Are You on the Wrong Side of Being Right?

During one of our workshops when teaching about developing better communication skills , a young man once asked, “If I absolutely know I’m right, then why should I let my wife win an argument?” Though asked in a challenging tone, it is a great question to understand the fundamental nature of all our communication. In retrospect,  I wish I had better understood the answer during my argumentative younger years. What I simply did not know then is that there is a wrong side of  being right.

For much of my life, I’ve had a well-earned reputation for being argumentative. My sister recently reminded me of this—as if I needed reminding. Sometimes, the arguments were playful and just intended to incite banter. Other times they were  emotion-laden attempts to change someone’s mind or behavior.  It didn’t matter if the topic was sports, politics, or religion, my agenda was to win. Honestly, I’ve always been good at it. So, I went all in with my best articulation of facts, opinions, experiences, and the like—all in an effort to debunk the other’s point of view. For me, it felt like a badge of honor—mostly because it made me feel smart and commanding of respect from others. Best argument wins, right?

Vince Lombardi famously said, “Winning isn’t everything. It is the only thing”.

Boy, Mr. Lombardi and I are dead wrong–at least as it pertains to relational matters.

But, it wasn’t until years after I became a husband that I began to realize just how wrong I was.

Marriage is NOT about Love

I spend a lot of time thinking about marriage—my own marriage, other people’s marriages, and cultural attitudes about marriage. I’ve learned many things on this journey. But, I’ve reached one conclusion that may sound odd possibly even startling. Marriage is NOT about love. 

As it pertains to marriage, maybe Tina Turner’s song title “ What’s Love Got to Do With It?” captures the point best. The answer as it pertains to marriage is mostly “very little”. 

Many centuries ago, Virgil, the greatest Roman poet wrote “Love conquers all things, so we too shall yield to love.” Was Virgil ever married? Nope.

My wife and I speak around the country on growing a successful marriage using my Marriage ROCKS model. I’ve read countless books on the topic of marriage. I’ve counseled many couples on how to move their marriages to a better level. My wife and I lead the marriage enrichment ministry at the local church that we attend. I’ve lead national marriage initiatives. I speak to community marriage initiatives—as I’ll be doing later this month in Atlanta. So, for me, there is no question that helping married couples discover one another and God in their relationship is part of my DNA.

Here’s how the process unfolds…

Two people fall in love. The romantic fervor is intoxicating. They feel awesome—on top of the world. Their bond is inseparable, at least that’s how they feel. They want to experience that forever. At some point, many of these couples decide that they should marry and spend the rest of their lives together to have nonstop access to this fountain of bliss. 

It all sounds so good until…

5 Habits of Purpose-driven Families

Is your family purpose-driven? In other words, is your family influencing each other and the community in a way that reflects the Creator? There is one way to tell. How well is your family practicing the following five habits that all purpose-driven families pursue.

We commonly think about purpose as individuals. Thanks to Pastor Rick Warren’s ground-breaking book, “Purpose-driven life” many of us began to think afresh about why we are here on earth. We were created to use our gifts and talents to get to know God more intimately, to authentically connect with others, and to help others develop richer relationships with God themselves.

When we think about purpose, we tend to think about it at the level of the individual. That certainly does have merit. However, the question is whether it stops there. Are marriages, families, communities, and churches intended to be purpose-driven as well?

Well, my answer is unequivocally “yes”.

Given my own interest in family life and encouraging folks to turn their hearts towards home, I set out to identify what it means to be a purpose-driven family.

I feel like it is an important notion in a culture where family life continues to face enormous internal and external financial, education, and employment stressors just to name a few.

The result is that marriages are strained. Parent-child relationships are shallow. Siblings are often disconnected and acting out. Elderly parents feel alienated. Even many singles struggle to maintain vital, life-giving relationships.

What is the problem?

The issues are certainly multifaceted. I believe, however, that at the core of the problem is a purpose deficit. Singles, couples, and families are going through the motions of life without a central guiding purpose or core identity.

In a previous post, I’ve discussed the five questions that are important to ask and listen of your family members. Click HERE to check it out. I encourage you to read that post as you consider the remainder of this post. They are complementary propositions.

Asking engaging questions and listening for the response is the fundamental need to move your family towards purpose. That is a starting point.

But, it isn’t just about the start. Purpose-driven families engage in behaviors that become practices that develop into habits. Habits, when developed early enough in one’s life journey,  tend to become transgenerational.

As I study family life and observe families, I’ve observed five habits that some families have mastered that allow them to have extraordinary relationships with one another, wield extraordinary influence, and change the trajectory of those  around them.

I want to have a purpose-driven family. It is with this desire in mind that I offer these five habits for your consideration.

Five Questions to Transform Your Home

What is the secret to a great marriage or a happy home? These are the questions that I am often asked as I work with families. People want an easy answer. I believe it only takes five questions to transform your home.

When you ask these families in what areas they most struggle, you usually hear fairly predictable responses. The most common response you initially probably doesn’t surprise you. “We have a communication problem” is by far the culprit of home dysfunction. But, when you did deeper you begin to see that this “communication problem” is really about more pronounced cracks in the relational foundation of the home.

Sometimes you can see that financial pressures are placing enormous strain on the family.

In other homes, you discern how busy schedules and lack of quality time together is creating emotional distance.

Still other homes are stymied by a self-centeredness that makes intimacy feel disingenuous or maybe even unattainable.

Of course, many homes are battered by more than one of these pressures at the same time—often resulting in the communication failures between spouses, dating couples, parent-child interaction, and other important relationships.

So, what is the secret to overcoming these communication challenges and positively transforming the atmosphere in your home?

It can be summed up in a single phrase—“Listen More”.