Coming up towards our wedding day, Alicia & I were as in love as two people could be. We were confident in our ability to have a great life together…
We had done all the premarital counseling with a very close pastor friend, so it was a thorough walk-through of the potential pitfalls of marriage. Sometimes though, he’d warn us, “Marriage is tough.” And we’d laugh.
We knew the Lord and were fully ready to give ourselves to one another. But after the wedding daze had past, we had real living to do and things got really difficult. Without real help, I fear we might have stayed that way.
Our first year of marriage was tough. We were trying to combine two lives into one and would often arm-wrestle about priorities. Our second year got even harder. We became more skilled at the art of verbal warfare. We got to know each other’s weak spots. When I think back to those times and the things that came out of our mouths at each other, it was pretty sad.
I thought to myself, “How could two people who say they know the Lord and love each other, be so bad at marriage!?”
We’d be having a hard time at home, then go to church or out with friends, and we’d have to pretend that we were fine. But after a while, it got to the point where I just couldn’t stand faking it anymore.
Friends invited us to attend a small group that was walking through Love & Respect. We put on our best “church smiles” and went in with our arms crossed. “Our story is too unique to be fixed by some book and lectures,” she thought. “And I’m not into all that feelings stuff,” was my position.
At the end of the first night, it was felt like we wanted to hear more. There was something about the teaching—grounded in scripture—that really spoke into our story. And surprisingly, everyone else’s too. Over the time, we all got comfortable with each other and laughed a lot at how similar our responses were as men and women. The teaching and the conversation began to give us not only an understanding our problems, but also a new path to try; one where we’d build each other up, rather than tear down, avoid or shrink away.
Our marriage really changed through Love and Respect. And now, almost 13 years later, we’re still applying the things we learned in that class (we took it twice!) and we’re so grateful to have couples in our church going through it together.