Building a Bridge Back Together
Trevor and Stephanie Woodward
It all started about a year ago. We don’t mind admitting we were in a dark place and the lowest point in our relationship. We had serious communication issues and didn’t think we could save our marriage. It seemed easier to get defensive and run away rather than fix it, but I decided that instead of running, I would take responsibility for my actions and try a different approach.
I looked online for marriage advice and guidance, and The Naked Marriage Podcast by Dave and Ashley Willis popped up. I went for a walk with the dog and started listening to Episode 51: “Is Your Marriage in Crisis?” I wasn’t a Christian at the time, but thought, I’ll give it a go … I don’t have to buy into the Christian stuff…. I’m an engineer and a scientist with a bit of a logical worldview, so I didn’t see the point yet. But immediately, Dave and Ashley’s tone, authority, experience, and practical tips to make your marriage stronger just made sense. The way they speak is so calm and confident, and they have such a way of making you feel like someone is listening and understanding.
Ashley introduced the episode with, “You are not alone. That is a lie of the enemy. […] We serve a God who makes masterpieces out of messes. What do you do when your marriage is in crisis […] in the practical, day-to-day life?” I thought, Brilliant, tell me more. Dave then said, “We want to give you some tools, some new thoughts that will help lead you to a place that ultimately will bring some healing. […] When you’re struggling, it’s easy to believe a lot of lies. […] In the work that we do, over and over again, we’ve seen miracles happen.” Well, that was me hooked.
I spent the next few weeks listening, learning to be more proactive, and putting some of the tips and tools into action—and importantly, learning what not to do. We don’t live near family—we’ve lived in different locations all over the UK—so we’ve never had people around us that we trusted enough to talk to, but now I had this podcast. One day, I came in and handed my headphones to Steph and said, “You have to listen to this.”
You know, we’d never been in the situation where we wanted to make it work—we’d always just put things under the carpet. So at first, I didn’t see the point in listening, but when I saw what Dave and Ashley had they’d gone through, what other couples have gone through, I realized that the tools were so useful, and I wondered how I could change myself.
The podcast brought us together and gave us something to connect over. It took a few months, but we’d listen and talk about it. We just kept saying, “That’s exactly what’s happening to us! That’s exactly what we’re going through!” We could see we weren’t alone and that there were ways to make our marriage work.
We could see we weren’t alone and that there were ways to make our marriage work.
At the time, Trevor wasn’t a believer, and though I was, I’d lost my way. We’d convinced ourselves faith wasn’t something we needed—that it was just a bit of mumbo jumbo, but we started seeing that there was this essential piece missing in our relationship.
We heard on the podcast about the marriage counseling services XO provides, so we booked a session. The coach opened our eyes to real communication and how Jesus has to be first in our marriage. We took furious notes and put her advice into practice. Then, she introduced us to XO Now.
The next day, we started Marriage on the Rock by Jimmy Evans, and now, we’re avid listeners—Jimmy’s a part of our family as much as Dave and Ashley. We listen to his talks at night, and we just keep looking at each other, going, “This is us. Why did we not know this before?”
I’d never read the Bible, but a life-changing moment for me was when Jimmy said, “When God created humans, He designed a Jesus-shaped hole.” God sent Dave, Ashley, Jimmy, the coaches, and the whole XO team to show us that, as well as how we can deal with all the issues that life throws.
We had a few ups and downs throughout the year, but we got to a point where a light came on, and we realized we wanted the same thing. The only missing thing was Jesus. We started going to church every week, and Steph found her faith again. Our beautiful daughters, Darcey and Paighton, and I got baptized. Our world has completely been flipped on its head for all the right reasons.
The only missing thing was Jesus.
We recognize this is only the start of our journey, but we are committed to our marriage and committed to Jesus, and with XO’s help, we know we have a bright future. We are communicating better, we have no fear and are putting practical and proactive advice into action.
We have the support we need—it’s not the same as having someone face-to-face since we’re in the UK—but we feel like we know these guys so well now.
We were just this random couple in the corner of the UK, but because of technology, we’ve learned so much. I’ve become a better person; Trevor’s become a better person. We were stuck on opposite sides of a broken bridge, and XO helped us build that bridge back to each other. We didn’t know anything we’ve learned so far, and we can’t help but ask: if we didn’t know, how many other couples out there don’t know?
We were listening to the podcast and found out about the conference, and I just knew it was what we needed to do. I love the path we’re on, and we’re ready to do anything we can to make this marriage better. Everything can only get better by going to the conference. We’re not afraid to make decisions, and that one was a no-brainer. Plus, we never really get to have a holiday and this will be our first Vision Retreat! It’s great to communicate on Zoom, but we can’t wait to be involved in real life. We’ve already experienced this overwhelming sense that we’re not alone, and we can’t wait to share that with other people.
We were stuck on opposite sides of a broken bridge, and XO helped us build that bridge back to each other.
If you have an XO Marriage Story you would like to share with us, visit xomarriage.com/sharemystory