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Sean and Kate were married for seventeen years. They had three children and life was good. Sean had a steady job and was liked at work. Kate made a part-time income with a home business and the children were doing well in their school.
As we all know, looks can be deceiving. During the past few years, the spark has begun to dwindle in their marriage. Kate feels that Sean works too much and doesn't really connect with her at home. Sean believes he has to work a lot to provide for their family's evergrowing bills and Kate doesn't understand his world of responsibility.
Sonya and Ben are a couple who also look good on the outside, but their secret is even deeper. Ben is busy with his company, employees, and hobbies. Sonya feels she has been raising their three girls by herself most of their twenty years of marriage. They have grown so far apart they call each other "friends." They're right, in that it has been two years since they have been physically intimate, although they still sleep in the same bed.
There are also couples like Ed and Sue, who not only look good on the outside but, in reality, are truly still in love. Sue is affectionate toward her husband in public and says positive things about him. Ed loves to be with Sue. He is helpful around the house, he takes her on dates, and he smiles just talking about his wife.
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.
The difference for Ed and Sue is that they intuitively know how to have a loving marriage, or they somehow discovered the secrets to a successful marriage and are actually applying them. If you, like the first two couples, are struggling to enjoy marriage, you can discover a profound secret to a happy marriage and begin implementing it today.
A CHANGE IN JUST MINUTES A DAY
Ten minutes a day, that's all I ask. I know it sounds odd, but really that one variable can make such a significant difference that it has astounded me for more than nineteen years in counseling couples.
Sean and Kate were able to apply the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle and the spark came back to their marriage. Even after two years of isolation, Sonya and Ben applied the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle and in six weeks they were not only enjoying physical intimacy, but they really liked each other too!
The Ten-Minute Marriage Principle works! I have worked with couples far more desperate than Sonya and Ben or Kate and Sean. I have counseled couples who, for decades, had loveless and sexless marriages, and yes, within weeks of applying the Ten-Minute Marriage exercises they were enjoying their relationships again.
What is the principle? The Ten-Minute Marriage Principle is taking a few minutes each day with your spouse for some intimacy workouts. This is ten minutes of focused work that you and your spouse will do for your marriage to keep it fit and happier than it may have been for years.
I define the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle as "intimacy workouts" because these are comparable to physical workouts. Most of us have heard about the importance of working our core muscle groups. Those who have adopted routines to work those muscles have reported greater strength and endurance.
With the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle, the exercise routine I will introduce here will work on the core of your relationship. As the intimacy core muscles are strengthened daily, you can experience incredible closeness and endurance to run this marathon we call marriage.
To support your core strengthening, I have included support principles in this book so that not only your relational abs look great but your other muscles are toned up too.
Why does the Ten-Minute Principle work? Because it is based upon the reality-not the fantasy-of marriage. When we are young, we often approach marriage idealistically. We say or think, Our love will always be enough or I know he will always look at me that way or a hundred other beliefs that time and circumstances challenge. We were young and naive. We didn't even know what we didn't know about marriage.
For example, I simply knew that when I was away from Lisa (then my future wife), my heart ached. I felt incomplete. When I was with her, I felt taller, more handsome, and fortified in an incredible way. That feeling was so strong, I wanted to have that connection my entire life. Lisa also had all kinds of such feelings and loved me more than she thought it was possible to love anyone. So we both knew what we knew-but we didn't know what we didn't know about marriage.
Lisa and I married during the marriage improvement movement, so we read many marriage books and thought we knew what we were in for. But reading a marriage book is very different from experiencing a real-life marriage.
Fantasy is common in Americans. Most of us fantasize about the bodies we'd like to have-even when we eat ice cream at 10:00 PM and our only form of exercise is pushing the buttons on the remote. As we keep gaining weight, we rationalize buying new clothes. We're living in a fantasy but want the reality of those who work out and watch their diets.
You see, if we watch too much television, we miss many of the real story lines of success. You could define success as consistent work in the same direction over decades. People in reality-based marriages not only know that marriage is work, they do the work. Just as I know that if I want reasonable health, I have to work out.
HOW I KNOW IT WORKS
I live the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle. Lisa and I have been happily married for over twenty years now. Lisa comes from a godly home and is the last of six children. She is beautiful, godly, hardworking, and an incredible mother and a coworker in all that we do.
I, however, have a completely different story. I was conceived in adultery. That's not a great start for marital success. My mother's first husband divorced her, the man who helped create me abandoned her, and a third man married her before I was born, and his last name was Weiss. He was an alcoholic and, three children later, he and my mother divorced. I was placed in foster home after foster home for a while, then returned to my mother.
I became angry, addicted to various substances, and had all kinds of negative ideas about relationships. Then Christ came into my life and the healing process began. I went to Bible college and met Lisa. We dated for five years, during which we read every marriage book available. A year after I'd entered seminary, we married.
I tell you my story because I know some of you have hurts, addictions, or other issues that you think forfeit you from having a great marriage. It's not true. During my master's program in marriage and family counseling, I prayed for the ability to be intimate and to have a great marriage. I can't stand hypocrisy and I didn't want to ever give people suggestions that I wasn't doing or willing to do. God answered my prayer and gave me the great tool of the Ten-Minute Marriage Principle, which Lisa and I have practiced throughout our marriage.
I want every couple to be happy and successful in their relationship. As a counselor I know that, barring untreated addictions or mental illness, if a couple is willing to work, almost any marriage can be happy and healthy.
You can be a Ten-Minute Marriage Principle success story yourself. There are, however, three obstacles that can get in your way. I want to address these straight up in our first chapter.
THREE OBSTACLES TO SUCCESS WITH THE TEN-MINUTE MARRIAGE PRINCIPLE
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.
In the following pages, I will recommend various exercises.
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.
Excerpted from The Ten-Minute Marriage Principle by Douglas Weiss Copyright © 2007 by Douglas Weiss. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted January 23, 2011
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