Three Obstacles To Success
I know we were all created differently and each person has his or her own personality. If you love your personality too much, though, you can’t be successful in marriage. In giving us our personalities, God didn’t want us to worship ourselves but to utilize our personalities to worship Him — and to express His personality through us.
People who like their own personalities too much constantly want their spouses to become more like them instead of more like Christ. The basic message is, “Until you become just like me, you’re not measuring up.”
If you wanted to marry someone just like you, it would have been much cheaper to marry yourself! You know — you’d have no conflicts, changes, or growth being enhanced by close contact with another personality.
People who like themselves too much have a mantra they use every time they are asked to do something they do not want to do: “That’s not my personality.” This can keep a person from benefiting from the Ten- Minute Marriage Principle. To be successful, you have to do things whether they are your “personality” or not. This is true in health, wealth, and relationships as well.
Early in my marriage to Lisa, I had a personal fitness trainer. You know, those big muscley guys at the gym whom you pay to work you out hard enough to reach your fitness goals.
One of my trainers was a Mr. Bodybuilder of some state. He was huge. If he told me to go on the leg press and do three sets of ten, you could imagine his face if I told him, “Matt, it’s not my personality to do a leg press.” He would laugh himself silly. “What does your personality have to do with pushing a weight? You push the weight, you get results, and if you don’t push the weights, you won’t get the results you are paying for.”
Or say I go to a financial advisor. I tell him it’s no longer “my personality” to save money for retirement. He, too, would laugh and say something like, “What does your personality have to do with it? You save now, you have wealth later. If not, you’re broke at age sixty-five.”
I know this sounds silly, but sometimes during a counseling session I recommend a certain exercise to a couple to get the change in relationship they’re seeking and whammo, I get, “It’s not my personality.”
If you like your personality too much, you can limit your success in life. When I am speaking at marriage conferences I explain it like this: God made our personalities, but after the Fall, He, through the Holy Spirit, had one mission — to restore us to our original personalities, which are totally in His image. You see, God may like your personality, but He is committed to kill any part of you that doesn’t look quite like Him.
So as I tell my clients and myself: don’t hold on to you too tightly. What God has in mind is better than what our personalities try to limit us to.
Here’s what I suggest as you go though this book: stay open-minded and openhearted and try the exercises I suggest. Forget whether they’re consistent with your personality or not. Do them as directed and then you will be able to measure your results.
2. “FEELINGS FIRST” DECISION MAKING
Here is another culprit that can keep you from benefiting from the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle. I call it “Feelings First” Decision Making.
What I am talking about here is relying upon your feelings instead of your mind when you make decisions. If feelings rule what you decide to do, you won’t be successful in marriage or in life long-term.
Here’s what I mean. If you exercise only when you feel like it, you will never benefit from exercise. If you pay your mortgage or credit card bills only when it’s convenient, you will experience monetary difficulty that limits your future financial success.
I know it may sound silly, but some couples will do marriage enhancement exercises only when they “feel like it.” Those couples will never enjoy sustained intimacy; rather they will go through ups and downs. When they are down, they will do marriage exercises. When they are up, they see no need to.
The fact is, many of us have moved from doing the right thing to doing what we feel like doing. Americans in general operate with their feelings first in decision making instead of by principle.
Every athlete hits a wall — the point where he doesn’t feel like training anymore. The ones who obey their feelings and stop practicing find themselves thrown off the team. The ones who train because it’s right, not because it feels good, over a sustained period of time are successful.
Again, if you do only what you feel like doing, you cannot maintain the benefits of the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle. If, however, regardless of how you feel, and even if you and your spouse don’t like each other at the moment, you still decide to do the Ten- Minute Marriage Principle Exercises, you will experience a strengthening of your marriage that gives you the endurance to run a good race — all the way “till death do us part.”
So don’t succumb to your feelings. Do what you know is right, not what you feel is right.
3. WAITING FOR DESIRE
Kate and Ty were an attractive couple who were married for about ten years. They were professionals and had one small child. They came to me when a rift appeared in their relationship. We sat down together, trying to get to the root of their problem. After rejecting several of the ideas I offered, Kate blurted out, “I just don’t desire to be married anymore.”
I asked Kate if she was having an affair, and she assured me that this was not the case. Then I asked questions about her sleep, weight loss or gain, and energy level to see if maybe she was depressed. I also asked if anyone close to her had died or any other major life changes had occurred. She said, “No. I simply don’t have a desire anymore for marriage.”
As a counselor, I have heard this time and time again and usually from good people. Kate wasn’t depressed, having an affair, or grieving, so what was making her want to leave her marriage? Kate, like so many Americans, has a paradigm problem when it comes to desire. This paradigm problem comes when you believe something that is not true.
I once had a seminary professor tell the class, “If you believe something is true, the results are real, whether it’s actually true or not.” For instance, if you believe someone at work or a neighbor doesn’t like you, whether he does or not is irrelevant. You are going to behave as if he doesn’t like you.
Kate believed that desire just happens: you either have desire or you don’t. She thought that desire comes and goes and when it goes, well, it’s gone. Obviously this paradigm problem can create a massive roadblock in a marriage!
Good news: I have found the secret to creating desire! You see, desire doesn’t come first — desire comes second. Desire is the direct result of a consistent discipline. Take soda, coffee, or alcoholic beverages, for example. Many people drink one or all of these on a regular basis. They consistently have a desire for their beverages of choice because they have consistently consumed them — usually at the same time of day or in the same circumstances each time.
To create a desire, you simply have to create a discipline. Take, for example, carrot juice. If you drink carrot juice two to three times a day for a few weeks, you will actually begin to like and desire carrot juice without anyone’s coaxing you into drinking it. The same is true of exercise. If you start running or going to the gym at 5:00 AM several times a week, in the beginning it will be tough, but once you surpass that the desire begins to grow. In a couple of months, your body wakes up for that five o’clock workout.
Desire is always second. What does all this talk about desire have to do with the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle? Everything!
If a husband and wife read the next chapter, choose three exercises for practicing the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle, and then don’t discipline themselves, they will not build a strong desire to keep doing these exercises. They will flounder because the momentum of desire will not kick in for them.
This is like the person who buys a gym membership, goes three times, then misses a month. That person will never develop a desire to work out and will not be able to retain any level of fitness. Waiting for desire is an obstacle to success in the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle. If you can keep your commitment to ten minutes a day, then the desire for a great marriage will grow.
Those who push through from discipline to desire get the momentum they need to enjoy sustained marital happiness. It’s as if the wind comes under your wings and it’s not hard at all to do the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle Exercises you chose. Remember, Lisa and I have been doing these exercises for decades. There’s no effort to it at all now. We just do them each day.
Kate agreed to do the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle. Even though she didn’t enjoy marriage, she didn’t want a divorce — so she was willing to work. She accepted the fact that changing her feelings would take daily work and time. Kate began working toward giving up ten minutes of her day, and so did Ty. They were faithful and sometimes Ty doubled up for what he called “extra results.”
Now Kate has a new and consistent love for Ty, and he has a revived level of love for Kate as well. The friction and fussing have decreased so much they can now laugh about where they were even just a few months later. It’s people like Kate and Ty who inspired me to write this book, so everyone can have the joy of laughing at the past as they are enjoying their present.
The bottom line is, the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle Exercises work if you work them. You are holding a marriage manual that has already been tested in real marriages, even across cultures. I have traveled to several countries teaching these Ten-Minute Marriage Principle Exercises with the same positive results.
I have heard countless times, “We need a miracle. Without one, we will be divorced.” Through applying these principles, many, many couples have been able to take control of their marital destinies and experience incredible relationships.
You must accept that marriage is not a fantasy — in reality, it’s work. The work doesn’t always have to be hard but it does have to be consistent. If you don’t do consistent work, you tend to have to do the hard work. Let me give you an example.
Ed and Sue, like Ben and Sonya, have been married for more than twenty years. They are also on the last phase of raising their teenage children. Ed works hard and Sue has worked part-time as a nurse on and off. They had life happen to them over their two decades together: health issues, tough financial times, and plenty of long talks about the children.
Marriage is exactly the same way. If I am consistently doing the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle Exercises, I am working — but not hard. After all, it’s only ten minutes! If, however, Lisa and I stop the exercises for a time, our intimacy will begin to erode. Then friction and not liking each other builds. The arguments and latenight “discussions” begin. You know what I mean!
You’ve heard the expression “You can pay now or you can pay later.” That is so true with marriage. For Lisa and me, those ten minutes a day are a daily investment in our marriage. Making this investment month after month, year after year, decade after decade, insures that Lisa and I will be relationally wealthy. I know there will be days when Lisa or I may need to withdraw from our account. If we have contributed to our account daily, there will always be relational resources to cover the withdrawals when we need to make them.
The Time Frame
Now let’s talk about the ten minutes. Lisa and I are busy, just like everybody else. This year I will write a few books, speak at conferences nationally and internationally, appear in the media, run a full-time practice, meet with other therapists weekly in my office, go to church, help with homework, exercise, date Lisa, and have people over for birthdays along with all the other stuff of life we all get to do.
Yet with all this going on around us, Lisa and I will still take ten minutes where we are intentionally connecting. Lisa will never hear an excuse from me for not having ten minutes. I always have ten minutes to invest in my marriage. So do you.
I want to illustrate to you just how committed I am to the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle in my own life. Recently I was asked to do a marriage conference in Norway. This conference was to be on live television and aired all over Scandinavia. When I arrived in Norway from my very, very long flight, I ate a short meal, had time to change, and was picked up to go to the studio. That night I spoke for two or more hours and went back to the hotel. It took me a while to figure out the international call system that I had to use in the hotel, but I did it. Why? So that I could do my daily marriage exercises with my wife. I was in Norway for a few days and my phone bill was over one hundred dollars!
The Ten-Minute Marriage Principle is a lifestyle decision. I always have time — it’s how I use it. The way I use my time creates my positive desires or negative desires. I always want a desire to connect to Lisa. She is God’s gift to me. My response to this gift should be so much more than ten minutes a day but rarely less than ten minutes a day.
You, too, deserve to enjoy the greatest marriage possible. I tell people I know that if they’re going to eat, eat great food. The same is true about marriage. If you’re going to be married, have a great marriage! Let me show you how.
Copyright © 2007 by Douglas Weiss