The Secret to Staying in Love

Fourteen years ago today, it felt like I might has well have been twelve and was spending my parents’ savings on a new bike. I had little life experience but was full of zeal and opinions and somehow I found a husband who would accept all of that.

So, instead of twelve I’d crested into my twenties and my parents had given me a dollar amount to pay for my wedding.

I may have handled a bike better.

We were young in heart, wearing big kids’ clothes at Christ Church on that day. I thought I’d fallen in love ’cause I found someone who would carry my secrets, tenderly, and wouldn’t leave me.

It really was my most beautiful day ever, witnessed by all my closest family and friends, and we had nothing to say to one another but gentle love notes spoken like phrases of an inside joke in between the clanking glasses. We said our vows before a crowd of three hundred and whispered secrets to one another about our dreams, late into the night. This was my first taste of married life.


I now had someone to hold my secrets, to see even the hidden parts of me and not to leave. The pent-up valve of what-do-I-do-with-this-inner-traffic was released and I told him everything, without filter. I unlocked not only the thoughts about me that I hadn’t realized were tucked away — but also my unfettered opinions of him. I supposed that my steel (the steel of my unrefined youth, that is) was intended to sharpen the jagged parts of his own iron.

Marriage was going to make us better. Stronger. And information, generously shared, about our flaws and weaknesses and “areas for growth” was interchangeable in my mind with the power to grow.

Cherish Wood

Except he didn’t like that so much.

My inner thoughts about him weren’t often welcomed (nor were they usually delivered with care) and I hadn’t thought that the one bringing a gift might should consider the packaging. It was a gift, after-all, to give this man the input I had about his life.


The marriage-whispers began to peter. I didn’t want to share the innermost parts of me with one who didn’t want to also hear my feedback about him.

I withheld — stubborn, but God was merciful.

The obstinance of this fresh bride was what God used to show me another kind of marriage-whisper, another kind of secret.

I had a hearing with God, the kind Father who knew I held opinions without much weight and an immaturity that needed tapering. He fielded my in-the-middle-of-the-night whispers (that started mostly as fret) and turned them, over time, into trusted secrets. God worked the muscle of leaning on my insides as I held my tongue in public but poured out myself in private, with Him — all about my heart, my marriage and my man.

God became safer to me than even the boy who gave me his name and his paycheck and his youthful-but-real promise. My marriage now involved three. Functionally. At times, the greatest love affair was my secret conversation with God about that boy.


I filled notebooks with God’s Word to pray about my husband and was interrupted when His secrets were shared — for me to pray back. Our conversation was not one-sided. Years of confiding in God, and stuffing a cork into my otherwise running mouth, gave me an inroad to hear and not just to speak.

I was falling in love with Nate, and not just over late-night conversations and spontaneous dates and izze’s, shared under June’s swelling sky.

I was falling in love with Nate as I talked to God about him.

Hey you — new bride or wife celebrating a decade or woman just needing a jumpstart,

Have you started telling secrets to God about that one who has more-than-quirks you can’t quite get over? It’s never to late for a love affair.

If the horizontal seems to be stunted — or if you’re just drooling a bit for more out of marriage than a shared bank account and calendar or even missions trips — maybe it’s time to go vertical.

Could it be that marriage is your school of prayer? 

We don’t just need to stuff those things we see and feel and discern about our husbands so that our homes can be peaceable. They’re intended to be carried right back to GodHe works out and in, in those conversations.

If conversation with God seems laborious or just like another task on your list — it’s possible your marriage is right there too. Remember that dress, fitted perfectly to your frame, and your ring on those manicured hands and the way he looked at you that day and remind yourself that you were made for fiery love.

And here’s the biggest secret: that fire starts when no one is looking, not even your man. If it’s gonna last, the fire has to be vertical — just between you and God — first.

Let’s get alone and revive.

It’s time to talk secrets with God.

Book on Swing MJ

And for the seasoned bride — the one who is counseling young ones and pulling her perhaps-yellowed dress out of storage for her daughters and is commemorating decades, 

Is it time to go to new places in prayer for your man? To ask things you’ve not asked before and be willing to unlock new closets of your heart and his while you hold your hands open to field God’s secrets about that no-longer-youthful groom? 

The end is better than the beginning when God is fueling the conversation. Advanced years can translate into advanced secrets, shared, with God.

Lead the rest of us into the heart of God by how you are unrelenting in asking for the fully-surrendered heart of your man. (We’re watching. We’re learning from you.)

Pearls Cherish

Our dreams for our husbands are far too small.

Tapping in to the currency of God — prayer — takes the ceiling off of who they can be in Him.

Nate Hagerty, Happy fourteen years of sharing way more than a sink. You’ve become far more of the husband than I ever knew I needed or wanted when I met you at the end of that long aisle all those years ago. Thank you for enduring my youthful obstinance — instead of moving to the corner of the roof as would have been justified. Now, look at you: the ceiling is off. 

You sure have given me a lot of material for my conversations with God … (wink).

The photographers: Lucy O Photo, Cherish Andrea Photography, Seeing Joy, and Aspen Photography (circa 2001). 

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