“There are two types of couples in this world.”
One of the things I’ve learned over the years as a researcher, is that when I hear something truly important; when someone shares something that really impacts me; 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.
So one night recently, I had to stop everything, and write something down. Because it was far, far too important to lose.
I was speaking at a thank-you dinner for a group of people who work with married couples at a particular church. About 200 small group leaders, counselors and other marriage mentors gathered to hear great music, a fun game show put on by the pastor and his wife, and then my talk as I shared some of my research about marriage. Encouraging research that shows there is so much more hope for marriage than we have thought. (For example, that the 50% divorce rate is a myth.) I was sharing data they could use to encourage their people to go “all in” in their marriages, since the temptation to hold back and protect yourself will build a wall and create the very problems you’re trying to protect yourself from.
So there I am, after the talk, interacting with these marriage leaders, and one man quietly comes over and says, “I need to share a story.”
He pulled me aside. “Five years ago, our marriage was disintegrating. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. She 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 that want to work everything out before they commit, and those that 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 profound. 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 sentences, was perhaps more important than anything I had said my 45 minute talk.
I will leave them with you, again, so you can share them with others… and ponder your own answer.
There are two types of couples in this world.
Those that want to work everything out before they commit, and those that want to commit to working everything out.
Which do you want to be?