The secret to a successful marriage, the 105 code

I sat down for the first day of Biology in college. The class was a prerequisite for many majors so it was held in one of those amphitheater class rooms with 300 students. Looking around the class, I’m sure at that time in life I was primarily perusing the female coeds, I noticed two old guys sitting directly behind me. When I say old guys, they had to be four to five years older than anyone else in the class. The reason for this was they had both been in the Navy and were going to school on the GI bill. Interestingly, Bart and Randy became lifelong friends.

Randy married quickly out of high school while he was in the service. While going to college he was working full time, selling cars at a local dealership, to support a wife and two children. He was good at it and became the sales manager shortly after graduation. By this time his children were beginning school and his wife started working outside the home full time. Searching for something more out of life they took trails that led them apart and they divorced.

A few years later some significant things happened in Randy’s life as he decided to follow the greatest Huntsman of all, Jesus, and he got remarried. At the end of my Junior year in college something significant happened to me as well. I met the girl who would become my partner for life. In our senior year, we decided to get married upon graduation. When Randy heard this, he called and said, “Bert we need to talk”. He met me alone one evening and the conversation we had profoundly impacted my life.  He told me the secret of the 105 -0 rule. Because of it, next month will be my 37th wedding anniversary and yes, I am incredibly blessed with my marriage.

During our visit the first thing I noticed about Randy was his demeanor. He has an incredible sense of humor, normally jovial and smiling, but now he was serious. There was a sincerity, an intent in his voice. He said, “You know I’ve had some experience in marriage. I’ve failed and now I’m going to make sure it works”. You’re going to hear that marriage is a 50 – 50 deal. You’re both going to have to give it 50% each. He then said, “That’s bull, it’s a load of crap, it will never work. You have to be willing to go 105 – 0!” What do you mean by that? You must be willing to always give a 105% and expect 0 in return. I think I like the 50 – 50 deal better. Then get ready to have a failed marriage. But how can that work? It will work like you can’t believe! Here’s the deal. You get back what you give! You lost me. If you’re willing to unconditionally put your wife first, with no expectations of what you will get out of it, what you get back will be good.

I left with a knot in my stomach. Everybody talks about 50 -50. Putting out the effort of 105% with no guarantee seemed like a tall order. It is a tall order because our human nature is always one of selfishness. We are born that way, it’s ingrained, it’s innate. To fight that nature and give 100%, or more, would be superhuman, almost otherworldly. Exactly!

Like all of you, in my years of marriage, there have been times its tough. Sometimes selfishness raises it ugly head and I want to start keeping score, or do my thing. But I could never forget the story of 105-0. So, I tried as best I could, to work towards the 105%. Yes, many times I failed miserably, but many times I succeeded. I often knew when this was because I would make decisions with, or for, my wife and inside I was saying, “I’m taking this one for the team!”

Now entering the fourth quarter I can look up at the scoreboard to see how the team’s doing. My wife and I have enjoyed a lifetime of complete trust in one another. We have endured challenges beyond the ordinary and to this day long to spend time with each other more than anything in this world. When you step back and look its simple math. 50-50 means each of you are allowing a 50% chance to fail. Together that equals 100% chance of failure. If you start out by giving a 105% you are already ahead of the game. You now have better than even odds of succeeding. The reality is if you give a 105% you will get something in return. Whatever that is, plus a 105, is better yet. Fact is you will get considerable more in return, adding up to a strong and lasting marriage.

Why does this work. Because it’s in alignment with the creator himself. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life for the ransom of many. When you give unselfishly, you will be blessed incredibly.

Epilogue: Randy gave me that advice 38 years ago. I have shared it with everyone I’ve known who were about to be married. My father lived that way, now I’m seeing it lived out with my son in his marriage, which is wonderful. I told Randy just a few months ago about the profound impact this has made in my life. He said, “Really, I said that!” Perhaps it was God speaking through him. Give 105%, you’ll be glad you did.

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