Hurdlers don’t usually stumble on the open stretch of track. Victory or defeat is mostly about clearing the obstacles.
It’s the same for marriage. Relationships don’t stumble when everything is calm, and life is rolling along smoothly. Problems tend to develop when couples encounter some kind of stress.
Those moments are an opportunity for husbands and wives to work together as a team.
My wife and I have gone through quite a few transition periods. We’ve faced challenges in our extended families, relocated to new cities, and raised two boys. Troy is in his last couple of years of high school. Trent just moved into his college freshman dorm.
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.
The point is, great marriages don’t happen by accident. You can’t coast along on autopilot. Love and sacrifice are a daily choice.
So is learning how to love and sacrifice for your spouse. Katharine Hill has been helping couples with that for years. She’s an author, a speaker, and a former lawyer who specialized in family law. She saw first-hand the devastation of broken marriages and broken families.
So she got involved. She is 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 better than whom 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.
I recently got a chance to sit down with Katharine at a Focus on the Family event in Scotland. We recorded a fun conversation called “If You Want a Great Marriage, Do This.” We talked about simple and practical things you can do to make your good marriage a great one! That’s something we all want – and it’s not as hard as you may think to get there.
Focus on the Family has been coming alongside families for over 40 years. If you’d like to partner with us in our efforts to strengthen marriages and families, sign up to make a monthly pledge of any amount to Focus. As a thank-you, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Katharine Hill’s book If You Forget Everything Else, Remember This: Tips and Reminders for a Happy Marriage. Even a one-time gift will be appreciated. Visit our website for more information. If you can’t afford it, we’ll find a way to get it to you.