My Own Beautiful Love Story: A Marriage From A Friendship


My husband and I knew each other for about 6 years before we got married. For probably 4 of those years we were really good friends. Not the kind of friends hoping for more, or just waiting to start a relationship. We were just good friends. We saw each other at Uni, hung out with the same friends, traveled on mission trips together, were in Bible studies together, and enjoyed catching up here and there. But one of the moments of our friendship that I treasure (albeit a long moment) was over the time that I lived overseas. We emailed at least monthly – more often fortnightly –  for two years. Those emails were often long, sincere and encouraging. And still just as friends.

On our first Wedding Anniversary, I had the ingenious idea to compile all of our emails over that time into a bound book. You know, year #1 about paper and all, I thought that would be pretty cool. Paul loved it. And I loved it when he handed me the exact same gift. I am not kidding. Somehow, we had both thought of the same, somewhat abstract gift and secretly made it and gave it to each other without having a clue about the other persons identical idea. We laughed. And we read. It worked out really well, as we had each included some emails that the other didn’t have, so when you read them side by side, there is a very comprehensive record of our correspondence.

Today, as I hunted for some Superannuation details in a box in a cupboard, I stumbled upon our books. I pulled them out and read through them. What precious memories. And I couldn’t quite believe the things I was reading. We wrote about relationships – who we had crushes on, who we were dating, how we were feeling post-dating. We wrote about Jesus – the passion for the gospel that we shared, but looked very differently as I lived and served in Japan, and as he worked in a secular, financial, government area. We wrote about the future, and the dreams and hopes we had. We joked together. We encouraged each other about the greatness of the God we both shared a relationship with. We wrote about challenges we both faced. And more.

As I read through those emails, with some passing of time and changing of circumstances, clarity descended. We were fundamentally passionate about the same things. We shared the same desire to see Jesus proclaimed wherever we were. We helped one another to focus on Jesus when others things threatened to consume. We laughed, joked and enjoyed one another. We were good friends to one another – speaking hard words in love when necessary, keeping in touch well, catching up and visiting when possible. We appreciated one another.

And it’s these things that haven’t changed. And it’s because of these things that we enjoy a special, meaningful relationship as husband and wife. We have the same passion. We keep Jesus as our focus. We help each other when that is threatened. We have fun together. We are friends. We speak lovingly, even when the topic is difficult. We touch base, and connect with each other. We value and appreciate each other. We are by no means perfect, and fail at these things at times (too often). But with a foundation of friendship, our marriage is a gift from God. It is a beautiful love story that only God Himself could have orchestrated. Neither of us would have believed it all of those years ago, and I certainly hope that we can look forward to what God will do next. Because He certainly does some wonderful things.


The Marriage Course

We love being married!

We love being married!

Paul and I have welcomed two beautiful children into the world, moved house three times, travelled to Japan four times together, been to WA, NT, ACT, NSW, VIC and SA on trips, shared only one car, studied full time and part time, worked and stayed-at-home, yet have still only been married for four years. Four years! It seems so much longer than that…in a really good way. I mention this not because it is our anniversary (no, that was a very busy day on our recent Japan trip which sadly had not a lot of celebration time worked into it), but because we are currently doing ‘The Marriage Course’.

Don’t worry, we are not in any way facing crises or difficulties that require counselling or therapy. We are very much in love and enjoy being married to one another – praise God! Our church runs the course every year as a way to nurture and strengthen marriages. People in all sorts of marriages can participate. And until now we haven’t been able to join in, as Paul always played basketball on the night of the course. As he is no longer playing, we were excited to give it a go!

The course we are doing is officially called ‘The Marriage Course’, created by Nicky and Sila Lee, and is a part of Alpha International. We have been heading out each Monday night once the girls are in bed and in the capable care of various, generous babysitting friends of ours, looking forward to some time together, delicious dessert, and time to really invest into our marriage.

Each week has a different topic, and so far we have done ‘Building Strong Foundations’, ‘The Art of Communication’ and ‘Resolving Conflict’. Overall, I have been quite impressed by the quality of the course. Each week we watch a DVD, where Nicky and Sila, along with other couples who have been interviewed, discuss the particular topic. You are given moments where the DVD is paused, where each couple talks only to each other about a particular issue, or attempts a particular exercise (listening etc). There is no group discussion about issues, and you can’t really hear the other couples talking with each other. It is definitely less corny (hokey for my American friends) than I was expecting. Nicky and Sila have a very genuine, comfortable presenting style, with warmth and laughter that I really appreciate. I have to try  not to giggle fairly often. I think that’s a good thing.

I don’t think we have come across any new, amazing information that we were completely unaware of before, but it is great to remember some things we may have forgotten, and to try and implement some of the suggestions just to see how they go. Doing our homework together has been really fun too! So far for me the two most significant things have been:

1. Remembering again the ways that Paul feels most loved by me

In the first week of the study, we are encouraged to make time for each other and to nurture each other. And how can we nurture each other if we don’t know each other? So we took a look at the things that we felt most loved by, and discussed those things with each other. We already had a fair idea about what those things were. Paul loves ‘Practical Help’, or as the Five Love Languages book describes, ‘Acts of Service’. Which in an extremely unfortunate turn of events, probably is just about the lowest for me. I am no good at this. And so enter difficulty number one.

Every day I want to show Paul that I love and care for him in ways that mean a lot to him. It just happens that it does not come naturally to me at all, and is a struggle sometimes. OK, often. But Paul is a really very wonderful husband who encourages me, is gracious to me, and understands that most of the time I am doing my best. I don’t feel pressure from him. It’s just one of those battles with sin. It’s easy to do only what is easy and comfortable. But I want to love in a selfless, sacrificial way. A Christ-like way. But it is hard, a lot of the time. But isn’t that what marriage is? Loving each other even though it’s not easy? Committing to do our best for one another, even when we are so inclined to be ugly, mean and selfish?

So it was a good reminder for me.

2. Practicing better listening skills with one another

This has been excellent! For those of you who know Paul and I well, you won’t necessarily be surprised, but one of the unique attributes to our marriage is that we don’t suffer from that typical problem of a quiet, closed, un-talkative husband. My husband is a great communicator. Truly. It’s just that sometimes I need a bit more talking room. And through doing this course we have both realised significant ways that we can improve our listening. I need to stop “giving advice” – and I thought that was just what men did! I was wrong! When I realised that…ouch! And don’t mention interrupting. Oh boy!

Since we have both been trying to stop doing the wrong things (interrupting etc), and do some active listening skills, our interactions and conversations have really changed. Deepened. Opened up. We are learning about each other more than before. And it’s lovely.

We are by no means perfect, and we definitely don’t have everything figured out. But it is great to be investing in our marriage both for the future, but also for now. It is definitely not easy to take the time out for each other. Having two little ones means that we could just collapse in tiredness at the end of the day. But it has been worth it, even if we are tired and grumpy in the car on the way to the course! It’s a great thing to do, and if you have the chance to do it one day, I would encourage you to give it a go. Your marriage is precious, important and worth investing in.

And a big thanks to Russell and Helen who host the course at their home. The yummy desserts and lollies really help get us there some weeks!

Horses, Wineries & Hot Springs


When I think about the season of my life at the moment, those three things – ‘horses, wine & hot springs’ – are not usually connected to me at all. Until, that is, today. My wonderful husband knows of my love of horses, and horse riding. And so for Valentine’s Day Paul purchased vouchers which included riding horses to some wineries, wine tasting, and then a pass to bathe in some very relaxing hot springs. What an amazing combination! And today was the big day!

The Preparations

We have had the day booked in for a few months now, and our main preparations had to do with Heidi and Pippa. It was relatively simple to confirm that Paul’s parents would look after the girls for the day. The difficult part was working out the how part of that. Initially we had thought, because of breastfeeding Pippa, that we would all head down together, I would feed Pippa, off the Grandparents and girls would go, then we would meet again to breastfeed and so on. A good idea, but one that was not looking particularly relaxing. Then I heard about little Prima-style formula milk you can give babies, and we tried one out a week ago. Pippa was happy enough to drink that from a little bottle, and so we gave Ron and Mary the option of what they would like to do. They chose to stay home, and try feed Pippa the formula. And so we now had a plan!

The Day

We left at about 8am this morning and headed down to the Mornington Peninsula, on this absolutely beautiful day! 25 degrees, no wind, sun shining in Melbourne at the start of May is perfection. We arrived just when we had planned, and at 10am we were all saddled up and ready to get going! I was riding a spunky little gelding called ‘Cashmere’, while Paul was on the gentle ‘Belle’. We were in a group of about 10 (I think) and most of the ride was a fairly relaxing walk amongst some stunning farms, vineyards and quiet paths.

We stopped at two different wineries, and experienced wine tasting for the first time. Neither Paul nor I are particularly interested in wine, and so we were feeling a little out of our depth to begin with, but soon realised that there were others there who were also more interested in the horse riding side of things, and we relaxed. The places were beautiful! We had enough time to sit and enjoy the scenery and each other at both wineries, before heading home again on our trustworthy steeds.

After dismounting and heading to the car, I managed to do some impressive breast pumping in the car – there is a first and a last for everything – and we arrived at the Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs in time for a late lunch. Nachos, Toasties and hot drinks were on the menu to fill up our grumbling bellies. We didn’t even get changed before we ate – we were both very hungry! After our lunch that hit the spot, we got changed and headed out to the relaxing baths. Oh my goodness. What a feeling – our tired, weary, sore limbs were restored to health in those amazing baths. I could have stayed all day!

(Although, as a side note, it was very strange to go to a hot spring and mix with men and women, wearing bathers. My only other experience like it had been in Japan, where the sexes are divided, and nudity is the norm. So it was slightly odd for me today. But it still great!)

The Best Bits

Spending the whole day with Paul – talking, relaxing, doing something fun together, and just being together. We haven’t really done a big day out together since Heidi was born, and I have never been without Pippa since she was born, so it was a big deal today. But to connect, and make special memories together with my husband is a really important (and fun!) thing to do.

Enjoying some beautiful weather and creation was amazing. There is something so refreshing to the soul to be out in nature, enjoying many things that God has made.

Heidi and Pippa had a brilliant time with their Grandparents!

Why Bother?

I think it can be a really hard time, especially with a young family, for married couples to be able to spend time together. And yet it is so important. Otherwise life can be simply busy-ness, talking about the kids (although we did do that a little today), and daily comings and goings. To take some time out together, slowly, quietly enjoying conversation and each other – it’s a real shift from kids and family life. It’s so very valuable – and fun!

Thank you

To my amazing husband for a great gift!
To Ron and Mary for looking after our girls.
To God for being so gracious and giving us just what we need (and more), when we need it.


The Small Sacrifices

 Paul headed out tonight to a Men’s ‘Italian Oven’ night at church. He was reluctant to leave due to the two in-bed-but-screaming girls he was leaving me to deal with. “Go” I said, “I want you to go”. And so he left. And I really am glad he can be out on a Friday night enjoying some good food (they apparently had Gluten Free options) and some good fellowship. But it doesn’t make it easy. Doing something difficult with the desire to benefit another person is almost never easy. 

And thus enters the dilemma of all relationships, and in particular, marriage. Not that I am saying that marriage is a dilemma. The dilemma is the collision of my innate selfishness with my commitment to love another. Because those two things do not always equate. And it’s everyday. Numerous times. 

I have committed to love Paul. And not in that gushy-infatuted sense. Although there are definitely real feelings involved. My commitment to him is a real, tangible love that surpasses feelings and emotions. Which is a very good thing because they change fairly easily (understatement!). Our love for one another is modelled on Christ’s love for us – a love expressed in selfless sacrifice of the biggest kind. But I guess it is in the every day moments that this love-in-action commitment is really tested. Because I probably won’t be challenged to die for anyone most days. Not even for my husband. But I will be challenged in some ways. There will be smaller sacrifices to make. And smaller does not always mean easier.

I mean, when we first got married 2 of the things we had to work out were which apples we would buy and how we would fold the towels. So simple, so insignificant and yet these were issues we had to actually work through and talk about! When two people come together as one, there will always be areas that are more prone to friction than others. I am so thankful that Paul is such a godly man, and that as such he is acutely aware of his weaknesses and eager and willing to be selfless, forgiving and humble towards me. He is an example to me!

And yet that struggle with selfishness continues daily to rear its ugly head. It’s those every day moments where I have a small choice to make that this battle will be fought. 

Will I give up my Saturday morning alone time so that Paul can catch up with a really good friend who he rarely sees? (But what about me?)
Will I get dinner ready while the girls are sleeping today so that Paul doesn’t come home to a very stressful situation of screaming girls, stressed out wife and no food in sight? (But what about me?)
Will I bother going out to the shops with the girls so as to give Paul some peace and quiet while he has a major assessment due? (But what about me?)

None of these examples are profound, amazing or inspiring. But they are real. And they are the choices and decisions that as a whole will set the tone in a marriage. May we continue to struggle towards making small sacrifices for others, even when it’s hard, really hard.

What are some of the small sacrifices you have made lately?