|“Every single couple said you’ve got to respect each other. That shows up in different formats. One is respecting each other’s differences. Most of these couples aren’t clones of one another. Most of them do life very differently. To accept that and even show gratitude and value for that is a hugely mature and wise thing to do.”
|"A Marriage Master husband who’d been married over 40 years told us, ‘You know what, fellas? Love is a four-letter word spelled: G-I-V-E. You gotta give. You gotta give to your partner and give of yourself – constantly giving to this marriage. And when people talk about hard work, that’s what it is – to continuously give."
Project Everlasting: Marriage Advice from Two Bachelors
By Jennifer E. Jones
How does a couple make it to their golden anniversary? In this age of starter marriages and divorces that are filed before the honeymoon begins, how can we make love last a lifetime?
The answer could be right under your nose… or down the street at Grandma’s house.
With hundreds of thousands of books on marriage, the best advice can still be found sitting at the feet of the elder generation, and no one knows that better than Jason Miller and Mat Boggs. These two single 20-somethings set out on an adventure to discover the secrets to long-lasting love. Their travels take them across America and into the homes of everyday couples who have been happily married for 40 years or more. They call it Project Everlasting.
So why is 40 the magic number?
“Mat and I went back and forth on this for a long time,” Jason Miller tells CBN.com. “A 25-year marriage is obviously a testament of commitment and long-term success. However, Mat’s parents divorced at 27 years. So we figured as we were getting down the numbers, actually 40 has a ring of biblical tones. It’s a number that appears all throughout the Bible."
“It’s the completion of a cycle,” Mat Boggs chimes in.
“So it just had a nice ring to it,” Miller said, laughing.
Besides being together for 40 years, characteristics that Boggs and Miller were looking for were couples “happily” married. As they conducted their interviews, they admit, sometimes it was hard to tell.
Boggs says, “We have to take their word for it and sit down and do the interview. There were lots of interviews where the couples said, ‘Yeah, we’re happily married,’ and we walked out going, ‘Man, that is not a marriage that I would want to emulate.’”
“Happy becomes a very subjective term,” Miller adds. “It’s okay. If they determine that their marriage is happy and successful, that’s all the better. It’s just that as two guys looking in, we have the opportunity to say, ‘I would love to do my marriage like they did. Or take a piece of what they’re doing and what this couple is doing and figure out all the different colors you can blend together to determine a beautiful marriage.”
By the looks of the divorce rate for Generation X, Y, and even the Baby Boomers, it appears as though the generation that lived through World War II knows a thing or two about sticking together.
Boggs recalls, “I remember sitting down with one couple and the guy talked about commitment. All of them talked about [how] if someone says their marriage is bliss, they’re lying. Every marriage goes through tough times. He says, ‘I can remember looking at my wife and feeling that there’s no love there and thinking, what am I doing with this woman? And that will last for a month. Then all of a sudden, as if a rose were blooming, the feeling returns. I look at her one morning, and I’m just utterly in love with her again. I am so glad I didn’t throw in the towel during those dry parts and those hard times because the feelings come back. They ebb and flow.’
“You can’t base your marriage on emotion or feelings. They said that’s not what it’s about. Love is a decision that you make to commit to one another and give to one another,” says Boggs.
Miller also notes that receiving advice from the previous generation is also about learning what works and what doesn’t in a real relationship today.
“My parents are celebrating 28 years, and they never argue,” Miller says. “So for a young guy, if I go into marriage and suddenly come across tough times where we’re not getting along, I would think this marriage wasn’t meant to be. ‘My parents didn’t argue; why am I arguing? I need to move on.’ That paradigm has been shifted through this research that we’ve been doing. Marriages, even if they’re wonderfully beautiful and loving today, have all gone through struggles and risks. They’ve come through it. So going into marriage with that expectation will help a lot of couples today.”
Boggs adds, “The message we’re bringing is not [applicable] if the marriage is abusive or there’s a lot of adultery or drug abuse. They definitely iterate that there are times to get out of a marriage. It’s not a be-all-end-all, stick-in-no-matter-what to where it’s unsafe or unhealthy. That’s not the message. Their message is too often people quit when they should stick it out. It is possible to climb that mountain, make it to the other side and be happy again.”
Miller and Boggs are taking their show on the road as they search for "America’s Greatest Marriages." Rolling through 25 cities, the bachelor team interviews more couples and conducts speaking engagements where they share all they’ve learned from their new elderly friends.
Their mission is not only inspired by true love on earth but divine love as well.
“Our mission is to increase love in the world one couple at a time,” Miller says. “You wanna talk about God’s help… we’re just asking Jesus to be our rock and be there every step of the way. We’ve been working on this for three years. God has communicated to us that this project, the research we’re doing, and the wisdom that we’re passing from their generation to our’s is literally gonna shift the world and change the way we look at marriage, family, stability, and the possibility for life-long love. It’s all happening. We’re really blessed.”
Do you know a couple who has been happily married for 40 years or more? Nominate them for Project Everlasting.
Got comments? Drop me a line.
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