Can This Marriage Be Saved?

First of all, a huge “Thank you!” to all of you who took the time to fill out the survey this week!  I really appreciate it and look forward to learning more about you and how I can improve.  Today’s title implies that the post is just about marriage, but I think every living being deals with this issue…

On July 30th, husband John and I will be celebrating our 31st anniversary.  That’s a long time.  Longer than the Internet or Chicken McNuggets have been around.  A lot longer than Kim Kardashian’s three marriages put together.  A. Long.

He puts up with me waking him in the middle of the night to talk about “things”, and I try to take his unusual compliments in the spirit they are given. Like when he says I look autumnal, or compares me to yogurt, or says being with me is as good as being alone.  What can I say?  Our marriage works.

However, like in any healthy relationship between two beloved riff-raffs, we still have issues.  Well, one issue.  One very specific issue. Continue reading

Changing the To Do List to Choose Life

The other morning I was up early, before husband John (as usual), but no worries.  Did I wake him?  No, that would be sooooo inconsiderate!  Instead I left him a note in the bathroom.  It read something like this:

Sweet Baboo (NOTE: I did not say “baboon”),

I woke up remembering…

And could you please…

And while you’re at it…

And don’t forget to buy….


your adoring, romantic, AWAKE wife

Upon reflection, I write a lot of these notes which reinforce the business of marriage much more than the delight.  I’m trying to turn over a new leaf.  So these were my notes this morning: Continue reading

After Valentine’s Day

We’re all in different relationships where we want to love and be loved well – friends, or spouses, daughters or colleagues.

A couple weeks ago was Valentines Day.

The first year we were married my husband took me to a car wash on Valentine’s Day.  One where you have to do the washing yourself.  Ahem… We’ve both learned a lot since then.

This year, John, who is the best anywhere, delivered flowers and donuts to me at Starbucks. He’s getting better at my love languages, although I’m multi-lingual so it’s pretty easy.  I just don’t understand “car wash-ese”.


But I can speak it so I tried to communicate in his dialect by washing his car and buying him mocha chip ice cream.

It was a good day.  But I’m not crazy about the idea that there’s this one 24 hour period of grand romantic gestures with a lot of bling and pizzazz. Continue reading

Three Scathingly Brilliant Ideas and Two Words

My nickname in our family is “Idea Woman”.  Often I am mocked with the refrain “God loves you and Laura has a wonderful plan for your life.”

It’s ok.  I’ll own it.  I can’t help the way my mind works.  Ideas just kind of spurt out like fireworks.

While they were growing up, the girls and I used to watch the old movie “The Trouble with Angels” about Haley Mills causing mischief in a catholic boarding school.  We often repeat her line, “I have a scathingly brilliant idea! with a gleam in our eyes.

All that to say, in the past couple years I’ve been struck by three things that friends have done that seem scathingly brilliant and I want to share them with you.  These are not my ideas.  I just wish I had thought of them! Continue reading

Three Things You Can do When You’re in Transition

photo-53Twenty-seven years ago my husband John and I moved from our home and families in the Chicago area to serve at a church in Washington D.C.  It was a huge change for us.  John was required to attend a seminar on transitions and while he was there he had to take an assessment that assigned points to the the different changes in your life.

POINTS???!  We love points!  We’re a tad competitive :).

For example, we were moving away from family for the first time, expecting a new baby (I was 8 months pregnant when we moved), buying our first house, starting a new job in a new church culture.  Each of these got points assigned to them indicating the amount of pressure in our life.

John came home and said, “Honey, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is, we WON!   We had more points than anyone there!  The bad news is they said we should have been in counseling 50 points ago!” Continue reading

Squirrels and World Peace

This was a text exchange between daughters Katy and Maggie last week:

Ahhh…So many questions!

It was a timely reminder our family’s issues with squirrels and how God may want to use this to prepare me for an upcoming trip to the Middle East with a group of women pursuing peace.  Here’s an edited version of some thoughts I posted last year…

Continue reading

How to Write a Better Marriage Story than TomKat

Dear Max and Emily,

What a picture of joy!  It was a hot Minnesota summer afternoon and there was laughter and dancing and prayers and great hopes for your future together.  You were surrounded by people who love you.


You did a lot of hard work to get to this place.  You did the pre-marital counseling thing and the financial seminar thing, and you really tried to honor God in every way as you walked towards marriage.

And now you’re here.  You’re married.

But the news these days is filled with stories of TomKat and John Edwards and Kim Kardashian, and Arnold Swarzenager.  And a thousand  million more examples of infidelity and “irreconcilable differences” and custody battles.  Disheartening, eh?

Why do you think you’ll be different than Kim and Arnold and whoever?  What will give you an edge so you won’t be another bad statistic in a few years.  Or 15?

Continue reading

The one John wanted me to title “The Love Banker”

It’s the day after Valentine’s Day and seems to be an appropriate time to share this, originally posted June 26, 2011.

Friday morning John and I had a fight. A big fight. Well, not exactly a fight.

In case you didn’t know, John’s very competitive. (I am too. I’m the one telling the story so I don’t have to mention that, but I’m trying to be fair).

We were on the golf course and I thought John acted like a jerk and hurt my feelings and I got teary and after arguing about it we didn’t speak.

Towards the end of our round he said, “Do you have any ideas about how to get on the solution side of this?” And I said “No.” and that was that.

Ok, maybe it wasn’t my finest hour.

We went our separate ways and I talked to two of my best friends, both of whom said they didn’t know what the issue was, but they were on my side. Totally. They were sure I was completely right and justified in my feelings and John deserved the worst punishment imaginable. They are good friends.

I told them we were supposed to speak to engaged couples about how to have a happy marriage at a marriage mentor dinner at 6:00. Ugh.

My one friend said “You guys have the best marriage of anyone I know so I’m sure you’ll get it figured out by 6:00.”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to get it figured out. What I really wanted to do was tell John he was on his own and he could go talk about marriage without me. (Again, not my finest hour)

John and I both ended up at home for lunch. I was silent. (my family’s way of dealing with conflict). He tried again. He apologized.

I said it was fine, but I still didn’t like him very much.

Later in the afternoon I was laying down on the couch in our living room staring at the ceiling and I started thinking about John, and our marriage, and a gift he got last Christmas.

I thought of this bank that Katy and Maggie gave him. You push a coin through the slot in the top and there’s a digital counter that adds up the amount in the jar. John and the girls spent a chunk of Christmas day putting in coins and seeing the amount grow. Now it sits on a stand at our back door where John can add his change when he comes in. It’s about 3/4 full and registers $83.50

We’ve been married 28 years and John’s done a LOT to make deposits in our relationship.

I thought of all the ways he honors me, affirming me both publicly and privately. And more than that how he honors me by what he doesn’t say.

Example: He has never said “Gee, do you really think you should eat that ginormous 983 calorie dessert with 52 grams of fat?” (for which I’m eternally grateful)

Then I thought of how he serves me in so many little ways, like covering me with a blanket when we’re watching TV., or calling every day when he’s on his way home from work to see if I need anything at the store.

Over the years John has been a jerk once or twice. And I’ve been a jerk more often than that. Each time we’ve made withdrawals from our relational bank.

I’m thankful for the deposits we’ve made and the reserve that’s there. It all adds up…makes sense, and that’s the truth and it’s ok, but what about when it doesn’t?

In many relationships the withdrawals are greater than the deposits and God calls it grace.

Grace doesn’t add up. Doesn’t make sense. Grace doesn’t keep track of wrongs…or withdrawals.

God doesn’t keep track when John is thoughtless or I am selfish. His mercies are new every morning and the bank is always full.  There’s the math that counts and the math that doesn’t and in marriage, although the deposits that build trust are important, we’re dependent on the math that doesn’t count.

For that I am profoundly grateful.

So today, what mercies are you thanking God for?  How are you making deposits of loving service in the lives of those around you?