Dear Dave + April....A Tuesday Series.

We are answering a few questions from some sweet readers today... {if you are new to this series, Dave and I are sharing how we are enriching our marriage on a weekly basis. want the full story...click on the link to our series on the sidebar.}

Question #1: Are you and Dave using any books in your marriage workshopping (for lack of a better term)?

Question #2: What would you say is the most important aspect of 'saving' your marriage?

Dear Questions #1 and #2,

We are not using any specific books in particular. We are participating in a Marriage and Family Enrichment class at our church where a handbook is used. With each topic they have provided an inspired talk on that topic from a church leader. We are LDS. What we are relying very heavily on right now is good solid counselling tools we received about 12 years ago. If you feel your marriage might be in trouble and you haven't been to any marriage counselling, I would highly recommend it. They teach you tools and get you communicating respectfully. At least ours did. BUT...those first few sessions were rough. I think we fought more between sessions 1 and 4 than our whole marriage. But by session 5 we really started making some major breakthroughs! That was 12 years ago, after Dave had been serving a year remote tour in Korea for the Air Force, while I stayed home as a single mom to a baby in her first year of life.

The very most important aspect this go around and what it came down to was that we BOTH really wanted a change for the better. I can't even put into writing how easy that was to commit to, but how hard making those changes really were. It took a lot of humbling on both parts. A lot of truly admitting wrongs and sincere sorrys, but it also took the other person accepting the sorry without harping and re-hashing it. I think Dave would agree that we are probably the strongest couple we have ever been in our relationship at this point. There is a deeper love that is growing out of respect and it feels so good, so safe and so loving. Like what I always thought it would be. Honestly, at one point I thought we would never get to that 'dream place'. Honestly the only way a marriage will really see any change is by both of you committing 100% to making changes and then being patient when the other one slips up from time to time while changing those habits. We were very forgiving to each other those first few weeks while we changed bad habits and we continue to offer that forgiveness quickly so we can keep talking instead of starting to fight.

Love, April

Question #3: How do you respond in love to your mate when he/she spews hurtful, hateful words to you?

Dear Question #3 {asked to Dave},

I think we have all been guilty of taking our anger or frustration out on our spouse via hurtful/hateful words. I'm actually the one more guilty of this in my marriage. It is my defense mechanism, but it is wrong. When I think back on when April and I were first dating and married I would have never imagined wanting to hurt her feelings. Nor did she ever want to hurt mine. We wanted to protect each other and make each other feel loved. To respond in love when your spouse is trying to be hurtful as a defense or to just be hurtful takes a lot of self control. I think the best way to respond is to have some sort of a code word that calls the other person on their action that helps them be aware that they are being hurtful. We use 'that wasn't fair' to gently remind the other person that we're about to take 10 steps back if we go that route.

The key to this working though is to have both on board. Committed 100% to wanting to change that behavior and having that conversation when things are good...not in the middle of a blow-up. Trying to change a behavior when you are in a middle of a blow-up only causes a bigger blow-up, at least for me. That is the last thing I want to hear when I'm already mad. I don't want to be fixed....even though I know that is what needs to happen. We have been most successful when we have decided beforehand how we will handle a situation when we have hurt the feelings of the one we love most. It all comes down to communicating openly and being honest with yourself and stopping behavior that is hurting your spouse.

I'm not sure I really answered how to 'respond in love' to your question. I think at that point saying nothing is better than saying something. But having that code word that alerts your partner to your hurt feelings and then giving them time to calm down is really key.


We have entered a stressful time in our lives again...spring to summer in the construction industry. Work is picking up and we are both feeling like we don't have the time we want to give to each other. We are making a priority still of little dates, hand holding and trying to keep business hours that don't interfere into our evening time. When we fail and have to work late, our tempers seem to be short, but we just take a deep breath and practice patience and show respect. What a difference from last year!!

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