By Kurt Bennett
Kathy and I are traveling to Atlanta right now so I’m writing this from our hotel room. We’re going to a wedding. Two beautiful wonderful people will pledge themselves to each other for the rest of their lives on Sunday evening. The event has me thinking about marriage and about what makes a successful marriage.
In 2023 Kathy and I will be celebrating our 43rd wedding anniversary. But it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I heard the best marriage advice ever. We were at a talk given by Bob Goff and he said,
“When my wife and I were first married, she kept trying to make me like her. But she shouldn’t try to make me like her. And I shouldn’t try to make her like me. We both should try to make ourselves like Jesus.”
What he said really jolted me. Not like a 110-volt jolt, but more like a lightning strike directly from the hand of God type of jolt. Because for most of my marriage I expended a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to make Kathy like me. And not just Kathy, I tried to make everyone around me, like me. One of the best examples I can think of occurred when I was the one man information technology division for the fire department where I worked. My primary job was that of a firefighter but in the evenings at the fire station, and on overtime down at headquarters, I would purchase computers, install software, and program databases.
As the de facto department expert, I often had co-workers ask me questions about their personal computer purchases. I remember one time my friend, Michael Milligan, asked me if he should buy a PC or a Mac. I explained–in a most eloquent manner–how the PC is less expensive, and how you can right click, and why it has more flexibility if you want to upgrade, and how there’s a bigger selection of software available.
Mike patiently listened, nodding to indicate his understanding and agreement.
Then he went out and bought a Mac.
I was so offended!
It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever but I felt completely betrayed! Things were strained between us, and for a most ridiculous reason. For months I was stuck on this, because:
Mike wasn’t doing it the way I did it.
The truth is, I’m not the only one with this problem. Most human beings have at their core something that wants other people to be like them. And it’s often most apparent in a marriage relationship. Why doesn’t he clean he kitchen the way I do? Why doesn’t she drive the way I do? Why doesn’t he approach relationships the way I do? Why doesn’t she discipline the kids the way I do?
“Why can’t he be more like me?” Or, “Why can’t she be more like me?”
But when I let that go, when I forget about making my wife like me, when I forget about making the people around me like me, and I shift my focus toward making me like Jesus, it’s life changing.
And when two people in a marriage both approach life this way, there’s a dramatic shift in the relationship and love flows.
It took me almost 38 years to figure this out.
You don’t have to wait that long. You can start living that way now.
You’ll be blessed beyond measure if you do.
“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
Kurt Cameron Bennett best known for his book Love Like Jesus. After attending church and studying the Bible for most of his adult life, he was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven-year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote Love Like Jesus for himself as much as for others. He currently lives in Hillsboro, Oregon, just a few miles from his son Gabe, daughter (-in-law) Charise, and grandson Andrew. He has another son Nate and daughter (-in-law) Anastasia who live in Sammamish, Washington. His blog, God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.