On marriage and being great together

“Let’s be great together.”

It’s a statement that’s been on my mind all week as my wife and I prepare to talk to our church friends this Sunday about marriage, about our marriage.

I talk about marriage every week with my counseling clients. But it’s not something I have the chance to do with my wife.

She sent me a list of things that she wants to share, things she’s learned, things she does, things she thinks will be helpful. When I read it, it was a reminder of what is great about her, about the moments when our life is great.

Not perfect but great.


“Let’s be great together, babe.”

We don’t often say that.

But it’s essentially what we hope for when we asked or answered the question

“Will you marry me?”

It’s essentially what we said we stood up in front of God, our family and friends, chose each other and said “I do.”

We want to be a great husband, a great wife, for our spouse.

We offered our best and promised our life.

We want to be a great parent, deep down inside, even if we aren’t bold enough to say it out loud.

Our confidence, motivation and desire to be great gets stolen away somewhere along the way.

We settle for less.

When it gets hard, we lose hope. We have our tantrum when things don’t turn out the way we wanted.  Or we withdraw.  Or turn to work or the kids.  Or our smartphones and social media.

We start to believe that the pain and loneliness in the present are stronger and more real than the promise and the love at the start.

We’d settle for healthy or an end to the loneliness or pain.  We might scoff at the idea of “great” when it feels so miserable, so broken.

We might scoff at the idea of “great” when it feels so miserable, so broken.

But if we shoot for great, we might get it.
We certainly won’t get there if we don’t attempt it.

Doesn’t she deserve me trying?

Doesn’t he deserve me trying?

Don’t we, deserve the effort?

It’s where we started, with the promise of “I do”.


“Will you go to counseling with me?”

It’s not a question we think we’ll ever have to ask or answer.

It’s scary to say “I will.”  It’s scary to think, they’ll tell you “No”.

But you were scared on your wedding day when you said: “I do.”

You promised that day to be faithful.

In as many words you promised that you would do what it takes.

It’s not a guilt trip to hold you and your spouse to your promise, to honor the covenant they made.

One of the best, hardest things about marriage is when your spouse calls out your best.

There can be more than one beginning to marriage when you walk out of the church hand in hand after saying I do.
And when you walk into the counseling hand in hand and say I still do.


Here are a few things that can help you make the most of counseling if you choose to go.  Things to tell yourself.  To prepare.

I will go.

I want to make this work.

I will go to learn, to understand.

I will try.

I will be honest.

I won’t attack you.

I love you.

I want to love you again.

I will do what it takes.

I will look for what works, not what won’t.

I will work.

I will listen.

I will be patient. 

I will look for my part of the problems and take responsibility.

I will change.

I will talk about my hurts and fears.

I will apologize as needed.

I will forgive if necessary.

I will try to trust you more.

Let’s go be great, again.


This post was inspired by the Sunday School class series our church is doing on marriage “Real Stories, Real Hope”

This was an awesome post on marriage I read this week by Seth Haines.

Here’s another post I wrote on making the most of marriage counseling if you choose to go.

Here’s a post for if you aren’t sure how marriage counseling could help.


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Licensed professional counselor and health coach in Portland, OR Pre-marital and couples counseling. Individual counseling for anxiety, depression, insomnia, sleep disorders, sexual addiction, porn addiction, career, transitions, grief, burnout, personal growth.

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