The Rushmore Report: The Top 5 Reasons Couples Fight

I love to talk about love – even some of the darker parts of coupledom like arguments, fights, and problems. After all, without the dark we wouldn’t have the light! Most of us don’t realize there are patterns to how we fight. Your arguments might be more common than you think. There are really just five reasons most couples fight.

Here are the five most common issues over which couples fight:

  1. Free time
  2. Money
  3. Housework
  4. Physical intimacy
  5. Extended family

More important than the issues over which we fight is the way to turn fights into positives. Here are six ways you can use the science of couples to help your relationship:

1. Adopt a new mindset.

How to fight better: I want us to shift the focus to fighting better as opposed to fighting less. Why? Fighting better is about having discussions, not arguments. It is about respectfully hearing one another.

2. Identify the issues.

One of the most interesting discussions I have ever had with my husband was identifying our “perpetual issues.” We sat down and thought about the problems and topics and looked at the patterns. The main issues keep coming up – they need to be identified.

3. Localize, don’t globalize.

One reason that little arguments can erupt so quickly is that a small disagreement can be tagged into one of your larger arguments and immediately explode into the big fight. Avoid saying things like, “You always . . .” or “You never . . .” Don’t focus on the big picture nor the past. Focus on the local issues.

4. Start with agreement.

If a gridlocked issue comes up on a daily basis and you need to approach it, start with agreement. Successful couples master gentleness. They start with their common purpose, what they want to achieve as a family.

5. Look beyond the argument.

This is the hardest one to do. It is also the most important. Sometimes there are underlying issues beneath the gridlock. Think about what is happening behind the argument. This will help you to turn the situation to an exploratory discussion, rather than antagonistic.

6. Choose acceptance.

Knowing that your issues and where you stand can help you avoid having the same argument over and over again. Agreeing to disagree and naming the issue can prevent arguments in the future. Acceptance means placing a higher value on the person than the position.

About the Author

Vanessa Van Edwards is a marriage expert and the author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People.

The Rushmore Report: What God Would Say to Matt Lauer

For twenty years, Matt Lauer was perhaps the most popular and trusted news host in America, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to NBC every year, from advertising on the Today Show. More than that, he was a champion of women’s rights, beloved by feminists since the 1990s. But this week, that all came crashing down, with the revelation of a far-reaching sex scandal and Lauer’s resulting firing by NBC. You can read the sordid details on other outlets. But only here will you read what matters most. We answer the question, in light of recent events, What would God say to Matt Lauer?

I think that if God were to sit down with Matt Lauer, he would say six things.

1. I love you as much today as I did before the scandal broke.

God would go even further. He’d tell Mr. Lauer, “I love you just as much today as before the scandal broke, and just as much as I did before you committed your first indiscretion.” We don’t know when it all began for Lauer, though that will likely be exposed soon. To God it has no bearing on his love for Matt Lauer. God’s love for him today is just as complete as it was on the day before his first sin. I think God would say it like this – “There is nothing you can ever do that will make me love you more, and  there is nothing you can ever do that will make me love you less.” Upon learning the news, Lauer’s co-host, Cathy Lee Gifford, texted him, “I adore you.” She said, “No person is perfect. No one is sinless. We need God’s mercy.” God’ love for Matt Lauer – and for you – is not diminished by the magnitude of any sin.

2. What you do in secret will always be exposed.

The accusations against Mr. Lauer are growing by the day. Like so many before him, his actions of sexual misconduct have been repetitive. Lauer’s activities seem to have crossed the line into addiction. And as with all addictions, secrecy is the incubator of the compulsive lifestyle. It’s not that men like Lauer, Weinstein, Conyers, and Franken want to battle such ferocious demons. It’s just too hard to overcome in secret.  Sins of darkness cannot be solved in darkness. Jesus said, “There is nothing done in darkness that will not be revealed in the light” (Luke 8:17). For the perpetrator, his exposure is both his worst fear and his very best friend. The reason our sins “find us out” (Numbers 32:23) is not one of judgment, but mercy. God knows that we can only get well in the light. Patrick Carnes, perhaps the foremost expert on sex addiction, says it like this: “The addictive system uses secrecy as a shield. Addiction thrives on secrecy.” God would tell Matt Lauer, “What you have done behind closed doors, I will expose in the light of day – not so you can lose your reputation – but so you can find it.” If he opens himself to God’s grace, Lauer will look back one day and see the day of his exposure as the best day of his life.

3. What you took a lifetime to build can be lost in a moment.

Will Rogers famously said, “It takes a lifetime to build your reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.” Case #1 – David (adultery with Bathsheba). Case #2 – Noah (drunk and naked before his children). Case #3 – Peter (denied Christ three times). Case #4 – Matt Lauer. What is built for 30-40 years can be lost in a moment. But God would tell Lauer – and you and me – that this is not all bad. He would tell Lauer, “You no longer have the ability to write the start of your personal story, but you can still write the ending.”

4. Pride precedes fall.

God would tell Matt Lauer what he has already said in his Word. “Pride comes before fall” (Proverbs 11:2). One of the things all the men who have recently been disgraced in the nightly news have shared in common is power. Matt Lauer is – or was – a powerful man. His mere presence on The Today Show made NBC hundreds of millions of dollars every year. And in turn, they made him the highest paid newsman on television. But power is more often our enemy than our friend. What Abraham Lincoln said over 150 years ago still resonates today: “Nearly all men can stand adversity; but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” NBC gave Matt Lauer power – lots of power. But the higher the pedestal, the greater the fall.

5. The Mike Pence Rule is a good idea.

When Vice President Mike Pence shared the boundary he has erected to protect his integrity, the media scoffed. His rule is simple – never be alone with a woman other than your wife and never be in a room where alcohol is served without your wife there also. Billy Graham lived by this standard, and so did his entire team. It was called the Modesto Manifesto. And now in his 100th year, Graham has never had a hint of personal sexual scandal. Graham once said, “It’s not that I don’t trust the women; I don’t trust myself.” If Matt Lauer, John Conyers, and the rest had followed the “Pence Rule,” their stories would have played out much differently. The same is true of each of us.

6. Get help!

God would tell Matt Lauer it is never too late to seek help. The Bible says, “They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of distress” (Psalm 107:28). The First Step of recovery is to admit one’s powerlessness over his struggles. Yes, Matt Lauer crossed some clear lines. Yes, he has lost his job and his reputation. And yes, of all the paths he may take in the future, the road of recovery will be the road less traveled. There are too many bumps along the road, not to mention exit ramps, for the road to be easy. But there is hope for Matt Lauer if he wants it. But he must really want it. Since their sexual indiscretions were made public, rumors have resurfaced that suggest Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods have not taken their recovery seriously. It is hard to begin the journey, still harder to stay on it. Matt Lauer has apologized. He has admitted personal failings and faults. But will he really seek help for his problems? Will he make amends? Will he put his recovery before anything else? We will know soon. God would say to Matt Lauer, “Seeking help is a good thing, not a bad thing.” To quote Les Brown, “We ask for help, not because we are weak, but because we are strong.” Whether or not Matt Lauer is strong enough to know he is weak, smart enough to know he is not so smart, and helpless enough to know he needs help – will determine how his story ends.

Yes, God has something to say to Matt Lauer. But is he ready to listen? He needs help – help he probably would have never sought until God gave him the gift of exposing his sins. I pray he gets help. He suddenly has a three-hour hole in his daily schedule, Monday through Friday. If he uses his time to get well, he may never return to the fame he once enjoyed. But what God has before him is so much better than what lies behind him. What would God say to Matt Lauer? “Matt, the rest of your life can be the best of your life. But you’ve got to want it – more than you’ve ever wanted anything before.”

The Rushmore Report: Top Ten Reasons for Divorce

Marriage isn’t always easy and the sad reality is that not all “I dos” end with a “happily ever after,” no matter how much two people may love each other. It’s estimated that 40 to 50 percent of first marriages fail, as well as 60 percent of second marriages. This can be hard to grasp for someone who is about to get married or is happily married. So how does this happen? Why do so many marriages end in divorce?

What are the real reasons for divorce? Let’s look at the ten most common reasons for divorce in hope that you can learn from the mistakes of others.

1. Infidelity

Extra-marital affairs are responsible for the breakdown of most marriages that end in divorce. The reasons people cheat aren’t as clear as we may think, though anger and resentment are common underlying reasons people cheat.

2. Money

Money makes people funny. Everything from different spending habits and financial goals to one spouse making considerably more money that the other, power struggles often emerge. Money issues bring stress, and stress leads to divorce.

3. Lack of communication

This is crucial in marriage and a failure in this area leads to frustration, impacting all aspects of a marriage. On the other hand, good communication is the foundation of a strong marriage.

4. Constant arguing

From bickering about chores to arguing about the kids, incessant arguing kills many relationships. Couples who seem to keep having the same argument over and over often do so because they feel they’re not being heard or appreciated.

5. Weight gain

It may seem awfully superficial or unfair, but weight gain is a common reason for divorce. In some cases a significant amount of weight gain causes the other spouse to become less physically attracted while for others, weight gain takes a toll on the person’s self-esteem. Either leads to a break-down in intimacy.

6. Unrealistic expectations

It’s easy to go into a marriage with lofty expectations – expecting your spouse and the marriage to live up to your image of what they should be. These expectations can put a lot of strain on the other person, leaving you feeling let down and setting your spouse up for failure.

7. Lack of intimacy

Not feeling connected to your partner can quickly ruin a marriage because it leaves the couple feeling as though they’re living with a stranger or more like roommates than spouses. This can be from a lack of physical or emotional intimacy and isn’t always about sex.

8. Lack of equality

When one partner feels that they take on more responsibility in the marriage, it can alter their view of the other person and lead to resentment. Every couple must negotiate through their own and unique set of challenges, and find their own way of living together as two equals who enjoy a respectful, harmonious, and joyful relationship.

9. Not being prepared for marriage

A surprising number of couples of all ages have blamed not being prepared for married life for the demise of their relationship. Divorce rates are highest among couples in their 20s. Almost half of all divorces occur in the first ten years of marriage, most commonly in years four through eight.

10. Abuse

Physical or emotional abuse is a sad reality for some couples. It doesn’t always stem from the abuser being a “bad” person; deep emotional issues are usually to blame. Regardless of the reason, no one should tolerate abuse, and removing yourself from that kind of a relationship safely is critically important.

About the Author

Shellie Warren writes for marriage.com.

The Rushmore Report: Ten Traits of Successful Christian Parenting

God has made each one of our children special in his or her own unique way. My role as a parent isn’t to help my child be perfect or become more like his or her peers. My main goal as a parent is to ensure my children are everything God made them to be. So what does “success” mean to the Christian parent? For me, it is to raise my kids in a manner that cultivates their hearts for God.

The Apostle Paul told the early church to imitate him as he imitated Christ. I believe every parent is called to the same mission. Much of our pursuit as parents comes down to a modeling effect. Our children will likely follow where we’ve already been and one day head down the same road we’re on right now.

Here are ten parenting traits or patterns that will help build a pathway for your child as he or she matures into the adult God desires them to be.

1. Teach them early and often when it comes to the Gospel message.

Children are sponges by design. It’s essential that we pour into them the truth found in God’s Word and the amazing grace that he has bestowed upon us.

2. Instill in your children that they are “fearfully and wonderfully” made by a God who has a special purpose for their lives.

Their self-esteem is not derived from man. Rather, their self-esteem is rooted in their understanding of how much their God loves them.

3. Be a student of your child’s heart.

There is nothing sweeter to a parent than seeing our children love God. Second to that is to see our sons and daughters glorify God with their unique giftedness.

4. Dedicate time each day to acknowledge God in your lives.

Our faith in Jesus is foremost a relationship and not a once a week event. Allow your children to find the joy of walking with Christ every day by being in his Word together and spending time in prayer on a regular basis.

5. Train your sons and daughters with the end goal in mind.

Boyhood and girlhood are not destinations. Rather, they are a part of a longer journey that is leading our sons and daughters into becoming men and women.

6. Never let your anger drive your discipline.

There have been times in my life as a father that I wished I could have a “do over.” Disciplining my kids in anger is one of them. Don’t do it – ever.

7. Allow your household to be a refuge of mercy and grace.

Our children must never forget that the mercy and grace afforded to us by God is saturated with the blood of Jesus Christ.

8. Laugh and enjoy life.

Christ gave us the greatest example of what a true servant of God looks like. He came not to be served, but to serve. We need to serve our children in a way that brings joy and laughter.

9. Encourage children to desire and value hard work.

Look for opportunities to serve others as a family. These have been some of my favorite times with my family.

10. Always reinforce that our greatest life goal is to glorify God in all we do.

When it’s all said and done, this is the essence of life – to glorify God with our lives.

About the Author

JT Waresak writes for James Dobson’s Family Talk.

Why God Created Eve

Why did God create Eve? While scholars might weigh in, we will jump the gun with ten reasons we see that God must have taken into consideration in coming up with his finest creation. Here you go . . . ten reasons God created Eve.

1. God worried that Adam would always be lost in the garden because He knew man would never ask for directions.

2. God knew that Adam would one day need someone to hand him the TV remote because men don’t want to see what is on TV; they want to see what else is on TV.

3. God knew that Adam would never buy a new fig leaf when the seat wore out and therefore would need Eve to get one for him.

4. God knew that Adam would never make a doctor’s appointment for himself.

5. God knew that Adam would never remember which night was garbage night.

6. God knew that if the world was to be populated there would have to be someone else to bear children because men would never be able to handle it.

7. As keeper of the Garden, Adam would never remember where he put his tools.

8. The Scriptural account of creation indicates that Adam needed someone to blame his troubles on when God caught him hiding in the garden.

9. As the Bible says, “It is not good for man to be alone,” as he only ends up getting himself in trouble.

10. When God finished the creation of Adam he stepped back and scratched his head and said, “I can do better than that!”

The Rushmore Report: The #1 Key to Great Date Nights

There’s a lot of evidence from research over the past 20 years that supports the conclusion that engaging in one key principle will do more to enhance a marriage relationship than anything else. And it’s not hard. But if your marriage is to thrive, this is a principle you must embrace. It is the key to everything.

Recent work by researchers in New Zealand has identified the key: shared activities.

Couples must engage in new and fun activities with the other person in mind. Across two studies of more than 350 people in long-term marriages, the researchers found that spending time doing “shared relationship activities” is associated with more satisfaction and happiness, and less stress, than anything.

These activities might include taking trips, exercising, going out, and engaging in joint hobbies.

Perhaps most importantly, the research demonstrates that positive effects from these shared activities are greatest when couples purposefully engage in prioritizing doing things together, not just doing them.

Having one partner tag along when the other is doing something he or she finds interesting is less beneficial. In fact, dragging your partner to do things that only interest you can backfire by causing stress in the relationship.

In short, shared activities are a great way to bring partners together and make their relationship more satisfying, as long as both partners are on the same page and think of those activities as a good way to spend time together. But if that activity only meets one partner’s goals, it probably does more harm than good.

About the Author

Benjamin Le is author of Science of Relationships.

The Rushmore Report: Couple Married 68 Years – ‘The Thing that Matters Most in Marriage’

Bill and Anne McDonald met on a blind date in 1944. Both were students at Duke University. They seemed to be “exact opposites,” according to Anne. Still, Bill and Anne – both age 91 – have made it work. They have been married for 68 years. And they’ve never been happier. The McDonalds recently sat for a short interview, and they opened up about the keys to a successful marriage. At the heart of a great marriage, they say, is one thing.

Trust.

It wasn’t always easy. Their differences presented struggles early on. Anne recollects, “Whenever he said, ‘Let’s dance,’ I said, ‘Not now.’ If he said, ‘Would you like some punch?’ I would say, ‘No, thank you. Let’s dance.'”

Still, Anne thought he was devilishly handsome. Bill, who’d been dating a few women, “immediately dropped them,” she says. The couple spent their first five years of marriage far from family. Two sons would come later, but those early years forced them to rely on each other, working as a team, “to make the foundation for our marriage a success through thick and thin,” Anne added.

Bill says, “We discussed almost everything. One of us would propose something and say, ‘What do you think of this?'” When they couldn’t discuss things – Bill’s 32 years in the Navy required regular stints at sea in the days before cellphones and the Internet – they had to rely on trust.

“I think that’s the most important thing – trust,” says Bill. “We have to trust each other in daily living, when we’re apart. When we’re together, we trust each other for our expertise.”

Do Bill and Anne McDonald know what they’re talking about? I’m guessing yes. You can read a lot of books and articles on what it takes to make for a long and happy marriage. And they give good advice. But I’d rather learn to fly from someone who has flown – a lot. I’d rather learn how to cook from someone who has already done it successfully – a lot. And that’s what makes Bill and Anne worth hearing. They have done marriage well – a lot.

So there you go. According to a couple who has done it well for 68 years – and counting – the key to a great marriage can be summed up in one word.

Trust.

Making Marriage Work

Grandma and Grandpa were sitting in their porch rockers watching the beautiful sunset and reminiscing about “the good old days.” Grandma turned to Grandpa and asked, “Honey, do you remember when we first started dating and you used to just casually reach over and take my hand?”

Grandpa looked over at her, smiled, and gently took her aged hand in his.

With a wry little smile, Grandma pressed a little farther. “Honey, do you remember how after we were engaged, you’d sometimes lean over and suddenly kiss me on the cheek?”

Grandpa leaned slowly toward Grandma and gave her a lingering kiss on her wrinkled cheek.

Growing bolder still, Grandma said, “Honey, do you remember how, after we were first married, you’d kind of nibble on my ear?”

Grandpa slowly got up from his rocking chair and headed into the house. Alarmed, Grandma asked, “Honey, where are you going?”

Grandpa replied, “To get my teeth!”

I’ve been married for nearly 35 years. We aren’t to the rocker stage yet. But when we get there, I hope to have a step up on Grandpa. I hope to still have my teeth.

Whether you are still nibbling on your spouse’s ear, kissing his or her cheek, or just holding hands, rejoice if you are blessed to have the husband or wife of your youth. Marriage was the first institution of God. It must never be taken lightly.

Hearing Problems

An elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the man to hear at 100 percent capacity.

The gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.”

The man replied, “Oh, I haven’t told my family I can hear yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations and act like I can’t hear a thing. So far, I’ve changed my will three times!”

The real test of character is that we say to others the same thing we say about others. What you say when you don’t think anyone is hearing you says a lot about your integrity.

Listening is always a good idea. The book of James tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. It’s amazing how much we can learn when we simply quit talking and listen to what everyone else is saying. Just ask the elderly gentleman.

The Perfect Mate

A young lady visited a computer dating service and requested, “I’m looking for a spouse. Can you please help me to find a suitable one?”

The matchmaker said, “What exactly are you looking for?”

“Well, let me see. Needs to be good looking, polite, humorous, sporty, knowledgeable, good at singing and dancing. Willing to accompany me the whole day at home during my leisure hour if I don’t go out. Be able to tell me interesting stories when I need a companion for conversation and be silent when I want to rest.”

The matchmaker entered the information into the computer and, in a matter of moments, handed the results to the woman.

The results read, “Buy a television.”

There is only one perfect mate in the universe, and I married her. For the rest of you, be aware that you won’t find a perfect spouse, but you can try to be one. That’s what love is all about – giving, not taking.

Or you can just buy a television.