Jimmy, in the book you talk about the Reality Room. What is that?
I like to use the Marriage Hospital analogy. A lot of people believe when you get married, the wedding ceremony is the magic fix for anything that’s wrong with your spouse. What really happens when you get married is you’ve just registered at the Marriage Hospital. When you register at the Marriage Hospital, you’re put in the Reality Room, that is the day after you got married, you just thought all your problems would go away. What happens is you actually begin to see the problems; the issues; the hurts from their past. Things you were aware of before marriage, but now you’re really going to see it after you get married. And that’s reality.
A lot of people get married believing that things will be great on the other side of marriage. And if they marry the right person; if they marry their soul mate — that’s the big concept these days — all the emotion will be there naturally; the chemistry will keep things going. But that’s not reality. The reality is even if you marry the best possible person, your marriage still requires work.
Your spouse has ignorance concerning you, that only time in marriage will heal. They have quirks in their personality, hurt in their past,. And the best person in the world will still require hard work and dedication for the marriage to get good.
Jesus is the best person in the universe to be in a relationship with. But even with Jesus that’s true: we don’t always like Jesus; we don’t always desire Jesus; yet there’s nothing wrong with him. Every relationship requires hard work and dedication. That’s what the Reality Room is; it’s learning that on the other side of marriage. Some people are prepared for it, and they are happily married. Some people are absolutely unprepared and marriage is hard for them.
When it comes to divorce, most people list the top two causes: sex and finances. What do you say?
Without a doubt, it’s disappointment. Money, sex, communication — all those things are listed on divorce petitions is the issue at hand. But really, every act of divorce is an act of disappointment. Many people divorce in the first five years of marriage. They get married with an unrealistic set of expectations, and when you get married with the wrong expectations, disappointment is inevitable. Unfortunately, some people never recover from that, when they experience the heartache of reality. It’s not something necessarily wrong;, it’s just that they expected that something else was going to happen — and they become overwhelmed and disappointed, and in their disappointment sometimes they feel they made a mistake. Of course the devil is always right there to make you believe you did make a mistake. So I really do believe disappointment is the number one reason they divorce, regardless of the issue they’re dealing with.
Jimmy, you talk about Fantasy Mode. How is that different from true paradise?
Fantasy mode is about unmet expectations. A person who goes into marriage correctly — and there are the two extremes — One extreme is unrealistic expectations, the Fantasy Mode. The other extreme is the cynical kinds of people. There are many people today not getting married, many people are fearful of marriage. When you enter into one of these modes, both will result in failure.
Triumphant realists are the only people who can succeed in marriage. These are people who are not fantasizing when they get married, they have high expectations, dreams, and goals, but they know it’s going to take hard work. They have a tough mindset.
It’s like a person going into business, Jim. When you go into business you know, you’re not going to succeed without hard work, sacrifice, and investment. It’s going to take some time. A person who hopes to succeed in business knows, if I buckle down and work hard in ten or twenty years from now I could see my dreams come true. That’s how successful couples think; it’s exactly the same mindset. They have dreams, goals, and hopes for the future and they understand it’s going to take hard work and sacrifice; we’ll have to work some things out; it will take a while. People who get married with that mindset have tremendous success in marriage because they’re not overwhelmed by problems. They expected those problems. They worked together as a team to overcome those problems. But they never loose their dream.
Jimmy, what do you mean when you say, couples need to be redemptive?
Jim, 1Peter2 tells us that Jesus redeems us while we were still in sin; that he did the right thing while we were doing the wrong thing. And that in his redemption, he didn’t threaten anyone, he didn’t return evil-for-evil, but he entrusted himself to God and we owe our salvation to him. As soon as he said that, he left us an example to follow in his steps.
Jesus was a redeemer. And a redeemer is a person who does the right thing in a relationship as a response to a person who’s doing the wrong thing. But the purpose of their behavior is to redeem the other person.
People’s tendency is to respond in-kind. When they’re rejected, they reject; when they’re abused, they abuse. But that’s not what the bible says. The bible says that we have been called to Jesus’ example of redemptive behavior. Every spouse suffers because of the mistakes of their spouse. Redemptive behavior just means: When you are not doing the right thing, I will do the right thing.
1Peter3 says that women can redeem their husbands without a word; without a word, a woman’s behavior can be redemptive as the husband observes them. A man’s behavior can be redemptive too.
Great marriages have to have a redeemer in the relationship — they have to. Because without redemptive behavior, you are fighting fire-with-fire. Jesus said love your enemies. You know, sometimes that’s your family. Redemptive behavior is making a conscious decision to do the right thing.
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