Author Stephen Arterburn Isbn 9781936034628 File size 1 9MB Year 2013 Pages 224 Language English File format PDF Category Family and Friendship Can 7 Minutes Make a Difference If you re thinking the 7 minute solution to a happier marriage sounds far too simplistic even a bit crazy we dare you to read this book It will revolutionize your marriage THE THREE 7s IN YOUR MARRIAGE Drawing from an extensive national survey of more than 1 300 men and women best selling author Stephen Arterbur
Author : Stephen Arterburn
ISBN : 9781936034628
Year : 2013
File Size : 1.9MB
Category : Family and Friendship
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Copyright © 2013 by Stephen Arterburn
Published by Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., 134 Franklin Road, Suite 200,
Brentwood, Tennessee 37027.
people experience the heart of
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012941810
eBook available at worthypublishing.com
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Scripture quotations marked niv are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright
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ISBN: 978-1-93603-462-8 (hardcover w/ jacket)
ISBN: 978-1-61795-234-0 (international edition)
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Printed in the United States of America
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To my wife:
You are giving me the best years of my life.
As my mother said before we married,
“Everyone should be married to someone like you.”
Well, I am, and I’m so grateful.
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Fixing Your Marriage Is Easier Than You Think������������������������������� 1
PA RT O N E
7 THINGS TO STOP
CLINGING to Unrealistic Expectations����������������������������� 7
OBSESSING on the Past������������������������������������������ 17
DROWNING in Suspicion and Jealousy���������������������������� 31
TRYING to Change Your Mate������������������������������������ 41
SEETHING in Anger and Resentment����������������������������� 53
TOLERATING Compulsions and Addictions����������������������� 69
FOCUSING Only on Your Interests�������������������������������� 83
PA RT T W O
7 THINGS TO START
EMBRACING Friendship and Fun������������������������������� 97
RESPONDING Romantically to Your Mate��������������������� 109
EXPRESSING Grace and Forgiveness�������������������������� 123
AFFIRMING Your Mate’s Strengths��������������������������� 133
SPENDING Money Responsibly������������������������������� 141
PRACTICING Your Lifetime Vows���������������������������� 155
SHOWING Respect No Matter What�������������������������� 169
PA RT T H R E E
7 MINUTES THAT MATTER MOST
15. The Three-Stranded Cord of
16. The Most Important Thing of
Study Guide������������������������������������������������������������ 203
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FIXING YOUR MARRIAGE IS
EASIER THAN YOU THINK
To watch a short video on this subject, go to
hen you saw the title The 7 Minute Marriage Solution, your first
impulse may have been, “You’ve got to be kidding—a seven-minute
solution to my marriage? No way!” It sounds too good to be true.
But having a strong marriage isn’t as complicated as you think. Yes, we
all have issues with our mates, but overall, we make marriage ridiculously
harder than it has to be.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we all know the self-defeating thoughtless things we do every day.
• We use put-down humor or criticize our mate in public.
• We try to change our mate into the “perfect” spouse.
• We run up credit-card debt or secretly spend money.
• We nag and complain about our mate’s flaws.
• We manipulate, give the silent treatment, or say harsh things in
• We hold grudges and refuse to forgive our mate’s mistakes.
A strong marriage is one in which both partners stop doing negative
behaviors and start doing positive ones.
In order to identify the most harmful and most helpful behaviors in
marriage, we conducted a national survey of randomly selected adults who
were either married or formerly married (some Christians and some not),
inquiring about things spouses ought to stop doing or start doing to make
a marriage work. Interestingly, the survey revealed that no matter the age,
marital status, or spiritual background of the respondents, they listed the
same seven most important things to start and seven things to stop doing to
improve their marriage. Even more interestingly, all the respondents—both
women and men—agreed on the number-one most important thing to start
doing in marriage.
In this book, I’ve combined the eye-opening results of this national
survey with several years of extensive study based on hundreds of couples’
experiences in our New Life Marriage Weekend workshops, a research project from the Center for Bible Engagement, and my own personal experience.
The result is a plan that shows you how to uproot the seven most harmful
behaviors in your marriage and how to implement the seven most helpful behaviors. When you and your spouse also incorporate the seven most
important minutes of the day, your marriage will be transformed.
Having a strong marriage comes down to this:
7 things to stop.
7 things to start.
7 minutes that matter most.
This 7 + 7 + 7 plan goes beyond what makes a marriage better and
moves it to become a whole new relationship.
You might think a seven-minute marriage solution sounds overly simplistic: “Sure, this plan looks good on paper, but it will never work in real life.”
I assure you, this is far more than a clever formula or mere theory. I’ve
actually watched this 7 + 7 + 7 plan produce dramatic results in real marriages. In our New Life Marriage Weekend workshops, couples who had
signed divorce papers tore them up. After being separated for years, husbands and wives moved back in together. Angry and alienated spouses fell
in love again.
| T HE 7 MINUTE M A RR I AG E S OLU TI ON
Plus, these principles have strengthened my own marriage. This 7 + 7 + 7
plan brought us through some tough times and left us with a very connected,
deeply intimate, and extremely satisfying relationship. I was telling my wife,
Misty, the other night that I have never loved or felt love like this. At one time
I had given up on the hope of a marriage like this. I want you to experience
this kind of relationship also. You don’t have to be walking out the door and
toward divorce to use this plan. The 7 Minute Marriage Solution will take a
pretty good marriage to an even greater level of satisfaction.
No matter what your relationship is like right now, this 7 + 7 + 7 plan
will transform your marriage.
If you put into practice the simple strategies contained in these chapters,
you will be amazed at what will happen. You and your spouse will connect
with God and each other in a way that few couples have experienced. You
will be united in a powerful three-way bond that will not be easily broken.
Whether you have a struggling marriage or a good marriage that you
want to be even better, everything you need is contained right here. If you
and your spouse are willing to take a look at these core issues and do some
things differently, you can have the strong marriage you’ve always wanted.
Fi xing Y our M arriage I s E asier T han Y ou T hin k | 3
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THINGS TO STOP
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E X P E C TAT I O N S
To watch a short video on this subject, go to
n the 2001 chick flick The Wedding Planner, Matthew McConaughey plays
Dr. Steve Edison, a pediatrician, and Jennifer Lopez is Mary Flore, a wed-
ding planner hired by a female client engaged to Steve. Steve is not with his
fiancée during the initial stages of planning the wedding, so he and Mary do
not meet. Later they encounter each other accidentally, but Mary does not
know he is the groom of her client. The attraction between them is immediate,
and they spend a romantically charged evening enjoying a community event
in the local park.
Mary instantly falls in love with Steve—or at least in love with the idea
of being in love with him. But when she discovers that he is the groom of her
client, she is angry and hurt because she believes he has deceived her. A lovehate relationship ensues. But Steve, now attracted to Mary, comes to believe
he is not as in love with his bride-to-be as he thought. The movie ends with
this realization blossoming moments before the ceremony as Steve breaks
off the wedding, rushes to find Mary, and they get married—supposedly to
live happily ever after.
It’s a fun, romantic movie that’s typical of most in its genre. But I believe
movies of this type—along with the TV shows, magazines, and romance
novels of the past half-century—have done much to create the seriously
flawed expectations couples take into marriage today. I am convinced that
these unrealistic expectations are a major cause of the ballooning number of
failed marriages in America.
Studies show that most Americans (70 percent) believe the purpose of
marriage is to find a mate who will make them happy.1 By “happy” they mean
that marriage should sustain consistently romantic feelings between soul
mates whose sexual ecstasy lasts a lifetime. Of course, this is not the reality of
day-to-day married life. Yet many newlyweds cling to these unrealistic expectations. Therefore, the first argument creates a crisis rather than being just a
normal event through which great marriages grow.
Unrealistic expectations are toxic in marriage. Stable marriages require
both partners to take a hard look at mutual goals, compatibility on practical matters, and deep commitment to shared values, religion, and moral
I find it significant that in The Wedding Planner, Steve and Mary do not
take the time to get to know each other intimately. Their backgrounds, parentage, values, religion, goals, undiscovered personality traits, or economic
expectations are not considered. They don’t know if they both want children
or if they act like children when they don’t get their way. The message of the
movie is that love conquers all, and nothing else matters as long as the couple’s kisses curl their toes (or in most current movies, their lovemaking sets
off fireworks). Steve and Mary believe they are each other’s romantic soul
mate, so all other concerns will automatically fall into place.
If it turns out that the marriage does not make them happy, they conclude they must have chosen the wrong mate. So they divorce and begin a
new search for their romantic soul mate. (Or perhaps more commonly, first
find their new romantic soul mate and then get a divorce.)
Unrealistic Expectations Undermine Reality
I believe in love and romance as much as anyone. But the unrealistic expectations created by making romance the primary focus of your relationship
can lead to an early unraveling of the marriage bond.
| T HE 7 MINUTE M A RR I AG E S OLU TI ON
Over and over I have seen people enter marriage expecting nonstop
romantic bliss, and within a few weeks they are surprised by how difficult it
is to live together harmoniously. Often the couple clings to these fantasy
expectations because they didn’t date long enough to know each other well.
When expectations are dashed by harsh reality, the marriage spirals into a
miserable existence of disappointment, regret, and resentment.
YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE CAN LI VE HAPPILY
EVER AF TER—BUT ONLY IF BOTH OF YOU ARE
WILLING TO WORK THROUGH THE ISSUES AND
DIFFERENCES YOU BROUGHT INTO THE MARRIAGE .
You and your spouse can live happily ever after—but only if both of
you are willing to work through the issues and differences you brought into
the marriage. You hear little or nothing about this struggle in the movies or
pop literature. What if Mary intends to keep her wedding-planning career
while Steve expects her to be a stay-at-home mom? What if she never reckoned on his long hours and 3 a.m. emergencies that are standard in the life
of a doctor? What if another beautiful woman turns Steve’s head as easily as
Mary turned his?
Again, these dashed expectations result from too little time spent getting
to know the other person. Before marriage, both put their best foot forward,
and the other foot is not exposed until after the honeymoon. And each partner is shocked to see how ugly that other foot turns out to be.
When Robert and Frances were dating, he was always kind and gentle
with her. Once she had found a stack of old newspapers on Robert’s car
seat and, assuming they were trash, pitched them into a sidewalk receptacle.
She didn’t realize that the papers were his collection of clippings about his
college tennis career. When he discovered the loss, he had been upset but
understanding. He made no complaint about the humiliation of having to
rummage through the trash can to retrieve his treasures.
S TOP C linging to U nrealistic E x pectations | 9
But one Saturday morning less than a month after they married, Robert
was out golfing and Frances decided to do him the favor of organizing his
cluttered desk. She was careful to throw away nothing. When Robert came
home he went ballistic, cursing and belittling her for messing with his stuff
and invading his privacy. It was only the first of many such explosions,
revealing a short-fused temper she had never suspected.
Had the haze of romantic expectations not dimmed her insight, Frances might have recognized hints of Robert’s temper before they married, in
the way he treated his mother or restaurant waiters, or even in the way he
railed at drivers who tailgated, drove too slowly, or failed to signal turns.
(Driving behavior provides an amazing number of clues to a person’s inner
character.) But with her he had kept his temper hidden until the daily reality
of marriage revealed it.
Problems that surface during courtship don’t go away; they intensify
after you say “I do.” In today’s self-focused culture, marriage rarely serves as
a channel for couples to grow and mature. Instead couples view marriage
as their rightful opportunity to reap the rewards from their investment in
courtship. The excitement of romantic pursuit and discovery gives way to a
relaxing of the intense focus on pleasing each other. That’s when harsh realities rise to the surface.
The Disappointment of the Soul-Mate Model
Disappointment with your mate is usually not caused by a dramatic character flaw or extreme self-centeredness, but merely by personal differences.
Minor differences that seemed unimportant while dating expand into
mountains of disappointment in marriage. Perhaps in the evenings you
like to spend hours surfing the Internet, while your spouse wants to watch
movies together. Your mate likes to watch sitcoms; you want to flip to the
news. You believe you should eat only health foods; your spouse wants burgers
and fries. Your mate loves NASCAR; you love symphonies.
While dating, you and your mate couldn’t be together enough. But now
that you are married and together all the time, you miss your independence
| THE 7 MINUT E M AR RI A GE S O LUTI O N
and want more time to yourself. So you work late in the evenings and devote
more time to your hobbies, causing your spouse to feel lonely. Or maybe
your spouse feels smothered by your persistent desire for sex and becomes
unresponsive to your sexual hints and advances. Maybe you revert to previous sloppy habits while your mate is an obsessive neatnik. You two don’t go
out as much in the evenings and eat fewer dinners together. One or both of
you is grumpy in the morning or uncommunicative after a hard day’s work.
If you and your spouse were seduced by the soul-mate model of marriage, you have no warning that the iceberg of unrealistic expectations looms
ahead; thus, when you encounter it your hope sinks. How can you keep your
marriage afloat? Couples whose relationships were formed on the soul-mate
model feel blindsided by this harsh reality in marriage, and the resulting
disappointment often brings dissatisfaction with the relationship and the
beginning of a wandering eye.
If your marriage relationship is cooling because of unmet expectations,
ask yourself this: Just what were you in love with—a fantasy of your own creation or a real person possessing the same fallen tendencies as every son of
Adam and daughter of Eve? Did you fall in love with a person or with a feeling? As a golden oldie song put it, were you merely “falling in love with love”?
Resetting Your Expectations
Since the romantic soul-mate model for marriage creates false expectations
that lead to disappointment, what are the right expectations that bind couples together in an enduring, satisfying, and happy marriage?
The traditional view of marriage held by most Americans until the
end of of the twentieth century was this: “raising a family together, offering mutual aid to one another in tough times, and becoming engaged in
larger networks of kin and community.”2 If you are clinging to the soulmate model, the traditional model of marriage may seem overly practical
and unromantic. But the bottom line is that it worked. Those marriages—
built on a foundation of family, mutual aid, and community—tended
to last a lifetime. The traditional model may seem to be a letdown from
S TO P C linging to U nrealistic E x pectations | 11
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