I’m excited to share some thoughts with you about marriage and the Color Code. My wife, Tammy, and I will celebrate 39 years of marriage in July. Fifteen years ago, we almost lost our marriage. We were in trouble. My wife said, “I’m done!” Thankfully, we were invited to a “color meeting.”
I was quite resistant. Feeling insecure and being dragged, I left lots of black heel marks going into that meeting in August of 2002. But I walked out of that meeting in awe, realizing my wife was a member of a very elite group of people, known as “The Blues.”
I discovered there was a motive, a why, a reason she had served me, our daughters, our school, our church and our community so beautifully over the years. She is motivated by intimacy, a deep, close, trusting desire for sincere relationships. She brings the gifts of quality and service to those she chooses to “go all in” with, and she does it with genuine thoughtfulness. That evening helped me understand my optimistic nature and the fact that I am a Yellow, motivated by fun.
We learned that our Blue/Yellow relationship is called “Hand in Glove.” We knew it was a great relationship…when we lived in the strengths of our personalities, but we also knew what a mess we could create if we lived in the limitations and dysfunctions of our personalities. We began to recognize WE could decide what our future would become.
Knowledge is power. We started using our new knowledge, and spent the next 4 years putting our 25-year marriage back together. With God’s grace, the road map of the Color Code, and with the skills of emotional intelligence, we were able to rebuild and restore our marriage, making it better than ever!
In 2007, we were certified as independent Color Code executive trainers. Over the course of the last 10 years, we have shared this life-changing tool with thousands of people in marriage seminars and in corporate leadership trainings, through our company, Motive Matters, LLC. Smart companies know a worker with healthy relationships at home is a happier, safer, more productive worker on the job.
So, in a short article, what could I share with you about marriage?
First of all, the cold, hard reality is the institution of marriage is under assault in our culture today. We are currently experiencing the lowest marriage rate in history.
What difference does this make?
Studies show almost every human interest we experience, whether it is our physical and mental health, our security, our educational development or our financial well-being, is made stronger and better by healthy marriages and family relationships.
Secondly, I am a marriage advocate! As one who almost lost my marriage 15 years ago, I can tell you that having my marriage, my friendship with my wife and my family together, especially with the addition of grandchildren, is one of my greatest and most treasured accomplishments in life.
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Do not remain in a marriage where there is abuse. If you do not feel safe, get help.
Also, divorce does not make you a failure. I have never met a couple who got married with the intention of getting a divorce. However, the reality is we all have times when we don’t know how to get along.
Dr. John Gottman has conducted research on married couples for more than 35 years. His data shows that 69 percent of marital conflicts come from differences in personalities. Think about that for a moment…7 out of 10 conflicts!
The Color Code provides a framework, a system, a road map that virtually anyone can use to create a greater sense of compatibility in their marriage.
The statement we hear most often in our work with married couples is, “I just don’t love him (or her) anymore.”
Let’s talk about LOVE. Dr. M. Scott Peck in “The Road Less Traveled” gave me a definition of love I could understand and work with in my marriage. I adapted his definition somewhat and put it to work.
Love is THE WILL to extend myself for the purpose of nurturing my own personal growth and the personal growth and well-being of others.
(Notice, it is “THE WILL,” not the wish, not the hope, not the desire, but the WILL. The definition of will is a desire of sufficient intensity so as to cause or produce action.)
Understanding my wife’s motive of intimacy, knowing the basic needs and wants of a Blue, realizing her strengths and limitations, I began to apply “Love” to my marriage, using this definition. The Color Code provided me the structure to carry out my plan.
Here is a real-life example:
Tammy, as a Blue, has a need to be understood. It was easy for her to go on and on….and on with details about her day that were not fun to this Yellow. However, I wanted to have a good relationship with her.
As a Yellow, I can be a very poor listener! Sometimes, I have a hard time focusing and can be easily distracted. I also have an automatic tendency to interrupt and redirect conversations to something “more fun” for us to talk about. If I were going to help my wife feel more understood and secure in our relationship, I would need to find a way to extend myself, to grow myself into becoming an attentive, highly skilled, active-listener.
Our personalities are very strong! It takes hard work, commitment, courage and lots of grace to accomplish personal growth and build Character.
I had to focus my commitment to be a good listener. I began to practice being a good listener by intentionally concentrating on what she was saying. Then I practiced some more….practice, practice, practice.
I actually used my “out of the box” technique pictured below, which helped me build new pathways in my brain to overcome my poor listening habits.
Over time, guess what happened? I became a better listener, and Tammy began to feel understood and more secure in my love. I found her stories were actually interesting and even somewhat entertaining.
Guess what else happened? She began to realize that I, as a Yellow, didn’t really care about ALL the details. She knew I was working to be a better listener, so she began to shorten her stories!
Together, we worked to create fresh compatibility between our Blue and Yellow colors. Love-in-action began to restore respect, cooperation and teamwork in our marriage.
This is what LOVE in a marriage is all about — the will to grow yourself and help your spouse to grow in the process. With love-in-action — everyone wins!
Van and Tammy Benson live in Mount Vernon, Missouri. They have 4 daughters, 4 sons-in-law and 11 grandchildren. They love the message of the Color Code more than ever! For more information, visit their websites www.MotiveMatters.com and www.ColorYourMarriage.com.