Hardships in Marriage – The Glue that Holds You Together


How many times have you caught yourself wondering why things are so hard? Asking God about a tough situation in your life, or more specifically in your relationship? Maybe you’ve had a death in the family, or job loss that was really hard on your marriage. Maybe one of you has suffered from a long-term illness which has had both an effect on your financial status and your marriage. This might have also affected the kids. A rebellious child is one that we have experienced AND hear stories of from parents all of the time.


My wife and I have gone through a number of things together that could have, and at moments felt like, been the end of our marriage.


Here are a few:

  1. School debt
  2. Rebellious teen
  3. Financial hardship
  4. Stillborn daughter
  5. Terribly hurtful job loss
  6. Moving across the country – twice


And many more. We hear stories from people about the things that drove them to separate or causes such deep problems for each individual that they couldn’t bring their hurt and perspectives together to make them stronger… instead they “grew apart.” Money is a big cause for this, especially if a debt has been plaguing their married life for a while.


I believe, and have found, that hardships are our most effective way to really become united in marriage. Think about it. When your points of view and perspectives are that different, finding a middle ground of understanding is an incredible way to really know your spouse.


And when you consider hard moments in your life, those moments when you know you can’t make it on your own and you need somebody to lean on and to help you through it, your spouse is there. In fact, what better reason is there for marriage, than to have a tangible person in your life that is there for you and will be your crutch when you need it, or help carry you when you can’t carry yourself?


I’m certainly not negating God’s involvement and the reality that he will “never leave you or forsake you”. That’s in a different post… I am pointing out that God has given you your spouse to be a tangible representation of himself on earth – because let’s be honest, sometimes we literally need someone to hold us in real life, a shoulder to cry on and arms that can hold us tight.


I wrote a post once about what I learned by doing the Tough Mudder with my wife – which if you don’t already know, is a hardship that you actually sign up for. But the reality is that our lives will have hardships (John 16:33) and God has blessed you with someone to go through those with you, and someone to remind you that He is walking with you in those dark valleys. You aren’t alone, spiritually or physically.


So consider those tough moments opportunities to grow closer – realizing that each hardship will make your relationship stronger and harder to pull apart.

5 Things I Learned about Marriage at the Tough Mudder

I’ve done team-building exercises for years with both youth and adults of all ages. The results of doing things that are challenging in either physical or mental ways and having to accomplish them as a team is pretty incredible.


Those involved usually walk away with an increased degree of connection and an unspoken and innate awareness that the people they are working with are on their team and will have valid contributions and that they will put the overall goal before any personality or opinion differences that might exist.


Two weeks ago my wife and I spent 6 grueling hours doing something called the “Tough Mudder.” You may have heard of it, 19 km and 19+ obstacles to wrestle through and team-up to complete.


Here are 5 lessons I learned about marriage through the experience:

Continue reading

Praying Together as a Dating Couple Part 3: Finding Balance

Don’t forget to start with parts 1 and 2:

Praying Together Part 1: 6 Reasons to pray together as a dating couple

Praying Together Part 2: 3 Reasons NOT to pray together as a dating couple


Prayer as a couple is good, here are a few points to keep you cautious but intentional as you share your spiritual life with those you date.


So, after all of this, it seems evident that there is a balance needed:


1. Yes, pray and share with each other – all of the things you have learned and that God has revealed to you personally. Share your heart for others in prayer and listen to the heart of your partner as they pray. Take the opportunity to discern and notice what their spiritual commitment, life, and growth looks like.


2. Guard your heart, body AND soul. Don’t give more of yourself away than you should before marriage. A simple way of discerning this is to ask yourself, “If who I marry someday were to give this much to someone else BEFORE they met me, would I feel like I lost something?”


3. Maintain your own personal relationship and prayer life with God. Put God first in your life, and don’t rely on another person to be your foundation or anchor as you do. This actually applies to all of your relationships, even mentors or teachers can draw dependence from us if we aren’t careful.


Make your spirituality an important part of your relationship, through discussions about beliefs and view points, as well as elements of what you have learned from God and how He has grown you, being sure to pray for and with one another, but make sure to ALWAYS retreat to your quiet place to be alone with God. You need your own time with God to be completely real with your thoughts, feelings, insecurities and dreams, without worrying about what the other may think. Plus, this helps to make sure to guard your heart and give it to God first. It also leaves new levels of intimacy to be shared after your wedding day. Whatever you do, always remember that even in marriage we are to have our own personal relationship with God, so let’s practice that now so it’s a more natural transition into marriage later.

6 Reasons You SHOULD Pray Together as a Dating Couple: Praying as a Dating Couple Part 1

Praying as a Dating Couple Part 1

Why you SHOULD pray together

You may have heard the quote “The couple that prays together stays together,” that statement has generally been made in relation to Married couples, in fact research suggests that up to 92% of couples that pray together stay together (click here for some of Dr. Dave’s thoughts on praying as a married couple). But what about dating couples? How does this apply? And should it apply when you’re dating? After all, you may not WANT to stay together, dating is for the purpose of getting to know each other and discerning whether or not you want it to be forever, right?

When working with couples during premarital counselling or after their wedding day we often come across issues and questions around spirituality and spiritual connection, or rather, the lack of it! The reality is, spirituality is something vital to your relationship and here are some thoughts on why praying together even as a dating couple is a good idea.

1. DEEPER UNDERSTANDING: Hearing the heart for God that your prospective other has is vital, too often we use phrases like “Christian” and “prayer” and think it means the same thing to each other. Learning and navigating what these terms mean to one another and how definitions might differ, while dating is important.

2. GOD AS #1: God should be the first priority in your life. Being in a relationship where you never introduce each other to the context of your most important relationship neglects an important part of who you are. If God is supposed to be #1 in your life, doesn’t it make sense that He would be included in your relationship?

3. PRACTICE: Assuming that you, at some point, do marry one of the people you are dating, it is good practice to make your spiritual life a regular part of your relationship. Patterns of behaviour and flow of relationship are established as time progresses, it can be difficult to implement and include new things. Adding a devotional and prayer can feel awkward and strange if you have known each other for a long time without it.

4. RELATIONSHIP PURITY: Seeking confirmation and peace from God in your decisions can actually keep your level of relationship on track. It’s hard to go outside God’s purity parameters when you are spending time with your Creator. For example, you probably wouldn’t cheat or push limits in a game if the referee was standing right next to you.

5. KEEPING FOCUSED: Putting God at the center of your relationship, including prayer, keeps you sensitive to where your relationship is going and how to avoid the dangerous pitfall of putting each other before God. With a new relationship comes infatuation, which easily distracts from God as your main priority, prayer can and should help ground you.

6. FUTURE MARRIAGE: You will find that spirituality is VITAL to your future marriage. As well as this, a developing relationship does require that you know each other on this level – the number of times we hear stories of people saying that their “Christian” boyfriend or girlfriend didn’t turn out to be a “Christian” spouse is disturbingly common. Seeing faith in action is non-negotiable, especially before you say “I do”.

But wait! There are 3 reasons NOT to pray together while you’re dating too! Click here to read more

3 Reasons Not to Pray Together: Praying as a Dating Couple Part 2

Click here to read 6 reasons you SHOULD pray together while dating.


Dating is such a special moment between two people, finding that special someone to spend the rest of your life with is magical! As much as it is important to connect spiritually when you are dating – it is important to keep in mind that with every good thing there are potential pitfalls and I’d like to share some of those with you. The following points are things to keep in mind and balance as you get to know and consider marrying the person you are dating.


1. Prayer is a deeply intimate thing, bringing someone into that element of your life is important, but if you are romantically involved it can potentially leave room for a hole left behind if things don’t work out. Much like letting someone read your journal, knowing that you have let someone into your life at that level can leave you feeling rejected at the core of who you are if the relationship ends.


2. Only praying with each other doesn’t work. There are couples that ONLY pray and do devotions when they are together. The danger here is that they assume that they don’t need to implement prayer or spiritual growth in their life OUTSIDE of the relationship. Your relationship with God needs to be independent of each other and not dependant on the other person’s presence or insight.


Consider what you do when you have a box of mementos from an ex. It isn’t long before you begin removing the things that remind you of them so that you don’t have to feel the potential pain of that loss. You DON’T want this to happen with your relationship with God. It’s a good idea to keep growing and praying personally/individually on your own. Don’t allow yourself to rely solely on that other person for your spiritual growth and time with God.


3. Full spiritual intimacy should be saved for marriage. God’s design for men and women is incredible, so is their ability to connect and be intimate. The level of intimacy that we are supposed to have with our spouse goes far beyond what most of us, particularly those of us who are dating, can possibly imagine. The beauty and power of prayer, and having a spiritual connection allows a couples’ souls to intertwine like no other. MARRIAGE is worth it! That said there is a danger that we could implement a level of intimacy prematurely. One thing that is meant for marriage is sex, God’s design and context for sex is marriage, but it isn’t just sex, it’s also the level of soul connection and intimate intertwining that are meant for marriage. It’s the passion that should be shared with the one person who you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. It definitely won’t happen before, especially if you believe that sex is only meant in marriage. In this way, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) until your wedding day, not just your body. This includes the need to guard your SOUL! It must belong to God first and only when the relationship is one that will last forever should it be given and intertwined fully with your spouse. In fact, the only way to personal peace is to allow God’s peace to protect your heart (Phil 4:7). Too often we prematurely give our hearts away to people and wonder why our life feels like a storm, or we are deeply hurt from going too far in a certain relationship.


There are stories of people in deep prayer together that have ended with their becoming physically intimate. Why? Because the level of connection and intimacy they are feeling in their soul and heart naturally progresses into the physical as well. It’s a natural but potentially dangerous combination. It also carries the risk of masking relational issues with hormones and mis-timed intimacy.



What does a balanced prayer and devotional life before marriage look like then?

Read PART 3: The Conclusion

Your Marriage: A Diamond for the World to See

I love marriage – but for different reasons than you might think.

One of my favourite things about marriage is the incredible illustration it is to the power of the gospel and Jesus’ relationship to us, His church. We are to love our spouse as Christ loves the church, selflessly and with grace and understanding.

I’m consistently convinced that there is NO greater form of evangelism in our current culture. (Eph. 5:25-30)

Think about it, our culture is filled with divorce, broken and dysfunctional relationships. Unfortunately, for some there is a tendency to judge or condemn these families, sometimes going to the extent of pulling our kids out of school or activities in order to keep them from seeing what we might consider abnormal or sometimes sinful.

Protecting our families is good, but pitting ourselves against others may not be the best way to show them God’s love. Continue reading