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The Secret to Lifelong Marriage

Jeff:
Today we are going to be chatting about the secret to life long marriage and I’m really interested to hear where Jeremy takes this because I know he’s got a couple of thoughts. So, yeah, what are you thinking and what is that secret? I’m still looking for it. So five minutes!

Jeremy:
Here we go. Five minutes, it’s a secret. Okay so, there was an article we discussed in the Facebook group that I found interesting, actually really fascinating. Mark Manson wrote the ultimate relationship guide to end our relationship guides. He went out and talked over 1500 married couples and asked them a ton of questions about longevity and marriage. And his conclusion was fascinating to me and it’s very in line with scripture, but let me read this to you guys. As we scan through the hundreds of responses we received, my assistant and I began to notice an interesting trend. People who had been through divorces and/or had been with their partners for only 10 or 15 years almost always talked about communication as being the most important part of making things work. It’s all about communication, you hear that all the time. Talk frequently, talk openly, talk about everything even if it hurts. And there is some merit to that, which I’ll get into later, but we noticed that the thing people with marriages going 20, 30 or even 40 years talked about most, was respect.

Jeff:
Oh.

Jeremy:
My sense is that these people, through sheer quantity of experience, have learned that communication, no matter how open, transparent and disciplined, will always break down at some point. Conflicts are ultimately unavoidable and feelings will always be hurt. And the only thing that can save you and your partner, that can cushion you both in the hard landing of human fallibility, is an unerring respect for one another. The fact that you hold each other in high esteem, believe in one another, often more than you each believe in yourselves, and trust that your partner is doing his or her best with what they’ve got. Without the bedrock of respect underneath you, you will doubt each other’s intentions and on and on. It’s fascinating.

So we know this is true, Paul said this in Ephesians 5:33 about the critical nature of respect in a relationship. And so I do think this is under reported and I really like the way this author pointed out that there is a distinction between the way that people with much shorter marriages think about what success looks like in the really … Because there’s a big difference between 30 years and 15 years, guys. And I do think that respect is the key. And that’s something you can cultivate. And I know that there was another study done, I don’t know, we can look this up later, but where they actually tried to predict who was going to get divorced.

And they said over many, many, many studies, many couples, they could predict … The element that would cause them to predict divorce the most easily was to notice the facial expressions of contempt on the faces of the husband or wife. And this is the ancillary to that, contempt is probably the worst thing that can enter into a marriage because it destroys respect. And I really like he’s saying this, respect is the bedrock. If you do not respect each other, if you do not hold each other in high esteem, if you do not admire your wife, you guys, if you do not admire who she is and admire who God has made her, then your relationship is not going to stand the test of time, because after 10, 20, 30 years, decades, you need to admire each other and really love who each other is. And so that has to be cultivated. But, how have you thought about that? I thought this was a really insightful idea.

Jeff:
No, I love that. And I think that’s super fascinating and it’s kind of self evident, in the sense of, you should ask the people at the finish line, not people in the middle of the race. Even though 15 years now is a monstrously long marriage, and so we think those are just the wisest people in the world. And there’s a ton of wisdom in those people, but I also think the 40 year old marriage, the 50 year old marriage, when you can see death coming and you’re like, I’m done soon, probably in the next decade or so. Man, that’s a profound reality that someone has earned. That’s a profound wisdom that someone has earned. And it’s fascinating that there actually was a pattern there that that’s actually, they all said the same thing. And I think it’s because, yeah, you can’t think of one, even human relationship, non-platonic even … or I mean platonic even, non-romantic, that if you don’t have respect, that’s the foundational thing.

Everything else is spring boarding off of mutual respect. And if you don’t have that, then nothing else ha is able to jump off and nothing else has a place of being anchored in. And so, yeah, I totally agree and I think that’s super, super fascinating. And I think there is a level that, certainly, we see the wives respect your husbands, but there also is a level of mutual respect too. And so, guys, make sure you’re hearing … I think sometimes where this goes haywire with the guys and respect is that, oh you must respect me. And that’s not how it works, actually.

There is a sense at which there’s an external authority of like, you want that, but at the same time there also should, the guy should, I think, yearn to earn it. And yearn to show it. And yearn to command it from his action in a sacrifice, not from his words. And I think if, the more a guy can get there, then the more that respect is actually firing on the cylinders that it should be firing on, and becoming the actual powerful thing that it can be in a marriage. And so that’s what we’d say to you guys today is, man, is there respect in your marriage and your relationship? If there isn’t, why not? Is there some places where it is breaking down? Would you guys actually see this as one of the core things that’s going to take you to a lifelong marriage? And so, yeah, so I love that and I think that’s so great.

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