Skip to main content

The Best Year of Your Marriage

We’re starting our year talking about how to have The Best Year of Your Life.  If you’re married, then the best year of your life must include the best year of your marriage.  If everything else is great—your time management, your parenting, your finances—but your marriage is awful, then it won’t really be the best year of your life.

Throughout our marriages, we go through different phases:

I.   Naked and Unashamed (Genesis 2:25).  In this early phase, we are bare before our spouse, emotionally and physically, and we are not ashamed.  We feel safe, vulnerable, and secure.  If you’re in this phase, then...
1.       Enjoy it!  Enjoy your partner.  Keep having the late night talks; be sappy and romantic; sit close and hold hands.
2.       Learn how to fight fairly.  When your relationship is still in a good place, start learning how to fight fairly.  Even though you’re in this phase, fights will rear their heads.  Start learning how to stay on topic and NOT bring up the past.  NEVER say the word, “divorce,” or call names or spew foul language at one another. 
3.       Learn communication skills.  Reflective and active listening books and seminars abound.  Start learning these critical skills that will aid you your entire marriage.  One key aspect of communication is speaking your spouse’s love language.  Identify their love language, and start learning how to “speak” it.
II.    Naked and Afraid (Genesis 3:10).  This difficult phase of marriage lasts varying lengths of time.  In fact, some marriages get stuck here forever, and many marriages dissolve or explode during this time.  But they don’t have to!  Just like the Terrible Two’s are a phase for our kids, this is just a phase for our marriages.  If you’re in this phase, then...
1.       Go to counseling.  Find a counselor that works for you.  We found a calm, compassionate counselor who gently cared for us and diffused the pain.  Others prefer, or need, an in-your-face approach.  So, if you go to a counselor, and it’s not a good fit, try another!
2.       Build a support system.  Find a couple who can be trusted confidantes, a couple who believes in marriage and specifically believes in YOUR marriage, and invite them into your struggles.  You don’t have to go through this difficult phase alone; find support in community.
3.       If you haven’t already started going to marriage retreats, seminars, and/or small groups, then go!  Learn about common issues in marriages and how to address them.  Spend the day or weekend with your spouse, away from your regular responsibilities and stressors.  PCC offers a marriage retreat each year; over 120 of us went away a week ago to strengthen our marriages.  Come with us next year!
III.    Known and United (Genesis 4:1 and 2:24).  This phase is when you know your partner and know that, together, united, you can face anything.  Conflicts still arise, and your marriage will still go through ups and downs.  But your marriage is strong and grounded.
1.       Find a younger couple to take under wing.  Many young couples don’t have examples of lasting marriages to aspire toward.  Imagine the difference it would have made to your marriage to have a mentor couple to guide you and help you through struggles!
2.       Continue investing in your marriage with retreats, seminars, and books.  You know a lot, but if you’re like me, you don’t put into practice everything you know.  Brush up on the basics.  Do the things you know to do; keep dating; keep learning your spouse as they grow and change; keep loving intentionally; keep communicating.
3.       Celebrate and reminisce.  Celebrate getting to this phase and getting through phase two.  Consider renewing your vows.  Save for a second honeymoon.  You are experiencing what God designed since he created man and woman; don’t take it for granted!

*Issues like addiction, abuse, and infidelity need professional counseling, and often, ongoing support and care even when crisis stages are over.  Other issues like loss of a child can rock even the strongest of marriages.  Seek out the care you need.


Popular posts from this blog

A Response to Charlottesville

Visiting our nation’s capital is an easy day trip for us, and how I chose to spend a precious vacation day this week.  I took pride in explaining the buildings and icons of my country to my children.  I am proud to be an American.  

But today, I am not proud.  
Today, I weep.

Four days ago, I saw the beautiful, infamous words “We the People” with my own eyes for the first time.  
Four days later, I am reminded of how far we still have to go to fully live into those words:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What has happened 63 miles from my home, in Jefferson’s beautifully-domed, colonnaded city, is far from perfect, just, or tranquil.
This is not what our founding fathers wanted for our country, nor is …

A Message to Graduates

I have been a Pastor to Students (The title has changed numerous times; the role remains.) in Powhatan, Virginia for roughly 12 years.  I daresay I've been ministering to teenagers in this community longer than many.

Over the last dozen years, I've gotten lots of cool opportunities to minister to teenagers in this area.   But one had always eluded me--speaking at a baccalaureate service.  My husband had done the honors.  Other great pastors in the area had as well.  Once, I'd offered the closing prayer.  

This week, that changed.  I had the distinct honor to share with the PHS Class of 2016 at their baccalaureate service.  It was a wonderful experience working with great students, parents, and school leaders.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity!!!

A few people missed it and have asked to see what I said, so here it is, ALL of it:

June 1999 I sat in this space for my Baccalaureate service.  Before I was a pastor at PCC, before I moved back to Powhatan to raise my family, …

Disillusionment of Adulthood

Now that I’m in my 30’s, I must confess to disillusionment.  Growing up, I had ideas of what adulthood would be like.  I’m here, and it’s not entirely what I’d imagined.
For starters, I remember growing up amidst all the drama that comes with, well, growing up.  The gossip.  The hurt feelings.  The misunderstandings.  The fights between friends.  The back-stabbing.  And I remember being told that it would get better.  I’m not sure who told me that, but they were clearly wrong.
The drama may look a little different.  The words may sound a little different.  But the anguish of relationships remains.
Adults hurt each other’s feelings—intentionally and unintentionally. Adults nitpick and cause fights over inconsequential issues. Adults gossip. Adults cry, scream, and pitch fits. Adults build relational alliances, competing in “us vs. them” relational war. Adults let issues build and exponentially swell until they explode. Adults rarely identify the actual issue instead of the presenting issue. Adul…