Did you know that secular researchers have discovered the most significant predictor of a happy marriage? It is so simple, but it's so powerful. And today, my friend Doug Fields is going to share what that is.
Stay with me. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. And as many of you know, Chip's our regular Bible teacher for this daily program. But for this short series, he's passed the mic over to his friend Doug Fields. Doug's a pastor and author with over four decades of experience in youth ministry. Well, today he's going to wrap up his message, backup singers, to the Duet of Marriage. Now, last time, Doug shared the first two songs every Christian needs to sing to support and encourage the covenant of marriage, whether it's our own or someone else's. In this program, he's going to share the last song and unpack for us what it means to date our spouse.
Well, there's a lot to get to today, so let's dive right in. What does it look like for you to honor your spouse? I'm going to give you a way that's very, very simple. I recently read an article from the University of Georgia, and this article was published in an academic journal on human relationships.
Listen to this. After interviewing married couples on relationship satisfaction, covering everything from communication habits to finances, they found that the most consistent, significant predictor of happy marriages... Ready for it? The most significant, consistent, significant predictor of happy marriages was whether one's spouse expressed gratitude. What distinguishes the marriages that last from those that don't last is not how often they argue, but how they treat each other on a daily basis. The study goes on to show the power of thank you and suggests it as a small, practical ways couples can help strengthen their marriage.
Isn't that amazing? The most significant contributor to marriages that last is gratitude. You know how you can honor your spouse?
By saying thank you. Isn't that... You're like, oh, that's not rocket science. I could probably even do that. Yes, you can, Spanky. You can, okay?
You can make that happen. I brought this article to my small group of men, and I was asking them, what do you do to honor your wife? Well, I go big on Valentine's Day, and I always buy her a birthday gift. Way to go.
Okay, what about the other 363 days of the year? That's what it means to honor, to express gratitude with one another. So the first song, marriage needs to be honored by all. You understand that one?
You with me? We go to the second song. Second song that I want you to sing is a powerful duet, is marriage needs to be enjoyed. See, God did not give you your spouse to beat you down and drain the life out of you to make you more like Jesus. And there is a whole movement in the Christian space about marriage is to sanctify you. Marriage is to make you holy.
It's not about making you happy. It's about making you holy. Okay, am I a deeper follower of Jesus because I've been married 32 years to Kathy Fields? Absolutely. Has it made me holy or a better man?
Yes. But marriage has also made me happier, too, that I think there's a balance between happy and holy. And in the book of Ecclesiastes, in the Old Testament, as we look at the wisdom literature, it talks about how to avoid a meaningless life and take advantage of living. Look at this verse, Ecclesiastes chapter nine, it says, go eat your food with gladness and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now what God favors what you do. Read the next five words with me. Enjoy life with your wife.
Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love. All the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun. Isn't that a great verse? I love God's word. I really do. But that word meaningless, meaningless can actually be translated as fleeting, fleeting, meaning life is moving by.
It's going by so quickly. So enjoy time with your wife. Men, you don't have to choose between a wife or a life that you can have both at the same time. You can enjoy life with your wife. God has given you a spouse, not to grind the life out of you, but to help you live life, holy and happy. If marriage needs to be enjoyed by all, how do you enjoy your marriage?
Let me give you one practical tip that all social science points to. And it's this date one another date one another. I mean, that's what we do before we get married and then they get married.
What happens? People get married. Like, you know, we did all this stuff and they'll get married like, you know, and, and, and, and we, we miss it. Life gets in the way. We don't enjoy each other as much. Now, you know, when you go out to restaurant tonight and you look at couples, they're like sitting next, you know, sitting across from each other, looking at their phones. It's like they're enduring one another, listening to each other, chew their meal.
I mean, that is, that's not life. When Kathy and I 32 years ago got premarital counseling before we got married, which is a great advice for anybody. I remember two things.
The marriage counselor said, first, he said, sex starts in the morning. Okay. I was 19 years old. I was like, awesome. I love that. I love, I was writing that. I don't even need to write that down.
All right. It was a 19 year old starts in the morning into the afternoon. I've heard about that, you know, and into the, and then it would explain to me is no, it starts in the morning on how you treat her and which that wasn't as exciting. But the second thing that he said, he says, if you want to win in marriage, date your wife, continue to do what you've done in the past. Why do we stop?
I think most of us in here, we don't understand the power of dating or we say people have all kinds of excuses. I don't have any ideas. I don't know what to do. Keyword Pinterest, Pinterest. All right. A lot of ideas on Pinterest. All right. Seriously. I kind of sad to admit that I know that my wife caught me on the computer looking at Pinterest and you just go, you know, put in date ideas and just thousands show up.
It's, it's awesome. But what my marriage counselor said 32 years ago, just out of his gut, out of his intuition. Now, fast forward today, there is all kinds of empirical evidence that dating leads to enjoyment. There's the national marriage project out of the university of Virginia suggests dating leads to increase marital satisfaction and suggested five benefits from the research. One dating keeps lines of communication open to dating allows couples to shatter routines and get out of a rut. Three dating models, commitment to their children for dating relieves stress and five dating rediscovers passion and sparks sexual intimacy.
Some of you just woke up. All right. But without here's what happens in all marriages without an intentional plan to date, a marriage will begin to drift and then other things get in the way. And when a marriage just gets one degree, two degrees off course over a long period of time, that actually leads to a shipwreck. You want to enjoy your marriage, then date one another. As a matter of fact, these two fit hand in hand because when I said marriage needs to be honored, it's a lot easier to honor your marriage when you enjoy your marriage. All right.
There's a third song that I want to ask you to sing. Not only does marriage need to be honored by all and need to be enjoyed by all is marriage needs to be prioritized. Now, this point is going to bother some of you. The ones that's going to bother those of you who put your parenting over your marriage. The Bible teaches that your marriage is to be the primary relationship, not the parent child relationship in Genesis chapter two, right at the beginning, right? The beginning of the scriptures.
Here's what it says. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife and they become one flesh. If you look in the New Testament, Jesus quotes the Old Testament in Matthew chapter 19 and Mark chapter 10, you see Jesus saying the same thing. That word united, they're united to his wife. That word united is another word for intercourse.
That to become one and they are united in God's eyes. Men and women, you are not one with your child. Your child is eventually to leave. Bye bye. Bye bye. You graduated, go out of the house.
You know that type of thing. I mean, you love them deeply, but you are not one with them. And in today's culture, a lot of homes are experiencing what I would call a kid centric home or a child centric home where the child is the center of everything and mom and dad make the entire life around the child. And then eventually when the child is older, the child doesn't want to leave. Hence no longer getting married at 22 but 28 child doesn't want to leave and the parents don't want the child to leave. In order to prioritize your marriage, it means you put your marriage before your kids. You put your marriage before your kids. And as a matter of fact, those of you who are a little bit on the younger side, if you do that, your empty nesting years will be amazing.
Now don't get me wrong. I love being a parent, but Kathy and I, we were wise enough to anticipate the empty nesting years and empty nesting is joyous. Here's what's frightening. What's frightening in today's marriage. Again, we're talking about strong families in a broken world. What's frightening for couples of kids centric marriages. Will you even have a marriage when the children leave? Researchers out of Bowling Green University write this and in 1990, so do the math.
When was that? 27 years ago, 1990, one in 10 individuals who divorced were 50 years or older. 27 years later, that number jumped to more than one in 3.6. There's a phenomenon now in our culture called the graying of divorce.
Gray, G-R-E-Y, gray hair, meaning older people are getting divorced. Why? Because helicopter parents who made their whole life about their kids, when the kids were finally gone, there was nothing left of their marriage. You put your marriage before your kids.
That's the priority. That's God's design for marriage. I can hear your push back. Some of you are like, well, maybe you just don't like your kids as much as I like my kids. That's not true.
You can't prove that. Then secondly, if you really do love your kids like I think you do, if you really do love them, can I tell you that one of the greatest gifts that you can give your children is a strong marriage. They need to see mom and dad dating and talking and laughing and playing together.
Friends, too much hangs in the balance. And can I tell you that the job of the children's ministry and the youth ministry is to come alongside of you, to support you, but it's your primary job to help kids walk in the faith. And too much hangs in the balance if they don't see a loving marriage. The Journal for Scientific Study of Religion says children of divorced Christian parents are more than twice as likely to leave the church.
This is fascinating to me. It's an alarming statistic. 60% of children of divorce walk away from the faith.
Why? I think it's because maybe mom and dad promoted God's love, but apparently God's love wasn't strong enough to keep them together, and the hypocrisy was just too great. I mean, studies are just still coming out on this. Just a few months ago in the Washington Post, there was a headline that said, how decades of divorce have helped erode the faith. So why talk about this today? Why should the church help marriages win? Because we're about discipleship. We're about discipleship in adults, and we're about discipleship in the next generation. And we want to help kids walk in the ways of Jesus.
And they're more likely to do that if mom and dad do, and mom and dad stay together. So what am I asking you to do? I'm hoping nobody feels guilty in here. It's not about guilt.
This is about growth. What am I asking you to do? I'm asking you to sing these three songs and apply them to yourself, that we should honor marriage, that we should enjoy marriage, and we should prioritize marriage. When I talk about honor marriage, well, how about this? What if I said, is your marriage worth 1% of your time? 1%.
Okay, let's just take that concept. 1% of your time. There's 1,440 minutes in a day.
1% of your time is 14 minutes and 40 seconds. Not sitting next to each other and watching TV. But rounded up, 15 minutes a day, knee to knee, eye to eye, expressing gratitude for one another.
Talking about what is honorable about that person. That would change your marriage. That's what it means to honor your marriage. I'm just 15 minutes a day.
Start somewhere. Maybe it's only one minute a day, but start there. That's what it means to honor your marriage.
Then to enjoy your marriage, I talked about dating. What's 1% of your week? Well, do the math out. 1% of your week is an hour and 40 minutes. That's a date. An hour and 40 minutes is a date. And to date, to date, I would say to date weekly.
An hour and 40 minutes. What do we do with the kids? Duct tape.
Always works. Then it's to prioritize your marriage. Prioritize your marriage means to stop the kid-centric homes. As a matter of fact, the first time you leave on a date, your child might cry, but guess what? They're gonna get used to it and they're gonna grow up in an environment where they understand that mom and dad are modeling something to them that will last them for a lifetime. It actually will create a confidence and a security in them as children. And some of you are struggling and I get it.
You've never ever had anybody singing those songs to you. And I wanna encourage this church to become that type of church that is about strong families in a broken world that we lift up marriage, we talk highly about marriage, we model the enjoyment and the prioritization of marriage because when you change marriage, you change the church. When you change the church, you change the community. When you change the community, you change the culture.
Before we go on today, I wanna take a moment right now and talk to you about what Doug just shared. The foundation of human society is God's design, a man and a woman coming together. And then it's a man and a woman coming together that make a family and a family absolutely that design, that group of people, that small group, that authentic community, that unique positioning of what a man brings to relationship, what a woman brings to relationship. And then when they're committed to one another above their children and above work and above hobbies and above success and above making money and even above being happy, that's the kind of thing that produces a security in children and the foundation for a culture where there's truth and where there's life and where people thrive. And marriage has been under attack, but it's not just under attack out there. The percentage of fellow believers that just kinda wink and say, you know, God probably understands and we're living together or the percentage of believers who, you know, this is really hard.
It's not very fulfilling right now. I know the Bible says I shouldn't get a divorce, but I don't think it's that big a deal. What I want you to know is that when we lower the bar on the institution of marriage, we will begin to see greater and greater cracks, not just in our marriages and in our families, but then in our communities and then our churches and then in our country.
And by the way, that's where we are right now. And so what I want you to know is that if you think by yourself, by your willpower alone, that your marriage is going to be what God wants it to be or what you want it to be, you are sadly mistaken. You need to be connected to other people. You need the support of some men to help you to be a man, some women to help you be the woman that God wants you to be. You need to be connected and it's called a supernatural community. It's called the church.
I have watched one particular church in our area who has gone full court press to demand real community regardless of all the online experience and they have served and they've loved and they've helped the poor and they've helped people that couldn't pay their rent, but it happened because they said we're going to stay connected. This is not a calling to make you feel guilty. This is a calling to say stop, wake up.
When you are drifting, when you are being deceived, when you don't have people around you, you're in trouble and I'm in trouble. I want you to pause right now and I want you to say, Lord, will you show me what I need to do to get connected with other believers, to strengthen me as a man, to strengthen me as a woman, to strengthen our marriage, to be the person you want me to be in Jesus' name. Amen. That's a really meaningful challenge, Chip, to wrap up our short series, Back Up Singers to the Duet of Marriage from our guest teacher, Doug Fields. And let me say here at Living on the Edge, we really believe in the importance and power of community. And one of the best ways we can encourage that is by providing small group resources. Go to livingontheedge.org and click on the store button to learn more. Whether you want to build a stronger marriage, better understand God's character, or biblically respond to our changing culture, we have something for you. Again, to learn more about any of our small group studies, go to livingontheedge.org and click the store button, or call us at 888-333-6003. Let us help you build some life-changing community today.
Chip's still with me in studio. Chip, before we go, Doug talked a lot about the pressures on marriages and families today. As you travel around the world, are those the issues people are most concerned about? Absolutely, Dave.
It doesn't matter where I speak or who I'm with. It's the family, it's communication, and it's relationships. Now, here's the thing. There's a lot that goes into building a strong family. Great communication and doing that for different groups is certainly a challenge. But that's why we're committed to continuing to teach the Bible regularly, practically, and relevantly. We're committed to develop group resources and online courses that help people personally apply the truth to their life. And we're committed to having fun with families and creating tools that allow families to get together and enjoy one another and share their hearts.
Each one of those has their place. And here's what I would ask you. Would you be willing to help us create these and then get them in the hands of families all across America?
It takes resources. And I'm so grateful for those of you that pray and partner with us financially, and I want to thank you first. And second, if you don't partner with us financially now, would you consider partnering financially and helping us do what families desperately need?
Thanks so much for praying about it and then doing whatever God chose you to do. Well, as Chip said, if you're already supporting us financially, we appreciate you. With your help, Living on the Edge is ministering to more people than ever before. But if you're benefiting from this ministry and haven't taken that step yet, now would be a great time to join us. To send a gift or to become a monthly partner, visit LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app and tap the donate button. Or if it's easier, text the word donate to 74141.
That's donate to 74141. Well, just before we close, would you stop for a minute and pray for Living on the Edge today? We've never seen a greater need for God's truth to go out than right now. And by God's grace, Living on the Edge has been able to provide encouragement, teaching, and personal discipleship resources to more people than ever before. So thank you to those who support us in prayer. God is doing amazing things. Well, for all of us here, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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