me describe it to you this way. It’s more like Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. In case you missed it, here’s the plot.
Are You Living Out Ground Hog Day?
Phil Connors, an arrogant Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over and over. Obviously, this drives Phil crazy, so in an attempt to deal with it, he decides to indulge in every worldly pleasure imaginable, even committing suicide numerous times! When he isn’t able to find relief, he begins to reexamine his life and priorities and finally finds happiness outside the Groundhog Day time loop.
Interestingly, pop culture adopted the phrase “Groundhog Day” making it synonymous with an unpleasant situation that continually repeats, or seems to. Experiencing the same unpleasant thing over and over must be a pretty common experience if it warrants its own movie reference.
The Crazy Cycle is Exactly Like “Groundhog Day”
I came upon the concept of the Crazy Cycle through the work of author Emerson Eggerichs, in his book Love & Respect.
The concept of the Crazy Cycle begins with an understanding of the Love & Respect Connection. Eggerichs says that in general, men have a need to be and feel respected and women have a need to feel and be loved. These general statements are in no way intended to imply that men don’t need love and women don’t need respect. What seems to be different, though is how each of the genders react to the lack of respect or love.
He goes on to say when a man feels disrespected, he has a natural tendency to react in a way that feels unloving to the female.
When a female feels unloved, she has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel disrespectful to the man.
When he doesn’t feel respected, he treats her in ways that are unloving, and when she feels like she is being treated unlovingly, she reacts by treating him disrespectfully. She treats him disrespectfully, he continues to treat her in ways that are unloving, and then she continually treats him in ways that are disrespectful.
Getting dizzy yet?
It just seems like there is no end to the round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows, cycle of craziness. Craziness happens when we keep doing the same things over and over and expect a different outcome. If neither person is willing to step off the crazy cycle and start taking a look at how they got there in the first place, the cycle will spin and spin some more.
There is a way to actually understand what’s going on in the Crazy Cycle. There are also ways to stop, or at least, slow down the revolving door of unpleasant situations of conflict between you and your partner.
First, you have to be aware that a Crazy Cycle even exists.
You can’t fight an enemy you haven’t identified. Once you know such a thing exists, you can learn to keep it contained and not let it escalate. The concept that we can all use to better control the Crazy Cycle is called the Energizing Cycle. Eggerichs states that the Energizing Cycle is driven by a simple mechanism.
His love motivates her respect;
Her respect motivates his love.
It just sounds so simple.
In real life, maybe it isn’t really that simple. But there are some practical tools from Love & Respect that you can use to help you know what to say or think to practice more love and respect in your relationship.
Four things to remember.
As a couple, refer back to these reminders the next time you find yourself boarding the crazy cycle again.
- Ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to say or do going to feel unloving to her?”
- Even though you may feel disrespected, resist the temptation to react in unloving ways.
- It’s ok to tell her, “That felt disrespectful. Did I come across as unloving?” If she says yes, say, “I’m sorry for being unloving. How can I come across more lovingly?”
- Never blame your lack of love towards her on her lack of respect towards you. Go first and show love.
- Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say or do going to feel disrespectful to him?”
- Even though you may feel unloved, resist the temptation to react in disrespectful ways.
- It’s ok to tell him, “That felt unloving. Did I come across as disrespectful?” If he says yes, say, “I’m sorry for being disrespectful. How can I come across more respectfully?”
- Never blame your lack of respect for him on his lack of love towards you. Go first and show respect.
I know, I know. That all sounds well and good until the yogurt hits the fan. When you’ve had the same argument for the tenth time, tempers are flaring and emotions are running high.
You have a couple of options.
- You can continue handling the inevitable conflicts in your relationship in the same old ways and remain tightly strapped in to the Crazy Cycle.
- You can begin to defuse the cycle of craziness by being willing to go first and look for opportunities to show more love to her and more respect to him.
I can tell you from my personal experience that learning to recognize the signs of getting back on the Crazy Cycle really do make a big difference. Yes, there will still be disagreements and conflicts in your relationship, but at least once you both know how to better avoid the Crazy Cycle in the first place, you’ll discover you can get your exercise in another way.
Is there one thing you can do today to make yourself more aware of how you are contributing to the Crazy Cycle?
Unedited Photo: Flickr/Franco Folini