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Making Your Marriage Better than Your Honeymoon

with Kevin and Marcia Myers | January 10, 2022
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Remember newlywed-land? (What's changed?) Authors Kevin & Marcia Myers help get back to where you started--and recreate the spark.
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Remember newlywed-land? (What’s changed?) Authors Kevin & Marcia Myers help get back to where you started–and recreate the spark.

Making Your Marriage Better than Your Honeymoon

With Kevin and Marcia Myers
|
January 10, 2022
| Download Transcript PDF

Kevin: I never understood why my parents divorced. They were “Christians,” and how could you not make it work if you know Jesus? I’m sitting at home—we’re pastoring; we’re two years in—I got to choose my wife. I said, “Now I know, because I think I could be without her.”

 

Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.

Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.

 

So you’ve probably done hundreds, if not thousands of weddings, you’ve officiated.

Dave: I don’t know if I’ve done thousands. It feels like thousands sometimes.

Ann: And every single time I feel like, when you come home, you say the same thing. Do you know what I’m going to say?

Dave: Yes; I say, “I’d love to say this at the wedding, but I’d never do another wedding if I said what I’m really thinking.” It’s like this: you’re looking at this couple—and they’re so in love, and they’re so excited—and you want to say, “There could come a day, where you scream at your husband and say, ‘The biggest mistake of my life was marrying you,’ like my wife said six months after our wedding day.” [Laughter] I want to say something like that; you know, reality.

Ann: —like: “Hey, what you feel right now is going to drift,” or “It will go away at times.”

Dave: But never at a wedding would you say that.

Ann: No, no.

Dave: You say: “It’s going to be awesome,” “It’s going to be wonderful”; but we all know the reality is: it’s going to really/they’re going to struggle.

Ann: —and it’s hard.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: We’ve got a couple in the studio today that wrote a book about that struggle; right? I mean, it’s about—

Kevin: Right.

Marcia: That’s right.

Dave: And by the way, he’s a pastor as well. Kevin and his wife, Marcia Myers, from Atlanta, Georgia/well, suburbs of Atlanta; right?

Marcia: Yes.

Kevin: Yes; right. Exactly.

Dave: You’ve been married 40 years?

Kevin: We are hitting 39.

Marcia: Yes, 39.

Dave: Thirty-nine years.

Kevin: So we’re right on the cusp of four decades.

Dave: Four kids

Marcia: Four.

Kevin: Right.

Ann: And four grandkids.

Marcia and Kevin: Yes!

Dave: Well, welcome to FamilyLife Today. We’re really glad to have you here.

Marcia: Thank you.

Kevin: We’re honored; thank you.

Dave: You’ve written a book called The Second Happy: Seven Practices to Make Your Marriage Better than Your Honeymoon. As I read through it—I mean, you really get into what we just talked about how—and as a pastor I’m sure you know this—thousands and thousands of weddings and marriages start well. Do you think they all hit—and it may not be a big struggle—but some kind of struggle?

Kevin: We almost overstated it by saying: “If you’re in the one percent, who somehow has escaped the after-the-honeymoon experience of this fading and wondering if this was not one of the biggest mistakes of your life,”—if you’re in the one percent we literally wrote in the book—“then just give this book to somebody else.” But for the

99 percent of us—who somewhere deep in the dark night of our soul, are very aware that we probably made a huge mistake three months in, six months in, even two years in—and that’s the norm. I think it helps people to hear that, because they don’t believe it—because they’re in love, and it’s awesome—but eventually, it hits everybody.

Dave: What about you guys? Did that happen to you?

Marcia: Yes, I would say definitely. Just, almost right away, we kind of butt heads. I’m a little stubborn, and he’s very forceful. [Laughter]

Kevin: Wow! I don’t know, if in the book or in all the interviews we’ve been doing the last couple of months, you used the word “forceful”; but we’re getting more crisp. [Laughter]

Ann: Oh, Marcia is coming out. I’m liking this. [Laughter]

Marcia: Yes, I just feel comfortable.

Kevin: Thanks Ann.

Dave: No, seriously; what do you mean “forceful” and “stubborn”?

Marcia: Well forceful, he knows what he wants; he knows what’s right in his own mind, and you’re not going to change that. He’s a leader, most definitely; and he can outtalk you. Or at least, he can outtalk me. [Laughter]

Dave: Yes.

Marcia: And me, my defense is stubbornness; no matter what you say/no matter how much sense you make, I’m still going to dig my heels in.

Ann: Do you shut down?

Marcia: Yes.

Ann: Okay; so you don’t fight back, but you’ll shut down; like, “I’m not going there.”

Marcia: Right; yes.

Dave: So what happened? Was there a crisis point, or just the way it just sort of drifted, or what?

Kevin: Well, that’s how I discovered she was stubborn. I married this incredibly delightful, godly, awesome, beautiful woman—highly talented, gifted—and then I got married and discovered that she’s nicer to everybody than she is me. [Laughter]

Marcia: So he says.

Kevin: Now, years later, I can own some of this. [Laughter] One of the crises—so we’re in ministry,—

Dave: Right.

Kevin: —which means we have to be hospitable. We’re at a church—I/being more the extrovert; her/being more the introvert—we would literally be at the church; and I’m meeting people; and I say, “Hey, why don’t you come on over?” [Laughter]

Ann: Oh, no.

Marcia: Oh, yes.

Kevin: And when I say, “Come on over,” I don’t mean later.

Marcia: You mean now.

Kevin: I mean: “Why don’t you follow us to the house?”

Ann: No! And you have little kids?

Kevin: No, not at that point.

Ann: So you didn’t even have kids.

Kevin: So it’s—no.

Ann: This is right at the beginning.

Kevin: This is—yes; I demonstrated a great art of serving, and love, and kindness as a pastor toward my wife. It was awesome. [Laughter]

Marcia: Yes; meanwhile, in my head, it’s like: “No, don’t do this. We don’t have any food,” [Laughter] “Our house/I remember laying things on the floor, and they’re still sitting there,”—like “No,”—but it didn’t matter.

Kevin: I’m thinking, “What’s wrong with you? We’re supposed to be hospitable.” So I would use Scripture and big biblical thoughts against her.

Marcia: Yes, hospitality.

Ann: Oh; so in other words, he’s manipulating you. [Laughter]

Kevin: Wow, Ann! [Laughter]

Marcia: That’s a good way of putting it.

Ann: This is why it’s good to have a couple interview; isn’t it?

Dave: Do you know why she knows this so well?

Kevin: Yes, Dave; I have a feeling.

Dave: I’m just saying, “I’ve been there”; right? [Laughter]

Ann: “We’ve lived your life”; exactly.

Dave: We had a similar conflict with that.

But the question is: “Did it get deep?” I mean, that’s a fight maybe. We got to a point in our marriage, where it was: “We don’t want to be together.”

Ann: We were resentful of one another.

Marcia: Oh, definitely.

Kevin: Yes, tell the—I think—

Marcia: When we were at the grocery store?

Kevin: —grocery store. Yes; we think that triggered it.

Marcia: And what’s weird is it’s like a culmination, because we don’t remember exactly what we were fighting about. We were like getting groceries. It was—

Dave: What year? I mean, how many years married?

Marcia: Probably, two years in.

Kevin: Yes.

Dave: Alright.

Marcia: We just started fighting in the grocery store.

Dave: “Hey, that’s my pastor over there with his wife.” [Laughter]

Kevin: Oh, we made a scene. We made a scene in the freezer section.

Ann: Oh, no.

Marcia: And we weren’t too far from our house, so he just left. I finished getting the groceries and getting them home.

Dave: You didn’t walk home?

Kevin: I let her drive.

Marcia: Actually, no; he walked home.

Kevin: I just walked out of the store, walked home. Literally, I sat at the door at home, and I said, “I never understood why my parents divorced. They were ‘Christians,’ and how could you not make it work if you know Jesus?” I’m sitting at home. We’re pastoring—we’re two years in; I got to choose my wife—I said, “Now I know; because I think I could be without her. I think I could be divorced.”

Dave: Did you say that to her?

Kevin: I said that to me; I don’t think I said it to you.

Dave: But you felt it.

Kevin: I do think I treated you that way. We were on a rough road from then forward.

Ann: I think so many listeners are hearing this, thinking, “Yes, we have been there.” I think some are thinking, “We don’t know how to get out.” I like that we’re going to talk about that today and how you guys got out of that. We’ve talked about it.

Dave: I mean, this is the very/very thing we talk about at the Weekend to Remember®. We’ve been speaking for that conference for over 30 years. There’s this drift—“You’re either headed toward oneness,” is what we say—or you drift toward isolation. I tell you, when you go there, and you start hearing us talk about that, you’re like, “We’re living that.” But by the end of the weekend, we’re like, “We can help you get out. We can show you the path to oneness.”

So here’s the thing. If you’re listening right now, you can sign up for a Weekend to Remember. It will probably be in your city; and if you sign up now at FamilyLifeToday.com, you get half off. That’s a great deal.

Ann: That’s a good deal.

Dave: It starts Friday night. It ends on Sunday, right around noon. I’m telling you: “God literally saves marriages. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com; sign up right now, and watch God take you on a path to oneness.”

Ann: And keep listening, because Kevin and Marcia are going to help us learn how we can get out of that rut.

Dave: Marcia, did you feel the same thing Kevin was feeling?—like “I…”

Marcia: Yes; he’s—

Ann: —forceful? [Laughter]

Marcia: —forceful, which creates highs and lows in his personality. I’m more steady; so my thought was, “Oh, this isn’t good.” It was probably half the intensity of his; but for me, definitely, the final thought was: “I don’t want to get a divorce, but I don’t know where to go next.” Like that would be where we would end up if we keep going on this path.

Ann: I think I was at the point—that same kind of thing—where I was losing hope that it could be good again.

Marcia: Yes.

Kevin: That is so defining; because I realize: “If we divorce, I’m out of ministry; I forfeit my calling. I don’t know how to integrate who God said He is with all His promises and grace in our life, so we’re just going to settle for misery.” I think a lot of marriages settle for misery.

Ann: Me too.

Kevin: And they endure it.

Dave: Yes, they do.

Kevin: And some of them, “Well we have kids; we’ll endure it for our kids.” And by the other end, it’s one of the reasons why I think there is this huge drop off when you become empty nester and the like. Your kids are the reason you stayed in to some degree.

Ann: And so many get divorced as soon as their kids leave, and that’s still devastating, even for their adult kids.

Marcia: Oh, yes.

Kevin: Deeply. Or they’ll wait ‘til they’re high school even. They lost the love a long time ago; they’re now just mechanically in the motions, and it’s a very disappointing life. So to lose hope—

Ann: And we’re not judging that; we get it. We all get that.

Kevin: Oh, no; actually, we’re confessing. [Laughter]

Dave: So you’re there, though, at two years. I mean, this is early.

Kevin: What a gift; right? Everybody couldn’t do that. [Laughter]

Dave: Yes; I mean, you got there quick. Many people are like, “We’re still on our honeymoon at two years”; but you are like, “Oh boy, this…” So you’ve got to talk; how did you get out?

I know some of it maybe relates to the zones you talked about in your book, which is a great way to explain this; but is that what happened? You got the “A,” the “B”; you can talk about it. I don’t know your zones—I played zone defense—but I don’t know your zones; right? [Laughter]

Kevin: It’s not too dissimilar, Dave; we didn’t know this back in the day. We’ll talk from today’s experience of a development, but we think that you have to break the “Quit Cycle”—that’s the first chapter—it’s what we talk about.

Dave: Right.

Kevin: What we mean is: everything in life—every endeavor, every relationship, every project, every job—doesn’t matter what it is—every pursuit, everything you buy—it goes through three z—ones: “A” Zone, “B” Zone, “C” Zone. The “A” Zone is full of promise; that’s the honeymoon phase. That’s when everything is awesome—that’s the new car; that’s the first day of school; that’s the first day at the job; that’s when you get married—everything is beautiful; it’s perfect.

Dave: You know what that is in Detroit?—it’s training camp.

Kevin: You know, actually, it is.

Dave: Everybody thinks: “The Lions: this is the year.” [Laughter]

Ann: Every single team thinks that.

Kevin: And you have to believe that, or you don’t have the grit to engage.

Dave: Right.

Kevin: You have to have hope on the other side; you have to believe something’s possible. So the “A” Zone is familiar to all of us.

Dave: Yes.

Kevin: Then, of course, every “A” Zone gives way to the “B” Zone; and the “B” Zone is full of problems. This is not transforming; people don’t have to take notes right now. [Laughter] It’s not like, “Oh, I never knew that!” We’re just putting words to familiar experience that most people didn’t expect to happen in their marriage. The “B” Zone is full of problems. You live in those problems long enough, and you start losing hope.

We pause right there, and we just put at the bottom: “And you tend to want a ‘Q’ Zone; you want to quit.” If we want to talk about that more here together, we can; but—

Ann: And you guys were there a little bit. Take us back to the grocery store. You’ve walked home; and Marcia, you’re like, “Oh, I’m going to drive home without him; because he’s left.”

Marcia: Right; right.

Ann: So many couples are there.

Marcia: Yes.

Kevin: People quit on little things before they quit on big things. So we might not have quit on marriage, but we quit on the things that would build a marriage. In that fight in the store, I quit honoring her. In the hospitality—invite somebody over to the house—I started with my perspective rather than hers. I couldn’t hear her; I thought, “What kind of pastor’s wife is this? She can’t invite people over.” [Laughter] I didn’t realize she was actually caring about people: we didn’t have food; the house wasn’t ready; we weren’t doing a good job caring for people.

If you can get to the other side—but people quit on these things—so you end up in this cycle of: “A” Zone, “B” Zone, “Q” Zone. And then, people chase “A” Zones; so they have a life of short cut. You do that long enough—

Ann: —meaning they just want to get back to those good feelings?

Kevin: You chase “A” Zones—

Ann & Dave: Yes.

Kevin: —so people in relationships, people in careers and educational pursuits—they fill in the blank—the problems are too much for them to endure; the hill climb is too demanding, so you “Q” Zone.

Marcia: Right; and then—

Kevin: And again, most of us “Q” Zone on small things.

Marcia: —usually start all over again in another relationship, or another career, or another/you know, whatever.

Ann: Something that makes them feel good again.

Marcia: Right; and think, “Oh, this will be better; this is going to work.”

Dave: And often you do that while you’re still in the “B” Zone of the first relationship.

Marcia: Sure.

Dave: Or I’ve done this—have you ever done this?—you’re in your car. You love it; it’s awesome when you got it. And then you see another car go by; and you’re like, “That’s the car I really want.” You do that in relationships; you do that with churches; you do that—I mean—

Ann: Well, Dave, we did it. Because I’m thinking: “We’re in the ‘B’ Zone in a troubled marriage,”—and so what do I do?—I pour my life into my kids. That feels great; they’re young. I’m going to pour…”—but they’re filling me up.

You’re [Dave] pouring/you go to the “A” Zone of your career, like, “I’m building this church; this is amazing. I’m getting applauded and accolades from my congregation more than at home.”

Dave: Yes.

Ann: So I think you’re right. We escape into other things that will fill us up.

Kevin: And it doesn’t occur to us, Ann, that the “B” Zone requires “B” Zone muscle. There is a muscle required to grind through something to get to a “C” Zone that’s full of payoffs. Everybody wants the hope fulfilled; but to get there has a cost: an endurance/a demand.

For us, we just had to figure out: “In marriage, what does it look like for us to exercise

‘B’ Zone muscle in the midst of problems and to care enough to get beyond quitting so that this marriage has hope and possibility?” In other words, you talk about the vow—how many marriages have you done?—hundreds, maybe thousands. That vow was easy to say.

Dave: Yes.

Kevin: “B” Zone muscle is making good on that vow.

Dave: Yes; and you know, when you’re up there as the pastor at the wedding, and you’re setting up the vows—at least, I think this; I’m looking out at the congregation or, you know, the wedding families and friends—thinking many of them are going [snickering] at the vows;—

Kevin: Yes.

Dave: —because they’re like, “Yes, we said those. They have no idea what they’re saying, and they have no idea how hard the ‘B’ Zone’s going to be to keep them.”

Ann: Well, Dave, remember we were at one wedding; and they decided to continue with the vows and add their own. So this guy’s up there just/oh, he’s flowery with his speech. He’s like, “I vow that every day I walk in the house I will kiss you, and hug you, and notice you. I vow…" I mean, he was getting so specific; and I’m like, “Stop! Stop!” [Laughter]

Dave: I literally—I wasn’t doing that wedding; it was in our church though/in our chapel—and I literally had to hold myself from snickering out loud, which is/how terrible is that?—that would be the worst thing ever! But it was such a reality check, like, “You have no idea what you’re saying right now, because it’s going to be so hard.”

Kevin: Yes.

Dave: So talk a little bit about that “B” muscle. How do you develop that?

Kevin: Let’s tell the bagel story. Sometimes, you have a story that marks your marriage—

Ann: Yes!

Kevin: —and resets it. You need a picture. So this “B” Zone muscle for us—

Dave: So you’ve got the freezer in the grocery store, and now you have bagels?

Kevin: Yes.

Marcia: Yes, we’re a food family.

Kevin: As soon as I say it, Dave, you’re going to go, “Oh, yes; I get it.” We all get it; everybody’s going to get this.

We would work out together; and on the way to the work-out club, early in the morning, we would stop at the bagel shop.

Dave: That’s why you’re working out. [Laughter]

Kevin: Exactly; we had to have a reason to work out. We’d split this little ham and egg kind of bagel thing and, then, this cinnamon bagel with this—what was it?

Marcia: Honey almond schmear.

Ann: Ooh!

Kevin: —on the side. Now, listen: that’s way too much for one person and then work out, so we’d have it cut in half. When we’d order, we’d just say, “Please cut that in half.” Now, me being the husband—love my wife; here to serve/wash her feet—biblical concept. When they call our name, “Myers,” I go up to the counter; because I’m going to serve her; I’m going to get it. The problem is, when I get to the counter, I have a dilemma, immediately; because I look down at the cinnamon sugar bagel with honey almond schmear. They cut it in half, and nobody can cut it in half properly. One is always bigger than the other—it’s got more schmear; it’s got more cinnamon—I immediately notice that one half is better than the other.

I’m in a dilemma between the counter and the table. I’m going to place one on her plate; which half do I give her? It’s driving me nuts; because I’m immediately aware that I want the better half of the bagel, and my marriage vow is giving her the better half of the bagel. That became a defining illustration for us of what it meant for—at least, me—for me to love my wife. I have to give her the better half of the bagel; and when I don’t, I’m quitting.

Ann: Yes; that’s a great word picture.

Kevin: And it’s that’s small. It’s always that small.

Ann: What’s the larger half of the bagel for you, Marcia? Are there times that you’ve thought, “Oh, I need to do this; and it’s difficult, but I’m choosing to build that muscle”?

Marcia: Yes, definitely. I can give one example of he had this pullover. It was like a half-zip—and he loved that pullover—wore it a lot, almost to the point that I wouldn’t have minded it getting lost. [Laughter] He—

Kevin: Are we supposed to get this honest? [Laughter]

Marcia: I know I always tend to get a little too deep [Laughter]; but anyway, he did lose it; and he was so upset. We looked everywhere for this half-zip shirt. Like I said, for me, it was more like, “Well, you know…”

Ann: “No big deal; time to be done.”

Marcia: Yes, but I knew he loved it. He had gotten it as a gift from a conference that he had been at. What I did was: I went to the people who did the conference and asked them if they had anymore and secretly bought him a couple of more.

Ann: That’s so nice of you.

Marcia: Yes, I know. I’m not one to make a lot of efforts; but I thought that I would, and I knew that he loved it; and so that’s what I did.

Ann: That’s good; because it’s a great example of—you didn’t necessarily love that he had been wearing this all of the time—but you were choosing, as an act of your will, to do something that would serve and—

Marcia: Exactly.

Ann: —that [he] would really appreciate. Yes, that’s good.

Dave: Hey, do this: talk to the couple that’s in the “B” Zone, and they are seriously considering quitting—like right now—I mean, they’re listening; and they’re like, “Okay, this is deep. I’m really discouraged. I’ve been there for weeks,” or “…months,” or maybe
“…years. I’m thinking about quitting. I can’t even imagine a ‘C’ Zone, where we could be happy again/the second happy.” What would you say to them?

Kevin: I’d say a couple of things. First of all, a friend of ours, John Maxwell, has said, “Everything worthwhile is uphill.” You’ve just got to embrace the weight of that truth: “You want worthwhile things. You want a marriage that works.”

Secondly, you’re not alone. Just by virtue of this conversation, Dave—that you and Ann are having with us—is to remind people: “You’re not alone on this journey. Many have hit that place of wanting to quit and have moved on, so you’re not alone.”

Third, because you’re not alone, and others have won, borrow their hope. These principles and practices and what you are teaching people help people wake up to there are steps and process. You’re not going to win in a week. But if you’ll do the right things next week, you’ll get a better second week. And you do that again, you’ll get a better third week; and you wake up to falling back in love. You find a second happy that you lost after the honeymoon, and it’s doable.

Bob: I think, for so many people, the goal of a rich, mutually-satisfying, happy marriage—it’s what all of us long for—the question is: “Do we know how to get there?” I think it’s in the discouragement of not knowing how to get there that a lot of couples just give up hope.

What Kevin and Marcia Myers have been talking about today with Dave and Ann Wilson is that there is a second happy that is available to all couples if they can point themselves in the right direction/get the help they need. It’s there for you. In fact, Kevin and Marcia have written a book called The Second Happy: Seven Practices to Make Your Marriage Better than Your Honeymoon. It’s a book we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order a copy from us online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.

And then let me also mention the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway for couples. For more than four decades, there have been hundreds of thousands of couples, who have come to these weekend getaways and found the help and the hope they’re looking for in their marriage. Wherever you are in your marriage—maybe you’re in a good marriage, and you just want it to be better; or maybe you’re in a hurting marriage, and you’re looking for hope—the Weekend to Remember will walk you through a process to help align your marriage with God’s design and help point you in the right direction as a couple.

Right now, we have a special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners. You can register for an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway and save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. We’ve got several dozen of these events happening this spring in cities all around the country. Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com; there’s a link there with information about where and when these getaways are being hosted in a city near where you live. You can also register online this week and save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. Or if you have any questions we can answer for you, call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY.

Again, register online at FamilyLifeToday.com; call with any questions: 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Plan to join us this spring at one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaways.

Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about how important it is for couples to know how to fight fair. I mean, conflict is going to happen in every marriage. What we have to learn how to do is how to manage conflict in a way that honors one another and gets us to some kind of healthy resolution. Dave and Ann Wilson will talk with Kevin and Marcia Myers about that tomorrow. I hope you can join us.

On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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