Love on the rocks? What is the difference between 6.3% and 50%? It is the difference between marriages that include using minds along with their heart. In 1931 more than 50 percent of marriages in the United States took place between neighbors within five blocks of each other. What does that mean? They grew up together. They went to the same schools and if not the same churches, at least they knew the churches each other went to and if they didn’t attend a church, they knew that too. The success of marriages that occurred at that time had a greater success rate than today’s which is estimated to have a fifty-percent success rate if getting married at all.
The 6.3% I mentioned is reported to be the divorce rate for marriages that were planned, arranged, or had others involved in helping the couple make the decision on who to marry. Dr. John Van Epp, Ph. D. says, “Eighty percent of all cultures throughout all history practiced some form of planned marriages: arranged marriages and forced marriages. These marriages were designed to maximize a rational approach to marriage: bringing together a couple who were similar in status and family values; and beneficial for not just the two who were marrying but also the extended families involved. This historical approach to the choice of a partner was not really about love, romance, attraction, or intimacy. It was a practical arrangement that was directed by a rational plan. You could sum it up in one word: think.” He is not promoting the historical “arranged marriages” but he is promoting using your brain when making such a major decision for yours and your potential children’s future.
When others we respect and know us are involved in helping us choose our spouse, they can help us make a more well-informed decision. Remember, when someone does divorce, quite often, they end up turning to their families for help. Why would we do that? Because our families can help us with our family, our children and yes, even help us with potential spouses.
For those who are Christians and are members of a Bible believing, God-fearing church family with a pastor who God has placed in your life is someone who can be “that outside” help regarding a potential spouses. Many who divorce, have no concerns about involving their pastor when the tragedy of divorce strikes their marriage and family, why wouldn’t one seek their counsel, wisdom, and insight in the choosing of a potential spouse? If you seek their counsel “before” you seek a spouse, you might not have to seek them in the future after a divorce because there is a higher chance your marriage will not end in divorce.
HOW TO FOLLOW YOUR HEART WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND
Dr. Epp, states, after many years of study and practice helping individuals and couples who were in this crisis of broken relationships and divorce or outright repetitive bad choices for mates, wrote the book “How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk. A Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind.” The title is a mind-shifter, but inside the covers of this book is years of research and statistics that prove “God’s way” of relationships is what works and if we do not follow His way, we tend to end up in crisis.
I’ve found when I am recommending this book, I first must share some of the amazing work that Dr. Epp did and methods he learned and teaches people to help them have a successful relationship BEFORE I slide the book across the table, and they see the title. I must admit it is entertaining to watch and hear their responses when they read the bold in your face title.
He writes that a jerk is someone who basically has a character flaw, which we all do, yet they refuse to either acknowledge it, or they may acknowledge it, but they refuse to do the hard work required to correct that part of their character. Hence, a jerk, as he calls it, are men or women who “are the problem” in the relationship but have no desire to change. As Christians we are called to love others as we love ourselves. By God’s help and our willingness to do the hard work required to change or build good character we can achieve a more loving relationship. The Apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans ‘don’t act like those who are not one of God’s followers, but transform your mind.’ Transformation is used in this scripture and that word is like the metamorphosis as a caterpillar does when it goes into its cocoon and is transformed into a butterfly. That is a big expectation of change on our behalf. For someone who claims to be a follower of Christ while at same time says they are not required to personally change how they relate to others are missing the entire reason why Jesus came to save us and lead us in the ways of His teachings. The way Christians are to live their life is even referred to in scripture as “The Way.”
He did not write his book as a “Church book” or “Christian Book” to only be read by Christians. Though, as he shared when speaking at his former university, he did ponder this, he decided to write it in a way that all can benefit from its wisdom. For God created all mankind and yes womankind and His intentions are the same for all families. For family and marriage is God’s idea and design. I see it as a perfect tool for pastors and fellow Christians. It is a great tool to help you practically approach your potential relationship. As well it is a great asset for a couple who is married to have a better marriage and work on their love walk. Though his book focuses primarily on seeking a potential spouse, it’s easy to see how to apply it to your current marriage or any relationship for that matter.
FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS
Dr. Epp proves statistically through much study, ways to approach choosing a spouse to be your family and your family’s family. Regarding your family’s family, I mention because it is important that if one spouse, parent, abandons the family or creates a coup d’état in the family, then all the family suffers. It could be your choice up front that can change the outcome on how or if it ends, Dr. Epp proves in his study.
I want to warn you before you read his book that it has everything in it the Bible does. Those who have read it share with me that they are glad he talks about everything when it comes to healthy and unhealthy relationships because that is where we are as humans. I personally believe that Dr. Epp, proves through his studies, without even saying anything about what scripture plainly tells us, that if we do things, including relationships, outside of God’s design, we are doing things that risk that relationship, or marriage to be able to endure. Or as we used to hear, “till death do us part.”
In the 1960’s and 1970’s with Woodstock, Free Love, Divorce and promotion of abortion , traditional marriage and family began to come under assault in every direction, but one of the major assaults was promoted that says, “Love is following your heart.” The Beatles even wrote a song about “All You Need is Love.” That sounds great. We have heard it so much that we just accept it. That is how long it’s been since we involved our heads, our minds in this equation. These two decades were the beginning of driving a dagger into the heart of God’s design for marriage and family.
Dr. Epp shows us how to bring both our heart and our mind together showing specific ways to “Fall in love without losing your mind.” He proves you can use your mind and heart when you are deciding who will be your family in your future.
He shows through his studies how when someone follows their heart, without engaging their mind, their ability to think stops working. You could call that brain freeze. He says that specific response of the mind shutting down with intimacy is a good design for those who are married, but not when you are seeking who you will marry. I would say, I believe Dr. Epp would too, as he is a Christian, this it is a “God design.” For when you are married with a loving close relationship, intimacy between a married couple doesn’t always need the mind to be engaged. Some reports say if the mind gets too engaged in a marital relationship. the ability to be intimate is hindered.
- John Van Epp – Follow Your Heart without Losing your Mind | Cairn University Chapel
WORK IT OUT
When Dr. Epp was speaking at his former Christian university, he told all those attending that we are called as Christians to “work out our salvation” which implies we must ‘do something’ about our salvation. It requires us to be intelligently involved in our salvation. He then goes on to say, it’s the same with love, yes, we engage our hearts, but we need to “work out our love” by engaging our minds. No, he wasn’t saying you need to earn your salvation, he was just saying you need to be involved in it as scripture says, “each man should work out his (or her) own salvation.”
RELATIONSHIP ATTACHMENT MODEL, R.A.M.
After many years of work and trying to explain to others about what steps to take to apply what he learned from his studies he developed the R.A.M. Chart, which is the Relationship Attachment Model. These five key measurements are powerful to measure where you presently are in any of your relationships and where you need to be when approaching a relationship including a potential spouse.
These five gauges of a relationship which are known as KNOW, TRUST, RELY, COMMIT, and TOUCH are laid out from left to right. Starting with Knowing someone is the way we can logically approach and build a loving relationship. He writes that you should never be higher in one than the others. For example. You should not be higher in trust than knowing. He goes on to write that that really is impossible because you can’t trust someone who doesn’t know you. Yet, that doesn’t stop most people in todays’ society from pursuing a relationship completely opposite of this well studied model as many starts on the far right of R.A.M. Model with “TOUCH.” The thing about starting with TOUCH, Dr. Epp writes, is that the mind shuts down. What I call “Brain Freeze.” That means the other four KNOW, TRUST, RELY and COMMIT are not even a consideration and if they are mentioned, based on what he writes, not fully engaged mentally, as the TOUCH shuts down one’s ability to think clearly.
In reading Dr. Epp’s book, you can logically see why the divorce rate in America is estimated to be around 50% if they are getting married at all and the arranged marriages that included minds other than the ones who are getting married has a small divorce rate of 6.3%.
When we want to build a house, we get a contractor. When we have a legal matter, we get an attorney. When we would like some food, we go to a grocery store. When we want an education, we go to a teacher to teach us what we don’t know. What do all these have in common? They all are involving other people to help us meet our needs, or to learn what we presently do not know to get what we presently do not have. Yet, when it comes to choosing who will be our family supposedly for the rest of our lives if we seek no one other than our “hearts” I would say, something is wrong in that equation.
Dr. Epp brings it all together and gives you a way to fall in love without losing your mind. I encourage you to purchase Dr. Epp’s book and take in all the years of research he painstakingly makes available to us in “How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk. A Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind.”
LOVE IS NOT ONLY ABOUT MARRIAGE
I will be writing another article soon regarding “Love.” Jesus told us that those who are His disciples, believers, are “known by our love for each other.” Jesus says in Matthew chapter seven that many people will have thought they loved Him will show up in the last days and list off a bunch of things “they did” supposedly for Him and He will say plainly, “I never knew you.” In this future article I will explore, using Dr. Epp’s wisdom in his book and studies and how to apply this same principle to all relationships. To your family, to your friends, to your co-workers, to your fellow church members to those you pastor and to any relationship as love is supposed to be our identity as followers of Jesus.
I am excited about this future article because it helps us all examine ourselves logically in how loving we really are. I personally want to grow in love and do a better job at loving others.
Dr. Epp’s book, in my opinion, shows us how we can do better at being loving and not end up showing up on the last day before Jesus and crank off a whole list of things “we did” none of them being done out of love for Him. Paul writes that no matter what we do, if it’s not done in love is worthless and counts for nothing. Wow, that gives us pause to consider doing a love check in our lives.
Finally, if we discover we are not loving as we should be to someone, it allows us to see how we can repent for not being as loving as we should have been. We can see, by these five aspects of love, where we might not have been as loving to our family, friends, co-workers, employees, fellow believers or God Himself as we should have been and go to them and ask forgiveness. If they choose to forgive you, you will have a chance to “build again” a loving relationship that God has called us all to have. Look for that article soon.
You can find out more about Dr. John Van Epp and his “Love Think” resources at LoveThink.com
Torch Category: Family, Faith, Marriage, Relationships
John Van Epp – Follow Your Heart without Losing your Mind | Cairn University Chapel
How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk: John Van Epp
56 Marriage Statistics: 2020/2021 Global Data, Analysis & Trends | CompareCamp.com
How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk – [Book Review] | Rai Says 8 facts about love and marriage in America | Pew Research Center