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 had an impact on me—not just as a researcher, but as a person.
I was speaking at a dinner for 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 talked about some of my research about marriage.
I described some encouraging research that shows there is so much more hope for marriage than we have previously thought. (For example, did you know that the “50 percent 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—the temptation to protect yourself in marriage will actually build a wall that creates the very problems you’re trying to avoid.
After the talk I was chatting with these marriage leaders, and one man quietly came over and said, “I need to share a story.” 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 …
“Five years ago, our marriage was disintegrating,” he said. “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 “don’t 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 these three simple sentences that 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?
Copyright © 2015 by Shaunti Feldhahn. Used with permission. This article originally appeared on MomLife Today®.