Engagements and Weddings are very romantic. There is a lot of optimism. There are lots of dreams. It’s the beginning of a new adventure. Stop and think about all of the adventure movies you’ve ever seen. They are all about overcoming a series of obstacles and dangers, trust is challenged, but a lot of personal discovery and growth happens as well. This is marriage. You need to know what it means to be on the same team. You need to have Biblical understanding of what love is and what it looks like. You need to equip your crew of two to go on this adventure and know, as much as you are able, what to expect. Bad expectations are the biggest obstacles on this adventure. Check out this conversation with Corby and Jess about our experiences on this wild ride.

Sweet Love: Having A Marriage That Doesn't Suck - Week 2 | https://www.corbystephens.com/sweet-love-having-a-marriage-that-doesnt-suck-week-2/




  • Be in agreement going in how you are going to handle money. It’s one of the main areas with which couples struggle.
  • Get educated about money handling, specifically from a Biblical perspective.
  • Commit to not being in debt. Live at and below your means.
  • It’s an issue of stewardship, handling the resources God provides for you because it’s His stuff, not yours.
  • Many couples live reactionary lives financially. Need to live intentional lives, as much as you are able to.

Being on the same team

  • This is your marriage together. You don’t have individual lives outside of it and then be married when you are together. You are one even when you are apart.
  • When people are engaged they are excited about being married, about have a “joint-ness”. Then, at some point, it comes up that they would prefer to be an individual again. How does that shift happen? Going from wanting to be together all the time to realizing that they really do want some freedom and space again.
    •  Anyone who is excited about anything has the ability to overlook potential problems. There is an amount of innocent disillusionment.
    • When the difficulties arise we all want to go back to what is familiar, even if it was harder than we remember. (Israel in the desert.)
    • This is exactly why deep premarital counseling is important. See Featured Resources below.


  • Romance and passion are not what a marriage is built on. They are important, but not the foundation. How much love a person makes you feel for them or from them, in this sense, is not Biblical love.
  • From a Bible perspective.
    • Genesis 22 is the first place the word “love” appears in the Bible. It is in the context of sacrifice. It is also a foreshadowing of Jesus on the cross and the phrase Jesus uses about Himself in John 3:16.
    • Giving over the thing God has promised you back to God.
  • A lot of what we deal with around love is struggling with the differences between the feeling of love being how you make me feel, verses love motivating me to serve and sacrifice.
  • You will learn a lot about what love is and what it looks like the more you study God Himself. Looking at His grace, patience, and long-suffering, its all rooted in His love for us. He should have given up on us a long time ago, but He didn’t and doesn’t.
  • The more you understand and experience the love God has for you and your love for Him on a vertical plane, the more you will be able to live that out on a horizontal with others. If both people int he marriage are doing that, so much the better.
  • “I don’t like you, but I love you,” is a reality sometimes.
    • How Corby deals with these times is to serve Jess in some way. Not to work off steam, but to get his head back in the right place because love demonstrates itself in service and sacrifice.
    • Jess shares about dealing with your own crap first before attacking the other person because you are probably an equal part in the issue. And grace because usually these things don’t matter in the big picture.
    • Overlook the small offenses and let them go.
  • 1 Corinthians 13
    • Love Believes all things, hopes the best in all things, holds no record of wrongs.
    • There are no score cards because you die to yourselves and no one owes you anything ever.
    • Make the other the best loved and best served person.

Fights and the Flesh

  • We’ve never had a fight. Like a real fight. Some people admire that, others think its unrealistic, but it’s just how we work. Been angry at each other for sure, but never a yelling, shouting fight. Always try to rationally work through stuff.
  • When the temptation comes to fight about something and (Corby) usually ends up just stewing on it working through it myself, working through my own crap, the things I want to say are all flesh-driven.
    • We are told to not walk in the flesh but to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-24).
    • Not acting out in the flesh applies everywhere. You don’t let your guard down in your marriage.
    • Just because your spouse is one of the few people you get to be open and honest with doesn’t mean you get to drop a flesh bomb on them.
    • Of all of the places you are supposed to “be a Christian,” your marriage and your family is the first place.

Marriage is fun! It’s supposed to be fun!

Spiritual habits, expectations of spouses, and the Christian subculture

  • Confession – we never got into the habit of reading and praying together as a couple. We tried.
    • This might be a relief to some people. This can become a legalistic thing.
    • Expectation check from Jess – conditioned to believe that a truly Godly man, as my spiritual leader, would lead me in prayer and Bible study time. Held that over Corby’s head for years which made him want to do it even less.
    • Reality is that God is the Spiritual leader, Jess would accept any spiritual leadership from Corby. But she had let go of that expectation and stopped defining Corby by her expectation. Don’t define your spouse by your expectation. Once she did that there was a lot more freedom to enjoy walking with God with Corby just the way he is.
    • Our spiritual growth happens as things come up more organically as we talk about life stuff and dig into the word out it. Its become much more natural and meaningful.
  • Why did Corby not lead in prayer and Bible study with his wife?
    • Praying  felt forced as a person.
      • Some people are comfortable praying out loud, some aren’t. Corby is comfortable with it, but is used to doing it in a minty context.
      • Put on the “Christian honesty hat” – when people pray in front of other people, it doesn’t sound normal. It’s not normal English. It’s this other language of prayer. It’s not the way you talk to God in your head. It’s not the way you talk to anyone.
      • For Corby, praying out loud with Jess felt like closing a prayer meeting. “Lord, thank you for this day, and just Lord, and in this place Father…”
    • Teaching Jess from the Bible felt forced, as though I’m supposed to instruct her, when she is a student of the word and a great teacher in her own right.
    • Maybe these are all ministry connections and hang ups because most of our lives have been in the context of ministry.
  • Husbands can have their own wrong physical expectations mess up their relationships. Could have gone on a rabbit trail on pornography, sexual history, but didn’t.
  • Jess – I have seen more women’s improper expectations of their husbands as the primary thing that damages relationships than anything else. “We are brats.”
  • Where do these expectations come from?
    • Do they really matter?
    • Do they come from our American Christian subculture, which is horrible and much of which has nothing to do with scripture?

Spiritually Lopsided Relationships

  • How to deal with that in a marriage is mostly the same as dealing with it with a friend.
    • Listen
    • Show compassion
    • But not enable
    • Gently guide to truth
    • Be present with them
    • Be an example, but not in such a way that is not appealing (1 Peter 3)
  • A marriage is like two oxen yoked together. Where one pulls the other follows.
  • You need a good, solid, Godly couple that you can go to.
    • Someone outside your family
    • Some you can individually go to to vent about your spouse when you need to
    • Have this couple in your life from before you get married
    • Check in with them regularly

Random closing thoughts

  • When you compare your marriage to other marriages, aspire to the right things, don’t be jealous of the wrong things.
  • Your marriage is your marriage. Seek what God wants for it, not what the culture around you implies it should be.
  • Don’t get sucked into the Christian subculture! Instagram does not dictate what your marriage should look like.
  • If your Christian world revolves around what’s on Christian pop radio, what “worship event” or Christian concert is coming to town, how long your beard is, how tight your jeans are, how low you v-neck is, the latest theological controversy, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Our Christian subculture is as materialistic in its own “spiritual” way as the world around us.
  • As much as we talk about the challenges and difficulties of being married, it really is fun. It is great. It is wonderful.
  • When trials come around your marriage or in your marriage, remember the question Paul Tripp asks is his book, “What Did You Expect?” (linked below); whose kingdom are you building, yours or God’s?
  • Your spouse is a tremendous instrument for sanctification. Let “stuff” shape you more into the image of Jesus.

Watch for our next Facebook Live event on Tuesday, February 21st at around 6:30pm. We will be talking about parenting and including more stories of trials and how we overcame them.

Featured Resources

Premarital workbook – Paperback

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What Did You Expect? By Paul Trip (book)

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What Did You Expect? (DVD set)

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Related Resources

Interview with Jessica on Notes From The Road

Others posts from this series