Roses and Sit-ups

Somewhere between mincing onions and stirring rich yellow curry sauce, it happened. Hurtful words sliced deep. A quiet heart in a bustling room, tears held back. After supper, I grabbed my shoes and jacket, slipping out the door to the night.

The dark enveloped me. A rural sleep, so silent compared to my suburban home, muffled my steps. “Why, Lord?” Moonlight touched dark houses.

Sometimes marriage is romance and roses. Other times it seems more like situps and running the hard laps. Breathe, keep going, breathe, you can do it, breathe, this is worth it, breathe, the hard work pays off, breathe, this will be beautiful afterward.

In the pre-marital counseling sessions we do with young couples before they get married, we talk honestly about the great days of marriage and the hard days of marriage. We share that love is a choice, a commitment, and that in the hard moments when we may not even feel like we “like” each other, we need to race to God, ask him to soften our hearts, humble ourselves, and then choose to find the good, loving anew, having the hard talks.

I am passionate about strong marriages. I am in love with my man, and am so proud of him. He is a great youth pastor, wonderful dad, tender husband.

Walking under that night sky, I talked with and listened to God. “This is obedience to you,” I said. “This is to make me more like you, right?” Too often I fall into focusing on what makes me feel loved, rather than on what shows love to my Creator (first), and then on what makes my husband feel loved.

Breathing deeply, inhaling the chilled night air, I grabbed the door handle. We made eye contact, and my heart softened. We cuddled into each other. Later we talked humbly in our dark room, apologizing, revealing, committing to look for ways to serve, build up and love each other.

The romance and roses returned, and the hard work paid off.

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  1. Jennifer Dougan on January 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I am the first to confess… often the hurtful words are from my mouth, sadly.


  2. Elizabeth on January 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    thanks for this honest post, Jen 🙂 By the way, I so enjoyed seeing you/hanging out a week ago! 🙂

  3. Jennifer Dougan on January 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I really enjoyed seeing you and talking with you last week too. It's always odder over a loud table with lots of people, but it was nice to catch up and hear what's on your brain.


  4. Shanda on January 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Thank you for your honesty and example of submission.

  5. Stacy @ Heartprints of God on January 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Your post reminded me of an excellent book by Gary Thomas, "Sacred Marriage". The hold idea behind this book is that God's purpose in and through marriage is to make us Holy. If we allow Him, God can use it all for our good and His glory.

    Thank you for sharing your heart and passing on such timely words of wisdom.

  6. Renee on January 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Your blog is such an encouraging resource for young marrieds! I enjoy how you write. Thanks for visiting me at Doorkeeper. Blessings!

  7. Zoe on January 10, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Hey there Jennifer,
    Thanks for your post today on my blog. In all honesty, I started this cleaning & organizing jag last year, but I'm sure Glynnis could offer me lots of wisdom. She's one precious soul and one of the most organized girls I know.
    My new web/site launches mid February and I hope you'll continue to post on the current site and will offer me feedback on the new site.
    P.S. I'm going to be giving away a FABULOUS gift pack when we launch.

  8. Carol on January 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    God does work through marriage to refine us. I appreciate your honest reflection. Great post!

  9. jody on January 11, 2012 at 1:43 am

    That was good curry! Glad you worked it out!:)

  10. Jennifer Dougan on January 11, 2012 at 3:30 am


    Thank you. I enjoyed linking up with you today.


  11. Jennifer Dougan on January 11, 2012 at 3:33 am


    I have heard great things about that book and will have to check it out. Thank you for stopping by too.


  12. Jennifer Dougan on January 11, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Hi Renee,

    Thank you! I am so glad you found encouragement here. Thanks also for your series on new year's resolutions.

    Take care,

  13. Jennifer Dougan on January 11, 2012 at 3:41 am


    Nice to hear from you. I look forward to seeing your new site. 🙂


  14. Jennifer Dougan on January 11, 2012 at 3:43 am

    Thanks, Carol. Yes, I agree. Did you see Stacy's great book idea on God using marriage to refine us? I have heard great things about that book.


  15. Jennifer Dougan on January 11, 2012 at 3:45 am

    Thanks, Jody.

  16. Unknown on January 11, 2012 at 4:09 am

    Indeed marriage is hard work that some days stinks instead of smelling like roses. When I press through our difficulties, I press closer to the heart of God. The reward is double!

  17. Jennifer Dougan on January 11, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Hi Shannon,

    "Pressing closer to the heart of God" –good stuff. 🙂


  18. LOLITA on July 10, 2012 at 5:39 am


    Thank God that He fills words into our head and heart, for if it flows out like this, and penned down, others like me who came in late, could still have a slice and partake of it.

    This is so much the "hurting that slices." When one tried so hard all day to keep up under low reserves of energy (coupled with having been on maintenance)… then making funny points got a jab back on your face. It hurts because he was not the only one who was tired.

    Thank you, Jen. I will go back for more.

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