According to a marriage seminar I recently attended, some recent statistical research seems to reveal a dire situation: 75% of today’s marriages end in divorce (hence-forth referred to as ‘the D-word”), and out of the other 25%, only 1% are actually happy, fruitful, meaningful, joyful, fulfilling marriages (sorry for the excess descriptives there).
Studies of the statistics also show that for a person who knows someone who has gone through a [D-word], his/her chances of remaining in a fulfilling marriage significantly decrease. “But God,” right? Relax, God is above and outside of statistics. And there are ways to hoist yourself back into that one-percent.
But beware: our world is getting increasingly watered-down. Even where compromises aren’t immoral or wrong, we are still relaxing our stances and values. Some of these relaxations are not wrong at all – but obviously if someone aspires to be in that one-percent, then they are going to have to become unflinching in the face of the current tides.
That seems like a simple, logical synopsis, doesn’t it? If you want to be in a ‘1%’, then you have to do things that only 1 out of a 100 people would ever do.
Wouldn’t simple logic suggest we all now aim to be in ‘the one-percent’? The ‘1%-target’ isn’t just staying together; it’s staying together in a fulfilling, happy marriage. The recent seminar I attended names it right: “Your Legendary Marriage“. Another seminar I attended also names it well: “Exciting Everyday“. That’s the one-percent. They’ve learned how to do it.
Is it such an unexpected thought if we want to find a way to do things different? Is it so shocking if we might think we should try to re-establish (for any future prospect) that a fresh path of marital hope has been blazed for us, amidst the surrounding carnage of our indiscretionate world?
Everybody falls in love; everybody knows they will never have trouble. Everybody knows it’s not them. Everybody knows they would never lose their vigorous commitment. Everybody knows they’ll always feel the same – or if it temporarily dips, they’ll be able to bring it back up. Everybody knows everything will be all warm and fluffy as they discuss their financial arrangements.
Nobody listens to the counsel of the long-married that it’s not all roses, and that it doesn’t solve the problems you had before marriage. Everybody repeats the same patterns: “Oh not us; never! We are so in love – you don’t understand!” or, “This is going to answer my loneliness!“, or “He/she completes me!“, or “This will solve my _______ issue!” Everybody does it exactly the same as everyone else in the culture – even after a men’s or women’s retreat where the married couples have a sober conversation with the sparkly-eyed singles – who never learn a dang thing from any of it.
You’ve also got to love how nobody prepares for marriage until they’re in a marriage – or at the very least when they are engaged. It would seem that we are not the smartest cookies in the fridge (how does that expression even make sense?).
The people in the one-percent, however, deliberately find a way to get there and stay there. That makes perfect sense, does it not? It all starts with a decision to be in there; a decision that you must be in there.
This world tries – without even trying – to send its forceful, vicious deluge around us and sweep us into the river of the easy 75% – whose shallowest, weakest banks are the 24% where unbroken marriages still suck.
One researcher said that a happy marriage is equal to $100000 in your bank account (and that came out in the 80’s, so it’s even higher now).
75 plus 24 equals 99. So who exactly finds their way into the remaining one-percent?
Here are some practical notes I have gathered at the helpful seminars I have mentioned. They are rough; they are my notes; they are copied-and-pasted here and I will leave them like that.
Some Practical Wisdom to Help You Have a ‘1%’ Kind of Marriage
From “Your Legendary Marriage“
- Eagle-couples have a practice of locking talons and falling together, splitting apart only right before the ground; a powerful picture in nature; they are telling each other ‘till death do us part”.
- Having now met so-and-so, I can always say (no matter how difficult my marriage may seem to get), “But I know ________ and _______ ________, who fought through immense difficulty and found their way from the banks of death and into the one-percent”. We all need to find a couple (at least one) whom we can say that of – and choose to remind ourselves of it/them. Find a couple who has learned how to stay in the 1%!
- To her man, her smile is so crucial and life-giving to him; for some reason men are just wired that way. Smile to him a lot!
- Men have a ‘champion’ or ‘winner’ orientation. For men, everything is all about success/failure/success/failure. If women get that one thing about men, it will already go a long way!
- Males need to hear her ‘mosts’ and ‘_ests’: “My husband is the most ______!” “My husband is the best _____!” This is so life-giving to a man to hear from his wife; and even more-so if-and-when she says this publicly!
- As for her? No! She, on the other hand, does NOT need to hear “mosts” and “ests”! What she needs most is attention and assurance: “You’re the beautiful princess in my life.” “You’re the only one for me.” “Everything is going to be alright.”
- Females are “3 I’s”: Implicit, Intuitive, and Intricate.
- Females often speak implicitly to their husbands. But he does not think like that at all, so he will tend to respond with something that seems so completely dum or flatly void. Girls, that’s simply the way men are in their communication/mind; you are going to have to learn how to say exactly what you mean.
- This is why it’s like this: women test their man (for strength). When she does that, what men need to understand is that she truly is not trying to tell you that you are a failure. When you feel all riled up because of her and her ‘tests’, take a few seconds/minutes to calm down, and when calm, ask yourself, “Is this a test?”
- Establish a culture of learning together from the get-go (not from the ‘gecko‘; from the ‘get-go‘). I am totally into that!
- The 3 biggest areas of challenge in marriages today are finances, sex and in-laws (no joke).
- To a man it feels bad when he is doing something and his wife just pops-in a request to do something else. Maybe it feels like she is not seeing and valuing his world and what is valuable to his life and the things he is already doing for her; maybe it feels dishonouring like that. She needs rather to say something more like, “Hey honey, when you are finished doing what you are doing there, can you ______ when you are ready?” That’s honouring, and therefore life-giving.
- Actually, she can use words that say in essence, “If you want to be my champion…” That awakens that champion winner thing in men.
- Humans have 6 needs: Love & connection, certainty, significance, variety, growth, contribution.
- Submission = ‘come under the mission’; the mission of the marriage covenant before God. That is a healthier way to view the virtue of submission in marriage. If a man has stepped out from under the mission, the woman should still remain under the mission – and in doing so she will be ‘in submission’.
- In Genesis when God said to the woman (after they ate from the wrong tree) “and he will rule over you,” the word for “rule” is macash (or something like that), which means in essence, “bully”; like, ‘he will be a bully over you’. That was not prescriptive; that was an announcement of a new problem. But we live in the age of Christ’s new covenant. Christ restored us – but now we’ve got to learn to walk out our salvation. Marriages are meant to be a picture of Christ and the church, which is a mystery that wasn’t revealed until the time of Jesus and the Holy Spirit (and the new age of the church).
- A healthy practice to remember: ARP = “Advice Requires Permission”. Say it.
- Never just say “No” to an advance/suggestion (like a date). For example, if one partner says, “Hey let’s see a movie tonight,”, but you really can’t, then instead say something more like, “I have a haircut tonight; why don’t we go to get ice cream instead?”
- Trust, positive-intent, confidence-currency: we want to invest toward and build these.
- 3 maturities of love: (1) Baby love (“me, me, me!“), (2) Horse-trading love (give-and-take, equal-deals), (3) Sacrificial love
- Sex is a great way to protect your marriage; “If you don’t have that, watch out”, they said. That’s just what they said; I didn’t say that. Don’t look at me; I didn’t say that; that’s what they said.
- Remember, “Winning the heart is a lifetime art.”
From Family Foundations (Craig Hill)
Husband’s and wives each have a value tank and a kind of fuel it uses. Don’t put diesel in a propane tank.
Her Value Tank
- Fill her value tank: love her. Her deepest needs are: (1) High priority (“Am I your top priority?“); (2) That he cares about her feelings, thoughts and opinions; (3) That he would take responsibility; acknowledge he hurt her; ask forgiveness
- The next 3 points (including this one) are definitely for men; the women might not understand them as easily. When your wife asks you a question, particularly when it starts with an interrogative “Why?” along with an angry tone of voice, never answer that question. Rather, respond by asking another question. That is Jewish culture. This is to avoid being defensive; this isn’t talking about being defensive or asking a defensive, blame-shifting, accusatory kind of question. Read on…
- When she nags, “Why do you always come home late? How come you pray for everyone else’s kids but not ours? When are you going to be the priest of this house? etc, etc, etc“, she is actually saying, “By coming home late you drained my value tank and made me feel low priority.” (Remember, females often talk implicitly. Maybe they like to feel like a mystery to be pursued or something, but I’m not sure. I hear that even they don’t really understand themselves a lot of the time).
- So what question do you ask back (instead of answering her question)? Don’t drain the value tank of your wife. Instead of trying to explain, defend or justify, do not try to answer the question; rather, ask a question: (1) “Honey, by the tone of your voice I sense that I have hurt you, is that right/true?“; (2) “Could you please share with me how I made you feel?“; Love your wife; fill her value tank: ask forgiveness.
His Value Tank
- Filling his value tank; His deepest needs are: (1) Acceptance (“Are you pleased with me as a husband?“, etc.); (2) Admiration (say to your husband, “That pastor is such a good speaker… but YOU, honey – YOU are AMAZING – He got NOTHING on you!“); (3) Appreciation (One word: “Thankyou.“; “Thank you for being consistent, honey.“; “Thank you for working hard to pay the bills, honey.” Etc.)