Weathering the Storms in Your Marriage

We’ve all seen the damage trials can cause in a marriage, whether from a distance or firsthand. Many times when a couple hits hard times, it wreaks havoc in their relationship and leaves lasting wounds. But trials also have the ability to make a marriage stronger and more loving than ever. We have known married couples that came through some serious struggles with an attitude of thankfulness and a renewed sense of commitment on the other side. So what’s the difference? And how can you make sure your marriage will weather the storm—not crumble under the weight of pain, problems, and tragedy?

We always say it’s not a matter of if your marriage will face pressure; it’s just a question of when. If you want to safeguard your marriage against the storms of life, you need the third kind of love from Philippians 2:12-13 that we discuss in our book, 6 Secrets to a Lasting Love: persevering love. This is the kind of love that triumphs over trials and grows stronger when you are most vulnerable. It holds on through the toughest circumstances and is completely unconditional. Persevering love bonds husbands and wives into lifelong friends.

How can you prepare your marriage for the trials that will come? You need to find ways to cultivate persevering love. We’d like to explore five different ways you can work on this cultivation with your spouse.

Staying connected is a vital part of fortifying your marriage. These days we have so many different ways to connect when we can’t be physically present—use them to foster better connection with your spouse. Send a text in the middle of your day to remind your spouse you love them, or take time during your lunch break to email them. This will give you a sense of unity—you are there for each other no matter what the day brings!  

Make your relationship a safe place. When you are hurting or struggling, is your marriage a place you can turn to express yourself and truly feel heard? Is it for your spouse? Your main source of support in life should come from the one who committed to being by your side forever. Whether it’s providing a listening ear, advice, or just the comfort of your presence, you are the one person your spouse should always be able to count on for a safe place from the troubles of life.

Keep communicating. Trials can often drive a wedge between a husband and wife, making it tough to communicate. They can isolate us in our own thoughts, invite denial or the belief that we can handle it alone, or leave us feeling like no one understands. There are three critical questions that can help you communicate more openly with your spouse when you face times of trial and pain: What’s the problem? What do we need from each other? What kind of outside help do we need?

Rest in the truth that there is a purpose for your trials. If it were up to us, we would not choose trials! Having minimal problems in life would be a great feeling, wouldn’t it? Yet we believe that God has allowed us to navigate through the storms we have faced together in order to teach us persevering love and to prepare our hearts to endure problems together, stronger than ever. We believe God’s purpose in trials is to build our endurance and character. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, because we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.”

Tackle trouble together. It’s easy to love your spouse in the good times, but it’s just as important to love them in the bad. You may wonder if your spouse would hang in there with you during times of unbearable stress or walk away. Maybe you also wonder if you have what it takes to hold on through the toughest storms. Now is the time to decide together that no matter what problems life throws your way, you will tackle them together and remain a team. Being devoted to sticking by your spouse no matter what gives you a sense of assurance that you will never walk through trials alone.

Now that we’ve looked at different ways to work on persevering love, take steps together to put them into action. Commit to communicating, creating a safe place and choosing to see the greater purpose in trials. We pray yours becomes the kind of love that weathers the storms and lasts a lifetime!

Success vs. Significance—and How it Plays Out at Home


How do you define success? Is it making your mark in the world? Being financially secure? Becoming the best at what you do? Being “somebody”?

Today we want to look at a concept we discuss in our book, Guard Your Heart—the difference between success and significance. Often times our idea of success involves what we do in this lifetime to gain recognition and honor. There’s nothing wrong with desiring to be successful, but when our drive to succeed overtakes our desire to love and serve our spouse and family, we begin to lose sight of what’s really important.

Let’s look at the ways our quest for success can turn ugly, especially in our most important relationships. The following signs are what we call “potholes on the road to success.” Do you recognize any of these traits?

Going for the Jugular
Competition can be healthy and beneficial. Employees compete at work for top salesperson or employee-of-the-month to increase business and profits. Our kids compete in sports and for good grades in school. But without the proper boundaries, competition can cross the line to unhealthy and harmful. We all know it’s easy to go too far or say too much in the heat of the moment. Do you often step over the line from fair play to winning at all costs? Do you view and treat your rival as the enemy? If competition turns you into someone you don’t want to be, it is likely affecting your relationships at home. Is the prize worth that steep a price?

High and Mighty
When success goes to our head, we are often tempted to believe we’re entitled to just a little bit more than the next person. Pride has a way of convincing us we deserve extra attention and special treatment. There is nothing wrong with being proud of our accomplishments when viewed in a healthy way, but just like competition, it’s easy to step over the line to a harmful view of success if we’re not careful. Do you expect “better” than what others get? Do you find yourself butting heads with others because they don’t see eye to eye with you? When you allow success to lead to pride, your relationships will suffer and you will eventually push your family and loved ones away.

Enough is Never Enough
You’ve worked hard to afford the perfect house for your family, but when a friend invites you over for dinner, your house suddenly looks pretty ordinary. You’re happy with the goals you’ve accomplished at work this year, but they pale in comparison to what others in your field have achieved. These exact scenarios may not ring true for you, but do you recognize the tendency to measure your success in life against that of others around you? You want more than you have—you want what they have. When you struggle with envy, enough is not good enough if someone else has more—but it’s difficult for you or your family to be at peace when you’re constantly struggling to have as much as others.

The Weight of Worry
Many times when we set out to accomplish a goal, we can become consumed by it. Things like eating healthier, spending more time at the gym or working toward a raise are great goals, but not if our lives eventually revolve around trying to achieve them. When we are all-consumed with the details of being successful, we allow worry to crowd out the benefit. Worrying can also take time away from our loved ones, or bring them down with us.

We’ve looked at how the quest for success in this life can lead to competition, pride, envy, and worry. Now we want to look at the concept of significance.  Here’s the difference: You can achieve a lot of success in life—a great job, plenty of money, obedient children—without achieving meaning and significance. And you can achieve significance—serving God, loving others and being there for your spouse and kids—without achieving success by the world’s definition. If your life is all about finding success in terms of financial security, making your mark, or attracting fame, you may leave your family in the dust. But if you devote yourself to a life of spiritual and eternal significance, your goal by its very nature will nurture your spouse and children. Achieving significance means pursuing the things that matter most and will far outlast your time here on earth.

We pray you will consider the difference between a life marked by success and one marked by significance for the sake of your spouse and family…and the legacy you leave behind. 

It’s All About Perspective—Being a Builder in Your Marriage

"Preme Team" by Guian Bolisay is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

"Preme Team" by Guian Bolisay is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Coach Lou Holtz says you can divide people into two categories: builders or bashers. Another said drainers or replenishers; take note — your perspective is 90% of how you’ll respond in life! How would your family describe you? Are you naturally negative or positive in your outlook?

Many years ago two salesmen were sent by a British shoe manufacturer to Africa to investigate and report back on market potential.

The first salesman reported back, "There is no potential here — nobody wears shoes."

The second salesman reported back, "There is massive potential here — nobody wears shoes."

Here’s a single situation where perspective may be viewed in two very different ways — negatively or positively. How would you have responded?

How you view your marriage will depend greatly on the decision you make about your perspective. Are you going to choose to be a builder or a basher? Deciding each day to see the good in your spouse will help you squash anger and encourage joy! Instead, fight your critical spirit and choose to acknowledge the mowed lawn, daily provision or simple “I love you.”

Here’s the drill…

You can change your marriage by changing your perspective. Spend the next few days focusing on the good qualities your mate has and the good parts of your marriage. Controlling your thoughts can be hard, but practice, practice, practice and you will see results!

Meeting the Top 5 Love Needs in Your Marriage

In this post, we want to highlight for you the results of a survey we did of more than 700 couples across the country. What we learned is that men and women are different from each other. Are you surprised? It doesn’t take science or a survey to tell us that. All we need to do is look at how any group of men or women interact to begin to see some differences. Obviously, these are generalities, but here are just a few of the differences between men and women:

  • When men need encouragement, they typically go for the slap on the back from the guys on the court. When women need encouragement, they want hugs from their supportive friends.
  • Men look to their friends to be just company. Women want emotional connection in friendships. For women, it hasn’t been a good time if they haven’t had a good laugh, a good cry or a good talk.
  • Men think of intimacy in physical terms (S-E-X); women think of intimacy in emotional terms (T-A-L-K).

So how are you supposed to know what your husband or wife wants and needs? Well we’ve done part of the work for you! Here’s a look at the top five love needs for husbands and wives.

A Wife’s Top 5 Love Needs

  1. Unconditional Love and Acceptance
  2. Emotional Intimacy and Communication
  3. Spiritual Intimacy
  4. Encouragement and Affirmation
  5. Companionship

A Husband’s Top 5 Love Needs

  1. Unconditional Love and Acceptance
  2. Sexual Intimacy
  3. Companionship
  4. Encouragement and Affirmation
  5. Spiritual Intimacy

Here’s the Drill:

Meeting your spouse’s love needs is one of the most important responsibilities you have in your marriage. So take the time to learn your spouse’s love needs—and meet them! It will bring you closer and help you build an extraordinary marriage. So, here’s the drill… Plan to do something that will meet your spouse’s need for encouragement and affirmation at least twice in the next week.

Husbands – To keep a bounce in her step, give her daily doses of encouragement. Leave her a thank you note mentioning something you appreciate about her, tell her she’s your best friend and a great wife, and give her extra help with chores.

Wives – Your husband can feel discouraged and defeated when he doesn’t hear you cheering him on. Tell him what you love and appreciate about him, leave him a note affirming that he’s the only one in your world, and help him with something that you know will lighten his load.

Take the time to discover the ways in which your spouse feels most loved, and put it into practice today!


Be Your Spouse’s Biggest Fan

"Love ya!" by wilB is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

"Love ya!" by wilB is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

As September begins, we are beginning to look forward to all of the great things about the fall season—including football! If you’re a football fan, what are the things you love most about game time? Is it the adrenaline? The excitement of a potential victory? Seeing your team play well?

We love it when we have the opportunity to attend a game. It’s hard not to feel the palpable energy of a stadium filled with fans when the heat is on, and one of our favorite things about game time is getting to be two of those enthusiasts, cheering our team to victory!

Can you imagine football games without fans? It would change the energy and maybe even the mindset of the players. Fans represent support, enthusiasm and loyalty, and their presence at game time reassures their team they believe in them. They are completely sold out for the cause—painted faces, crazy outfits, team colors, huge signs—they show up early and stay until the end. Most of all, true fans never stop cheering for their team. Whether winning by a landslide or trailing far behind, they continue shouting those cheers and pulling for their team until the clock runs out.

What do you think it does for athletes to know there are people who will root for them no matter what? Hopefully it boosts their confidence and makes them want to succeed. There is something about knowing you have someone’s full support whether you win or lose that inspires you to try things you otherwise might not try, and makes you believe things about yourself you otherwise might not believe.

The same truths apply in your marriage. You have the opportunity to be your spouse’s biggest fan in life and to cheer them on in all they do. Do you take this job as seriously as a diehard football fan?

In a marriage survey we did for our book, The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women, encouragement was ranked fourth as a top love need for both men and women. We all need encouragement, but men and women are different, so that encouragement can take different forms. We have found that a list of encouragement needs for a husband typically looks something like this: a card once or twice a year to tell them they are loved, an evening out every so often, a golfing (or sailing or bowling) buddy, a new challenge every five years to keep life interesting, and a slap on the back from the guys on the basketball court. A woman’s list looks more like this: daily doses of “I love you” (cards and flowers work well too!), one evening every week with just the two of you, a female friend in whom she can confide, frequent time-outs from her routine to recharge her battery, and supportive hugs from her female friends.

As you can see, a woman’s encouragement needs are different from a man’s! Women tend to need encouragement more frequently and consistently. They face daily battles whether at work outside the home, raising kids, taking care of the house, or juggling all of those things, and many more! Your encouragement has the ability to refresh her and spur her on in her daily tasks that can be so tiring. When I (Barb) am rushing around after an already exhausting day, trying to get dinner on the table between loads of laundry, or whatever is going on at the moment, sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed. But when Gary walks in the room and tells me how much he appreciates my hard work and how well he thinks I’m doing, it adds strength to my spirit and rekindles my energy. Edifying words go such a long way to encourage your wife. Your vote of confidence is often just what she needs to hear when she’s feeling overwhelmed.

Encouraging your spouse verbally is wonderful, but it’s just one of the ways you can cheer her on in life. Another way to encourage her is to help lighten her load. When your wife is rushing around trying to take care of things at home after a busy day, how can you step in and make life a little easier for her in that moment? She probably has a checklist in mind that she feels will never be finished by the end of the night. Helping her cross off a couple items on that list could change her evening from stressful to manageable. But don’t wait until your wife is running low on energy and time or feeling stressed. Just like a fan true to their team, your support is needed through the highs and lows. When you remind your wife you’re on her side and that you appreciate and believe in her, she is going to feel cared for and cherished.

Likewise, there are many ways in which your wife can encourage you. Ladies, when your husband is overwhelmed with work, finances, the kids—whatever—think about what kind of encouragement he responds to the most. Maybe it’s as simple as letting him know how much his hard work means to you and your family. Or maybe there’s a way you can step in and help out with the many things he also juggles. Sometimes you just need to ask! Marriage is all about learning how to love one another best according to your needs, and then finding ways to practically live it out.

Take time to think about how your spouse will benefit from your encouragement, and be creative! We cheer YOU on as you cheer one another on in your marriage!