How a Singing Surgeon Shapes my Marriage

Guitar chords squeak slightly as musician Chris Tomlin sings. Sips of creamy hot coffee slide smoothly down, warming a Minnesota January.

We have been craving worship these days, my man and I. Clicking through praise songs on Youtube like addicts in rehab, desperate, hungry.

Worship seems to be both the mirror and the balm. Words that speak of God’s greatness mirror my own junk back to me, flashing light into my dark corners where I need the Healer to step in with scalpel and precision. After painstaking cuts, balm is needed… and applied.

Seven weeks of intense focus on our marriage, seven weeks of choosing to invest anew and to build an even more vibrant marriage. Seven weeks of taking introspective looks at the areas God needs to fix and build in us. Seven weeks of cuddling on the couch, frequent texts, whispered midnight talks in the dark, intentional dates of sushi and read-aloud books, and fierce hugs.

Dr. Willard Harley, well-known counselor and author, recommends couples spend fifteen hours a week in undivided attention with each other, and even simplifies the requirement with at least one hour of undivided attention a day, preferably more.

Wanting to continually strengthen our marriage, Mark and I are striving for this in 2013, carving time out of work, family, ministry, and homeschooling. Our teens roll their eyes or smile softly when they see us smooching in the kitchen, or hiding away from the world more often now, but we grin, text more, and see the results.

Join us this 2013? Take the one-hour-a-day challenge with us.

Start first with standing honestly before your God (and then your spouse), asking the Surgeon to perform surgery in your life, your heart, your mind. Then confess, apologize, and move forward  in gentle humility. It won’t be easy or fun, but it is worth it.

Don’t forget frequent doses of worship, as mirror and balm.

Sorry for my delay in posting this week, friends. My words have been fewer this season, but I am glad to have you here. God is a gentle, healing Surgeon. 

Linking with Emily. 

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  1. Cheryl Barker on January 10, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Jennifer, I like what you said about worship being both a mirror and a balm — so very true. All the best as you and your hubby spend time focusing on your relationship this year!

  2. Jennifer Dougan on January 10, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Thank you, Cheryl. You too!


  3. Linda on January 10, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    It is so nice to meet you Jennifer. Thank you for visiting.
    What a wise, wonderful investment you and your husband have made. Time spent together strengthens that precious bond. It was so good to read your words.

  4. Unknown on January 11, 2013 at 12:10 am

    This was god for me to read today. I will take the 2013 challenge! My husband will be thrilled, as I think he feels he is often competing for my attention. I daresay, I'm a little excited to re-kindle that closeness!

  5. Linda M on January 11, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Jen and Mark,
    With Clint in school 3 nights a week it is hard to spend 10 minutes those days with each other. We are going to a marriage retreat in Feb and hope to learn some ways to connect w/o being with each other (notes, emails…). We have been a royal embarrassment to our girls for four years now. Secretly we all love it and wouldn't have it any other way! Keep on keeping on!

  6. on January 11, 2013 at 12:27 am

    What a worthy dose of grace and beauty! Thank you for this. I'm taking this prompt to heart. Even though I deeply love my man and he me, we need to do better about taking care of our marriage. Christmas nearly wiped us both out! We need a get-away. At least an hour, right?!


  7. Kati Woronka on January 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

    This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately – the importance of time together, especially of touch, for healthy relationship. I'm single so it's all theoretical for me, but anyway, it makes sense 🙂

  8. Jayne on January 11, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    My Man and I are in much need of healing. We have been much, especially over the past few years. Healing takes time and work and prayer. God is good in hls grace to us. Praise be to Him.

  9. Pratibha on January 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    this was so so beautiful ..
    And so true 🙂

    Love all the gestures you mention and always hope i never run out of such love moments !

  10. Unknown on January 13, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I was just at a conference for a week – the longest I have been away from house and family in my 13 year marriage.
    Since I've been home, I feel like I've been following my husband around, sniffing him, touching him. When we see each other every day, you begin to take for granted the gift from God that is our marriage. I love this idea!

  11. Jennifer Dougan on January 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Linda M,

    Wow, yes, I bet juggling his schooling and work and life can be crazy. Good for you guys for looking for ways to build intimacy through that anyway. 🙂 Keep embarrassing those girls 😉 I'm so proud of you guys too.

    Thanks for chiming in today,

  12. Jennifer Dougan on January 13, 2013 at 9:04 pm


    I'm glad you stopped by. Those investments into our marriages are so worth it, huh?


  13. Jennifer Dougan on January 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm


    Yay! I'm thrilled you are taking the one hour a day challenge with us. You won't regret it. How have the last three days gone? It can be hard to get into the groove, but each time together (no matter the length) is so worth it.

    Have a great week! Praying joy for you and your man today,


  14. Jennifer Dougan on January 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm


    Holidays can leave families weary sometimes. Good job for choosing to take a break now afterwards. May you and your man have a lovely hour away today. 🙂


  15. Jennifer Dougan on January 13, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Hi Kati,

    Time together, physical touch, you're right, it's all so vital. Both for single and married people actually– it just looks differently of course.

    I'm glad you stopped by,

  16. Jennifer Dougan on January 13, 2013 at 9:22 pm


    Thanks for jumping in here and for your raw honesty.Oh, I respect that. I hear you. Any relationship is a lot of work sometimes, and needs periods of healing. I am so heartened and encouraged by our Healing God for his gentle touch, patient heart, and amazing rejuvenating skills. Hang in there, he can do it.

    Praying for you and your man right now,

  17. Jennifer Dougan on January 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm


    Thank you. May you and your man have fabulous moments of sneaking away together this week too. Thanks for joining the conversation today.


  18. Jennifer Dougan on January 13, 2013 at 9:29 pm


    Tell me more about this conference! 🙂

    Oh, my man and I are saps too and hate being away from each other for periods of time. We miss each other quickly.

    Sniffing him? I love it, and can relate. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by.


  19. Mommy Emily on January 16, 2013 at 3:42 am

    i LOVE this friend. love that you are working hard to keep your marriage not only alive, but vibrant.

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