In a recent mp survey, we asked, "Which marriage expert do you trust most?" The top name, given by 72 percent of you: Dr. James Dobson. It's easy to see why! As founder of Focus on the Family, author of numerous best-sellers—including Night Light (Multnomah), which he coauthored with his wife, Shirley—and host of a daily radio program heard by more than 2 million people, Dr. Dobson has, in many ways, led the effort to strengthen marriages.
"Commitment is sorely missing in so many modern marriages," writes Dobson in his book Romantic Love (Regal). "I love you, they seem to say, as long as I feel attracted to you—or as long as someone else doesn't look better—or as long as it is to my advantage to continue the relationship. … I have developed a lifelong love for my wife, but it was not something I fell into. I grew into it, and that process took time." In a culture that believes we can fall in and out of love, the Dobsons know that love is more than a fickle emotion—it's a commitment of will. And that love commitment has lasted 44 years.
That's why we were eager to interview the Dobsons about how that worked for the two of them.
How is your love toward each other different from when you were first married?
Dr. Dobson: Our love hasn't changed at all in 44 years, except to become more mature and satisfying. Our relationship has changed a bit, however. While we've always gotten along and enjoyed each other's company, like almost every bride and groom, we worked our way through early areas of minor conflict when we were "staking out territory." These little disagreements were resolved, but from them came greater understanding of each other. I've never known a family that didn't experience these points of tension between two imperfect human beings learning to come to terms with each other.1