How to Make Marriage Beautiful

I have been deeply thankful for the gift of marriage in my own life–and also deeply challenged by it, as well. If you’ve walked with me for very long, you know that I have a lot to say (and write!) about marriage. This is why I am so thankful to have the privilege of interviewing a fellow author, Dorothy Greco, in this space! I was able to get an advance copy of her recent book release, Making Marriage Beautiful, and it is a thoughtful, balanced, helpful book about the ins and outs of marriage–and how to navigate the ups and downs from a healthy, Biblical, hopeful perspective. I definitely recommend it!

I’m grateful to welcome Dorothy to my blog!

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Ann: Dorothy, why did you write this book?

Dorothy: Everyone who says “I do!” wants a great marriage. I truly believe that this book will help husbands and wives achieve that goal. There’s no such thing as too much support or encouragement when you’re married. We all know, creating and sustaining a great marriage requires time, intentionality, and sacrifice. After doing more than twenty years of pastoral care and being married for twenty-five years, it was obvious to me that married couples are hungry for help, hope, and wisdom. I addressed these needs as I wrote Making Marriage Beautiful.

To clarify: I did not write this book because we have a perfect marriage or because I am a marriage expert. I wrote the book because my husband and I needed it. Due to some circumstances beyond our control, life got very difficult four years ago. As we struggled to love each other, I started thinking about what differentiates a joyful, dynamic marriage from a frustrating, unhappy one. Ideas started flowing and I broached the topic with Christopher. It would have been awesome to write the book together but he works two jobs and is finishing his graduate degree so that was not going to happen. Instead, I brought his voice in for most chapters.

Ann: So, how is your book different from other marriage books out there?

Dorothy: I’m so glad you asked this question! Making Marriage Beautiful is truly unlike many other marriage books. First, it’s written by a woman to both men and women. This is almost unheard of. Adding Christopher’s words and the eight other husbands ensures that men are well represented. Second, the book contains very vulnerable, real-life stories. Most authors who write about marriage tend not to be as honest as Christopher and I chose to be. I think readers will easily engage and trust me because I’m choosing to trust them. Finally, I refuse to depend upon cliches or formulas. There’s no chapter titled, Ten Steps to a Perfect Marriage! Marriage and transformation is a process and my goal in writing this book is to help men and women navigate that process well. For the long haul.

Ann: What hopes do you have for the book?

Dorothy: I believe that the healthy marriages are important for so many other aspects of life: raising children, stabilizing communities, helping us to mature, etc. Though the divorce rates continues to drop (contrary to cultural narratives that tend to decry the ever-rising divorce rate), many of us struggle to deeply, consistently enjoy our marriages. It might be hubris, or it might be faith, but I hope that this books helps couples all over the globe who are hungry for guidance, encouragement, and hope.

Ann: One last question, Dorothy. Why, in your opinion, should couples keep working on marriage when it’s so hard at times?

Dorothy: Indeed, marriage is hard work. It’s the most difficult, and the most rewarding endeavor that I have ever embarked upon. When things get hard, and especially if they stay hard, most of us find it easier to give up, resign ourselves to a mediocre marriage, or in some cases, to sever all ties and hit the restart button. Any of these choices are understandable (and in the case of abuse, it may be advisable to separate or divorce). However, choosing to stay and work gives God an opportunity to change us. To help us mature. As this happens, we learn how to love more fully and truly, and this is a beautiful and profound thing. When we learn how to love others, perhaps especially when they are difficult, it allows us to become more like Christ.

Please do yourself–and your marriage–a favor and pick up a copy of Making Marriage Beautiful, available now everywhere!

The Power of Mini Marriage Retreats

Mini Marriage Retreats--how to make them happen even if you don't have much time or money!

Michael and I had a great rhythm of consistent date nights and quarterly marriage retreats (read: weekends away) prior to having our daughter. Now (ahem), while the date nights still happen every week, the quarterly marriage retreats have kind of fallen off the map. And we’ve realized, afresh, why they are so important to our relationship. Time away together gets us out of the normal rhythms of our lives, which, while helpful, can also lead to ruts of communication and connection. When we are in a new city, eating new food, seeing new sights–that’s when we find out new things about one another and, often, new conversations and dreams bubble up between us.

Getting away together doesn’t need to be fancy, expensive, or exotic. It just needs to happen. Here are the hows and whys for getting away with your spouse–in a meaningful way.

Getting away together doesn't need to be fancy, expensive, or exotic. It just needs to happen. Click To Tweet

1. Aim for easy, not exotic. Now, don’t get me wrong–I would looooove to head to Hawaii for a weekend away. But we live in the Chicago area, and we have neither the time nor the money to go to Hawaii regularly (or, actually, ever). So we explore the surrounding suburbs–the towns 20 minutes away–and walk through their shops and try new restaurants. When we haven’t had the money, we drive back to stay in our own home overnight.

2. Make time for intentional connection. Time away together is wonderful–but it won’t accomplish much if we’re still focused on work or tied to our phones. Make sure that you engage in meaningful conversation–buy a book that opens up new conversations, or start reading a marriage book together (this one is our favorite!). And make sure to spend time meaningfully connecting back at the hotel, too! :)

3. Try something new. New experiences spark new connections–and are part of the reason why getting away really matters. So, along with trying a new restaurant, do something fun–and new–together. A chocolate tasting night, a boat tour, go-karting, an opera–with an open mind and some creativity, even small towns offer opportunities for newness together!

If we are willing to invest our time and money in our spouse, our marriages will only be strengthened. It doesn’t have to be expensive or long, but time away to refresh an renew as a couple is important for any marriage. And of course, if you can afford to get away to Hawaii, please–go for it!

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Related post: Three Ways to Make Your Marriage Better