What the Engagement Books Never Tell You

Our words hung in the air, awkward and heavy. With anger and hurt on both sides, there was no easy fix.

Photo: Ed Yourdon, Creative Commons, cc license

“I have to go. Morgan needs to get to class.”

The drive is quiet, somber; a respectful honor in the silence.

Beside a sunny library window, I text words of apology and await his. I journal and rant for several pages before asking God to soften me, to soften my husband, and to bring peace. Help me, God, to choose my words, to use them well, to seek appropriate times for deeper discussions, and to do them honoringly? Erase my anger and his.

We bought a new bed several years ago, my husband and I. Constructed with a layer of memory-foam on top, the bed is designed to conform to your body, offering optimum support. Two years later, we see now that the mattress tells a story of who sleeps where. Here is his side, here is mine, and in between a raised ridge where weight and time don’t dwell there as long.

He pulls me near in these cool autumn nights, and in the still-dark mornings, into this middle ground on the bed. And I grin and nestle closer, feeling his chest strong against my back. We move in sleepy familiarity into the spoon-cuddle mode. He moves forward, pulling me next to him, and I wriggle backwards, dipping under his chin. While I pull my long hair high on the pillow, he slides the edge of the pillowcase across my neck, hiding any ticklish hairs, and we sigh. Our breathing slows, matches inhalation lengths, exhaling together.

And perhaps this is how a marriage lasts long? Pushing down any walls that creep between us, asking God’s help to soften our hearts, and curling up in syncopated breathing.

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  1. Bill (cycleguy) on October 6, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Guess that means you are still in bed in the morning. Hmmm i get up at 4 and 7/8 of the time Jo never knows I leave…even after I kiss her goodbye. Can you tell who the morning person is? 🙂 That being said…breaking down walls are absolutely essential.

  2. Unknown on October 7, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Love your example of prayer in the midst of your emotions. That's wisdom, sister. And just one of the reasons our Father blesses your family abundantly. And thanks for the reminder and advice. Can't think of anything better.

  3. Cheryl Barker on October 8, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    So thankful that God is able to help us push down those walls. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer.

  4. Micah on October 10, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Man, I can so relate to this. It's the thing I've probably learned most about in my marriage. That love is something you have to actually decide to keep, honour, serve and protect. As long as it's only a feeling the walls and barriers remain. It's choosing to go beyond our feelings that we transcend them, and thereby learn to love a little more deeply. Great post.

  5. Unknown on October 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Yep, the stuff engagement books never tell us; the walls, the words, and how to take them all down after they go up. Beautiful slice of real life here. Thank you for your openness.

  6. Alecia Simersky on October 14, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Yes those walls, and allowing complacency creep in can be the death of a marriage. Marriage is a constant dying to yourself. It's humbling.

  7. Jennifer Dougan on October 19, 2015 at 3:11 am


    Wow, four am?! Every day? That's early. Do you just like the calm quiet then?

    Grinning and thankful for coffee and seven ams,

    Jennifer Dougan

  8. Jennifer Dougan on October 19, 2015 at 3:15 am

    Thanks, Floyd.

    Jennifer Dougan

  9. Jennifer Dougan on October 19, 2015 at 3:20 am

    Oh Cheryl, me too. I'd be lost without that. I am thankful for my good man as well, as human as the rest of us, but a passionate loving man.

    Have a great week,
    Jennifer Dougan

  10. Jennifer Dougan on October 19, 2015 at 3:23 am


    You are absolutely right. I like your line: "love is something you have to actually decide to keep, honour, serve and protect." — Yes. 🙂 And it is so rich and vibrant after we choose that, and in time, with God's help.

    Have a great week,
    Jennifer Dougan

  11. Jennifer Dougan on October 19, 2015 at 3:30 am


    Nice to have you here again. Yes, "the walls, the words, and how to take them all down after they go up." Beautiful. Hard some moments but so worth it, huh? I am thankful for our good men, and for God's great love.

    How are you this week?

    Jennifer Dougan

  12. Jennifer Dougan on October 19, 2015 at 3:35 am


    That's it, isn't it? "A dying to ourself" in some instances. Thanks for that truth. I am so thankful for my man, and for our patient loving God. 🙂 And for laughter and spooning, and new mornings.

    Jennifer Dougan

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