I grew up in a religious community that focused a lot on marriage and family. My parents were married and had six kids. Many of our neighbors were married with children. I looked forward to having a family of my own, but as I grew into my teen years I gradually began to realize that there was a lot of marital pain and divorce going on in the world around me. Not only did I notice it in a few of the families in my neighborhood, several times I heard that 50% of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. SCARY!!!
Understandably, I was very careful to date guys of good character who shared my beliefs and values. I prayerfully looked for a man who would be a good match for me – someone I really liked spending my time with, and who also cared about the things that I felt were important. I wanted to be absolutely sure I had God’s blessing on my marriage.
Meeting, Dating, and Marrying My Husband
I met my husband at church and we soon began dating. I was immediately drawn to his character and his intelligence as well as his love of reading, physical work, and the outdoors. We dated regularly for several months and thoroughly enjoyed each other. After spending a lot of time together and a lot of time in prayer, we decided to get married.
Dreams and Realities
Marrying my husband meant moving from a university town filled with people whose focus was academic, intellectual, and high-tech to a rural area of Southwest Colorado where the main focus was farming, gardening, canning, manual labor, and all kinds of outside work. I had always wanted to be a “country girl” like my grandmother and my mother. They had both grown up working in the garden, canning produce, and doing a variety of outside work. Finally I would have a chance to live my country girl dream.
Unfortunately, my dream and my reality didn’t exactly match up. Instead of happily singing while I cooked, cleaned, canned, and worked in the garden, I constantly felt frustrated. I didn’t have as many useful skills as I thought I did, and developing them was harder than I expected. I found that I not only lacked a green thumb, I actually had a black thumb! Nothing seemed to grow for me.
To make matters worse, the first year I was in Colorado our area was hit with a severe drought. No novice “country girl” could survive long in that beating sun with no water either in the well or falling from the sky,, and with raging winds that often produced dust-cloud walls stretching from the ground to the sky. Besides the disappointment of realizing I wasn’t cut out to be your typical country girl, it also became clear to me that my husband and I had many more differences than we had ever imagined.
He is the fastest and hardest working man I’ve ever met. He is laser-focused, productive, and efficient. I, on the other hand, have never been accused of being fast at anything. I’m a hard worker, but not usually a fast worker. I’m very drawn to people, and I missed being in a college environment where I was always learning new things and interacting with others.
Furthermore, my father worked at a university so our family had a predictable schedule and a regular paycheck. My husband is self-employed, so that meant I had to learn to deal with an unpredictable schedule and an irregular income. Moving to Colorado also meant leaving my family and living close to all of my in-laws. Needless to say, I experienced significant culture shock!
Dealing with Differences
So now we have two good people who are surprised to find that they have very little in common, both disappointed because things aren’t working out the way they had expected. Though we had a vision of building a wonderful home and family together, each of us felt frustrated and unsatisfied with our relationship.
Despite our many challenges, we did the best we could. We shared some times of fun and fulfillment, but we simply didn’t have the skills we needed to create an enjoyable marriage that nurtured us on a daily basis.
As time went on, we became more and more distant. We were often overwhelmed with work and the day-to-day demands of self-employment. When we had our first daughter, we learned a new depth of meaning for the word fatigue. We had more and more misunderstandings, and we got to where we both felt overworked, underappreciated, and generally unloved. It was not a happy time in our marriage! Still, we muddled along, both wanting things to be different, but not knowing how to make any meaningful changes.
Making Positive Changes
Finally one day we sat down and had a serious talk about our marriage. Even though we weren’t happy, we were committed to each other and to our little daughter. We agreed that we would get along much better if were more careful with our words, so we decided to do our best not to criticize each other. We also decided we would have a weekly meeting for planning, catching up, and addressing any issues that needed attention. Both of these things helped tremendously, and within a few months, we were beginning to feel like friends again.
Over the next few years we did okay, but we still weren’t as close and as happy as I believed we could be. Finally I decided to dedicate some focused time and energy on our marriage. I read several marriage books, took lots of notes, and began to experiment to see if I could figure out what would really help us feel connected on a day-to-day basis.
I was amazed to see how quickly my experimenting paid off. Within a week we were spending more time together and enjoying each other more. After only a couple of months, I began to feel like we were living our version of “happily ever after.”
Starting to Help Others Make Positive Changes in Their Marriages
While I mostly kept what I was doing to myself, I would occasionally share a fun experience with my mother or one of my close friends. One day my mom called and asked if I might have some suggestions for one of her friends who was struggling with her marriage. I immediately sent her friend my notes from the marriage books, and I also sent her an email explaining how I had experimented to see what would best connect my husband and me. After offering a few more suggestions, I encouraged her to open her heart to God and I wished her the best.
My mom’s friend immediately dove into the impromptu program I outlined for her, and the following week I got another phone call. This time my mom reported that her friend’s heart had been totally transformed, and that her connection with her husband felt amazingly better. Since then, her friend has called me several times to thank me, and to share some of the wonderful changes that are continuing to happen in her marriage relationship.
Offering Books and Programs
Over time, I wrote Bridging the Gap and started offering the 30-Day Program “Rejuvenate Your Marriage in One Month or Less” and the 3-Month Program “Revive Your Marriage in 3 Months”. I’ve had the opportunity to share my ideas and tools with other women. (Husbands are always welcome, but I find that women are usually the ones who engage in my programs.) Those people who engage with me and apply the tools have been delighted with the improvement in their marriages
If you have any questions about my book or programs and if they are right for you, please contact me. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
May Bridging the Gap and its companion programs help you create your own “happily ever after.”