This is one of our marriage stories:
Bob and I had been married about 25 years at the time. We had three beautiful daughters who made parent-teacher conferences happy occasions. We were active in our church, the community, and the girls’ schools. We didn’t hit, yell, or throw things—so I was happy. Bob came from a productive Christian family, and we were productive and Christian so he was happy. In fact, we felt so well-adjusted that we thought we should help other married couples. (Feel free to take a barf break.)
Our next step was to get some training and some friends recommended an advanced seminar in Colorado Springs. It was only given once a year. You had to apply to get in. Only ten couples were accepted. And, as part of the application process, you agreed to be counseled in front of the other nine couples. Interestingly, we didn’t have a problem with this—which illuminates exactly how naïve we were.
When our turn came, it took this gifted counselor five minutes to conclude, “You are hypocrites. On the outside, everything looks good. You work well together. But on the inside, you don’t understand each other’s hearts. You don’t even know your own heart. You are like two really good roommates.” He suggested we spend some time digging deeper—and he told me I had a lot of crying to do.
I could have spit nails. “What does he know about us!” I told Bob. “If he knew anything at all, he would have at least said we were good teammates.” I began counting on my fingers and reciting the things we had accomplished together. And then I stopped cold. “Oh, . . . maybe that’s what he meant . . .” We operated smoothly on a functional level. We ran from one activity to the next and never took the time to know and understand each other’s heart.
The next couple of months were transformational for us. We took the time for each other. We told the stories of our growing up years—the joys, the hurts, the fears. We listened carefully and cared deeply. I came to understand what made Bob’s eyes twinkle. He understood why seemingly innocent remarks from him triggered sarcastic responses from me. We emerged so much closer than we had ever been.
Why do I tell you this story? We usually tell it at the beginning of The Marriage Dance seminar or retreat. Couples who are congratulating themselves that their marriage “has already arrived” acknowledge there may be more in store. Those who came grudgingly to hear “the perfect couple” are relieved to hear that perceptions are deceiving and there may be hope for them after all. The story helps us relate to those we speak to and it gives them hope.
What is your marriage story?
What wondrous things has God done for you?
Who would be encouraged and helped if you told your story?
If you are within driving distance of Riverside, California, please accept our invitation to “Your Story – God’s Glory.” By the end of the day, you will have written down one of your stories, edited out the boring, confusing, irrelevant parts, and learned to tell it in a way people will be grateful to hear. You must register by June 7th.
Have you been through a health scare or financial crisis and seen God’s miraculous provision? Have you experienced healing and restoration in your life and marriage? Has God taken you to new levels of faith and growth when you trusted Him? And who needs the encouragement from the story only you can give? A newlywed couple? Someone who’s going through a trial? Your own kids or grandkids?
We hope to see you on June 10th.
The photo in this article is of our beautiful daughter and son-in-law. Thank you to Jessica Williams and Samanthakait Photography for permission to use it.