To Have and to Hold
The quality that Scott has that makes him exclusively hers is his attentiveness. She describes him as having a unique blend of serious and silly. “Scott is consistently attentive to me and to others, always looking for small ways to serve that most people might never notice.”When Shelton is in Scott’s arms, she feels beloved, home, and seen.
For Better or for Worse
One of the areas that Scott and Shelton feel they can do better in their marriage is through not reacting emotionally to the other’s state of being. “When one of us is sad, frustrated, tired, or insecure, the other can tend to mirror the same emotion. It has been something we honestly weren’t aware of at the start of our marriage and sometimes occasionally only saw it as a strength.” They’ve discovered that there are times in which this tendency is a good thing–when it promotes empathy and sensitivity. “Often times, however, this lack of emotional detachment has kept us from many healthy paths including seeking and speaking truth about who we are in Christ and the promises of God we can rely on.”
When asked about the worst year of their marriage Shelton and Scott respond with “Can we say the worst (or hardest) year and a half?”
As missionaries living in a South African township, The Hersey’s went through a period in which they had to balance full-time ministry, full work schedules, a growing social enterprise business, friends experiencing deep trauma, and their own mental lows. During this same period, they transitioned from South Africa to Boston, all the while facing consistent illness and infertility.
“There was so much to do, so much loss in the massive transitions and struggle with infertility and illness, and each of us had our own journeys of grief and healing to walk through. We had been married for three years at this point, we were exhausted and well past our breaking points and did not understand very well how deep our emotional lows were and how much we were trying to sustain ourselves on our own strength.”
Through consistent tears, moments of irritation and anger, little to no energy, and loneliness they came to understand long-suffering in marriage. They saw the beauty that can come from sticking by one another and trusting God’s promises. They had to mourn the end of one season while embracing the beginning of another. “We needed rest, perseverance, counseling, acceptance of one another, healthy detachment from each others’ emotional ups and downs and the type of healing that only comes over time cloaked in grace.”
For Richer or for Poorer
Shelton & Scott see their marriage as being rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, and growth. They enjoy learning from one another and growing personally and together.
When there is poor communication between these two they share, “Our tendency when we poorly communicate or don’t communicate is to make assumptions… Assumptions about what the other is thinking, doing and not thinking or doing that we feel they should be considering… and assumptions about each other’s motivations.”
Through Sickness and in Health
The Hersey’s are far too familiar with sickness. “This past year, we journeyed through the illness and passing of Scott’s father. Watching Scott’s dad struggle and pass from this life to the next was so painful, especially for Scott. Meanwhile, we continued to struggle with infertility and grieve through the process of unsuccessful fertility treatments. Again, the two of us were faced with another wilderness period of grief, each of us expressing it so different than the other. We longed for a lighter season of healing and regeneration. This time, we clung to God, sought joy and gratitude of each other, held a new perspective of the preciousness of life, and gave each other the acceptance, space, support, and grace we both needed to freely grieve and heal. We discovered amidst this wilderness season that regeneration was happening all along.”
The way the Herseys maintain the health of their marriage is through communication. “We try to be aware of our own pain points when they’re triggered so we can speak God’s truth to ourselves and to each other. We create fun moments, romance, memories and conversations through which to connect in new and diverse ways. We rely on community and share openly about our marriage: the struggles, the different seasons, the help we have gratefully received, the love, fondness, respect and admiration we have for one another. We speak well of each other to others, conscious of building each other up and not tearing one another down.
To Love and to Cherish
Shelton’s perception of love has not changed much since before she married, but her understanding of what it means has deepened. “One perspective that has changed is what love in action means. I have had to learn a LOT about what this means for Scott and also for myself. Love for us means:
- Prioritizing time together.
- Extending an extra measure grace to each other.
- Acknowledging what Scott says he needs.
- Supporting each other in every season.
- Celebrating small and big “piles of stones” (or markers of God’s faithfulness.)
- Laying down our individual life visions for a God’s vision for “us.”
- Embracing a unified vision that is about our journey toward wholeness.
Scott cherishes his wife through encouraging her. Through his words, small notes, texts, emails and choosing to be present. He supports her in various areas of work and community commitments. He contributes to her gifts and passion. “My favorite is when he out of the blue says to me, “I’m so proud of you, Shelt,” or sends me a text that says, “I love you, and I see you.””
Til Death Do Us Part
When asked how the thought of death makes Shelton appreciate her husband she responds, “It is strange. Even though I only met Scott at age 25, I now cannot imagine living this life journey without him. In fact, looking back, it feels as if he was a small part of me all along. Perhaps this is because God has intricately used Scott to shape me more into my whole and true self. I always tell people that in being married to Scott, I have grown into the person that God created at my very inception; through him, my brokenness has given way to a more centered soul rooted in Christ.”
Something Old Something New
Scott’s old school advice can be found in John 15:13, he quotes,
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay one’s life down for another.”
He goes on to share, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4
- Seek the interest of your wife before your own interest
- If your wife wants to connect with you in a way that doesn’t interest you, lay down your interest and choose to connect.
- Enter into conversations and conflict that you don’t think is a big deal or worth a conversation but it’s important to your spouse to engage and grow.
- Listen to understand.
- Buy a less expensive car (or something else) because your together-values are to be frugal and generous with others.
- Put down your work (or turn off the t.v.) and go to bed with your spouse as much as you can (ending the day together is a great rhythm!)
- Conserve energy throughout your day to have the peace and presence to go on a date night or to help serve alongside your wife in daily family routines.
His new school advice is to, “ Be aware when to HALT(!) a conversation. In other words, don’t enter into a serious conversation if either of you are feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT). Take some space–even if it means going to bed, taking a walk or going about your day while you’re still feeling a few of these things–so you can come back to each other and the conversation in a better, more whole place.”
Something Borrowed Something Blue
Some borrowed advice that has greatly impacted Scott over the years is, “Intentionally discover and seek out the unique ways your wife receives love and keep exploring new ways to speak her love language. Keep in mind that your wife’s love language might (and will) change from season to season in life. Your wife is in the process of constantly changing… So take the time and give energy to continually get to know her, always holding her with sacred curiosity.”
Scott’s bonus advice is to “Have fun together! Seek out fun, adventure, and new experiences, and pursue enjoyment of one another in little and big ways!” He suggests that couples celebrate as often as they can.
The question Scott would like his wife Shelton to answer is, “In what way do you feel you most need to be consistently pointed to God?”
Shelton’s question for her husband Scott is, “What do you dream over and for us?”
When asked if they had the chance to do it all over again would they, Scott replies, “I would have been more consistent about walking with other men through the marriage journey. We have had some very important and intentional voices speaking into our marriage, and some of the most important pieces of vision and health in marriage have been heavily influenced by our mentors and those with an intentional presence in our lives. I would have tried harder to be more consistent about these connections in difficult seasons as well as find new mentors from whom to receive encouragement.”
Shelton’s response to doing it over was, “Earlier on, I would have lowered my super-high and unrealistic expectations of Scott and our marriage (an expectation of perfection that I didn’t realize I had until a few years into marriage). I like the hopes I hold for us and that we hold together. I am enjoying the plans we make that are cloaked in God’s grace and vision for our wellness, not in my own expectation. I know I have a long way to go in this area, but I hope we can continue to see our marriage even more through the eyes of God’s delight in us so that all we do and say to one another might derive from a place of inspiration, not expectation.”
For the reader: If you would like to ask this couple a question or offer a word of encouragement, please do so in the comment section below?