Hurdlers don’t usually stumble on the open stretch of track but when they’re attempting to clear the obstacles.
Likewise, marriages don’t stumble when everything is calm and life is rolling along smoothly. Problems tend to develop when couples encounter some kind of stress.
My wife, Jean, and I have gone through numerous transition periods. We have faced challenges in our extended families, relocated to new cities, and raised two boys. One of the biggest challenges to our marriage – ironically enough – was when I became the president of Focus on the Family. I was taking on the leadership role at an organization created to help families around the world. Would we be expected to have a perfect marriage? Perfect children? We had to think through those questions and figure out how we were going to work together to keep our relationship strong.
We discovered that great marriages don’t happen by accident. Strong couples don’t coast along on autopilot. Stressful moments become a daily opportunity for husbands and wives to work together as a team.
For years, Katharine Hill has been helping couples learn how to love and sacrifice for each other. She’s an author, a speaker, and a former lawyer specializing in family law who has seen first-hand the devastation of broken marriages and broken families. She is also one of the leaders of Care for the Family, a sister organization to Focus on the Family, which offers Bible-based advice and encouragement to families in the United Kingdom.
In her book If You Forget Everything Else, Remember This: Tips and Reminders for a Happy Marriage, Katharine offers couples the acronym STOP:
- Don’t SCORE points. Keeping track of who’s done what escalates conflict.
- Don’t THINK the worst. When your husband brings you beautiful flowers, don’t think, “What’s he done wrong now?” Assume the best and thank him for being thoughtful.
- Don’t OPT out. Don’t withdraw, disengage, or sweep problems under the rug.
- Don’t PUT down your spouse. Don’t make your spouse feel inferior, either verbally or through body language.
We recorded a fun conversation with Katharine at a Focus on the Family event in Scotland for our Focus on the Family Broadcast “If You Want a Great Marriage, Do This.” We discussed simple, practical ways that you can make your good marriage into a great one!
While you’re online, why not take a few moments to try our free Marriage Assessment online tool? It will help you quickly determine what’s working well in your relationship and identify areas where you may need some improvement.
I’d like to extend an invitation for you to become a special partner with us through our monthly “Friends of Focus on the Family” program. When you do, I’ll send you a copy of Katharine Hill’s book If You Forget Everything Else, Remember This: Tips and Reminders for a Happy Marriage as a way of saying thank you for touching others with the love of Christ. You’ll also receive member-exclusive benefits. To make your pledge, or for more information, click here or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).