Happy Friday, friends! We have a Southern Newlywed treat for you today. Audrey and Jeremy Roloff, who run a marriage ministry called Beating50Percent, are here sharing a practice that has made a huge difference in their married life. Don’t miss the promo code they graciously included below! – Emily
We are stubbornly confident that there are still people in pursuit of covenant marriages: marriages that are undividedly devoted, completely committed, persistently selfless, value-centered, joy-filled, and love-based. In the United States, researchers estimate that 50 percent of all first marriages will end in permanent separation or divorce. The risk is even higher for second marriages (by some estimates, about 60 percent). How is it that our grandparents’ generation is committed to their marriages at age 80, yet as a 24-year-old, most of my friends’ parents are divorced or remarried by age 50?
What has caused the pendulum to swing so far? Why are people getting married later, ending marriage sooner, and remarrying multiple times? I was in an old antique shop once and read a quote that I think sums it up the best: “Back in our day, when something broke, you fixed it instead of throwing it away.” The quote was inked over a photo of an elderly couple holding each other close.
But isn’t that just it? When our grandparents were growing up, if their car, bike, sink, dress, bed, or radio broke, they fixed it. Nowadays, most people wouldn’t even know how to fix those things even if they wanted to. If it breaks, they just buy a new one — a better one. Seemingly nothing is irreplaceable. And so the same concept has unfortunately translated to our marriages: if it breaks, just get a new one…
My husband and I, and I’m confident we’re not alone in this, want to have a marriage marked by “fixing” instead of “throwing away.” To help, we have prioritized a rhythm in our marriage that has led to tremendous payoff: our Navigator’s Council.
Our Navigator’s Council started out as a weekly “coming together” for Jeremy and I to communicate on important matters, share hurts and struggles, celebrate achievements, review where we’ve been, and dream about where we are headed. We were advised to do this by our pre-marital counselors, who had been asking each other a series of questions and recording their answers in a journal every week since their wedding day 18 years earlier. Jeremy and I immediately latched onto this idea and knew we wanted to do something similar!
On our honeymoon, we made a commitment to a practice of weekly councils. Here are a few of my favorite questions we ask every week:
— What’s one thing I can do for you this week?
— What is something that was hard this week?
— What is a dream, craving, or desire that has been on the forefront of your mind this week?
We have been doing our Navigator’s Councils every Sunday since we’ve been married (with the exception of a few, of course!) and each Sunday is a call to reconciliation, a burning away of bitterness, a revelation of truth, and a strengthening of our love.
Not only is our Navigator’s Council a review of where we’ve been and where we are going, but it is a time to share, a call to transparency, a reminder of truth, a discerning of dreams, and a harvesting of love. As we’ve reflected on old entries, we smile at what this simple journal has prevented us from, and the standard it has held us to. The hour that we set aside on Sundays to create time and space for the discipline of communication has been crucial. Yes, it’s a discipline, but I would argue it’s a vital one for marriage – without communication, we are left to assume, and the Navigator’s Council doesn’t leave room for assumptions. Instead, it turns knowing more into loving more.
When we launched Beating50Percent, we knew we wanted to take this practice that’s been so helpful for us and make it available to everyone, so we launched the Navigator’s Council journal. The foundation of the journal is six questions that you will ask each other, and record your answers to, once a week. (We share one journal and take turns writing week by week.) Each week also includes a short devotional and a weekly calendar.
Like us, we hope that someday you will have a bookshelf full of Navigator’s Council journals that have strengthened and recorded the growth of your love. Whether you are newlywed or you’ve been married for 30 years, we believe our Navigator’s Council journal can transform your marriage! We hope that this practice will help you to have the kind of love that’s marked by fixing instead of throwing away.
Thank you so much for sharing, Audrey! For a 15% discount on the Navigator’s Council journal, head over to the Beating50Percent site and use code SOUTHERNWEDDINGS15!