Category Archives: Marriage

When Encouragement Saved a Marriage

As my wife and I walked in Dairy Queen, we smelled trouble. Not from the food, but from the couple we were meeting to mentor in their marriage. Let’s call them Suzie and Tim. Suzie was scowling at her husband, and Tim was texting on his phone, clearly irritated.

Our fears were soon realized. Three minutes into our time together, Suzie got a phone call from her mom. Her end of the conversation set the stage for what she expected from our time together:

Heavy sigh. “Mom, I am meeting with the marriage mentors. I know you told me to do this but I just don’t see the point. Tim will NEVER change.” Sideways glare at both of us.

“Sure, I will call when we are done. This won’t take long.”

Tim and Suzie were separated. She was staying at her sister’s house. He seemed almost happy she was not at home. Both agreed life was simpler without each other.

This couple didn’t need mentoring, they needed a miracle. My wife and I pushed through our hesitation and finished the meet-and-greet, knowing we were called to minister to married couples in trouble.

At the end of our time, we gave Suzie and Tim some simple homework. Three compliments each day to your spouse. Even if it is, “You take out the trash like a champ.” Anything kind, three times every day for two weeks until we met again. Each time we met with them, we continued this assignment.

I told them encouragement would change their marriage. I believed this statement, but I almost doubted if it would apply here. This couple seemed lost. I am happy to say I was wrong.

A couple months later, Tim and Suzie came to our house for our mentoring session. They didn’t even seem like the same couple. Joking and poking each other, then hugging after their playful war. Sitting close on our couch, holding hands. I asked how they were doing.

“This has been the best time of our marriage!” Suzie exclaimed. “I didn’t believe Tim when he was complimenting me for the first few weeks. I told myself he was just doing his homework. I asked him one day if he meant what he said. He told me…

Tim interrupted with a broad smile. He wanted to tell this part of the story.

“I love you. I want our marriage to last. If three compliments a day will make a difference, I’ll do it. Whatever it takes. You’re the most important thing in my life.”

As a tear rolled down her face, Suzie confided in us that she never believed she was important to Tim. She always felt like the extra baggage in his life, but no more. Now she knew she was loved.

Tim gave us a similar story. He felt like he never measured up to Suzie’s expectations. He assumed he was a failure of a husband, and she never said otherwise. Through her encouraging words, she showered him with acceptance and love. He knew he not only measured up, but made her proud.

Things were still hard for Suzie and Tim. Years of bad habits had to change. They had to relearn to trust one another. Wounds needed to heal. This took time. They stumbled along the way.

But a new foundation had been laid. One of encouragement. Tim and Suzie are still together. Working through the tough times that come in every marriage. Loving each other. Believing the best of each other. Working through the tough times that come in every marriage. All because of encouragement.

My friend James Prescott has written a new book on this topic you need to read, 5 Steps to Encouragement: A Manifesto for Changing the World.

5 Steps to Encouragement

5 Steps to Encouragement

Here are a few snapshots of his powerful message:

  • We were made to encourage. Every single one of us.
  • Encouragement is truth presented to others in the exact way it needs to be heard, at the precise moment a person needs to hear it.
  • You are an amazing work of art. You were designed and created by the divine, to fulfill a unique role in the world.

There is much more where this came from. Click here to get your free copy of James’ book. You won’t regret it.

We Did More Than Survive

Photo Credit: Photography by Julia (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: Photography by Julia (Creative Commons)

Fifteen years. Fifteen. Years. I repeated the words slowly to myself about 10 am yesterday, as I realized it was our anniversary (insert pithy comment about a typical male here). Two thoughts come to mind when I ponder the last fifteen years with my wife: Boy have we grown up, and has it ever been eventful!


Our first year of marriage was nearly an unmitigated disaster. We were so convinced we knew how to communicate that we wouldn’t listen to the other speak. Now we have taught classes and mentored couples on effective communication techniques in marriage. We have seen marriages rescued by using these strategies.

We have grown in comfort with one another. In the first few years of marriage, there was a great deal of uncertainty and insecurity:

Does she really love me?

Will he be drawn to her – she is skinnier than I am?

What will he say if I make THAT purchase?

Will she defend me THIS time against her family?

Now, we are mostly past those insecurities. We know each other. We are known by each other. Fully accepted. Fully loved. Moles, farts, body odor, and everything else are nothing compared to this love.


Over the last fifteen years, we have gone from wide-eyed twenty one year old babes, just trying to figure out the world, to now having the privilege of sharing what wisdom we have learned with our children and others.

I was working at a bookstore, and Barbara was decorating pies at Marie Callender’s. Now, I am a CPA consultant and Barbara is an RN. I was skinny, now I am comfortably filled out.

We were a family of three, with our oldest a toddler. Now we are a family of six, with our oldest nearing high school graduation and our youngest in third grade.

I hope our next fifteen years is just as eventful. One of the most wonderful things about being married to my wife is that she is always willing to jump into a new adventure. At times it is with a bit of trepidation, but she does it any way. I love that about her!

After fifteen wonderful years together, I finally start to understand what Paul spoke of in Ephesians 5 when he compared the relationship of Jesus and the church to a husband and wife. When Jesus looks as us, He sees only love. Moles, farts, body odor, and everything else are nothing compared to His love.

How do you see the love of Christ reflected in your marriage?