How To Serve Your Spouse And Serve Yourself At The Same Time

serve-yourselfIf you’ve ever been around me for 30 consecutive seconds, you know that I’m a pretty competitive guy. I don’t know where it comes from—it’s just part of my personality, I guess. It’s how I was able to launch an international ministry

Marriage, however, is not a competition.

It’s easy to think of marriage as this always-changing power struggle, where you’re always trying to figure out the things you’re willing to give up so that you can get what you want. But that’s old-school. And wrong.

I’m sure it’s been said somewhere else, but I’m going to say it again: a great marriage works like a pair of scissors. It’s the two of you working together, evenly and equally, to carve up whatever life sends your way. There’s no dominant blade on a pair of scissors: they work together, and if one doesn’t have the other, then nothing’s going to get done.

So with that in mind, let me drop this on you:

When you serve your spouse, you’re serving yourself.

You aren’t giving up a little of you in order to get something back later—you’re giving and getting at the same time.

Let’s take something that every couple has to do but that no one likes to do, and something that always winds up being the go-to example when we’re talking about stuff like this: doing the dishes.

Now, unless you’re so rich that you have paid help to do your dishes for you (in which case, you can donate to XXXchurch here), you and your spouse have the nightly struggle over who is going to do this mundane domestic task. Maybe you split it up where one washes and one dries. Maybe you trade days. Or maybe one of you just does it all the time.

No matter how you’ve worked it out, unless you’ve just thrown a big fit about doing the dishes until your spouse finally caved and just did them to shut you up, you’ve probably been giving and getting at the same time.


Because you’ve contributed to your marriage as a whole by pitching in. You’ve lightened the burden for them, which makes your marriage all the sweeter and which will continue to create a culture of service. You’ll care for one another in every area, from domestic tasks to emotional work to spiritual growth.

I’ve seen this at work in my own marriage. Jeanette and I both grew up with “traditional” roles being modeled for us in our homes, but once we got married, we both realized that some of those “traditional” roles don’t fit our personalities.

So we said, “Forget these traditions,” and made our own, based on what we’re good at.

Maybe one of you is a great cook—let them do the meals. Maybe one of you is good at spreadsheets and planning—let them handle the bills. Maybe one of you is more naturally handy with a toolbox and a set of directions—let them put together the kids’ new bunk beds.

The point is: play to each others’ strengths and find where you complement one another. You do the stuff you’re good at, they do the stuff they’re good at, and you’ll both be operating in your own giftings—serving your spouse while you serve yourself at the same time.

That’s how you both win.

slide04We are strong on building better marriages and better families. This is why we launched a new website called For more great content on marriage, intimacy, parenting, and more visit StrongerMarriages today. We know this website will help many people but we need your help to make it as awesome as we think it will be.

Please consider donating to this project by visiting X3christmas today.

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Marriage Is for the Courageous

marriage-is-for-courageous[Editor’s note: today’s post is adapted from the book Open: What Happens When You Get Honest, Get Real, and Get Accountable by Craig Gross with Adam Palmer]

I once spoke at a marriage conference…where I heard an interesting fact about the relationship between happiness in a marriage and the amount of times the husband and wife in that couple were engaging in sexual activity. In other words, the more frequently husbands and wives have sex with each other, the happier they tend to be with their marriage…

Sadly, the flip side of that is something else I learned at this marriage conference: there is a shocking number of married couples who aren’t having very frequent sex.

They are taking this critical component of marriage and sidelining it, for whatever reason.

For some it’s a heart issue (there are problems in the marriage and one or both partners are withholding sex for an emotional reason).

For some it’s a time issue (one or more of them spends a lot of time away from home for work purposes or something, so the amount of time they have together is limited).

For others it’s a schedule issue (both of them are just too busy and wind up tired every night), and for others it’s an opportunity issue (both of them are willing but something—kids, illness, etc.—keeps getting in the way).

Regardless, I was in an accountability group with a bunch of married men. We were about eighteen months into this group at this point, and since we’d all recently experienced a breakthrough in our relationship together, I thought it would be a good idea to test that depth of relationship and ask a courageous question with the hopes of getting courageous answers. So one day I was leading the meeting…and I decided now was the time and threw out this little conversation starter:

When was the last time you had sex with your wife?

At first, it was so quiet that I thought something had gone wrong with the phone lines or that my phone had accidentally dropped the call. I had to take it away from my ear and look at the screen to make sure I was still connected to the call.

Every single one of those guys knew I wasn’t looking for locker-room talk, nor was I seeking advice or soliciting ideas on stuff I could take into my own bedroom. I asked this question out of a legitimate concern for my friends’ marriages; this was the serious, gut-wrenching, courageous work that an accountability group is supposed to be engaged in.

We were a tight group, but we’d never gone there.

Hence the cricket-chirping silence.

Finally, one of the guys chimed in, quietly and disappointedly: “Actually, it’s been about three months.” No one said anything, so he continued, sounding like a man with a broken heart: “There have been some issues between us, and I’m not proud of it, but whatever. There you go.”


You know what the rest of us did? We thanked him for sharing. In fact, another of the guys said, “Thanks for sharing that, man. On my end, it’s been about a month.” Because the first guy had enough courage to speak out, it gave the second guy enough courage to do the same thing.

That day’s conversation changed our group, altering our dynamic for the better. Even though our group was already pretty courageous, that conversation added even more courage to the equation.

Courage begets courage. When you start walking in courage, it becomes even easier to continue doing it, and doing it with more courage.

slide04We are strong on building better marriages and better families. This is why we launched a new website called For more great content on marriage, intimacy, parenting, and more visit StrongerMarriages today. We know this website will help many people but we need your help to make it as awesome as we think it will be.

Please consider donating to this project by visiting X3christmas today.



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4 Deceptively Simple Ways To Rebuild Broken Trust

broken-trustWe can’t change each other; we can only change ourselves.

That’s just one of the hard and fast truths about relationships, and yet we tend to spend tremendous amounts of time and energy ignoring it.

Hey, I get it: sometimes that person really needs to change. But guess what: we all need to change. We always need to grow to places where we experience more peace, love, joy, freedom, and wisdom, whether we’re the porn addict or the partner.

In that light, here are a few steps to take toward rebuilding the broken trust that often accompanies addiction. And please note: these steps are for both the people in the relationship, not just the porn addict.

1) Forgive everyone, including yourself.

First off: forgiveness is NOT a thing you do—it’s a destination you arrive at within yourself. Between where you stand right now and that beautiful place where your eyes are opened and you see your partner in the light of grace, brokenness and all, you may find anger (rage, perhaps), repressed pain/trauma, and conflicting beliefs that may need to be shattered on your way to forgiveness. Don’t know how to get there? Find a professional counselor who can sit with you and guide you through the process. It’s time for action.

 2) Find silence.

The ancient Christian mystics and desert fathers made lifestyles of living in silence—they lived tangibly from their spirits, understanding that the mind is not the spirit. The apostle Paul referred to a “peace that passes understanding.” What does this mean for our busy world now? Oftentimes when we make a practice of the teaching, “be still and know that I am God,” we can find in that space the patience, wisdom, insight, and kindness we need to see our partners as God sees them.

3) Get a mentor.

By this, I don’t mean find someone who will teach you more of the same thing that hasn’t been working for you. Find someone who lives on the other side of the mountain you are climbing. Find someone who has lived a story of pain and struggle and now trusts their partner. Do anything and everything you have to do to sit at their feet and learn. This is the ancient art of discipleship, and it is the most tangible form of true human community.

4) Commit to a lifetime of honesty.

You don’t need to know every thought in your partner’s head at all times, but being granted access to the innermost parts of ourselves is the core of trust. It’s also the core of our pain, which makes it is so much harder to say than to do. Allowing my wife to see me in all of my pain means I have to allow her to have her pain. Even if I cause it. And the same goes for her. When I am this honest, I commit not to life that she can trust, but to a life where I become the person I want to be. I am making a commitment to myself.

My wife and I once stood on the sidewalk just after a joint counseling and committed to each other that we would go after our own individual healing with everything we had, desperate to try out the theory that this would lead to the marriage we wanted. And this is turning out to be true. We stopped trying to trust each other and learned to heal, and now we’re discovering that a healed person is very trustworthy.

Try out these four practices and you may find healing; and in healing, you’ll slowly but surely rebuild trust.

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3 Simple Ways To Build Intimacy Within Marriage

build-intimacyIf you’ve been married for any length of time, you know that the relationship you have with your spouse should be like no other. Two people who’ve made a commitment to each other have started on a journey to merge their lives together. This is almost always a beautiful and messy process all at the same time! At least it has been in my marriage so far.

The process of becoming closer to my wife has gone through a lot of transformation over the years and yet I’m still learning. This word, INTIMACY, has taken on a deeper meaning for me as I’ve discovered what makes my wife tick and what she craves emotionally from me.

For some people, a phrase like “intimacy within marriage” is a scary one, while for others, it just equates to sex.

The truth is, intimacy relies on a lot of different things all working together, making it something we must learn in order to put into practice.

So what steps can you take today to build intimacy within marriage, especially if the flame feels like its starting to go out? Here are three that I’ve found to be landmark actions that I need to take to build intimacy within marriage:

1. Encourage

Your spouse needs to know that you love them and that you’re pleased with them. That you find them attractive and gifted at what they do. Encouragement requires you to KNOW your spouse and be PRESENT to their frustrations, fears, and anxieties. It also means celebrating with them on what goes well. If you’re not used to talking, start practicing! We all need encouragement, especially our spouses. Remind them on a daily basis all of the great things you see coming out of their life. Something we often forget is the weight that our spouses often bear upon their shoulders. We should be helping to take those burdens off of them through our words and our actions.

2. Serve

Way too often, we can get stuck in a mindset that our work, responsibilities, and task lists are more important than the GAZILLION things our spouses do on a daily basis. This couldn’t be further from the truth! One of the greatest ways to build intimacy within marriage is not only sharing chores like doing the dishes, vacuuming the living room, and washing the laundry, but also giving your spouse the occasional time and space to flourish. For example, you might take the kids off their hands so they can go hang out with a friend.

Bottom line: share the load by serving one another.

3. Touch

Before your mind goes straight to thinking that I’m just talking about sex, realize that touch is way more than physical intimacy. This is an area where I’m still growing in in my marriage.

Hugs, kisses, and especially back rubs are all crucial points of touch throughout the day. There are moments when I’m at work that I think about my wife and realize how much I love her and how thankful for her I am that I want to run up to her and just hold her in my arms. Am I following up on that thought and actually doing it? It’s only one form of touch, but oh so important. One of the greatest killers to a marriage is a cold, distant spouse who’d rather hold the TV remote than their partner’s hand.

Certainly there are many more ideas for building intimacy in your marriage, but these have been some of the biggest in mine that I’ve grown in over the past few years (and continue to grow in).

We have a responsibility to NOURISH and CHERISH our spouses. Through encouraging, serving, and contact, we can do that and build true intimacy within marriage! We must take action and pursue our spouses on a daily basis, just as Jesus pursues us.

Bonus question: Do you take time out to pray with and over your spouse? What about spending time digging into scripture together? These are so important for the spiritual life of a marriage. Believe me, I know keeping all of this at the forefront of your marriage can be tough, but it bears fruit in the long run.

I’m of the opinion that there’s one person that God has planned for you to commit your life to and love for the rest of your life. To me, this means that I only have one real shot to get it right and so I want to make it count. I carried a lot of lying, deception, and dishonesty into our marriage because of an addiction to pornography that controlled my life. So I’ve had to really learn the above three actions in pretty drastic ways.

It’s never too late to build intimacy within marriage if you feel like it’s missing. But it takes intentionality and healthy actions on your part that help make your spouse a better person. It’s a lifelong journey of beautification and deepening of our love for each other here on earth. But it’s so worth it.

slide04We are strong on building better marriages and better families. This is why we launched a new website called For more great content on marriage, intimacy, parenting, and more visit StrongerMarriages today. We know this website will help many people but we need your help to make it as awesome as we think it will be.

Please consider donating to this project by visiting X3christmas today.



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Want to Strengthen Society? Start by Strengthening Marriage.

improve-societyMarriage is tough. It’s work. My wife Jeanette and I married 17 years ago, and I wish more people would’ve told us back then how challenging marriage can be, but it’s a challenge we’ve accepted.

We’ve worked at it.
We’ve had our ups and downs, but:

We’ve grown closer together.

We have a strong marriage because we’ve had access to the right resources.

Our world needs more marriages to be strong. And then stronger.

The stronger our marriages are, the better our society will be. Think about it. Stronger marriages mean fewer divorces. Stronger marriages mean better sex among husbands and wives, which leads to longer-lasting bonds. Stronger marriages mean temptations to turn to porn will lessen.

Stronger marriages lead to a stronger culture.

But here’s one thing I know:

I don’t have a formula for a perfect marriage.

Even though I’ve heard from a lot of marriage experts, I wouldn’t say I am one.

But now that I know some experts, I—and our team—want to share their wisdom with as many people as possible. We are compiling their work in one comprehensive resource: a new website called, and the response has been huge.

Before we even advertised the site, we had over 1.3 million page views in the first two weeks alone!

People want this. I know it’s going to help them.

I know it’s going to help you. It’s going to help people you know.

We believe in marriage. We believe it takes hard work to make it work, but we believe couples can last 10, 15, 20, 30, 50 years—and beyond. We want to give couples help where they need it, and we believe StrongerMarriages is going to be that help.

At, we talk about important things you want to know about, like conflict and communication, sex and kids, spiritual growth and emotional growth, what to expect before you get married and what you can expect after years of being married

We’re so excited about the impact StrongerMarriages can have on relationships around the world.

But we need your help to make it as impactful as it can be.

We have four specific goals for StrongerMarriages as we head into 2016:

1) We want to have the number one marriage podcast in the world. 

More and more people are leaving traditional radio for podcasts and on-demand programming available online and on mobile devices. This is the future of ministry. We are in the early stages of working with a knowledgeable team to do something on the level of Serial and other hugely popular podcasts. A high-quality, well-produced show that will be like nothing in this space but that anyone would be proud to share.

2) We want StrongerMarriages to be strong offline as well.

We have a great team of influencers, speakers, bloggers, and writers with massive followings who are getting the word out about StrongerMarriages, including our marriage live events, which we’re scheduling with increasing frequency.

But we want to think bigger and launch some aggressive campaigns that will reach millions more. We reached half a million people in 15 days with almost no promotion; what could we do if we really tried? We’re working with a team that does Facebook Ads, as well as with Google and YouTube to target the people we want to reach.

In addition to reaching people online we want to reach people offline and we have a killer idea that we will do Valentine’s Day, which brings us to:

3) We want to plaster America with Valentine’s Day 2016 billboards. 

All these billboards will have marriage quotes on them—some funny, some serious—and all will point to We’ll promote them in the press and online, turning it into a major campaign that extends into print and online. If we do it right, we will make national news.

And finally:

4) We want to hire full-time staff.

We’re so committed to the strength and longevity of StrongerMarriages that we intend to hire full-time staff just to oversee and concentrate on this invaluable ministry.

But we can’t do this without your help. We need your generosity in order to put the necessary weight behind StrongerMarriages so that it can find the audience that so desperately needs it.

I invite you to visit StrongerMarriages. Take a look around. I’m confident that you’ll like what you see, and when you do, I’d ask that you make a contribution to help us invest in this resource so countless couples can invest in their marriage.

Visit to get more details on our plans and to download a copy of our most recent informational magazine.

Call it a Christmas gift to marriage.


Let’s make marriage stronger. Together.

PS. When you give $100 or more, we have a thank-you gift for you in return: access to our online Married workshop! Thank you for your support.

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