Happy Valentines Day! Keeping it Real!

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So Blissful! So in love! 

It was 1984  Greg and I had just graduated from S.C.C.  (now Vanguard University) we got married in August,  and we were headed for our first ministry post.  Greg and I loved people, loved God, and hoped to make a difference in the world.

But … we were naive and tried so hard to have a GREAT marriage without having the tools we would need to have a successful marriage!  Caring for our young sons, pouring into our church body, living on pennies, and trying to stay positive in the process became challenging emotionally and relationally.  We meant well, but we were still lacking tools to help us to find joy in our marriage!

After 16 years of marriage, 16 years of sweeping our challenges under the carpet, 16 years of living with hurt feelings, offenses, and anger in our home–I threw my hands up and realized that without a real change Greg and I would not end well. We needed tools to help us build the kind of marriage we encouraged others to have!  There had to be a change!

As I pulled out of the driveway with a packed suitcase in the second seat; the garage door rose and I saw my youngest son standing there with tears and I KNEW that my willful behaviour was not the answer.  We needed tools.

It was at this time that Greg and I put ourselves in counseling, solicited higher accountability, took a true assessment of where our marriage was, and began the needed hard work to move from where we were to where we needed to be.   Anyone who talks to me now will hear me say that I have two marriages: the one before we had tools and the one after we had tools!

Here are the tools we gained:

  1. Active Listening:  With pad and paper we learned to listen and hear one another.  After repeating what we felt we had heard one another say we would then respond by saying “In light of what I have heard you say I imagine you must feel…….”  SO POWERFUL!!  Empathy, hearing each others heart!!
  2. Timing and Tone: Greg and I have learned that conversations, challenging ones, are completely unfruitful after 9 pm.!  AND our tone of voice can sabotage a positive end result.  Therefore, our timing and tone in our marriage makes a huge difference!
  3.  We are responsible for our own self-care:  Greg and I have learned that if our life rhythms are off-balance then our marriage will be adversely affected!  Each of us needs to build our Spiritual Connection, build into our physical and emotional health, and modify our schedules in order to have quality time with one another.
  4. We must choose kindness!  Greg and I are similar and yet very different.  We compliment each other; we fill the gap for each other.  However, unless this is something we embrace we can become offended by one others differences!  Learning to appreciate our differences, learning to show kindness; even appreciation, for our distinctiveness helps to build great equity in our marriage.

It was in 2003 when Greg and I renewed our wedding vows.  We had learned to listen, appreciate one another, to value our differences, and to approach one another with a fresh understanding of the impact of “timing and tone”.  If we had not stayed the course, if we had abandoned ship; we would have missed the richest years of our lives!!

How do you feel this Valentines Day?  is it time to really dig in and grow?  to get wise counsel? to acquire tools to help you move from a strife-filled marriage to a friendship-filled marriage??  Then DO IT!! gather the tools you need and watch how the dynamics of your marriage begin to change!  It’s never too late!!

So grateful we didn’t give up; just keeping it real!

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