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How Your Birth Order Shapes Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
May 16, 2024 7:35 am

How Your Birth Order Shapes Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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May 16, 2024 7:35 am

Your birth order reveals some important clues about your personality and your relationship with loved ones. Dr. Kevin Leman discusses how birth order can affect your marriage. He reveals which pairings are the most complementary, and which ones might induce more conflict. Everyone is made uniquely, and Dr. Leman wants all couples to lean into their birth order strengths to make the most out of their marriages. At the end of this engaging conversation, we open the floor to the audience so that they might ask Dr. Leman specific questions regarding the subject matter.


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The little boy, the little girl you once were, guess what?

You still are. And so you take that birth order with you and you take it into marriage and you live it out in the place of work and everything else. And it's to know who you are, what you came from is important and you're affected by what's above you in the family much more than what's beneath you in the family. That's Dr. Kevin Lehman sharing about the impact that birth order can have on your marriage. I'm John Fuller and welcome to another edition of Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Jim, Dr. Lehman has been here so often. He's kind of a ubiquitous guest at some level. Oh, that's a good word. What's that mean?

I can't tell you for sure. He's everywhere. And Dr. Lehman for the past 40 years has been talking about birth order. And you know, I'm looking forward to the conversation because it applies when you read the book and we have, Jean and I have read this book a couple of times. It is just amazing how accurate it can be. And that's probably not a one shoe fits all sizes, but we'll talk about that with Dr. Lehman today.

Yeah. And the book you're referencing is the birth order book, Why You Are the Way You Are by Dr. Kevin Lehman. And of course we have copies of the book here at the ministry. Check the show notes or give us a call, 800, the letter A and the word family. Dr. Kevin Lehman, welcome back to Focus on the Family. You know, I always feel at home here.

Glad to be with you. Well, let me ask you out of the, let me play the, uh, kind of the naysayer. Really is it this simple, Kevin, just because where you're born in your birth order, it's predictive of how you're going to treat people, how you're going to behave, what you're going to do. Sounds a little too simplistic. Well, it is rather simplistic, but the fact is the little boy Jim Daly once was, he still is.

And ditto for John Fuller. We think we changed so much, but the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. And birth order, just the defined birth order is that fluid dynamic relationship that exists between parent and child, but kids with one another. Everybody in this room, we have guests here today.

I was going to mention that. Everybody has a birth order. And, uh, when I go to New York to do one of those morning shows, the publisher always reminds me, do not mention birth order.

Why? Because if you mentioned birth order, the host or hostess finds that so, Oh gosh, we got to talk about that. We don't get to the, to the rest of the job I'm supposed to do on whatever book has been released. Oh, there you go. So that's the birth order book, but let's, uh, let's bring the audience in. We do have people that are going to ask you questions in just a few minutes, but welcome everybody. All right. So mostly staff here at focus on the family and they're going to put you to the test.

So we'll see where that goes, but let's kick it off. Explain why birth order is important and what we can learn about each other based on the birth order. Well, again, it is based on a relationship with our parents. Now let's take the firstborn. Did you know John's a firstborn?

I just thought I'd point that out. The firstborn is the lab rat of the family. If you think your parents knew what they were doing when they brought you into this world, I'm here to tell you they didn't.

Okay. And they overreacted about everything you ever did. And they fussed about what you ate. And, uh, as you became a toddler, you know, if you picked up some dirt in a park and put in your mouth, uh, your mom freaked out, Oh honey, call nine one one, take him to ER. He's going to die. You know, four years later, same park, a little brother picks up an old cigarette butt, complete with filter, puts it in his mouth, chews it. And dad says, honey, don't worry about it. It's good roughage.

Good roughage. So as other kids come into the birth order, what happens is we loosen up and I confess when our daughter Chrissy was born, our second born daughter, 18 months behind Ollie, my very first thought was she didn't look like Holly. That was my first thought. I thought, well, why would she look like Holly?

She's not Holly. Right. And so for all of us who've been parents, we see these little personalities pop out and you wonder where did this kid come from?

You know, it's just so different from the others. What I want to do is apply this to marriage. So in order to give the audience kind of an understanding, just hit first born, middle and last born. Well, let's take Mrs. Uppington, my pet name for my lovely wife that I've been married to for 56 years in a row. Uh, she is a first born, first born. I can do something very simply like turn left. And she has a commentary on that about how I could just go three blocks further, hit the interstate and I could save 58 seconds.

Thank you for that helpful information. I'm kind of with her. And so first born children are reliable, conscientious. They're list makers. If not the list makers who are, they're making a physical list. It's in their head. They know exactly how life ought to be. They don't like surprises.

They're planners and organizers. So the first born knows how life ought to be. Her best or his best bet, believe it or not, is not another first born.

In fact, so many times people complain to me behind closed doors. Oh, my husband, he's, he's so different than I am or my wife's so different. Of course, you know, if you're both the same, there wouldn't be needed for one of you in this marriage. And those tend to be the more difficult marriages when you are married to someone just like you in the birth order. Right?

Yeah. So sameness breeds competition. And I remind everybody, marriage is not a competitive sport.

And lots of times if you listen to couples, they're competitive over simple things. Oh, we saw a movie Thursday night. No, it wasn't Thursday.

It was Wednesday. So they become the great shooters. So firstborns tend to should on other people, which essentially says you didn't measure up and I've spent a lifetime. I have schools, charter schools, Lehman Academy of excellence, and they're based upon my books and we're big on vitamin E, which is encouragement, not praise, encouragement.

And it's all about accountability. But anyway, the point is that when you go out of your birth order, you increase the probability of success. Middle children, by the way, do we have any middle children here in the audience?

They all congregated at one table. No, let me be clear about this. We don't care. But middle children really, I kid you, they're the peanut butter and jelly of the sandwich. They never had mom and dad of themselves. They endured hand-me-downs. If they're the same sex following that sister, you got her clothes, you know.

You had little schnooki beneath you who got away with, we could say it together, murder. So the middle child is a relational person, tends to keep things sort of close to their chest. Not real big on telling you who they are, but very good at figuring out social situations. Interesting enough, I do a lot of talks to business groups, CEO groups. The CEOs tend to be firstborns. Entrepreneurs, interesting, a lot of middle children because they walk to a different beat of the drummer. Middle children are, again, they're people persons, they're relational. You drop down to the babies of the family, name a comedian, a famous comedian, chances are you're talking about a baby in the family. They're the ones who decided, hey, that role's filled, that role's filled, so they're the ones that are most likely to be able to create drama. They could be manipulative, social, outgoing, never met a stranger, but babies of the family, okay, again, they could be manipulative, but they're a good match for the firstborn. Now to be personal, Mrs. Uppington, quite frankly, she needs me because a simple dinner at our house on Saturday, I'm not kidding you, starts on Thursday and store-bought cookies are Satan's cookies, everything has to be made from scratch, and I help lighten her up, but she helps straighten me up.

So there's a balance beam there. So the middle children go with about everybody. They're a good match for the baby, they're a good match for the firstborn, they're a good match for the only. And speaking of only children, the question is why are you an only child? I mean, did mom and dad say, well, that's enough of those? But reality is that kid at seven or eight is a little adult who is very much part of that triangle.

And that triangle, by the way, inverts. And when parents get older, there's nobody to help with mom and dad who are getting into the elder years, it's just you. So they need a good supportive mate to make that.

So yeah, like you said at the beginning, Jim, it's not cookie cutter. There's variables that affect the birth order like age spacing. We had two daughters 18 months apart, a son, we had our family, then we had our surprise at 42, our shocker at 48. So that youngest child in the Lehman family is like an only child. And she's a toy designer. She's got stuff in the Disneylands around the world. She's very, very good at what she does. And she's very perfectionistic, which is usually a skill that you see associated with the oldest in the family.

No, that's so good. You share a story, in fact, about kicking one couple out of your office. I think they were like-minded or like temperament. And describe what happened there because so many people can connect to that. And you know, I'm amazed I can remember them exactly.

And they came in the office and they would fight like cats and dogs coming in. You sit there. They're paying me the long green to be their helper here. And finally I said to them, this is about the second or third occasion, I'm not sure which one. I said, you know what? We're done.

No charge. You guys are done. You guys go figure out if you really want some help. And when you really feel like you want some help, you come on back. We'll see what we can do. I just left it like that.

And they did come back. That was a successful marital change. But you have to get behind your wife's eyes, gentlemen. You have to get behind your husband's eyes and see how they see life.

And you need to know how to talk to your mate. I've spent a lifetime trying to teach women who tell me their husband won't talk that you have to understand, ladies, your husband hates your questions. He hates them. He doesn't dislike them.

He hates them. And most men aren't brave enough to tell their wives straight out, I hate your questions or that we hate the Y word. If you want your husband to talk, you simply say, honey, I'd love your opinion about this. I'd love your opinion about that. And he'll talk to your off.

I'm not saying his opinions are right or even worthy, but he will talk. So there's keys to understanding how to open this communication between husband and wife. And you have to understand that God made us so different. Let me just come back and clarify, because I think with Jane, she's a last born daughter and she has a younger brother. So she's like a middle child, but she has a lot of first born attributes. Oh, does she ever? Yeah. She does. So I mean, that one seems a little... You live with a woman.

Yes, I do. And I've been in the studio with her. I am married to her. And she's delightful. She is.

Okay. And sometimes, by the way, when you hear the host wants to bring their wife in or their daughter or their son in, you go, oh, gosh, what's this going to be like? She is so good. And she represents the feminine side of life beautifully. And she's very good with this guy, who I think could break China rascal in a shop real easily. And she's got that wonderful, but she is a first born personality.

She is, but she's a last born daughter. And that happens for reasons. Now, let me give you an observation. And this isn't something that I learned in graduate school. But if you put a critical eyed parent in the family, the chances of having that first born be very first born like is slim to none, huh? Because they're going to be discouraged. And they figure they can't measure up.

So they tend to be good at defeating themselves. Now, if there's a child within two years, chances are that second child is going to leapfrog over that first born and assume first born qualities, drive perspective, success at whose expense? At the first born's expense. So that little rudder, okay, in your mouth, folks, be careful, because you being critical to your children, finding that flaw. And see, here's the kicker.

All you engineers who are listening, all you architects who use perfection in your work, do you realize it's the same skill that makes you success in life in your job that works against you in the relationship for those you love? That's got to be an eye opener for most people. Absolutely. Kevin, we're going to get to the audience questions here.

So get ready, everybody. But let's hit the two other types, like two middle-borns that marry. Again, we're going to the most conflict in marriage based on birth order.

So what do they look like? Well, middle children avoid conflict with a passion. They want the oceans of life smooth. Well, I got news for you.

If you're married, you're going to have a few waves come along. So what do they do? They hide?

They tend to hide their feelings. And so these are the couples that have to say, you know what? We know each other pretty good.

We know our tendencies. Let's make sure that we have date night once a week, whatever, where we just sit and talk about what's on our mind. One of the things I always suggest to couples is pray together audibly.

Gentlemen, if you want to be a leader, in fact, I just wrote a book called Be a Great Leader by Friday, which ought to be a quick read since you got to be a great leader by Friday. But my experience has been that women, even today where our roles have changed so much in our society, women still want that man who's going to be a general leader, but that man who takes that wife's hand and says, honey, let's pray. And you pray audibly. What I love about that, especially for people like middle children is you're going to hear things from that woman's heart, from that man's heart that you wouldn't hear unless you had that time of prayer. Because when you pray, by the way, where do you pray from? Do you pray from your ideal self or your real self? Hopefully your real self. Lord, you know, I struggle with this. It's not ideal. Make me this, make me that.

It's real. And so the audible expression in prayer is a great way to keep you on the road to being a couple. Remember this, judgments push you apart. Feelings bring you together. Feelings aren't right or wrong. They're just your feelings. But let me say this about feelings since we're talking about that marital relationship. If everybody here in the listening audience at Focus on the Family would just follow their feelings for 30 days, we'd all be in the county jail together because you can't go through life just following your feelings.

So you have to be cerebral. You have to think things through to make that marriage everything it should be. But it gets down to relationships. Everything's about relationships.

You want to do those as well as you can. Yeah. And let's hit before we get to the questions, let's hit the last born couple, those last born.

That's got to be a lot of fun. It is. You know, the lights go out on a Saturday night suddenly and there's no thunderstorm in sight. Wife says the baby husband, did you pay the electric bill? I thought you were going to pay.

I mean, I paid it twice over a dramatization, but you know, us babies. Well, I forgot two basic things I needed for this trip. Uh, it's so much like me and my wife has that list. She never forgets anything. All wrapped in plastic. Yeah.

Yeah, she does. You know, my, my sister puts newspaper under the cuckoo clock in her living room. I'll never understand that. An ounce of prevention, I guess I'm just different, you know, but the little boy, the little girl you once were, guess what?

You still are. And so you take that birth order with you and you take it into marriage and you live it out in the place of work and everything else. And it's to know who you are, what you came from is important and you're affected by what's above you in the family much more than what's beneath you in the family. If there's a five year gap between you and the same sex child, you draw a line, start another family.

There's a physically disabled, mentally disabled kid in there that throws things. If there's losing a baby, you know, uh, we lost two before our firstborn daughter. And I'm here to tell you that firstborn was special from day one. Yeah. Okay. Let's open it up and have some questions from the audience. So just state your first name and into question.

I'm Dina. I'm a firstborn and my question is about that. So I'm curious how, especially for believers who want to honor those traditional husband, wife roles and distinctions, how a firstborn wife can lean into those strengths and capabilities without steamrolling a middle born spouse or usurping their role. Wow. Well, since you, since you admit you're a firstborn, I'm asking for a friend, right? You will agree.

You will agree that you know exactly how life ought to be when you're making suggestions to your husband. Okay. You learn to preface things like this, honey, you know, I might be way out in left field. I may not know what I'm talking about. I could be wrong on this, but, and then you slip them that commercial announcement.

Okay. And the tendency is to be too prescriptive and too demanding without even realizing you're demanding. So even honey, when you get time, you know, I've noticed that backyard is really getting pretty ugly and, uh, I'd be glad to help here. Maybe you get the kids to help, but you know, we got a reminder that Johnson's are coming over on Saturday. Now that is so much better than what's sometimes Mrs. Uppington does to me. And she'll say, um, leave me.

It's Saturday. They're coming. We need new carpet in the house, new furniture. So, so how should you react when it's, I have a list. Well, but she does have a list. I know, but actually physically give it to the middle born, last born husband. Well, where's my list for the baby.

If you're married to a baby, I wouldn't be offended to have that list up there myself. I would appreciate that because I don't think about those things. I think about the moment I'm not the planner organizer and I need her. And I think when you realize how much you need each other, you realize we're a couple here, but first born to know exactly how life ought to be. I'm just saying, Hey, give the world a chance to catch up to you. We're not there yet.

I know you have all the answers in your back pocket. And by the way, when you speak well of your husband as a first born, okay, you know what a job is done, right? And when a job is done right, or he did something really wonderful and you share that, especially in front of other people, you've thrown your seal like husband, a three pound fish and he'll just keep them coming.

I mean, men get bashed today in our society. So when a woman just says something about that husband's thoughtfulness, his kindness, I wrote a book called, uh, be the dad she needs you to be. And it's got a catchy title, but my question is, who's the, she is at the daughter, obviously, cause it's a daddy daughter book, but the, she is also mom. So when your husband is a great dad, you're pouring inside and saying, I am so glad I married that man. Kevin, you've mentioned this about your wife being a first born, you being the last one, just elaborate a bit on the benefits that you've gained in your relationship with your wife, putting the shoe on the other foot. In other words, well, she's a gift. All of our kids are gift givers.

We have five kids. All of them are really good about putting other people first. She has taught me to be acutely aware of that. I've learned as a person, as a man, when someone has done something nice, I believe in the power of the written note. And that comes from the book, uh, the way the shepherd, one of my leadership books.

And I've learned to be genuinely happy for other people's success, which I think is a gift because the tendency we're hedonistic people. We think of our own tale first to put it bluntly and talking about parenting the tragedy in America today. And you Canadians as well is we bring up kids that feel like they're the center of the universe.

That's a very disrespectful thing. Kids should be like Avis rent a car number two and trying harder. They should be able to see that mom and dad's relationship come first. So parents, you know, whether your middle child or a first born or an only whatever, make sure those kids know that your relationship comes first. Let them see a couple who puts each other first, who talks kind to each other, who supports each other. Okay. And like I say, courtesy never goes out of style and teach your kids to be kind kids today with the internet and everything that they're exposed to.

They get more garbage thrown their way so quickly. Parents, you gotta be the psychological blankie and the filter to keep part of the world out of your kid's life to maintain some degree of innocence. Kevin, you've mentioned that, uh, your wife is a first born. How does Sandy help you as the last born?

You mentioned this earlier about structure, but how does she do that practically? Well, she can't help but remind, I'm really good at forgetting things. I'll get lost. In fact, Debbie is with me today. Debbie Backus, who's my assistant. She's been with me for about 35 years, but Debbie will tell people when I'm at an event speaking, she'll always remind him, keep your eye on Dr. Lehman because he'll wander and get in a conversation. You'll be ready to start the session.

He won't be there. So she's really good about details and obligations. The details. I'm not a detailed person, but one of the things I've done in life, right, is I've surrounded myself with detailed person. But as a matter of record, I've had 17 editors in my writing career.

16 of them were first born or only born children. The other was a liar. And there's people who just finding the flaw is great when you're an architect, an engineer, a pilot, a dentist, an anesthesiologist, but finding a flaw in people is not reciprocated in a positive way. So she's been good. So she overlooks those flaws, obviously. Well, she can find the flaws, but you know, I spoke recently in my home church, which is always a challenge because these are the people who know you best. But I told them, I said, my notes are on the kitchen table and Sunday morning I get up, I got to speak at three services and, and, uh, there's a note on it.

And so I get up there in front of the church that, by the way, Mrs. Uppington wrote me a little note. Here's the note is eight o'clock service. She's not going to be there.

The woman is never up at eight o'clock. She's up about 11. She wished church was at two o'clock in the afternoon, but I won't go into that in detail. But, uh, anyway, I read the note and it says, hi, babe. So I said to the church audience, this is a babe. And she said, I know you're going to do well, hit it out of the park. God love you. You know, I mean, it's just a little encouragement.

We've been married 56 years. I go on a trip and there's a little note, uh, with scotch tape on the front door telling me to do a great job. People will love you.

Just be yourself, you know, and that's that vitamin E. Everybody needs vitamin E. Your kids need vitamin E. Okay. It's encouragement, not praise. Praise is shallow doesn't last. You want to praise someone, praise God, but you want to encourage people. You give them those words of encouragement and that's the lasting glue that keeps you into each other's lives. And it's real easy to have everything, including your children.

I mean, I'm quoting myself. We've seen the enemy and they are small and they will drive a wedge between you. They can make you say things and do things you never thought you'd say or do. So it's really important that as a unit, that husband and wife are close together. If you're in a blended family, you better be shoulder to shoulder or those kids will ruin your marriage.

That's true. Thanks for the questions. Those are great. And Kevin, thanks for being with us. This has been terrific.

And I think you get the gist of it. We couldn't cover all of it, but the birth order book, why you're the way you are is a great tool to understand how God's made you. And, uh, Kevin, thanks again for being with us.

My pleasure. If you can make a gift of any amount, we'll send you a copy of Kevin's book as our way of saying thank you. Monthly gift is great.

$10 a month. That would be a great way to go and help us because hopefully a thousand people will do that. And, uh, that way we do ministry together and you get a great resource to apply to your own life.

Yeah. Get in touch today. Donate and get a copy of that book from Dr. Lehman, the birth order book, why you are the way you are. And if a monthly pledge is more than you can afford right now, a one-time gift of any amount still helps the ministry.

So please donate today when you call 800-232-6459. 800, the letter A in the word family, or stop by the website to learn more about the book and our free marriage assessment. The links are in the show notes and coming up next time, encouraging you to live out your Christian faith through foster care. I think what that translated to was that they wanted you to be a good, safe home, but let's not bring too much relationship with the Lord into that.

And that was an issue for us. On behalf of the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again, help you and your family thrive like God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-16 08:07:05 / 2024-05-16 08:18:28 / 11

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