Category Archives: Marriage


After eight days away from our children, Kathy and I were agreed: it was time for them to come home.

Colonial Williamsburg
Too bad Grandma and Grandpa brought them home in the van — this way would have been more stylish.

We thoroughly enjoyed our break away from our duties as Mom, Dad, programmer and teacher, but as the days slipped away, our hearts returned to our little family. In short, we missed ‘em.

The Wren Building
Brick paths and brick buildings under a cool October sky …

We are spiritually and relationally renewed; or if not, it wasn’t from a lack of trying. The church leadership retreat challenged the depth of our commitment to our Lord, and helped us to build some closer relationships with the staff and ministry leaders. Our trip to the east coast was a delightful mix of catching up with old friends and revisiting old haunts without feeling too er, old.

Kathy, Emiily and Rachel
It was wonderful to connect with Rachel and to see several other good friends, like Emily and Dave.

I had hoped for a little more time for Kathy and I to spend alone, but (in retrospect), I think the weekend was a perfect mix of unhurried time with friends while still leaving some ‘down time’ for Kathy and I to be alone together.

The College of Knowledge
One thing I always liked about W&M was the reassuring fact that nearly 300 years’ worth of students had attended and (apparently) survived beyond their college years.

Kathy and I were graduated from the College of William and Mary, one of the nation’s oldest colleges. Located in Williamsburg, Virginia, William and Mary was the first U.S. college to become a University (offering a graduate degree program in 1779). Nestled up against the restored historic district of Colonial Williamsburg, and just a short drive from Jamestown, the College enjoys a rich heritage and historic charm that is well appreciated by many students and their families.

Colonial Dude
It is always fun to walk around Colonial Williamsburg and interact with the costumed actors.

I first attended the College in the Fall of 1983, taking advantage of a full Army R.O.T.C. scholarship. After two years of playing wargames and frisbee (while attending only about 40% of my classes), the Army decided that my lackluster grades did not fill them with confidence that I would be fit, in spite of my oath, “to protect the Constitution of the United States against enemies, foreign or domestic.” In the summer of 1985 I was informed that the scholarship was no longer in effect, and so began a hiatus from school while I scrabbled to earn the money to return. Eventually I was required to pay back all the money they had spent on me, having been found in breach of contract as a result of my poor grades.

Computer lab at Tyler
Perhaps a little less time playing Star Trek in the computer lab … ?

After working for the Department of Agriculture for a year or so, it became evident that the best way for me to repay the money I owed while still earning enough to return to college was to join the Army as an enlisted man. At the time, the G.I. Bill and Army College Fund were generous enough for me to serve a three-year stint and ‘earn’ funds sufficient to finish school. My parents generously helped me to pay off my debt to the Army, and I signed up for a three-year enlistment as a Chaplain’s Assistant, which turned out to be just the thing I needed to grow up a little.

Where have all the frisby players gone?
Many a game of Ultimate Frisbee was played in these Sunken Gardens.

In 1989 I returned to the College of William and Mary as a sophomore (again). By this time Kathy had transferred in from a school near Richmond, and began attending Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) and Campus Crusade for Christ, where I quickly noticed her. We became acquainted during a Spring Break work project through IVCF and Habitat for Humanity, as we worked to build homes for people whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Friends for a quarter-century
Jodi and Alan and their delightful family

At the end of the week, I drove Kathy and her friend, Jodi, home from South Carolina, since all three of us needed to be back in Virginia a day earlier than the rest of the group. After we counseled Kathy’s friend on her love life (she met her future husband, Alan, during the same week-long trip) and Jodi fell into an exhausted slumber, Kathy and I talked and laughed the rest of the ride home. As we crossed the border between North Carolina and Virginia, I realized that I was beginning to fall in love with her.

Marty and Carolyn
It was great to breakfast with the Purks, who encouraged and mentored us both as individual followers of Jesus and as a couple, heading for marriage.

Kathy and I spent some very happy years in school together, and we greatly enjoyed the opportunity to renew our acquaintance with a few of the local landmarks.

Dog Street
Extending from the Wren building at the tip of campus through the historic district, Duke of Gloucester Street (aka Dog Street) serves as the preferred promenade for students and tourists alike.

Calling for air support
Kathy’s parents also attended William and Mary, as did my brother and his wife. Kathy enjoyed a quick chat with her Dad while waiting for the redcoats.

The new post office
Kathy waits for a package from home …

Kathy and I never really ‘dated’, per se, but moved quickly into an intimate friendship that avoided some of the games that people play as they try to gauge the heart of their beloved. While we served on the Habitat for Humanity work project, our Inter-Varsity leaders asked us to write 3×5 ‘care cards’ of encouragement to the other members on the team, a practice which was very effective in building us into a more cohesive team. Returning to campus after the project, Kathy and I kept the practice alive, although it soon devolved into a way for just the two of us to woo each other in words. Postage at the time for on-campus mail was free, and the kindly workers would distribute new mail in our boxes three or four times a day.

Waiting for mail
Silly Kathy, doesn’t she know the Campus Post Office has moved to the new Campus Center?

We wrote hundreds (maybe thousands) of cards to each other, three or four at a time, bundled into an envelope for privacy and posted through campus mail in the basement of the Old Dominion dormitory. We quickly attracted the mail handlers’ attention and became a mascot for those who approved of young lovers — our mail was always sorted and placed in our boxes with the utmost in efficiency and courtesy. We found reasons to pass by the post office three or four times a day, and were rarely disappointed, as we shared little 3×5 slices of our hearts in a variety of pastel colors.

One of the most romantic spots on campus was the little bridge over Crim Dell. As legend has it, kissing a date on this bridge results in a future marriage with that person — Kathy and I were careful to preserve the legend … on several occasions. :)

Crim Dell Beauty

Life in college isn’t all roses, as everyone knows. Sometimes classes were hard; paper and exam deadlines seemed to come pretty fast and furious at times. I remember on several occasions being rather stressed-out, especially the first year back at school after four years away. Once I met Kathy, though, I walked around campus with a sharp eye, watching for a smiling face that brightened even the worst of days.

In the stocks
Some of those professors get downright testy when you skip their classes.

Whenever our schedule permitted, we used to meet at the Sundial, which stood near the library at a crossroads of paths among some of the academic buildings on ‘new’ campus. There were many other semi-secret meeting spots whose names still bring a smile to my lips, including the Phoenix, the Hippopotamus Stapler, and Oliver.

Sweetie at the Sundial
I’d better not leave this cute girl waiting long, or she’ll be snapped up.

Looking back over the years, I’m filled with a sense of tremendous gratitude for God’s sovereign hand and His love and kindness for us both. In spite of the squandering of my scholarship, God gave me a second chance at college, and threw in true love with Kathy, just because He can. Whenever I feel that I’m going through a hard stretch in life, and it seems God has abandoned me, I remember what good things He has given me, when my life seemed dark and grim — it helps me to hold on and wait for His goodness and grace.


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The Newlywed Game

When Kathy and I were first married, we joined a Sunday School class for young married couples at the church we attended. The church was in the southwest corner of Connecticut, and many of the couples were as feisty and outspoken as you might expect, in the shadow of New York City.

I remember one of our gatherings in which we decided to play a homemade version of the Newlywed Game. “This will be fun,” we said, “what a great way to get to know everyone and poke a little fun at ourselves at the same time.”

Har, har, har.

Unfortunately, the game proved a little too volatile for our competitive group, and some of the players actually became angry with their spouses over answers. “I still can’t believe you didn’t know the name of my third grade teacher,” I might have snarled at Kathy.

After months of practice with cue cards (and still getting the answers wrong), Kathy and I decided that starting this game had been a serious mistake. “It’s just playing with fire,” we agreed, soberly. To this day we warn other young couples to stay far away from the Newlywed Game, “If you value your marriage,” we tell them in hushed tones.

Therefore, you can imagine our “delight” when we were selected to play the Newlywed Game this evening at the Church Staff/Elder Retreat we’re attending. We were the ‘middle’ couple, competing with a husband/wife pair who were married about a month ago, and with another couple who have been married 49 years. No doubt we looked like easy targets, or at least good for a few laughs.

After all these years, who knew the Newlywed Game would return to haunt us.

Thankfully the questions were a good mix of easy and difficult, and we actually had a lot of fun playing. The audience got some good laughs, and we were only defeated by a single point, which I thought was a pretty good showing. We went out into the hallway after the game to muffle any recriminations: “My third grade teacher’s name was Ms. Pollack, for crying out loud!”

After the game ended, the pastor announced he was offering discounted marital counseling to all contestants, which I thought was extremely helpful. I wonder if the 2 to 2:30 pm block is still open.

Kathy left her camera download cable at home, so the blog will be picture-less for the time being (gasp). Nonetheless, it looks to be a fun couple of days. My folks graciously agreed to stay with the kids while we are gone, so I’m sure the house will be hopping in our absence.


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WFMW–Love & Respect


Once upon a time … happily ever after.

What happened during the span of those three little dots?

More importantly, HOW do you get your hands on some of that happily ever after fairy dust?

I have no idea.

introducing the bride and groom

The beginning of our happily ever after.

But, as this is a Works for Me Wednesday, I’m here for you all. Let’s talk about marriage.

This past month our church home fellowship group completed a DVD study on Love and Respect. I shared just a bit about it in an earlier post but didn’t thoroughly review the material.

Our church purchased the Small Group DVD set featuring 5 DVDS (the seven hour Love & Respect Conference on DVD) and 10 Small Group Discussion Guides.

This conference is amazing! Drop whatever you are doing and head out to get a copy of the series. Go the website and see if there is a conference coming to your area. Don’t delay! Don’t waste time reading other boring marriage books. Get some friends together and go in one the cost of the dvd set. Beg your church staff to buy it. Hound the library and get funding for the DVDs.

The lessons were challenging, motivating, and insightful. Dr. Eggerichs is a compelling and animated speaker. He has a passion for helping people in their marriage and the unique ability to understand the needs of both women and men. Tim and I would both say that out of all the marriage resources we’ve studied, this course has had the most impact in relating to each other in godliness.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I liked this course just a bit. :)

When we first began the course, we handed this Marriage Questionnaire out to all the couples in our group. We encouraged them to answer as honestly as possible. We didn’t share the responses, they were sealed in an envelope and put aside.

I’ve been working on this blog for several weeks — mainly setting it aside. My plan was to write a Works for Me Wednesday post on 3 ways you can show respect to your husband. Doesn’t that sound great. I’d love to read something like that. In fact, why doesn’t someone else post on marriage and I’ll visit YOUR blog.

Hmmm, that’s the problem. When it comes down to actually writing on this topic, I feel incredibly inadequate and unqualified. No matter how I hard I try and how much I study, I continue to struggle in this area. Nonetheless, my husband is relentless and won’t let me pick another WFMW topic. Either he thinks I have some wisdom to share or he hopes I’ll learn something in the writing. Ha!

It's been a long time since we wore watches

Of course, you can always try to arm wrestle your way into a happy marriage.

The key verse for Eggerichs’ material is found in Ephesians 5:33:

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

The husband is to love his wife and the wife respect her husband. It’s not a choice. It’s not conditional on merit or worth but by obedience to the Lord. Eggerichs says when people are not fulfilling these commands in their marriage, they step onto the crazy cycle. Husband acts unloving and Wife responds by being disrespectful. Or Wifey Poo acts disrespectful and Darling Husband reacts by being unloving.

Love and Respect – simple, yet powerful words.

Most of the wives in our group had a difficult time understanding how respect could be that important. Not a good sign for the poor husbands. The men would nod vigorously during the DVD while the women would look puzzled and mumble something like, “Really? Respect? Maybe if he was (insert virtue) I could respect him. Mumble. Mumble.”

One of the foundational principles of Love and Respect, is that a wife owes her husband unconditional respect in the same way that a husband owes his wife unconditional love.

I’ve been brainstorming the last few weeks, trying to come up with 3 concrete ways a wife could show respect to her husband. The fact that it’s taking me so long is an indicator of the difficulty of this issue and the challenge we women face.

I finally came up with 3 concrete ideas. God bless you if you’re still here after that “short” intro.

Works for Me Wednesday – Respecting Your Husband

  1. Say “Thank You” — be creative. It doesn’t have to be expressed verbally. Slip a note in his lunch box. Leave a Post-It on the dashboard of his car. Have the children write cards and mail them to his place of business or put them on his favorite chair at home. Give him a special plate for dinner. Include treats in his lunch, something that says “you are special”. For my husband that means cashews and Nutella. Nothing makes him feel loved like some chocolate hazelnut.

    lunch anyone?

    Tim’s lunch bag and back-up lunch box in case one isn’t enough.

    Thank him for sacrificing for the family.
    Thank him for getting up and going off to work.
    Thank him for being a hard worker and provider.
    Thank him for taking out the trash or caring for the automobiles.
    Thank him for helping out with the kids, dishes, lawn work, bills.
    Thank him for doing the disgusting jobs that no one else wants to do (in our house that means overflowing toilets, cleaning up after sick kids and squishing spiders).

    Find an area where you can sincerely thank him, don’t use this as a manipulative tool to thank him for the things he doesn’t do in hopes he will change. Think of something you respect about him (his ambition, discipline, driving skills, fill-in-the-blank) and TELL HIM.

  2. Is it YOUR special day?

  3. Listening Ear or Problem Solver — which one do you want? Identifying this and being clear about it, is a HUGE sign of respect in my marriage. If I can let Tim know before we begin a discussion or conversation that I simply want a listening ear, it impacts our entire day.

    Tim has shared with me repeatedly (and one of these days I’ll actually get it) that he feels disrespected when I share a problem or difficult situation with him and then don’t heed his advice. If I tell him ahead of time that I just need to talk, he is able to set aside his incredible Problem Solving Super Powers and enjoy the conversation.

  4. No Interruptions — this tip is primarily for moms. I know you can multi-task with the best of them. Talk about Super Powers. Believe me, I’m sure, that most of you are able to make dinner, write out a grocery list, talk to your husband and answer questions about homework at the same time.

    I have found, however, that this is an incredible source of frustration for my sweet husband. If at all possible (barring emergencies), try to minimize distractions and interruptions while conversing with your man. Train your children to use the interrupt rule.

    Be honest with yourself, if you know this isn’t going to be a good time for a lengthy conversation — Don’t Start One. The sad fact is, most husbands don’t really want to talk. They are already giving of themselves (their time and energy) and when you turn your attention elsewhere in the middle of a conversation, it sends them the message that their offering is worth nothing to you.

too tired to interrupt

How long before I can interrupt?

Please hear my heart on this subject, I am in a constant battle against my lazy, sinful nature. I long for a godly, passionate marriage but more often I want to put myself first and have things “my way.” I am not an expert. I fail all the time in respecting and honoring my husband.

I’m trying, though, and these are a few areas that bless my husband.


Head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for further Works for Me Wednesday links.

Some other Duckabush WFMW Posts

Devotional Books for Little Ones
Homeschooling Faves
Laundry Organizer
Giant Whiteboard
Travel Outfits

Join us for our Tuesday Tips for Parenting

Calling Your Child
Creative Use for the Timer
First Time Obedience
Sermon Notes
Thorough Job
Paper Dolls

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Hubcaps To Go

On the way up to her brother’s wedding in upstate Michigan, Kathy snapped this picture, and showed it to me. Apparently it was designed to attract drive-by customers to an enterprising junk yard on some rural highway. For some reason I thought it was very funny … I imagined a drive-thru window with a gum-chewing attendant:

“Welcome-to-Hubcaps-to-Go-how-may-I-help-you?” asks the attendant in a bored monotone.

“Yeah, I’d like … three hubcaps for a 2003 Subaru Outback and a side order of hubcap protectors, please.”

Roadside entrepreneurial spirit
The Entrepreneurial Spirit, alive and well in the MidWest.

“Do you want chrome with that? Super Size?”

“No, thank you.”

“That’ll be $79.84, including tax. Please drive forward to the second window.”

What other kind of hubcaps are there? Are there a kind that you can consume on the premises? Or perhaps there is a program where people can sponsor hubcaps for needy children overseas? Burning questions, all.

Switching subjects, now. There is something very fun about other people’s weddings – or at least there is if you enjoy being married yourself. Kathy and I were talking about our own wedding some 15 years ago, and she mentioned how glad she was that we didn’t have to start over (and ‘all that’ to deal with again.) “Fifteen years of fighting,” she mused.

“Fifteen years of fighting?” I wondered to whom she had been married, all those years, and why he was such a jerk? I don’t remember more than two or three fights a year, which hardly translates to fifteen years of fighting. Mostly we have disagreed about four things: finances, parenting, why Tim doesn’t clean the garage on Saturdays, and whose turn it is to get up and change that late-night diaper. Figure an average of about six hours per argument, conservatively figuring four fights a year, that only adds up to a little over two weeks of conflict over fifteen years. Mind you, that’s a lot by some standards, but … I guess we see things a little differently. I asked her about it, and she wailed, mockingly: “That’s because you weren’t THERE all those years!” She’s a hoot, really.

Kathy read this draft (one of the nice things about WordPress is that she can see what I’m writing, even when we are separated by thousands of miles) and insisted I clarify, so I will. What she probably meant is that she was glad we didn’t have to start all over again, going through some of those difficult issues and learning some of those lessons we all have to learn. But I think my take on it is more amusing.

In all seriousness, one of the delights of our marriage is that we don’t fight much at all, and when we do, we fight fairly. We avoid the use of words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ and we don’t raise our voices or throw things or stomp out, slamming doors. Kathy’s Nana and the scripture agree: “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.” Many times we have wrangled late into the night following that principle — it is interesting to see how unimportant some conflicts become when your night’s sleep is at stake and you have to get up for work in a few hours.

We recently had occasion to think about how much we had been apart over the years – I’ve been blessed with a job that doesn’t require me to travel much at all. We figure we’ve not been apart for more than two weeks, and only once or twice at that, when Kathy has gone to visit one or the other of our parents and I didn’t have enough vacation time to go with her. We just plain like to be together – we didn’t get married so that we could lead separate lives, after all. Of course, Kathy would probably say that we just like being together to fight, all those fifteen years. But I’m not bitter. Really. :)

Oh, since this was a picture taken on Thursday, it counts for Project 365.

Project 365, Day 172

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Marriage Questionnaire

This is the marriage letter we handed out to each person in our small group this evening. Along with the questionnaire, they all received a business size envelope. The instructions were to fill out the letter, put it in the envelope with your name on the front, and seal up the envelope.

I believe that God cares deeply about our marriages and that He alone has the ability to change people and relationships. I think the marriage dvd series we are beginning next week is going to be a powerful one. I can’t wait to see how God is going to work in our marriages through the study!

We wanted the group to get a little snapshot of their marriage as it is now–hence the letters. We’ll open up the envelopes and look at our responses in six months or so.

Now to pray sincerely and fervently for the marriages in our small group!!!

Marriage Questionnaire

1. How would you rate your marriage on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest)?

Give a brief explanation for your rating.

2. List 4 ways you would like to improve as a wife/husband.

  • a.
  • b.
  • c.
  • d.

3. List 4 things you would like to see your husband/wife change or improve.

  • a.
  • b.
  • c.
  • d.

4. For the wives: Do you respect your husband?
Does he feel respected by you?
Do you feel loved by your husband?

For the husbands: Do you love your wife?
Does your wife feel loved by you?
Do you feel respected by your wife?

Love Languages:
Physical Touch
Quality Time
Acts of Service
Words of Affirmation

5. Do you know your love language? What is it?

6. Do you know your spouse’s love language? What is it?

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