Jorn Junod loves a love story.
Junod, 50, isnt afraid to admit he enjoys chick flicks or admires chivalry. But hes also a realist.
As the pastor of the Discovery Road Church, wed for 28 years, the Patton Township resident and father of two grown children regularly counsels couples on marital challenges. In honor of this month of valentines, he chatted about matters of the heart.
What do you tell couples about being in love?
... I wont marry anyone unless they are willing to go through premarital counseling, because after 28 years of my own marriage, the trials, troubles and tribulations of that, its like Ill do everything I can to help them avoid some of the pain, the pitfalls, that they would end up going through. When a couple is coming in to sit down and talk with me, I use the term Theyre in a fantasy world. Its much more about their emotions than it is about logic. Theyre looking at each other through rose-colored lenses for sure.
And so when youre trying to have a conversation with them, I always start off with the first question, every time: Why do you have love this person? And you would be amazed at the answers that you get.
What are some of the responses?
You know, the guy is usually generic, straight up: Shes nice. Shes kind. Shes beautiful. She treats me nice. The typical things. The women, Ive had them just kind of coo and go, Because he loves me, ... just really coming from a place of the deep, emotional connection people have with each other. Which is a beautiful thing, and God gives that to everybody. Im not sure you can be in love, logically, and not have that deep, emotional connection with the person at the same time. Thats part of the gift of the relationship. If youre not feeling warm and fuzzy at least a few times, its probably best you head out of town as quickly as possible.
How do you help couples go beyond fantasy?
... You have to understand, Im marrying mostly young adults. So they dont have a lot of history. And unfortunately, most of them are coming from ... they dont have a lot of good reference points themselves a lot of times. ... A lot of them come from divorced families, so thats the foundation theyre standing on when they come in here. So there is a little cynicism that they are carrying with them.
So I really try to help them to first reflect on who they are, what kind of person they are. Because if they can come to grips with who they are, then the quality of love that theyre able to produce will potentially be better. ... I mean, we live in a narcissistic society. Lets just admit it. So the reality is, love is normally about what Im going to get, not what Im going to give. And unfortunately, historically, the social context of marriage, the flame usually only lasts six to nine months, and then that passion cools down, and then youre left with the reality of this long-term commitment that Im supposed to have towards this person.
Do you see young people with unrealistic notions of love?
Every couple. I think it comes from the culture. The culture is, unfortunately many times, its our schoolmaster. Its our teacher. It drives and develops our social and relational structure that we use to say, This is a good relationship or This is going to be a good relationship. And again, because people are so tied to their emotions when theyre initially getting married, its hard for them the hear, like, Theres going to be days when this is going to be rough. There are days its going to be rough. Heres what I do: I get them to tell me why you love that person. ... I take them to a scripture in the Bible that says, If you get married, you will have many troubles in this life. I start them off with that.
Whats the objective?
The objective is to bring some realism to the relationship. ... Hopefully, the first time they have a bump in the road, or theyre struggling with communication or how they feel, or the unfortunate monster-in-law, or whatever it is they have to battle, that theyll somehow remember my voice at that moment, like, I was told this was going to be a challenge.
... Marriage is the most difficult relationship you will ever have in your whole life. There is no relationship that is more challenging. Anything else you can cut and run. ... Unfortunately, 50 percent of Americans gets a divorce, but the truth is most people are wrecked after a divorce. Theyre wrecked till the day they die. Even couples who say, Well, it was amicable and we dont hate each other, well, you cant say you were one with a person, become one with that person in body, soul and spirit, and then all of a sudden decide youre not going to stay committed to that.
The illustration I use sometimes when Im talking about marriage in my messages is Ill take two pieces of wood and Ill take I dont know if youve ever seen Gorilla Glue, its like crazy glue and the day before Ill glue those pieces of wood together. And then Ill take them up on the stage and say, A man and a woman, when they marry, they become one. If you understand the glues we use now, it melds it together. Once its together, you can never get it apart. So now when you decide you dont want to commit to this person, love this person, walk with this person till the day you die, or even if theyve done something gross against you and you have legitimacy in ending the relationship, it is impossible, literally, for you to totally and completely ever separate from that person again.
Then what I do is take a large hammer and a chisel, and I smash that and tear that apart. And when you tear that apart, part of the wood from the one block and the other block, theyre stuck on each other. Theres never a clean break.
Thats a powerful visual.
Of course, Im not having that conservation with people in the middle of their premarital counseling. ... But the reality is, love is never produced in the wealth of good times that you have. Real love is produced in the fires that you go through. Thats when you find out what youre really made of, and what this person means to you.
What lessons do you draw from your own marriage?
Theres two things. No. 1 is, you need to understand how your spouse functions. Like, you need to understand who they are as a person. That doesnt happen in the moments of passion. It just doesnt. The average couple will be in a relationship and normally in a year, year and half, theyre going to be married. Thats that time when everything is wonderful, and were driven to have relationships. ... And we want it at all costs. And at all costs usually means, I dont let the person see who I really am until after I get married. ... So the reality is, I really try to help people to think about, OK, do you know who this person really is? Do you understand who they are? Do you understand their family history? Like, who their parents are, what kind of parents they have ... Then you have to understand what we call the love languages. There are five primary love languages that a person is longing for. ... The guy who wrote the book [The 5 Love Languages] is called Gary Chapman. ... I only ask [couples] to read one book and thats it ... because it helps you understand how the other person feels love and actually gives love.
Whats one question you ask couples?
I always ask my married couples, When you look at your parents relationship, tell me the thing you love most about their relationship. Then tell me the thing you most hate.
Why those two?
Because that is their social structure that they come from. Whether they know the truth spiritually or they read the Bible, and the Bible says, Heres how you treat another human being,' come on, lets not be naive. Yeah, thats the ultimate hope, but more than likely, youre going to do those two things [to your spouse] eventually.
Do you have a favorite romantic film?
I love Youve Got Mail. Heres two people who werent in love with the people they were with. They found each other; just the uniqueness of the story. Just awesome.
What advice do you give couples about keeping the flame going?
... When we look at romance in general, it is a physical thing. Its not just sitting and having coffee together. But I tell every man, You need to learn to have sex with your wife without having sex. You need to understand, for them, its not wham-bam-thank-you-maam all the time. Its an emotional connection to the depth of the relationship. Its funny: When guys come to me and theyll complain about their sex life, Ill say, Well, when was the last time you took the trash out, washed the dishes, or just decided you werent going to be an ogre and you were going to sit for 20 minutes and talk to your wife about your life and how your feel? So the majority of passionless relationships, I believe, have to do with the man much more than the woman.
... Just like unconditional love is an investment, passion is an investment. And I think that theyre linked together. I think that when I choose to love someone unconditionally, you cant help but see it reciprocated back to you. And in that is the intimacy, and the romance, and the love that you have for each other.