Last Friday I did the final read-thru and spot-check of my new book, The 7 Rings of Marriage, before it was sent off to the printers. I have to say I have the most amazing and patient team working with me at B&H Publishing. This is my first print book and I checked and checked, and made edits and updates on top of edits and updates. I even updated one of the updates!
In the book, I opened the doors and secret rooms of our marriage and family in ways I’d never done before, and I wanted to be sure that what I said would be helpful to those who read it. I want you and all the couples who read it to learn something that will lead to a great marriage. The entire purpose of the book is to show you what happens in a marriage that is lasting and fulfilling, and to give you hope that you can have a marriage like that.
Just one thing can change your marriage
As an author, reading books is just as much a part of my job as writing them. I read more than most, but definitely not as much as I should.
Through reading so many books (and blog posts), I’ve learned that if I can just find one thing—one nugget that I can learn and implement—then I can be better off for it. Today, I want to share one secret advantage to a great marriage—one secret that my wife and I have had in various seasons throughout our marriage.
At the time, we didn’t know what we had was a secret advantage, but in hindsight we now know without a doubt. In some of my talks and presentations, I share a story about this secret advantage.
The secret revealed…
This story comes from a really rough time in our marriage, and probably one of our roughest weeks. Stephana and I were in a disagreement that lasted a while—several days. It finally reached a boiling point and I left the house. I had no clue where I was going. I knew I would come back, but I had no timetable. I didn’t communicate any of this to Stephana. I thought I’d come back when I felt ready to come back.
Finally, after running out of places to drive around (that’s all I did was drive around stewing about our discord), I decided I better go home, although I didn’t want to. When I came home, the first person I saw when I opened the door to our apartment was one of my best friends sitting in the middle of our living room floor wearing my basketball shorts.
Yes, crazy right? I was like, “What the . . .”
Then I heard Stephana and his wife talking in the dining room. They were talking about me, and I quickly realized this was an intervention and I was the subject. While I was out driving around and stewing, my wife and his wife spoke on the phone about the problems we were having. So, knowing we were in a bad place they decided to offer their help.
This couple was one of the couples in the small group we were part of at this time. We were really close. From the conversation, they knew we were struggling and needed somebody. They both left work in their work clothes, and drove an hour to our house (they lived out of town), which is why he was wearing my basketball shorts. He had his work clothes on when he came, so Stephana offered him some comfortable clothes.
They committed to helping us sort out our issues and staying there until we resolved them. We eventually did. But without them showing up, we don’t know what would have happened. This is one of many similar stories that happened between couples in our small group. And we’re certain without this group our marriage may not be here today.
The secret advantage can be yours too
That small group and the relationship we shared with those couples was one of our secret weapons to a great marriage. Having a small group and couples you can share life and your marriage with is your secret weapon too.
There are many benefits to being part of a small group of couples. Here are at least three of them.
- Assurance you are not alone. Ever felt alone in marriage? Or felt like you are the only couple with this or that problem? You’ll quickly learn that others face challenges like yours as well.
- Accountability. I was being held accountable for some stupid actions in the story I shared above. Within a small group, there is somebody to say, “You are wrong,” other than your spouse, and to help you course correct.
- Friendship. One of our biggest challenges as newlyweds was our friends were all single. They couldn’t relate and we couldn’t do everything they did. The same can happen when you become parents. Having couples who can relate and live life together is huge for your marriage.
If you have this secret weapon in your marriage, cherish it. It may only be for certain seasons in your life. If you don’t currently have this secret weapon, begin to pray and search for a small group for you and your spouse to join. Or start your own.
When you have this one secret advantage you’ll have help on your journey to a great marriage!
[reminder]Do you have other married couples you can share your life with? What benefits have you experienced in your marriage as a result of being part of a small group of couples?[/reminder]
photo credit: open your heart via photopin (license)
First let me say this is so exciting that your book is off to the printers! I’m sure you can’t wait to see it in its final form. Congratulations.
I think your point about assurance you are not alone is the my key takeaway from this article. It’s easy to feel like you are the only one struggling with an issue. In reality, we all struggle with the same types of problems in our lives and marriages. Because strong marriages and families are ‘my thing’ I often a pressure to look perfect to others and so I fail to be vulnerable with my friends that care very much about me.
One of the things I’m most proud of is starting an engaged couples and newlyweds marriage class at my church. Through it my wife and I were able to pour into the lives of other couples at the formative stages of their marriages.
Thanks for the reminder to pray about building those strong relationships. It is certainly vital to a strong marriage.