Why My Marriage Walk Has Not Matched My Marriage Talk

why my marriage walk has not matched my marriage talk_thumb


Exactly one year ago, I wrote this blog. It was a tough post to write. I wrote it because I had  been writing about how to have a great marriage and speaking about it, but I was not  putting all of it into practice myself.  Oh sure, I’ve did a lot of what I wrote about, but I wasn’t going after it with great zeal and passion like I should have.

So, here’s the post. Next to each item in my action plan below I noted how I’ve done over the past year.

I really feel bad about it. It makes me sad that, over the past year, instead of giving Susan my freshest and best, she’s received my leftovers. And there is no excuse for that.

But, I had to ask myself “Why?” Well, I didn’t realize it, but there are several things that have kept me from being the kind of husband I need to be to Susan. Here are a few:

  • House flood and move. Our family is houseless not homeless blog post explains what happened.
  • Writing books. I spent quite a bit of time writing the All Pro Dad book that was released last year and Susan was in the middle of writing her first book, The Passionate Mom.
  • Speaking at fatherhood, parenting, and marriage conferences and events around the country.
  • Financial pressures. Unexpected expenses from our home flood coupled with school and college tuitions consumed much money, time, and energy.
  • Health challenges with several family members.
  • The rut.  It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of daily routines and cares of the world without even realizing it. The rut can keep us from being on the correct relational course.
  • Oh, and by the way, I am responsible for serving you and millions of others through Family First and our All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute programs.

So, there you have it. But, what am I doing about it? Well, here is my initial action plan.

1. I’m reviewing several of my blog posts that I think will greatly help me and give me some ideas. The ones I’m reading are:

I re-read each of these blog posts.

2. I’m vowing that I will not speak harshly or critically to Susan.

Although I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times on this one, I’ve really made some good improvement…just ask Susan!

3. I’m putting reminders at the top of my calendar every day of things I need to say to, and do for, Susan. Susan’s “love language” is words of affirmation and encouragement, so I’m going to especially focus on that. My plan is to use sticky notes, text, and face-to-face time to use words to build up and encourage her.

I did this consistently for a few months and then, for some reason, I just stopped. I need to start doing this again.

4. I’m going to make date nights with Susan a priority. Some will be scheduled and some will be spontaneous.

I’ve had lots of dates with Susan.

5. I’m going to have “service days” days for Susan. Yes, we should serve our spouses every day, but a service day will be a day that I am doing anything and everything she wants me to do. For example, yesterday, Susan needed to spend the entire day working on a speech she needs to give this week. So, I made it a “serve Susan day.” I did laundry, watered the flowers, went to the grocery store, cooked dinner, washed the dogs, and brought her refreshments.

I’ve done this a number of times over the last year, especially in the last couple of months when Susan had surgery. She had to get a new pacemaker so I had quite had quite a few things to do for Susan.


So, that’s my initial plan, but I want to expand it. Would you please share with me your ideas of other things I can add to my marriage action plan? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://ReWritingDad.com/ Chad Miller

    Mark, this is phenomenal. You recently told me, after reviewing a post, that it took guts to write. In your position, with all eyes looking upon you as the expert, this took guts to write.
    I’m paying particular attention to #5 currently, and seeking ways that I can better serve my wife. However, I’ve learned not to be too presumptuous with this. To ensure that I am meeting her needs, and giving myself up for her, I will often ask her how I may better serve her. I’ve found that I often miss the mark when I assume I know how to meet her needs.
    Thank you for your transparency, Mark.

  • Tina

    Profound and I will leave it at that!

  • Cary Gaylord

    Mark, This is good stuff! I’m thankful that Family First has a CEO who is faithful, introspective and self correcting! You’re a good example for all of us. Cary

  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.sweatt.9 Chuck Sweatt

    Thanks! Great info! I sometimes realize after its too late that I’ve been serving my wife but only to fulfill my own needs. Meaning, I made myself feel better by doing something for her. That, of course is not genuine and not what it’s all about. I must do better to serve selflessly.

  • JB

    Mark, thank you for your honesty. We are simply men at best. I support not seeing a blog here for one day. On that day I would instead pray for your marriage and all marriages and celebrate that you were spending that time with Susan. How about it?

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Kind of you, Tina.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Thanks Chad…good idea not to assume!

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Chuck, I’ve done the same thing…serving her so I benefit!

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    I’m grateful, Cary. Appreciate you leading us!

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Good idea, JB. I am going to celebrate and spend a few days with Susan in a couple of weeks and won’t be writing a blog then.

  • sv

    how do you do it, i have a full time job, husband full time job, we have 3.5 yr old and 6 mo old, i have hard time even doing that??!

  • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

    You are not alone my friend. I have found myself in the same boat. My wife has even told me after reading a post “you aren’t consistently doing that…or even doing it at all.”

    I think it is a great idea to “take your own advice” by going through some past posts and passionately doing the action. I plan to do the same with my blog.

    I learned something new from this post that I want to implement. #5 service days…that is an EXCELLENT idea and I think will have a huge impact on our marriage. Thx for this post Mark!

  • Keith

    Proud of you Mark. Appreciate everything you do to make us better fathers and husbands. I for one will always be ready and eager to hear your insight even if it is not as frequent.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Wow…thanks for the encouragement, Keith.

  • Haines Maxwell

    Haines Maxwell • 2 hours ago ?
    Good stuff, Mark. I think a great challenge for us as men is fighting the urge to “do” and perhaps miss the “heart” of the matter. I can fool others some of the time. I can even stand before men and share wise man-tips to applause and “amens.”. But my wife KNOWS if my heart is with her and for her. I believe the most impactful growth and fruit will come when I look at a point such as #2 above and ask God-and even more courageously ask a close friend-“What is going on in my heart that causes me to speak harshly or critically to my wife.” My thought is that I don’t need to try harder…I need heart surgery.

  • Jerry Sinclair

    Mark, you asked if we “Would you please share with me your ideas of other things I can add to my marriage action plan?”

    Two things (and this is very hard for me, but I try):

    1) I try to have meaningful conversation with my dear wife, Susan. That is more than a nod of the head or a verbal “grunt” like “uh hu”. Respond and repeat to clarify. Confirmation that I am listening to my Susan is often all she needs.

    2) In conjunction with that…I try to be as excited about something as she is. Susan is often excited about her favorite sports teams (Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins). I must show genuine interest in those things. Susan loves her yard and I have to help her with a good attitude ( I hate yard work).

    There are more, but this will do.

  • simplewithsyd

    I sure appreciate you openness to let us know that you were talking, but not walking. Shows are humanness. But, how awesome that we can turn back at any moment and walk in His truth. Thank for letting us have a peek into your heart about your wife! :)

  • NL71

    Mark, I know that we (Christians) are not suppose to be jealous or envious, but if I may say I am a bit envious of your wife. She is obviously the apple of your eye, you obviously cherish her and you obviously still do your best to court and care for her. Additionally, it seems that you are truly after her heart as you want to improve the way you express love and commitment to her.
    I am glad to see that you are not so proud, you can ask for input from other men and women.
    I am sure that someone can find flaws in your approach but I personally find it refreshing to see such behavior from a man. I could only hope that my husband could learn from your leadership.

  • Jessica

    My advise, as we are currently going through a divorce, is don’t just be present. BE PRESENT. Passing in the hallway and watching TV together doesn’t count. It doesn’t matter if your home if she still feels alone. Touch her arm, make eye contact, share something pleasant that happened to you each day. This would have saved my marriage.

  • Dreamer K

    What does cause a man to take out all of his anger and vengefulness on his wife, when she is at home applying for jobs and responsibly managing our finances. Why would a husband find fault with almost everything a wife does or says? Why choose to go so far as being rude to her nephew just to get back at her for being truthful about how unpleasant it is to spend time with him? I have been living with this rude, yelling, eye-rolling person who has killed every dream I ever had by telling me they are stupid, foolish or he just doesn’t want to do it so I can’t do it either. Would you ever put your wife on speakerphone and walk away from the phone and start doing chores around the house while she is trying to have a conversation with you? This man turns around and tells me he loves me SO MUCH! I married a non-Christian from a whole family of atheists, and I required that he become a Christian or I would not marry him. He did that and we married in my church, but now 20 years later I believe he probably has been lying to me about a lot of things. I don’t think he realizes or cares how wrong it is to get up in a church and pretend to take Christ as your savior. However, I am now faced with a very tough decision and I believe have made it. I have waited since last August for this man to put action in place of all his words, but I have only been told that we are at an impasse, it is what it is, and no way is he going to marriage counseling so me and the counselor can gang up on him and tell him what a bad person his is. I don’t believe he is a bad person, but he certainly needs help facing the TRUTH about himself. I have prayed and prayed that God would help this man step up and be the husband and man I thought I married, but I don’t see that ever happening. You know what I have to do, I refuse to stay and be yelled out and told how stupid and worthless I am any longer. I recently read a book called “Love Isn’t Supposed to Hurt”. God loves me and wants to see me happy, emotionally healthy and serving him, not sitting in this dark hole crying and being hurt by a man who needs to verbally belittle me to build himself up. I serve a mighty God and I need to get back to giving him my first fruits, time and service. I know his eye is on the sparrow and he is watching over me. Thanks for your great insights.What does cause a man to take out all of his anger and vengefulness on his wife, when she is at

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