Marriage is our passion.

When Mark and I went through our marriage crisis now almost 10 years ago, we weren’t sure what the outcome would be. Trust had been broken. Tensions were high. (You can find the full story here.)

But as we’ve experienced healing and now operate in a more healthy way as Mark and Jill 2.0 rather than perpetuating the unhealthy dynamics of Mark and Jill 1.0, we believe in the importance of marriage even more.

As we’ve also been able to walk with many other couples seeking to strengthen or save their marriage, we have seen some truths become clearer and clearer. Today, we want to share with you those truths we both hold dear.

This is our marriage manifesto:

We believe that marriage is worth every bit of investment you put in it. Marriage is worth it. It’s worth the time. It’s worth extra expense. It’s worth the thoughtfulness. Every investment you make into it is laying a foundation for not only a healthy marriage, but also a strong family.

We believe that marriage requires intentionality to stay connected. This doesn’t happen on its own. We’ve often heard the quote, “In marriage, if you’re not rowing, you’re drifting.” That is so true. From thoughtful conversation to planned time away together, intentionality goes a long way.

We believe a good marriage is created by one Christ-centered decision after another. This is the journey we’re on. We’re learning each day how to better reflect Christ in our life and in our marriage. That happens one decision and one kind, gentle, loving response at a time. 

We believe marriage is learning how to love as Jesus loves us. As I wrote in No More Perfect Marriagesthat love is “unhumanable.” It’s unchanging and it lasts forever. We can never love as perfectly as Jesus loves us, but we can grow each day to better reflect this love over time. 

We believe marriage requires us to learn how to accept and understand each other. Our differences don’t need to lead to unhealthy conflict or unnecessary comments. A growing marriage is one where we intentionally are learning how to better accept and better understand the other. What makes them tick? How can we show them love and respect? How can we celebrate rather than criticize what makes them unique?

We believe understanding your family of origin will help you navigate your relationship better. We all had a “home internship” growing up. And here’s the thing: Yours wasn’t perfect and neither was ours. Through our family of origin, we each carry both healthy and unhealthy relating patterns. As we uncover what was “caught” more than taught in our life, we can navigate our own relationship better.

We believe generosity in kind words and helpful actions is vital to a growing marriage. Marriage isn’t just about getting our own needs met. A healthy marriage requires sacrifice, gratitude, service, encouragement, and support.

We believe that there is always hope and nothing is impossible with God.  The Bible tells us “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Our God is with us and He is for us. He is our hope-giver, provider, and redeemer. He truly does desire that we have a healthy marriage, and He wants to help us grow.

We believe every marriage experiences slow fades that need to identified and stopped. Slow fades are things that cause our hearts to drift apart just one quarter inch at a time. It’s how couples can be married for decades before waking up one day feeling like their hearts are miles apart. But here’s the amazing thing: We know that these slow fades can be stopped when we use the God Tools provided to us.

We believe that apologies and do-overs are the fertilizer for growth. A relationship doesn’t grow when we pridefully wait for an apology from our spouse instead of offering one ourselves. Humility is the soil that a healthy marriage can grow in.

We believe forgiveness and grace are what keep our hearts available to God and each other. When we don’t forgive, our hearts begin to fill with bitterness, anger, and eventually resentment. This closes off our heart from being open to our spouse and to our God. Forgiveness doesn’t negate the need for accountability, but it provides a foundation of grace for healing (minor and major) to take place.

We believe that trust can be rebuilt. This is our story, and we’ve seen it in countless other marriages as well. It is possible for trust to be rebuilt. This is a two-way street, so it requires effort from both people, but we firmly believe the truth that trust can be rebuilt in a marriage.

We believe that even in hard seasons, the wait is not wasted. If you are waiting for your spouse to return (physically, emotionally, or in some other way), you are not alone. That waiting season was one of the hardest in my life. And I imagine, if you’re waiting, it is in yours as well. But this season offers a time for us to grow and to reaffirm our trust in our God rather than our circumstances. (If this is where you are, I invite you to check out our Wait is Not Wasted course.)

We believe that a real marriage is not perfect. A real marriage is two people being perfected. This will forever be a rallying cry for us. This marriage journey isn’t about perfection. That’s impossible. But it is all about two people being perfected day by day to better reflect the love of Christ to one another and to those around us.

That’s our marriage manifesto! These are truths we firmly believe about marriage. We’d love to know: Are there any that stand out most for you?  What would you add?

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