There were a couple of things we had to deal with, but we felt it was better to do it before marriage than after.
When Brian and I met we were both mature adults who’d never been married before. We both separately knew that we always wanted to have a meaningful dating relationship and a meaningful marriage. We wanted to be sure we were moving forward in our dating life with our eyes open—not just dating for fun. We both had a purpose in mind to find the right one. A few dates in, I had the idea that we could read a book or some kind of material that could guide us into making our dating season meaningful.
I’d been reading material about marriage and listening to a pastor called Derek Prince, who preached on marriage. He always said that God is the best matchmaker, so I trusted God to find the right one for me as I did my part to date wisely. On the other hand, Brian knew about a book called Marriage on the Rock by Pastor Jimmy Evans. The first time he heard the material—years before we met—he instantly knew that was how he wanted to proceed forward with looking for a spouse and handling relationships. So when I suggested reading a book, he knew exactly where he wanted to start.
First, we read The Right One: How to Successfully Date and Marry the Right Person, also by Pastor Jimmy. It turned out to be a great decision because it brought up a lot of questions we wouldn’t have thought of on our own. Questions about finances, kids, family dynamics, backgrounds, previous dating experiences, friendships, pets… So many things came up in those initial conversations that we even simulated a marriage retreat, just to see what that conversation was like. There were a couple of things we had to deal with, but we felt it was better to do it before marriage than after. Over time, we learned that sometimes you even grow to love things that you may not have loved before.
One of the biggest things we learned through our reading was the importance of compromise. In those early conversations, one of the hard topics that came up was how to treat dogs as a part of the family. Grace grew up in Uganda (she has a really cute accent), but the biggest cultural difference we realized was that in Uganda, dogs are mostly guard dogs. They don’t sit on the couch or sleep in the bed, or even come inside. Having never interacted with dogs, at first, she was really scared of even little dogs like my two chihuahuas.
But I grew up with dogs, always one or two at a time. Seeing Grace’s willingness to compromise and try new things with the dogs—even though she was scared—made me even more willing to sacrifice for her and compromise on things like sleeping with the dogs on the bed or making them lay in their own beds while we eat. If I’d stood my ground and said, “No, I have to be able to sleep with the dogs on the bed,” I don’t know how she would have handled that. It all came down to us both being willing to compromise and meet in the middle.
It all came down to us both being willing to compromise and meet in the middle.
We’re young in our marriage, but we’ve always approached life and our relationship in a mature way. When we got married, we knew we’d gone through all of Jimmy’s questions from The Right One. We’d had the difficult conversations, and we still aren’t afraid to have more of them. We’ve learned so much from XO, and we know marriage has its challenges, but when they do come, we know that with God on our side, we’ll be able to handle anything.
Reading those initial books while we were dating lead to more exploration of Pastor Jimmy’s material and XO resources online. We found the XO videos on YouTube and subscribed to XO Now—that’s how we came to learn of the marriage retreat books. We love Pastor Jimmy and Karen and respect where they’ve been, and we love all of the amazing presenters from the conferences. We haven’t made it to a live XO Conference yet due to cancellations because of COVID, but we’re keeping our eyes open for one near us soon!
Words of Wisdom from Brian & Grace
We have a few friends who are still single and looking for the right one, and if that’s you, the best thing we can tell you is what we tell them. A lot of it is about seeking the right information, allowing God to help you find the right one, and trusting your journey. When we met, we were both on a similar journey reading books and listening to people with godly advice. As you seek, even when you’re lonely, even when you’re frustrated, keep trusting that God will bring you the one He has for you. It’s easier said than done, especially when you see yourself growing older, but God is very faithful. If you stick the course and just look up to Him, sooner or later, He will fulfill His promise. We got married in our 40s, but now, we’re so excited about God’s amazing plan for us and we’ve got the rest of our lives to enjoy it because it’s the right one. Stick it through, keep trusting God. It’s definitely worth it.
As you seek, even when you’re lonely, even when you’re frustrated, keep trusting that God will bring you the one He has for you. It’s easier said than done, especially when you see yourself growing older, but God is very faithful
Do you have a story of how XO has impacted your marriage? We would love to hear it! Email us at stories@xomarriage..com.