Jefferson Bethke, the best-selling Christian author, and marriage expert who is signed to Thomas Nelson (John Maxwell, Ben Carson, Jon Acuff, Beth Moore, etc.) shares how to build a marital relationship that lasts.
JEFF BETHKE – The Christian author who famously lost his virginity in the back of a car at the age of 16 to someone who was not his girlfriend who now teaches about how to build a love that lasts. He is the creator of the famous and viral Youtube video, Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus. Thus far, the video has received more than 33.1 million views. The video is focused on contrasting the difference between Jesus and false religion. Today is now a bestselling author of Love That Lasts: How We Discovered God’s Better Way for Love, Dating, Marriage and Sex. He is signed to Thomas Nelson, Inc. book publishing is represented by the Yates and Yates agency who also represents best-selling authors: Ben Carson, MD, John Maxwell, Jon Acuff and Beth Moore. Jeff and his wife Alyssa Bethke also host The Real Life Podcast.
Learn more about Jeff Bethke today at: https://jeffandalyssa.com/
Today’s guest is a social media superstar based in Hawaii. This Christian author famously lost his virginity and the back of a car at the age of 16 to someone who was not his girlfriend, but now teaches about how to build a love that lasts. He’s the creator of the famous and viral youtube video. Why I hate religion, but love Jesus. Thus far. This video has received more than 33 million views. The videos focused on contrast the difference between Jesus and false religion today. He is now the best selling author of love lasts how we discovered God’s better way for dating, marriage, and sex. He assigned to the legendary Thomas Nelson and he’s represented by gates and gates, the same agency that represents best selling authors bid, Carson, John Maxwell, John a cuff Beth Moore. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let’s say Aloha to Jeff Bethke. Keep Hickey past the point. Mahalo.
Yes, yes, and yes, thrive nation, for those of you who’ve been listening to our show for the last 1500 episodes, so many of you, most of you have picked up on the idea that my wife and I had been married for 18 years and we have five incredible kids and we are super passionate about having a marriage that lasts. And today’s guest, the today’s guest is a bestselling author by the name of Mr Jefferson Bethke. And on today’s show he’s going to be teaching us about how to have a love that lasts. Jefferson Bethke how are you, sir? Good. Hey, thanks so much, Jeff. Uh, honored to have you on the show and after the listeners out there who are not as familiar with your career and kind of your background before you became this Internet sensation, could you walk us through your background and how you became the best selling author and an expert on relationships that everybody knows you as now today?
Know that expert, but yeah, so about six, seven years ago started making youtube videos for fun. I was just freshly out of college actually. And, um, that very quickly, only my second video ever made was a video called why I hate religion, but loved Jesus was kind of a spoken word, poetry, um, video that went viral. I don’t know what it is now, 30 something million views, um, and just totally turned our life upside down and gave us a platform, um, and I care about people care about, um, talking to people, teaching people and just kind of sharing what I’m journeying through. And at that time that was kind of my peers college age level, people start stewarding the platform, creating resources, writing books. Um, and it was really cool to stepping into that. But then very quickly felt being in my twenties and now $29 turned 30 a as a person who just, man, I, I have a lot of covering in my life, a lot of mentors in my life.
A lot of people who kind of speak into our life, our marriage and a lot of the stuff that I was sharing with people that was resonating, I was realizing was just basically me processing through what a lot of really, really wise people had said in my life and then a lot of people I was talking to who don’t have those types of people in their life. And so then kind of merged with kind of a mentor, a couple of mine, he’s a businessman, entrepreneur or CEO, but also speaks and talks and writes as well on marriage and family. Um, and so we kind of merged and have this thing where you have basically me and my wife and him and his wife, um, now kind of just try to really encourage and equip couples or encourage and equip families, um, to live in the design of what gives them joy and flourishing. And yeah, it’s really, really fun.
I think a lot of people that are familiar with you and your, your website, [inaudible] dot com, they kind of go, these guys seem a little too happy. These guys, I think people think I’m serious, I believe. I think a lot of people think to themselves, how is that possible? Can you share with us about the low point or maybe some of the biggest challenges that you have faced up to where you are today because we’re seeing you having so much success and we’re cheering for you, but talk to me about some of those low points in some of the biggest challenges you faced.
Yeah, man, I think every single day is hard in marriage, right? Marriage is one of those things that the yield is huge and the work is hard and huge as well and it’s very much a one to one return in that regard. Whatever it takes that much work also yields that much blessing. And so, um, yeah, marriage and work has been like that because from the beginning I have, we have merged our work, our entrepreneurial stuff, our projects with our marriage, with our family and that ended up itself integrating all those things has this blessing but also has its hardships. And so I would say that’s always been, I would say early on that was a huge shift for us. That was really difficult of man, how do we create really, really healthy boundaries around work, around marriage, around family, around communication with each other.
That’s okay. It’s business time. Okay, now it’s marriage time, now it’s how’s your heart doing time? And those are, I think we got to a place we are now of just being relatively healthy and still hopefully four or five, six decades to go. But I mean we, I can objectively think man, where we have a healthy marriage compared to most of my peers because I think there was almost like a little bit of A. I’m not trial by fire, but just like a, we had to do things, kind of learn things a lot quicker because it was kind of all thrown in the pot. I’m on US pretty early, um, when sometimes takes a little longer. So that’s another thing was for sure has been an integration of work and life and marriage and family. I’m really puts you in the ringer for sure.
Jefferson Bethke And again, if you, if you don’t like this question, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll, uh, pick up on subtlety of it when you hang up on me here, but, uh, doing some research on you and I think you had said at one point that you lost your virginity in the back of a car at the age of 16 to someone who was not your girlfriend, but yet today you’re kind of known as a marriage expert. Can you kind of explain, not looking for some graphic details here, but can you explain why you share that with everybody and how you’ve been able to go from there to where you are today?
Yeah, I mean, I think one thing that’s really important to me and Alyssa is that we actually share about real life and that we actually share about what things people go through. And that’s my story. I was raised by a single mom and dad was around but not in the house, didn’t have that room. Any good influences in my life got kicked out of schools that expelled and suspended and some fights and super poor decisions because there was no actual father in my home shepherding me, teaching me, guiding me, et Cetera. And a lot of that came down to relationships and I kind of like in, um, you know, millennial relationships, you know, basically. And that’s high school relationships. That’s where they start now. And then in college and young adulthood all the way now into, you know, people having terrible, unhealthy relationships in their thirties even now because no one actually taught us.
And I liken it to almost, um, you know, Kinda like this grenade that’s gone off in what love is and our culture. We don’t know what love is. We don’t know what relationships are. We aren’t taught that. And so we’re kind of left, um, this grenades gone off of poor love and kind of figuring it out on ourselves. And we’re kind of still to this day, I use the analogy of kind of all of us are taking out the shrapnel, you know, in our own hearts to this day. And that’s a lot of times how a lot of us are learning about relationships in the western American culture because we don’t believe in multigenerational families. We don’t believe in fatherhood, we don’t believe in a lot of these things that a lot of other cultures have had because we believe in the prolific proliferation of the individual and that’s the highest idea and value whatever we want, when I want it, however I can get it. And because of that we kind of basically learned the hard way, which is do all the things that feel good, tastes good, smell good, and realize. And that’s probably not the best way to actually find joy in life. Um, and so yeah, so that’s in our books, that’s in our stories, that’s in our videos. We talked about that all the time because I want, I wish more people were actually a little bit more honest about, um, you know, poor decisions they make and how that affects them.
Jefferson Bethke you, you’ve said in and there’s all sorts of data that would support what you’re saying that 60 to 70 percent of people are fatherless during some point of their life, and I’ve heard you say that now today, people are searching for wholeness and identity in many of the wrong things. Could you explain some of the areas where people are searching for wholeness and identity in the wrong things?
Yeah. Well, I’ll even connect the two. You just said it right there. So fatherlessness, fatherhood, and then also kind of where we’re searching for the. So let’s talk about fathers. I mean me as a father myself, I think in the West, right? And what I mean by that is in America, Europe, Canada, post enlightenment, post industrial revolution last 100 or 200 years. We don’t realize we’re living in an experiment. The way we do family, the way we do work, the way we do everything is radically different than any way any society has ever structured themselves in regards how they find life, meaning richness work, family, marriage, et cetera. And one of the ways we do that is one of the side effects of that is that marriage is very much, family is very much don’t have a place for fathers, meaning we don’t actually tap into what they’re really, really good at and give them freedom to allow that to flourish and marriage.
And here’s what I mean by that, right? Um, I know a lot of Dads, what I’m trying to say, who are incredible ceos, terrible dads, who are incredible businessman, terrible dad’s incredible entrepreneurials entrepreneurs, terrible dads. And the reason is because there’s a few reasons. One, I don’t think we actually give space to teach people that, oh, hey, do you realize that the thing you’re finding fulfillment in at work and what you’re trying to build there and how you do actually get, like you are created to build something. Men and women are created to build something to reign and rule over something in love. And in grace, right? It’s reigning and ruling can be bad or it can be good, but reign and rule in goodness and injustice and in peace and blessing be meant to build and to reign. And rule with a family to create a last name to create a legacy.
It’s not a coincidence because some of the most successful families in history and some of the richest people today own skyscrapers with what at the top, their last name on it because they actually learned how to build a multigenerational family first. And that’s one of the most powerful institutions in the world. Um, and we don’t do that anymore, right? You look at the rothchilds, you can look at the rockefellers. You look, get the Kennedy’s. There’s tons of people who actually realize, Oh man, one of the best vehicles for world impact is actually to put my seat ownness into the family, to actually take my giftings and put them into the family and to actually build a team that has a mission. And I think that’s a, me as a Christian. Um, see that in the scriptures that I honor and read of like men. This is very much a Jewish idea and the old testament that going all the way into the new testament of man, multigenerational impact, creating a legacy, creating a family that can actually turn the world upside down. Um, and sometimes that can be through business and that can be through entrepreneurship, etc. But we like to kind of divide those two. We don’t give a place for the father in the home, the dads the, But of all the jokes and the sitcoms, et cetera. You can kind of see what all over when you recognize it.
You know, uh, just yesterday we were interviewing John Maxwell on the show, a christian leadership expert, and then we had a craig rochelle, pastor of the largest churches protestant.
I literally interviewed craig rochelle about an hour ago. Me and him are friends and nice dad podcasts and I, and uh, I texted him and we just, we just had a little hour long conversation about fatherhood. That’s hilarious.
There you go. Yeah. So it’s like we’re, you know, we’re in the pastor brady boyd. I interviewed him a couple of days ago, a pastor of a mega church in Colorado and just just neat, neat pastors out there and one of the things I’ve noticed with a lot of great pastors, pastor craig rochelle, and included, they work well with their spouse. They know their lanes and they work together. It’s a very positive relationship and I would, I think a lot of listeners, if we’re being honest, a lot of listeners are struggling to work with their spouse. You know, you started a plumbing company, he started a dentistry, started whatever, and your wife is the dentist and you’re helping around, or he’s the dentist and you’re helping him out and people struggle a lot of times to work positively with their spouse. What is allowed you to what? What do you attribute the, the ability of you and your wife to work together? You and alyssa so well over the years?
Well, I think a couple of things. I think one that really stands out is that recognizing each other’s giftings and talents and calling those out on each other, encouraging each other, but then also listening to those giftings. Right? So I would say mine and mine and alyssa’s dynamic is I’m very much a high octane kind of go get or, um, or, or, or not necessarily that high achiever. I’m more of a, I’m a fast paced person, meaning I make decisions very fast. I go very fast and if I don’t have someone there to temper that, then I start bulldozing people and things right because I’m not as sensitive to on the ground or, or certain things or heart level things. And so I actually need someone to fill the gaps because I totally believe, and I’ve seen this in every person. I know your strength is your weakness.
Hands down your strength is your weakness. And if that’s my strength to do things fast and they do projects to make things going forward, that’s also my request because it can hurt people. It can bold those people. I can do things without thinking about them a ton. I’m a little bit more reactionary. I’m like, oh, that sounds like a good idea. Let’s do it. so you need someone who can fill in your gaps, but actually rather than getting bitter or resentful when they call out those gaps being so indebted, really grateful when they do. And alyssa is that person. She’s a lot slower, she’s a lot more methodical, she’s a lot more sensitive. She’s super sensitive with her spirit, her demeanor, people in the room, relationships, how they’re feeling. And so knowing that, that actually it totally transformed my marriage when I stopped because that, you know, you want people to be like you.
And so you can kind of say like, oh no, no, no, this, this, this. When in reality I just threw a mentor, a switch flipped of rs five years ago when he told me that. And I was like, oh, and so now I welcome it and I’m highly sensitive to, oh, she’s, she’s right right now. Like I, if she wasn’t here, I would have just made a really bad decision, et cetera. Or she would have made one or. And then sometimes, and then vice versa, I kinda can gently push her into, um, out of stagnancy sometimes. And so there’s a, we talked about this all the time, so I think there’s a great dynamic of welcoming those, kind of how they go back and forth together.
Jeff, I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule and in a respectful with your schedule. I have two more questions for You. I’d like you to deep dive into a, in your book a love that lasts. You break down many concepts down in the form of song titles, you know, like where is the love black eyed peas, fake love by drake bleeding love. By the way, that song lab by leona lewis was written by my college friend ryan tedder with one republic. And so I want to ask you, where did you come up with? What was the idea behind choosing song titles to fit into this book? A love that lasts and what’s. What’s that book all about?
Yeah, that was it. That was fun. That was actually a idea. My wife’s idea. That brilliant idea. Yeah, exactly. And it’s been cool seeing how much people love that. I think one reason is, especially with relationships, right? Like music is such an integral part, right? you can play a certain song from when you were dating with your wife or this and that and it just boom, it takes you back to that moment and selling. And so I think we kind of wanted to play off that, have these songs, you know, tell a really good story about parts of our relationship or just the titles or the lyrics kind of represent that season. Kind of like giving, giving language when you don’t have language type of thing. Um, and so yeah. So what that book is about love the last essentially will we. I mean, it almost should have been called love that last question mark.
That’s what I tried to get the publisher to title it because we don’t know yet. We haven’t been married that long, but I think. But I think that’s the premise of the book of man. I it, the premise of the book was kind of like me and louis and started to see our friends start off. Marriage is really poorly or very quickly get into like, oh, that’s just not healthy or that does not look like they’re thriving, that does not look like they’re flourishing. Um, and we seem to be but still have product. We stood still hard. There’s still arguments, there’s still fights, there’s et cetera, but we seem to kind of have this anchored in this. So we kind of start digging out what is that were trying to chase that down and is that something that we can hold onto hopefully for a couple decades, keep cultivating, keep watering if it was a garden per se, so that it keeps growing delicately.
And so that’s what the book talks about. We tried to make it a little bit more first person memoir of like, hey, we don’t have all the answers. We’re not experts. This is not like a marital advice book. This is very much, here’s our story. These little things are starting to stand out to us. I hope that it will be the x factory, but will take us to the long haul. Um, and another part of that is to a family building. We’ll be talking about, you know, we have a whole venture called family teams with our friends and our mentors and essentially, yeah, like man, god’s design is again, building multigenerational families on mission. Um, and a lot of us just kind of actually abdicate that responsibility. And so that’s what that book’s about.
Jeff, just out of curiosity, what would publish her? Did you decide to go with
all four of our books and then the next one I’m turning into here soon are all with Thomas Nelson
thompson. Nelson. Okay. Okay. So I’ll get. My final question here for you is, uh, in marriages you, you’ve talked in a marriage is a covenant relationship and not a contractual relationship. Again, a covenant relationship and not a contractual relationship. What do you mean by that?
Yeah, we don’t really use the word covenant anymore a lot in our culture, but just to break it down easily, but I do use that word in the book because it contracts or contrasts well with contract and essentially the two definitions there is the difference between a covenant and a contract is it’s, it comes down to what the glue of the relationship is, so a relationship that’s based on contract is one where the behavior of that relationship dictate, dictates the relationship, not the promise of that relationship. And what I mean by that is the reverse is a covenant and the covenant relationships are ones where the promise is what holds the marriage, the relationship together, not the behavior. Right? So a contractor relationship is like a work relationship. If you miss a bad enough and then the behavior is bad enough, that’s what holds the relationship together.
So if that’s not there, boom, you’re fired, relationship severed, you don’t get fired from a marriage and you don’t get fired from being a kid in apparent relationship because those are covenant relationships. Sadly, in America, because we have a consumption and we treat marriage as a lot more like the buffet line than actually a covenant and not treat them a lot more like you keep up your end of the bargain. I’ll keep up mine, which is a work relationship by the way, and employee relationship and contract relationship when instead it’s a covenant. It’s about the promising. I’m not going anywhere until death do us part. Now, of course, of course there’s exceptions in there with abuse and certain things. That is not what I’m saying at all, but I think a lot of times we need to realize that the shift of what over overarching on the relationship needs to be a covenant.
Meaning. It’s about the promise I made to this person, not what theY can give to me, not how they can keep up their end into the bargain or not what behaviors they’re particularly living in a and to me that I argued that actually brings a marriage when you believe that, that brings a crazy, awesome marriage because then you can be fully naked and I don’t mean physically. I make this argument by there’s nakedness emotionally, spiritually, you know where like they see you, they see all that you are and they say, I still want you. I’m not going anywhere. That’s the deepest level of intimacy and relationship you can ever get to. That’s what marriage should be, but contract relationships. You can never be that quote unquote naked because you always reserve just one little thing in your heart to hide because if you were to reveal that will then they could just rip up the contract and fire you. and so believing in covenant, believing it’s about the promise. We just argue, man, if you really want a marriage, that’s crazy awesome. You got to understand and both be living in that covenant. Covenant power.
Jeff, you have a course you’re offering here at coe classes. You’re offering, uh, the skill of fatherhood masterclass, for example. Can you explain to our listeners out there how they can learn more about that and get involved potentially because it’s so many people out there. Business guys, business women, they want to become great parents. Talk to me about this skill of a fatherhood masterclass and how somebody could get involved
totally. So they can go to any of our social medias are the venture we have with all the family stuff. It’s called family teams and the black and white logo pretty easy to find. Would probably pop up first or Jeff and alyssa.com/family teams and essentially what that is. Yeah, we have courses and books, etc. Again, along with My mentor of mine and his wife and alyssa, we basically created this venture of kind of this mentor, mentee relationship that kind of we try to play out in public of having that vision of parenthood of being a dad is not just bringing home a check. In fact that’s like one percent and it’s sad that America dad, american dad just kinda think like, oh, if we can just do that, then we’re successful. It’s like, no, there’s still 99 more percent to go and a father we kinda like in.
There’s a lot more like a Texas high school football coach or should be or that’s how they should see themselves. Right. Like Texas high school football coach, you know, is a beacon of the community, is a patriarch of the city, is almost like an informal mayor. Um, they’re seen with respect and they’re seeing with reverence in some sense and they stay around for 20, 30, 40 years to have an enormous impaCt on their city. But then on top of that, they have a team that they coach every single day with drills, with practice, with championship. They get out the, they do debriefs, they do celebrations and they just constantly, constantly are thinking about their team, how they can build up their team, how their team can win. And so we say that that is your family, like that is your family, that you should be doing drills and celebrations and winning and games and championships and building up this multigenerational legacy that is 500 years long.
Not just, oh, when they’re 18, they’re gone and they can just go do their own thing. It’s like, no, build up a last name and build up a legacy. And so because of that, a lot of times people feel under resourced in that. How do they do that? How do they start that? There’s a ton of tools and resources we offer, especially in that team mentality where we talk about what it means to be multigenerational, what it means to tap into being a team, what it means to be a father coach, and that’s all in a lot of our masterclasses and in a lot of our books and so again, yeah, it’s [inaudible] dot com slash family teams, but highly suggest people check it out and we’ve already seen a lot of really cool transformation from people who have gone through our stuff and then start to implement it at their table and their family and no matter the age.
Jeff, I think you so much for being on today’s show. I know you have a hot date night planned tonight and I do not want to stand in the way of a hot date. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to be here today and hopefully we’ll have you on again, my friend. Thank you for being here. Hey, thanks so much. Take care of. We have so many great guests and so little time I just, it blows my mind, the caliber of people and the caliber of guests that are out there that we continue to have on our show and thrive nation. If you’re out there today, I just want to make sure you get this, whether it’s jeff bethke key or or myself, or let’s say horst schulze, the founder of a ritz carlton or early cockrell who used to manage walt disney world.
All the guests we have on the show, the entire reason we have the guests on the show is to help you practically improve your real life. So I’d encourage you to take a moment today and ask yourself on a scale of one to 10, how happy are you with your marriage right now? You know, if 10 is great, one is terrible. Write down a number. Just write down a number on a scale of one to 10, rate your marriage right now. If you’re married, right, your marriage, and then I’d encourage you to go to your spouse and asked them, what can I do to be a better spouse? Because when you look inward and you ask how can you improve, that’s something that you can do, but if you ask them, you know, what could you, if you tell somebody else how they could improve, that’s got the recipe for disaster.
And I, I’m not exaggerating, this is not a vague idea. My wife and I do this all the time and thrive nation. My wife is incredible lady, beautiful lady. We’ve married, we’ve been married 18 years. If you look at my wife, vanessa clark online, she’s a 10 and I’m like, uh. I’m like, well that was, that was a lie. I’m, I’m probably more of like a like a one, but I’m aware of and just every few days, every seems like every 30, 40 days or so, I do something to make her crazy. Something that upset or whatever. And what I do is I go to and I said, hey, what can I do to be a better spouse? And if you asked that question, there’ll be peace in your house. And when you have a happy wife, you have a happy life. And I just encourage you, I enCourage you today to right to Rate yourself on a scale of one to 10 about how happy you are with your marriage, and then go to your spouse and say, what can I do to improve? And now without any further, I do freak too fool. And if you enjoyed today’s show, I encourage you to share it with a friend.