Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Why Marriages Are Either 'Masters' or 'Disasters'

Marriage researcher John Gottman has separated couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages.

What makes the difference between masters and disasters? In a 1990 study, as Gottman carefully observed 130 couples, he noticed that throughout the day married partners made requests for connection, what Gottman calls "bids." For example, a husband who is a bird enthusiast might notice a goldfinch fly across the yard. He tells his wife, "Look at that beautiful bird!" He's not just commenting on the bird; he's requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they'll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either "turning toward" or "turning away" from her husband. Though the bird-bid might seem minor, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the marriage. The bird was important for the husband and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who turned away responded minimally, ignored the bid, or expressed contempt, as in "That's stupid" or "Stop bothering me." These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had "turn-toward bids" 33 percent of the time. The couples who were still together after six years had "turn-toward bids" 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner's emotional needs.

Related Sermon Illustrations

Jim and Pam from The Office Recall Marital Vows

In the final season of The Office, Pam and Jim Halpert's marriage has been on the rocks. Jim, without Pam's knowledge or consent, started a sports company in Philadelphia—and ...

[Read More]

Tim Keller: The Unpredictable Journey of Marriage

Over the years you will go through seasons in which you have to learn to love a person who you didn't marry, who is something of a stranger. You will have to make changes that you ...

[Read More]