It’s been a year now since I last posted my essay titled “Marriage Works.” At that time Emily and I were only months away from transitioning from 11 years of Youth Ministry to the unknown territory of Family Discipleship Ministry. We were both excited about the new adventure that lay ahead and at the same time a little fearful of leaving the comforts of what we had known and instead, venturing into a space that we had little experience with. 

When I wrote “Marriage Works” I was actually at the same place that I am now…in Florida, on vacation. Time away from the normal demands gives an opportunity for reflection and this sabbatical has certainly provided that luxury. 

I woke up around 2:00 AM this morning and my mind was racing as I looked back on all that had transpired in my life, my work, my family, and my marriage in the last year. So much has changed. Like you, the past year has brought for me several new challenges and stresses. At the same time, I have had moments of laughter, satisfaction, and victory. 
In reflecting on all of this in the middle of the night, I came to this conclusion…marriage STILL works.

Marriage (and faith) Works

Emily and I have both told young couples over the years that our marriage would have broken up years ago if it wasn’t for our Christian faith. After 15 years, we’re still attracted to one another, laugh with one another, entertain one another, and enjoy each other’s company. We’re best friends! But even best friends get on each other’s nerves at times. Our faith is what has bonded us together, helping to understand, forgive, love, and listen as we should.

 Unequivocally, we believe…

 -God created marriage (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6 )

-The scriptures give us guidelines on how to live in marriage as God designed (1 Peter 3:7, Ephesians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 7:2-11)

But even with all of this, marriage takes a little bit of faith…not just in God, but in one another.

The term “marriage works” means that marriage is affective as an idea and as an action. Dismissing marriage as just a title or a document signed by a clergy or judge misses the very reason that God, who created everything good in the universe, also created the mystery and beauty of love, romance, and companionship within the covenant of marriage. 

The original blueprint for the family as God intended is centered within the marriage relationship of husband and wife. All other relationship dynamics stem from this covenant, most notably, that of raising children. But this also includes service to community, our daily labor, and fellowship with other believers. 

Marriage also requires action. It only works if two people are able to make it work. The romance of many marriages slowly burns out because too often, the actions (the works) that go into building the relationship between two people in dating become obsolete after only a short time. There is no more pursuing, wooing, or impressing. The work stops. 
This is when things get stale and when marriages start to dissolve. Danger is around the corner.

I’m not an expert in all things marriage. I’ve certainly never been nominated, let alone won the illustrious “husband of the year” award. Our closest friends know that my wife and I are sometimes best at giving examples of what NOT to do in marriage. But I know that we are both committed to the work of our marriage and when it’s all said and done, we know that it works.

I believe both husband and wife must commit to ensuring that these 5 words make up the fabric of your marriage relationship. To make it easy to remember, here’s an acronym. 

Marriage W.O.R.K.S. 


Both individuals have to be wiling to put forth the effort to make things better. It has to be 100% on both sides. I’ve seen marriages deteriorate slowly over time because both husband and wife were not willing to push through challenges together. I’ve seen the husband give 100% but the wife give 50%. It doesn’t work. I’ve seen the wife give 80% and the husband give 10%. It doesn’t work. I’ve seen where both parties are willing to put forth the effort to work through almost everything except maybe one particular matter. 90% and 90%. That doesn’t work either. 

We recently converted my daughter’s old playroom into an office. My wife, Emily, is the “Pinterest Princess” of decorating. She made some cool plans to create a comfortable working space. One of her decisions was to take pieces of an old shed that we had torn down and turn it into a desk. She hired a friend of ours to do the carpentry work and he built a beautiful large (and heavy) desk.

When he delivered the desk to the house, he and I easily moved the desk from his truck into the office. Keep in mind that our friend is a much larger and stronger man than me. After he had left, Em decided that she wanted to move the desk to a different side of the room. So since I’m the man, I thought I’d move it by myself. That didn’t work. I barely could budge it on my own!

Em laughingly joked that I needed to get back to the gym if I couldn’t move the desk by myself (which was probably true). I challenged her to move the desk and, well, when she tried the desk didn’t move at all. It wasn’t until we both decided to join our strength together that we were able to move the desk. We both had to be willing to lend our strength to it. Together. 100% and 100%.

See no matter the problems that you may face with your spouse, marriage works it out. There has to be a resiliency in the both of you to push through any obstacle that comes your way. Finances will cause problems in a marriage. Raising children will cause problems in a marriage. Intimacy will cause problems in a marriage. Even house chores and Netflix will cause problems in a marriage.

Problems are coming at you. Everyday. You both have to be willing to find a way to push through. Together. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9 

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.

Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.


Hiding only hurts a marriage. This can relate to so many aspects. Does your spouse know your passwords to all of your socials and your emails? Does your spouse know how to unlock your phone? Do you tell your spouse where you go and who you hang out with on lunch break or after work? If no, then why not?

Trust is talked about all of the time in marriage counseling and in healthy marriage books, but it’s often overlooked in the daily disciplines that it takes to cultivate it. Trust is more than just revealing your secrets and being an open book. Trust is about giving, saying, or showing someone something that could jeopardize how they react, feel, or think about you in the future. What that person does with that information or situation can affect your life in a big way, and it’s a little scary to consider.

Being open means being vulnerable. It’s putting yourself out there in front of your spouse; weaknesses, failures, faults, and all, and allowing them to embrace you still.

As a husband and as a man, it’s difficult for me to convey to my wife when I feel weak. I want to show her my strength and confidence. Just the other day, I confessed to her some things that had recently happened that had cut me pretty deep. Someone had said something to me that had hurt me and I was too proud to tell my wife about it. But it just kept gnawing at me and I couldn’t let it go. I decided to share it.

For a few minutes it was nerve-racking as I sat right next to her on the beach. We were staring at this beautiful sunset over the ocean and I had this pit in my stomach as I was trying to muster the courage to let it out. 
When I finally did, I felt relieved. It was finally out in the open. I had been holding it in for a while and I wanted to share it with her, but I was afraid of how she might react. Would she still look at me the same if I pulled back the cover to reveal some of my scars?

She listened intently and encouraged me. The conversation lasted less than 5 minutes. It’s crazy now to think about how quickly I moved on from something that had been bothering me for weeks. 

Make yourself open to your spouse. Not just in the physical and day to day things, but especially in the emotional and spiritual things. Talk about what hurts you or what makes you sad. Talk about the helplessness that you feel as a parent or the insecurity that you feel at your job. Talk about the struggles that you are having in your faith walk and the temptations that pull at you. You’ll find strength in showing your weakness. 

Proverbs 28:13

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.


Today’s world seems to demand an apology for everything. When a celebrity, politician, or sports figure makes a statement that offends someone on social media, the Twitter-Mob and Facebook-Fanatics fill the newsfeeds with insistence for a public apology. They call for that person to recant their statement, admit they were wrong, and apologize to whoever may have been hurt by the statement or actions. 

How genuine do you think these apologies are when they are forced? Are they truly sorry for hurting people or are they sorry that they have done something that will hurt their financial or political profile?

We teach the phony “I’m sorry” stuff to our children. If your child is playing with another child and your child takes the other’s blocks and makes him cry, then what do you normally do? You demand that they give the block back and say “I’m sorry.” After that happens, everything is supposed to be ok! But we both know that your child probably isn’t “sorry” for taking the blocks. The child probably doesn’t see why they did anything wrong. He only said “I’m sorry” because you forced him too. The truth is, they probably aren’t sorry and they will likely do it again at some point. Not your kids though, right? (haha)

Repentance isn’t just about apologizing. Saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t immediately eradicate the pain and suffering that marriage sometimes brings. Don’t get me wrong, admitting error and asking for forgiveness is a great start. But healing begins when habits change and this change can only be done when you decide to go the opposite way of pain. 

That’s what repentance is! It’s literally making the decision to turn around and go another way.

If those words that you used towards your wife hurt her and damaged her confidence, then you can’t go that way anymore. If reminding your husband of his shameful past only makes your conversations more confrontational, make a decision not to go down that road again. It’s difficult, yes, and hurt people tend to want to hurt the people that hurt them. But an apology is not genuine unless actions back it up.

Your repentance to one another is important and it’s the first steps in healing marriage hurts. But don’t forget your obligation to also confess your sins to God.

Remember that the vows that you made were not just a covenant between you and your spouse, but also between the two of you and God. Repent to one another and also to God.

Psalm 32:5-6

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.

 1John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


We’re really quick to tear one another down and really slow to build one another up. When we get into arguments, we think first of how to rebuttal within the argument and last about how to squash the argument. 

This is why an awareness to be kind to one another is necessary. It’s not normally our default nature.

Your spouse is likely the one person in the world that you are willing to tell exactly how you feel. Most of the time, you don’t hesitate to unleash your anger and frustration at them. We are also good at creating defense mechanisms that we use to protect ourselves from harmful words or accusations made at one another. 

Frustration and aggravation come easily. Kindness and appreciation do not.

Kindness builds a bridge to the heart of your companion. There is naturally a chasm between our souls. Our selfishness lives within this area of separation. Kindness helps us cross over that space to the other side.

Kindness is displayed in how we act and react to one another. Be gentle with your words. Be complimentary and encouraging. Not just with words though. Let your actions be loving and generous.

“Just Because” gifts are one of the best ways to show kindness. It’s easy to send flowers or do something nice or thoughtful on holidays or birthdays and you should continue to do that. The “Just Because” gifts make much more of an impact. 

Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the difference. My wife has randomly sent me a text message in the middle of the day that simply says “I love you!” Most of the time I check my phone to see if there’s something else in the message that I may have missed. 

Did she really just send me that message just to send me the message? No ulterior motives at all? 

 The surprise and spontaneity makes it that much more special. I know that she likes sour candy but she hardly ever buys it for herself. Sometimes when I’m at the gas station, I just pick up a pack of one of her favorites (Sour Patch Kids) and bring it home with me. When I give it to her, I get the usual response of “what do you want????” You know you do the same!

Kindness seems like such a gimme but it’s so important. Just consider what it is that you can do that would best express your love and appreciation for your spouse. Maybe you take her car to the car wash or fill her tank up with gas without her asking. Maybe you let him pick the movie or the restaurant for date night. Most of the time, it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Just make it thoughtful. 

Ephesians 4:29

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.


What is something that is a part of your life right now that is actually hindering growth in your marriage. Is it a habit? A hobby? A job? Friends that you associate with? 

We live in a world where we feel that we are entitled to do what we want as long as it makes us “happy.” But happiness is a temporary and fleeting emotion. You can’t base your life simply around a feeling that is sure to change. Many of the things that we can actually surrender in order to nurture our marriage are things that aren’t truly sustaining us anyways. 

Sacrifice in a marriage means living this statement…

 “I’m willing to give up what’s best for me in return for what’s best for US.”

 It’s easy to say that. Much more difficult to live it. 

Emily and I recently witnessed this in our own marriage. For years I had been running her parents restaurant and things had been going well. We were breaking sales records year after year. Yet I started to become much more physically and mentally exhausted as I continued to strive to raise the bar and to lead our team to greater heights.

At the same time, Emily had established herself as a great educator and communicator at the same school that our daughter attended. She taught Bible History and she was passionate about not only the curriculum, but teaching it to her students. She loved her job.

Because of this, it was a monumental request when I asked her to consider leaving the career that was so precious to her and to come work with me as my business partner. My initial inquiry didn’t land where I thought it would. She was almost speechless when I first brought it up!
For months, we both committed the idea to prayer. 

I knew this would be a major shift within our family. Emily and I had been ministry partners for over a decade so we had a history of working together. This was totally different. This would not only affect our livelihood but also our entire home system. I knew I would be sacrificing much, but Em would be giving up so much more.

In the end, Emily left her job and we now work together. The change has been different and it’s brought it’s share of challenges and stresses. But I can see now, how God brought us together during this time at the perfect time. I truly don’t know how I would have navigated the challenges of doing business during the COVID-19 era without her by my side. She gave up something that was so dear to her, not knowing what the future would hold, for something better and timely. 

Maybe the sacrifices that you are called to aren’t as big as making a career change. Maybe they are. Often times we think that the sacrifices that we have to make in a relationship are just the bad habits and things that cause strife. Those should all be given up if they hurt your relationship. Consider also, that maybe what you need to walk away from may actually be something that is dearest to you.

What if it’s worth it? 

What if you giving up something now only leads to something better in the end? 

You can’t hold on to what you have now and still be able to take what God has for you later. Your hands will already be full. 

Empty your hands and let go to receive what God truly wants you to take.

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.


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