You know how every now and then you hear a few words or phrases that are so simple, but so profound? Let me take you behind the scenes to a recent speaking engagement, where I heard something that really impacted me—not just as a researcher, but as a person. Read on, and tell me if this impacts you too.
I was speaking at a dinner for the folks who work with married couples at a particular church. About 200 small group leaders, counselors, and other marriage mentors gathered to enjoy some amazing musicians and a fun game show put on by the pastor and his wife, and then I shared some of my research about marriage. Encouraging research that shows there is so much more hope for marriage than we have previously thought. (For example, that the 50% divorce rate is a myth. Just FYI.) I spent some time sharing data that these leaders could use to encourage their people to go “all in” in their marriages and not hold back, since the temptation to protect yourself in marriage will actually build a wall that creates the very problems from which you’re trying to protect yourself.
So there I am, after the talk, chatting with these marriage leaders, and one man quietly comes over and says, “I need to share a story.”
Now let me interrupt myself for a moment, and tell you this: As a researcher, one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that when I hear something truly important, truly insightful, I have to write it down RIGHT THEN or I will forget the exact words. I might remember the gist, but if I lose the exact words, that “aha moment” often loses its power.
Little did I know that what this man was about to tell me would be one of the most profound things I have heard all year…
He pulled me aside, and said, “Five years ago, our marriage was disintegrating. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. My wife felt like I didn’t care about her. We were constantly at odds, with one foot mentally out the door. And suddenly, one day, I stopped. I told her, ‘There are two types of couples in this world. Those who want to work everything out before they commit, and those who want to commit to working everything out. Which do you want to be?’”
I was practically speechless—which, if you know me, is quite a feat. I knew I was hearing something that took the “do not hold back in marriage” message to a whole new level.
I stammered, “That is an amazing insight.”
He nodded. “Yes, but not from me. I felt like God just gave it to me. And that is when everything changed. Because with the first approach, a marriage will never make it. You feel like with one mess-up, you could be done. But we decided we would commit to working everything out somehow. No matter what. And that is why we are now here today, with a great marriage, leading a small group of other married couples.”
I scrambled for a pen to write down an insight that, in three simple sentences, encapsulated the heart behind all of the data in my 45-minute talk.
There are two types of couples in this world.
Those who want to work everything out before they commit, and those who want to commit to working everything out.
Which do you want to be?
Do you need to ponder your own answer to that for your marriage ? Do you know anyone who does? Do you, like me, have friends who are uncertain about committing to marriage to begin with, because they feel like they have to work everything out first?
Share this “oh-wow” moment and ponder it for yourself. Perhaps it will make as big an impact on those who need it as it did on me!