It should surprise no one to learn that communal relationships were far more successful. They were more satisfying to spouses and were longer lasting. The researchers created a measure of how much a partner is willing to sacrifice in order to give to his or her spouse. They called this measure “communal strength.” A spouse who is willing to give up a job and move in order to promote the career of the other partner in the marriage would be high in “communal strength.” The study revealed that the higher the communal strength in a marriage the healthier it is.
Anyone who has read the Bible and paid attention while doing so will likely have a “well, duh” kind of reaction to these studies. Jesus, after telling us to deny ourselves in verse 24, said in Matthew 16:25, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” The path to life he said, is not found in self-indulgence and self-service,” but in self-sacrifice. When we put our focus on self we only lose life. Paul had a similar message in his description of love that is found in 1 Corinthians 13. There he said in verse 5 that love is not self-seeking. Love is about giving and serving the other person, not about getting.
Isn’t interesting to see modern researchers studying relationships and discovering that Jesus was absolutely right 2000 years ago and he is still right today. It has been apparent to me after 35 years of ministry that all of the difficulty and conflict in marriages that I have seen boiled down to one basic cause: lack of love. Which is to say the problem is that people are focused on themselves. In their obsession with self and their desire to get what they want all they do is damage their partner, fracture their relationship and end up frustrated. The researchers are affirming what we should have known all along because Jesus told us thousands of years ago. If you want real joy and satisfaction in a marriage, love your spouse by giving up yourself and serving with no demand or expectation. The more you focus on your own desires, needs and wants, the more disappointing and frustrating will be your marriage, the less your spouse will feel loved and the more disillusioned you will both become.