Just Say Yes

Husband: Hey Babe, I had a hard day at work and I was wondering if we could . . .

Wife: I can’t, I have a headache.

Somewhere along the way in history, a headache became the kryptonite that renders women inoperative and deflates husbands faster than a pin pops a balloon. The irony about the infamous headache excuse is that intimacy is the perfect cure. And if a wife is willing to sacrifice she may be surprised to find there is something significant in it for her too. The late Dr. Marvin Gaye called it, “Sexual Healing.” And there is science to back up his research.

Baby, I’m hot just like an oven
I need some lovin’
And baby, I can’t hold it much longer
It’s getting stronger and stronger
And when I get that feeling
I want sexual healing
Sexual healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine
Helps to relieve my mind
Sexual healing baby, is good for me
Sexual healing is something that’s good for me

Sexual Healing Lyrics by Marvin Gaye / David Ritz / Odell Brown

Have you ever heard of oxytocin? It’s also referred to as the bonding, cuddle, life, or love hormone. It’s a hormone that is excreted when a mother has a baby, it makes her feel connected to her child. Mothers generally don’t look at their babies and see them as alien creatures. (Even though infants often look alien.) Something inside of a mother causes her to look beyond blood, mucus, and her own physical exhaustion and immediately begin taking care of someone else. Oxytocin is the super glue that fosters mother-baby bonding. Everything from uterine contractions during labor to helping expel the placenta following labor is influenced by oxytocin. It helps a mom’s milk to let-down and helps close blood vessels after birth.

Through nipple stimulation, exercise, rhythmic movement, prayers, relaxation, warm baths, feeling grateful, loving words, laughter, and humor, moms and midwives have been able to stimulate the body to produce oxytocin during labor to lessen the pain of delivery. Imagine that? All of the above sound very similar to things that take place during foreplay between couples prior to having sex. Could it be that God designed this bonding hormone to wire men to feel one with and care for their wives in the same way that He designed it for moms to care for and connect with their babies?

Baby, I got sick this mornin’
A sea was stormin’ inside of me
Baby, I think I’m capsizin’
The waves are risin’ and risin’
And when I get that feeling
I want sexual healing
Sexual healing is good for me
Makes me feel so fine, it’s such a rush
Helps to relieve the mind, and it’s good for us

Marvin Gaye had a point. Sexual healing helps to relieve the mind and is good for us. Sex is deeply therapeutic both emotionally and physically. It is biblically encouraged and I’m sure many husbands with a headache-prone wife will attest to Mr. Gaye’s noted symptoms of feeling like he was capsizing. The seasickness he described is something the release of oxytocin could thwart. In fact, the only time men release this supernatural super glue is when they climax during the sex. Attention all wives who suffer from frequent “headaches” the fact that the only time your husband releases oxytocin is during sex should be enough to cure you for life if you care about the longevity of your love life.

You can outsource just about every other aspect of being a wife. You can hire someone to clean your home, cook your food, do your husband’s laundry, but the last thing you want is to outsource intimacy. Similar to the way that oxytocin causes a mom to connect with her baby it serves as a bonding agent between a husband and wife. This is not a hormone that you ever want your husband to release with someone else.

Oxytocin evokes feelings of:

  • security
  • contentment
  • love
  • trust
  • empathy

Oxytocin helps to reduce cortisol. People with high levels of cortisol may experience:

  • depression
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • emotional irregularities

Wives, I know it sounds counterintuitive to give yourselves to your husband if you are not feeling well, but could it be that you’re not feeling well because you are withholding good from him that’s really good for you? Is there a lack of security, contentment, love, trust, and empathy in your marriage? You might think that the lack of the aforementioned attributes is the cause of your headaches but maybe it’s the other way around. Of all the things you can get away with not doing for your husband doing “it” should not be one of them.

Do not withhold what is good from those who deserve it;
if it is within your power to give it, do it.
Do not send your neighbor away, saying, “Get back with me tomorrow.
I can give it to you then,”
when what he needs is already in your hand.
Make no plans that could result in injury to your neighbor;
after all, he should be more secure because he lives near you.
Avoid fighting with anyone without good reason,
especially when no one has hurt you; you have nothing to fight about.

Proverbs 3:27-35 The Voice (VOICE)

I implemented the “Just Say Yes” policy years ago when my husband and I were walking through the stress of adoption. We had three biological children and adopted three more. Our younger three were ages one, two, and three. Needless to say, life was hard and my headaches were frequent until my doctor looked at me and said, Mrs. Poplar, “You are a walking heart attack.” I wasn’t breathing properly because I was stuck in fight mode. I was living with the chronic pain of inflammation and the frustration of memory loss. One day while studying scriptures on intimacy I began to see parallels between the structure of a females’ body and the temple. I also noticed that the Bible had much to say about how husbands and wives should give themselves to each other.

Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.

Proverbs 5:15-19 ESV


I could share several scriptures with you that pertain to intimacy between husband and wife, (a different blog for a different day) but I selected this Proverb because it points to things that promote the release of God’s super glue that causes you to be stuck together with your spouse-oxytocin. Rejoice with your wife, let her breasts fill you with delight, and be intoxicated in her love. Things that can hinder the release of oxytocin in women during labor are fear, stress, feeling like they are being watched, tension, distrust, discomfort, and anxiety. These are also things that can hinder a woman in the bedroom. Husbands I just wanted to add that in there because if you want your wife to join the “Just Say Yes” tribe then you must be ready to love her as yourself and per Dr. Marvin Gaye’s orders, tell her that she’s great!”

You’re my medicine, open up and let me in
Darling, you’re so great, I can’t wait for you to operate
You’re my medicine, open up and let me in
Darling, you’re so great, I can’t wait for you to operate

My husband is a great patient. And he’s also very patient. Over our 19 years of being married, I’ve faced various medical issues like recovery after surgery and the loss of libido that can happen during breastfeeding, after having a baby, or after taking a prescription medication. Those highs and lows are normal parts of being beautifully bound. If there is a couple that is reading this and you are facing some intimate issues don’t be afraid to do some research (both biblically and medically), read a book, seek counseling, or have a heartfelt conversation with your spouse or your doctor. It would be a tragedy for you to abandon ship on your relationship the moment you hit choppy waters.

Even during seasons in which physical obstacles hinder physical sex, there are still ways to make love. The mysterious thing about marital intimacy is that it is appropriate during milestones, mistakes, mishaps, and mourning. Sex is sacred and God designed this ritual to help helpmates help and heal each other. Many times when I walked through medical issues and was unaware of what was taking place with my body or libido my husband was the one to figure out what was happening. Through research, prayer, and patience we were able to implement noninvasive natural remedies that resulted in a balance in my body and restored beauty in our marriage bed.

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples follow our Solid Marriage Support Facebook page today.


Bound - Sepia
Gracie Clark of Graced Lettering Co.

Beautifully Bound: Back Together

We met the Farris’ at a recent marriage conference. We were blessed by their story and believe you will be enlightened by their wisdom. Thank you, Tracy and Sylvia, for sharing your Beautifully Bound journey of reconciliation with our readers.

How long were you married?

20 years this Dec. 21


How long were you separated?

Though we were not physically separated, we were spiritually separated somewhere between 3-5 years.


What was the catalyst for you coming back together?

The catalyst that caused us to come back together was the understanding that our marriage isn’t merely for us. But it’s a ministry for us and others.


What does it mean to be “Beautifully Bound” to you?

To be committed to the marriage. To God, yourself and your spouse. In the harmony, trials, and challenges, victory and celebration all in the beauty of our heavenly Father God.  


What is the most powerful advice you have ever received or most powerful question you pondered during your time of separation?

The most powerful advice was that no one else on earth was created for us but us for each other. Many may catch our attention but no one else can handle us but each other.Farris Quote 2 (1)


What was the most difficult thing about being apart? The most difficult part is the actual feeling and experience of disconnection one from another. Knowing that what you have or had is no longer there.


What is the hardest part about coming back together?

Trust and Forgiveness. It’s one thing to say we trust and forgive but it’s another to live as you trust and to live as if you’ve been forgiven. Another area that was hard was sex. Each person wants to be validated with the assurance that they are the only King or Queen in the marriage.


What advice would you offer couples who are currently in the reconciliation process?

To recommit to God as individuals and as a couple. Focus on,

  • communication
  • compromise
  • capability
  • commitment
  • confession ( love for each other).

Take time out for each other and as an individual. Don’t lose your identity in the other person but allow your individual identities to make one whole identity. When people see you they should see God, you and your spouse. Build each other up with support, encouragement, validation, reassurance, and acceptance.

Farris Quote 2

What advice would you offer couples who are contemplating separation?

We would render this question. One simple word and question, “Why”? Many people focus their emotional decision on the circumstances of the effects of rejection and so forth. But how often do we focus on the “why” we felt rejected? People see the ripples in the water but have no idea why there are ripples in the water.


What will you do more intentionally now that you are back together?

Set boundaries. Work on being on the same sheet of music. Address the “why” not the ripple. Prayer, forgiveness, laughter, quality time, commitment, and communication. 

For more marital wisdom connect with the Farris’ by joining their Facebook Page Ambassadors Marriage Session “Inspired to Inspire.”


Bound - Sepia
Graced Lettering

If you would like to build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love, and connect with other couples visit our Solid Marriage Support Facebook Page.

Boundaries in Marriage

Solid Marriage Support2

On December 17, 2018, my husband and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage. It blows me away that we have now been married for longer than we had been alive when we met. As a high school junior and senior we became besties. 25 years later we are still fostering friendship. We’ve made it our tradition to not just celebrate our anniversary, but to celebrate the covenant of marriage.

In honor of our anniversary, we use to host marriage enrichment events called “Covenant Parties.” A Covenant Party was a reception like evening filled with sharing, dancing, dining, communication games, and a vow renewal ceremony. As much as it seemed special when we first began hosting, with each passing year, the word “covenant” sounds more and more antiquated. The more old school it may sound to the masses the more meaningful it becomes to me. Modernization might be great for marketing but often diminishes meanings that we need to be reminded of.

There’s a scripture in Proverbs that says,

“Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.” (22:28 NKJV)

This is referring to land markers which were pretty important in biblical times. A stone indicated where your property ended and where your neighbor’s started. Removing a landmark was a way of stealing property. Can you imagine what it would feel like if your neighbor changed your property line? The results could be costly and your rapport with your neighbor would be changed forever. When sacred concepts lose their meaning, I believe the enemy gains ground, and we lose territory.

Take notice of the two signs below.



There is a big difference between private property and a public park. Private property implies that the land belongs to someone, and they have reserved it for their own private use. Public access indicates that the area is open to the public. In marriage, It is just as important for husbands and wives to have clear boundaries as it is for a landowner to have proper signage posted. My husband and I set clear boundaries early on in our relationship and the more words like “covenant” seem to have lost their meaning the more meaningful words like “boundaries” have become to us. Boundaries preserve what is good and protect from what is toxic. Affairs are not intentional, but being intentional about setting healthy boundaries can help safeguard you against an affair.

Boundaries front 2018

Early on in our marriage one of our favorite couples asked us an interesting question. They said, “Do you all love each other enough to share if you ever found yourself having feelings for someone else?” That question led to us to do 3 key things if we ever found ourselves feeling chemistry with someone other than our spouse.

  • See it

  • Say it

  • Be set free

When we confess our faults and feelings to our spouse we can expose the enemy and safeguard our marriage against temptation. Below are a few questions you and your spouse can answer to aid you in the process of setting healthy boundaries in the 5 highlighted categories. (Think of preferences, pet peeves, pitfalls, and triggers in the following areas.)

1.  What boundaries would you like to see your spouse have at work?

2. What boundaries would you like to enforce amongst friends?

3. What are some ways to set physical boundaries?

4. What are some necessary emotional boundaries? (Guard your heart.)

5. What are some boundaries to implement with strangers?

This year we will celebrate our covenant by sharing tips, tools, and testimonies that will help you build your marriage on a solid foundation, nurture lasting love and connect with other couples. We hope you find this information useful. If you like it share it with your friends and invite them to connect with us on Facebook


Melvin & Toya Poplar Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

Though he is a rapper and an alpha male, Toya sees her husband Melvin as a nerdy guy who talks to himself. He is always “dadgineering” some brilliant new idea. He has a particular way that he prefers things to be done. She is well aware that his idiosyncrasies would drive most women crazy but she thinks they’re cute and finds herself more attracted to him because of he of his uniqueness. His quirks confirm that Melvin Poplar Jr. is the perfect guy for her.


To Hold

These high school and college sweethearts have been married now for 18 years.  When Melvin holds Toya in his arms she says she experiences healing from life’s hurts, safety from life’s harms, and comfort from life’s crazy. Toya considers herself to be a good wife but is always seeking to be a better helpmeet. One area she would like to “do better in” is to not take any phone calls when he is home. Life is short and time is precious. The Poplars want their home to be a sacred space for them to reconnect, recalibrate, and renew their love for one another, daily.


For Better or for Worse

“2011 was the worst year of our marriage, but the best year for our family. It was the year we opened our home and heart to adoption,” said Toya. Their boys are a blessing, but meeting their needs the first year was the heaviest burden they had ever carried. Imagine adopting a 1, 2, and 3, year old, when you already have 3 children ages 9, 11, and 13. Melvin started working a second job to offset adoption expenses. So his wife recalls that even when he was present, he was a “sleep-deprived” version of himself. Additionally, he was renovating their kitchen and if you’ve ever renovated a kitchen, you can only imagine how stressful that must’ve been for a family of 8. Their boys came to live with them in September. By November 11, Toya’s doctor told her she was a “walking heart attack.”


For Richer

The Poplars admit that their marriage is rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, and forgiveness. Some of the ways they maintain the health of their marriage is through having a date night every Tuesday. One of their favorite marriage maintenance routines is attending monthly marriage workshops with a local group called, Marriage More Abundantly. They try their best to both staycation (local hotel stays) and vacation often. They believe that communication is essential to maintaining the health of a marriage. The Poplars are aware that health is wealth so they try to eat pretty clean, workout often, play in the yard with their kids, go hiking, dance, reminisce, occasionally watch TV, and pray together daily.

For Poorer

When there is poor communication between this couple before they do anything they pray first and ask God to keep the enemy from twisting their words. Then they revisit everything that led up to the communication breakdown… Thoroughly discussing how and when things went awry so they can reconcile and reconnect.


Through Sickness and In Health

The Poplars have been through a lot. Toya has had some surgeries and had to overcome a few health concerns over the years. In 2010 she had double foot surgery. Her husband literally and figuratively carried her for 6 weeks. Imagine being totally dependent on someone for all your basic needs. He did everything from going to the bathroom to assisting her with bathing. The way he cared for her was unlike anything she had ever witnessed. She saw the perfect picture of what it looks like for a husband to love his wife like Christ loves His bride.


To Love

Before they were married Toya had fanciful ideas of love and marriage. In high school and college, they had a long distance relationship so much of their time spent together was over vacations and holidays. In Toya’s mind, she thought marriage would consist of constant surprises, continual romance, and perpetual fun. In hindsight, she sees that as a conditional perception of love. She now knows that love is far more in-depth than that. She says, “Love is more like everything around you is going wrong but you know somehow, someway that everything is going to be all right.”


To Cherish

The word “cherish” means to build up. Melvin builds his wife up by telling her she’s smart when she feels stupid, convincing her that she is strong when the enemy amplifies her weakness and seeing her as lovely when she feels like a hot mess. When doubt fills her heart and she is drowning in darkness, her husband sees her light and reminds her that she is enough. Each day he sends their family text messages that contain scripture and an encouraging word. Each album he has recorded contains a song that he has dedicated to his wife. Every morning he prays for her and each night he holds her close. She says, “His love lifts me. Daily he works hard to support our family so I don’t have to.”


Til Death Do Us Part

“The thought of death makes me appreciate how Melvin pours out his life for our family. Our oldest son recently made the statement, “Dad is the glue that holds us all together. If something happened to him, I don’t know what we would do.”” Toya shares, the same sentiments as their 19-year-old son. The thought of death motivates her to savor every second in her husband’s presence and honor him so strongly that he would love her long after she is gone.

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Something Old Something New

Mr. Poplar’s old-school advice to husbands is, “If mommy is happy, everyone is happy.” And likewise the inverse… “If mommy is unhappy everyone is unhappy.” When asked to share some new school advice on marriage Melvin simply states, “happy wife, happy life.” One of the most endearing aspects of The Poplar’s relationship is that they met so young (16 & 17 years old)  they have shared many first time experiences. Melvin advises young couples is to enjoy their “firsts” together.


Something Borrowed Something Blue

A marriage quote that has greatly impacted Melvin over the years is “try to out serve one another.” His primary love language is acts of service so this advice is something he practices daily. When asked, “What is a question you would like for your husband to answer?” Toya’s response was, “What do you think of when you see me, from across the room?” When Melvin was asked, “What question would you like for your wife to answer?” He declined to answer because he said his response was too X-rated. After 18 years the Poplars are still going strong. If they had the chance to do it all over again Melvin says, he wouldn’t change a thing. Toya shares that she would want to, “Watch more sunrises and sunsets together.”


For the reader: If you have a comment, compliment, or question for us please share in the comment section below.

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Scott & Shelton Oakley Hersey Revisit Their Vows

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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.”

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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?

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Steve & Rita Smith Revisit Their Vows


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To Have

The characteristic that Rita says her husband Steve has that makes him uniquely hers is his God-given purpose.


To Hold

When she is in his arms, she feels intimacy, security, and possibilities.


For Better or Worse

Something that the Smiths both admit they could benefit from doing better in their marriage is listening. The worst year of their marriage was the first year. When asked “Why?” Their collective answer was “growing pains.” 


For Richer or Poorer

Mr. & Mrs. Smith consider their marriage rich in intimacy, understanding, laughter, friendship, long-suffering, but most of all faith. When there is poor communication between the Smiths, “We take a time-out… Stop talking, take a break, then resume.”

 Through Sickness and in Health

“In 2013, my husband was diagnosed with cancer, had a staph infection, heart surgery, and diagnosed with ITP.  4 years later, we’re still standing. It has made our marriage stronger.” In February of 2017, Steve had splenectomy surgery and just finished up chemotherapy at the Mayo Clinic. During every hospital stay his wife slept in the bed with him. No matter how uncomfortable or small the hospital bed was Rita’s only place of comfort was found next to her husband. When he had staph, the doctors had to explain to her the dangers of sleeping so close. It was the only time she actually complied with their requests to not sleep in the same bed with her husband. The way they maintain the health of their marriage is to, “Run home every day, and keep dating each other.”

To Love and To Cherish

Rita values her vows now more than ever before. Her husband Steve is her greatest cheerleader. “He models godly character, teaches me, and pushes me.”


Til Death Do Us Part

When asked about how death makes her appreciate her spouse Rita responds, “If you’ve seen the movie the “Notebook,” that’s our desire. That we go together and never experience separation.”

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Something Old Something New

When asked to share some old school advice Steve replies, “Start out like you can hold up.” His new school advice is, “Invest in your marriage.” 

Something Borrowed Something Blue (something extra for fun)

Steve’s borrowed advice for husbands is, “Success is nothing unless you have someone to share it with.” When asked to share some bonus advice, Steve, who is a Pastor practically preaches a sermon, a pretty powerful one that all husbands should adhere to.

“I would like to encourage all husbands to make a decision to have the type of marriage that typifies the love that Christ has for the Church. Marriage is the ONLY earthly example we have to show others, how much Christ loves the church.
Always remember that she is the weaker vessel, (things that affect her may not bother you, she is more emotional) therefore dwell with her “according to knowledge” –that your prayers be not hindered. Remember husbands, you are the “Pitcher,” and she is the “Catcher.” Be mindful of what you’re throwing at her. If you don’t like what she’s offering you, investigate what you’re giving to her, she is usually just returning what you gave to her.
Honor your vows and be true to God, be true to your spouse, be true to yourself, “Drink water from your own cistern,” have no need for “spoil” outside of your marital union. I’m honored, thankful, and grateful, to know that in 29 years of marriage to my wife, that she is the only woman I’ve known intimately since I walked down the aisle, and said, “I do.” I settled in my mind, a long time ago, that I never ever want to cause her pain! 


Steve’s question for his wife is “What makes you stay in love and remain committed to me?” Rita’s question for Steve is, “Is it still good to you?”  Steve and Rita are very much in love and not lacking at all in the romance department. Their shared advice for couples is to never stop dating, and plan at least one night out of the week for just the two of you, and make that your date night. If they had the chance to do it all over again the one thing they would do differently is, “Start it all one day earlier.”

For the reader: If you have something you would like to share, or a question you would like to ask the Smiths please do so in the comment section below.


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Eugene & Naima Russell Revisit Their Vows

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To Have and to Hold

Naima describes what traits make her husband uniquely hers, “He’s very old school. He’s part play Mario Brothers on our Nintendo in our PJs Saturday morning, and part hold my hand, so I don’t stumble in my heels while he carries the groceries.” When Naima is in her husband’s Eugene’s arms, she feels affirmed, released, and like she’s melting.


For Better or For Worse

Something the Russells feel like they can do better in their marriage is, “Not thinking the worst of the other person’s actions. Asking for clarity and actually listening to UNDERSTAND and not just waiting for the other person to pause so you can  respond.”


The worst year of their marriage was the year after their first child was born. “Priorities shifted, recovery from childbirth, sleep deprivation, just all around new parenthood took its toll. We stopped working on the marriage, and things were said that caused a rift that we are still working hard to heal from.

For Richer or For Poorer

The Russells state that their marriage is rich in resilience. When there is poor communication between the two of them Naima shares, “We both end up frustrated and confused. The devil thrives in confusion, and it is an opening for strife in our marriage. We end up seeing the other person as our enemy, as someone to compete against, we assume the worst of them.”

Through Sickness and in Health

Mrs. Russell shares about their experience with sickness, “My mother-in-law was diagnosed with sarcoidosis years before I ever met my husband and through faith, prayer and the care of my father-in-law she defied her life expectancy several times over. A short 10 months after we were married she went into the ICU. My husband and I, along with an army of family, and friends stayed by her side around the clock for the next month. We traded shifts, we brought meals to the hospital, we never gave up on her. She made her transition a few days before his birthday.  That is a really hard thing to go through in your first year of marriage.

Everyone thinks that the first year of marriage is a never-ending date night, all roses and candlelight dinners, and for some it is, but most will tell you the rose-colored glasses quickly fall off before the thank you notes are in the mail. You have to figure each other out (who are we as a MARRIED couple now), You have to figure yourself out (who am I as a wife/husband), and then you throw the loss of a parent in there? Our marriage had to grow up quickly, and I had to embrace this new person my husband had become. He had this fresh wound –this hole that, as much as I wanted to, I could not fill. Nor was that my job.”

Maintaining the health of their marriage has been their biggest challenge. “We try date nights, but our kids are so young it’s hard to get away, and when we finally do we are tired, with a capital T.  Pre-kids, we did a vision for the year, read books, went to conferences. I want to get back to this. It is so important to keep working on us.

To Love and to Cherish

Naima’s admits that her perception of love before marriage was influenced by one too many romantic comedies. “This is probably pretty cliche, but I expected him to “get me” to just know what I needed to feel loved. Now I try and tell him exactly what I need and hope he remembers,” she laughs before continuing to say, “I am also focusing on the 5 Love Languages. I am learning his love language and realizing that to really touch him I need to speak his language too. He speaks Swahili, and I speak French so emotionally we have a continent between us, so we have to keep working on that bridge daily.”

Eugene cherishes his wife by being tough on her… It’s his way of affirming her. If she doesn’t go after hard opportunities, or he gets frustrated when she gets down on herself. He sees value in what she brings to the table and doesn’t want to see her discouraged. She shares, “Of course being a romantic I initially wanted a softer approach but realizing that’s is his way of showing love is kind of sweet.

Til Death Do Us Part

When asked about how the thought of death makes her appreciate her husband Naima poses the question, “Who would kill the spiders or clean the kid’s runny noses?

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Something Old Something New

When asked to share some old school advice Eugene encourages husbands to:

  • Open doors for your wife.
  • Pump her gas.
  • If you see her carrying heavy bags, take them from her.
  • If she’s coming home after dark, watch (or walk) her out of the car and into the house.

It’s not that she’s incapable of doing these things alone, it’s just important for her to know that you are covering her.

Mr. Russell’s new school advice is If you’ve got kids, hold it down at home so she (if she desires) can get away at least once a week for what I’ll call a “mental health” break. If you don’t have kids, encourage her to do something fun or relaxing on her own (or with her friends) regularly.

Something Borrowed Something Blue

A quote that has strongly impacted their relationship is “Marriage is more than a loving feeling. It’s a daily commitment.” Eugene’s bonus advice is, “If she teases you, learn to laugh at yourself. Sometimes, laughter can be the best pillow talk.”

The question that Eugene would like to ask his wife is, “In what everyday, practical way/ways does your husband make you feel loved?”

Naima would like for her husband to answer the question, “What are some ways I show you respect?”

If the Russels had the chance to do it all over again the thing they would do differently is,

We would have been more mindful of what we said to one another in the heat of the moment during arguments. Once spoken, hurtful things can’t be taken back.”

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Jonathan & Harriet Williams Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

The trait that Harriet’s husband Jonathan has that makes him uniquely hers is his ability to make her feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

To Hold

When Mrs. Williams is in her husband’s arms, she feels safe, peaceful, and at home.

For Better or for Worse

The Williams feel as though they could do a better job of managing their time away from one another. With a laugh Harriet shares, “We’re together a lot, and at times we feel lost without the other. Personal time is needed, but we tend to forget that.” When asked about their worst year in their marriage Harriet shares, “I can’t say we had “a worst” year, but more so a shift.

When all our children had grown up and moved on, I started working out, losing weight and doing more things I had an interest in. Everything seemed different to me because I had no one else to focus on but myself, I thought.” She started to feel like she would enjoy what she was doing more if her husband were there. She later learned, and admits is still learning how to enjoy the things she does but still make time for her husband. “I had to teach myself that it was OK for us to have different interests but, ultimately at the end of the day, he is my main interest.” 

For Richer or For Poorer

The Williams marriage is rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, but most of all LOVE. When there is poor communication between Jonathan and Harriet, “The house normally gets quiet for a while. I’m not one to hold stuff. We talk when we’ve given each other a minute. We don’t stay upset with each other for long.”

In Sickness and in Health

When asked about sickness Harriet shares, “My husband I both faced surgeries this year. I can honestly say we pulled even closer during those times. He goes far and beyond when taking care of me and I try to do the same.” The Williams maintain the health of their marriage through communication. They talk about everything.  

To Love and to Cherish

When asked to share what she thought about love before she was married Harriet explains, “I can honestly say I didn’t know what LOVE was when I got married. It’s so much more than looks and sex. It’s about long-suffering, becoming selfless, committed, caring for another more than yourself, building, giving past your reserve and the list goes on.”

Jonathan cherishes his wife by praying for her. “That right there, means everything, EVERYTHING!  I’ve been blessed with a man that truly cares about my spiritual growth and me as a woman.  Everything else is extra, and there is a lot of extras. From cooking for me and being the first one to tell me I’m beautiful.” Jonathan builds his wife up by showing her she’s special. 

Til Death Do Us Part

When asked about how death makes her appreciate her husband Harriet expresses, He’s the one who showed me what love is. I know that I’ve been given a love that will be a blessing to me throughout my lifetime. From the early morning talks to being held in his arms while watching TV. I send my secret prayers of thanks at those times. They will never be able to be replaced nor forgotten. He has given me so much that my harvest overflows through my children and prayerfully their children’s children.” 

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Something Old Something New

Jonathan’s old school advice begins at the beginning, Genesis 2:24 to be exact. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Jonathan who is a fountain of wisdom flows on to say,

  • Don’t let the Sun go down on your wrath;
  • A soft answer turns away wrath;
  • The Early Bird gets the Worm;
  • Early to bed early to rise-helps to keep one healthy and wise.
  • Keep others out of YOUR MARRIAGE
  • Don’t be afraid to share, but what goes on between you and your spouse stays between you and YOUR SPOUSE (Keep out in-laws, friends, children, etc. Unless there is something detrimental or life-threatening)

His new school advice is, “Love life and be true to yourself and be yourself. In other words, No one can be you Except YOU!!!”

Something Borrowed Something Blue

A marriage quote that impacted Mr. Williams strongly is, “Communication is the key to a great marriage journey- really listening effectively, talking, and understanding your partner makes for a great start in marriage and being 100% committed to your partner will keep it going and exciting.” He emphatically expresses, “Keep other people out of your family business!” He reflects on the saying, “This is grown folks business.” And shares that as a couple all couples should adopt the phrase, “This is between ME and MY spouse.” Jonathan’s extra word of advice is to, Date your Partner even if you have been married a while.” He goes on to add an inside joke, “Do your ONE JOB.”

The question he would like for his wife to answer is, “When can we retire?” Harriet’s question for her husband is “Why do you think you can hide candy from me?” This couple is as sweet as the treats Jonathan hides. When presented with the question of what would they do differently if they had a chance to do it all over, Harriet answers, “Nothing, if I change anything it may not lead me to where I am and with whom I’m with today.” Jonathan says, “I would be crazy to try and change something, If I did, I would not have all the blessings and love that I get daily from my wife and family, and of course, our God who made it all possible. LIFE IS GOOD!”

For the reader: If you would like to compliment, question, or encourage this couple please feel free in the comments below.

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Nathan & Stephanie Faught Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

The trait that Stephanie feels makes Nathan uniquely hers is that he is a “Super Dad.” She explains, “I have never met another man that delights in his children and wife like my man. There is no place he would rather be than with us, and knowing someone desires to be with you that much is one of life’s most incredible feelings.”

To Hold

When Stephanie is in Nathan’s arms, she feels calm, connected and accepted.

For Better or For Worse

The Faughts feel like an area they could do better in their marriage is, “Coming to the Lord TOGETHER more often.” When asked about the worst year of their marriage the Faughts responded, “We don’t feel like there was the worst year, but our hardest years were the years were following the birth of our first and third son. They both were very sick and cried all the time! We were often sleep deprived and running low on energy, so it was hard to give of ourselves to one another fully. Even so, the Lord was always faithful to guard our marriage and keep us close.”

For Richer or For Poorer

Nathan and Stephanie have found their marriage to be rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, consistency, and gratitude. When there is poor communication in the Faught household “Lots of inaccurate assumptions are made, and we are often left feeling disconnected.” 

Through Sickness and in Health

The Faughts have fought through great trials with sickness. “Our third son had a digestive disorder that made him very ill and extremely unhappy. He cried MOST of the time and was in constant pain. We desperately asked the Lord to heal him and end our suffering. His healing did not come immediately, but the Lord was WITH US! Each day was a challenge. There were days I was so exhausted, I didn’t know how I would have the energy to care for the baby and our other children. Nate would get home from work and quickly jump into action while I escaped to the shower. That year, Nate saw me at my worst, and yet he loved me the most! Such a trying time could have torn us apart, but instead, the Lord used it to strengthen my level of trust in Nate and to show us how to better care for ourselves and our marriage.” 

The Faughts maintain the health of their marriage by creating a routine and maintaining an early bedtime. “Once our boys are in bed, we guard our time, so we can consistently connect. Don’t underestimate the power of an at-home date!”  

To Love and to Cherish

Stephanie shares how her perception of marriage has changed over the years, “I used to think that marriage was all about usour dreams, our love for one another, our happily ever after. Now, I realize how marriage is all about God’s Kingdom- His purposes, HIs love, His plans, His molding us through the many moments of marriage.”

Nathan cherishes his wife by listening to her. He loves her where she is. He tells her how much he values her. He challenges himself for her benefit. He trusts God, even when it’s hard. He never makes her feel weak, and he expresses his gratitude often.


Til Death Do Us Part

When asked to share how death makes her appreciate her husband Stephanie replies, “I can’t imagine doing life without him. He makes me a better woman. I’m extremely passionate, too easily anxious, and a bit of an overachiever. His nature is steady and calm, so he balances me out.”

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Something Old Something New

Nathan’s old school advice to husbands is, “Never speak poorly of your wife.” His new school advice is to “Always tell your wife how beautiful, irreplaceable, and valuable she is to you and how you could not do life without her.”

Something Borrowed Something Blue

His borrowed advice is to “Love your wife through all the different seasons of life.” He adds, “Find activities you can do with your wife that you both enjoy.” The question that he would like for his wife to answer is, “What could I do on a daily basis that would encourage you?” Stephanie’s question that she would like her husband to answer is “What is your favorite thing about our marriage?”


If the Faughts had the chance to do it all over again, Stephanie says, “I would feel more secure in my husband’s love. I spent the early years of our marriage concerned that if he saw my weaknesses, he could not love me the same. I WAS WRONG! Oh, how he has loved me through my good, and my bad and seeing it has only increased our love!” Nathan says, he would have learned to consider what his wife needed more in the early years of their marriage.


For the reader: If you have any questions or encouragement for the Faughts feel free to share in the comment section below.


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Jenny & Buster Frith Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

Jenny Frith knows her husband, Buster. She knows his looks, when he needs to talk when he needs downtime, what drives him, his strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly she knows that he lives his life to serve God and their family.

To Hold

When Buster holds Jenny she feels secure, safe, and connected.

For Better or Worse

Something the Friths feel they can do better in their marriage is to take date nights and spend more time alone time together without the kids or any distractions. The worst year of their marriage was when their older kids were ages 1 and 2. “I was working full-time at night so I could keep them during the day.  I was missing seeing my husband, and I was exhausted because I would come in from work as he was leaving, and the kids were just getting up. Not seeing each other was the worst thing ever. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.”

For Richer or Poorer

As they talk about their relationship, it’s clear that the Friths are best friends and their marriage is rich in laughter and levity. They dance in the kitchen and laugh a lot. Jenny confesses, ” I love watching him read and study the Word- that is so hot to me! I love that he knows me. He knows when I need chocolate, he knows when I’m upset he’ll say, “come here,” and he gives me a big ole bear hug. I love spending time with him, I love my man.” Whenever there is poor communication between these two frustrations arise because they are big communicators. If something doesn’t seem right, they discuss it and get it solved. If there is a miscommunication, they believe in owning their fault so they can apologize and move forward. 

Through Sickness and in Health

The Friths are not strangers to sickness and health struggles. Jenny shares “There have been so many. We both helped take care of my grandmother as she aged.” She recalls a time in which her grandmother fell and broke her hip which led to her being wheelchair bound. Being picked up in her wheelchair and carried up the stairs to enter their home would frighten her grandmother so Buster singlehandedly built a large wooden portable ramp so Jenny’s grandmother would no longer have to worry. “It meant the world to me how he cared for her in that way.”

5 years ago, Jenny had breast cancer, and Buster never left her side. When she came home, she had to sleep propped up on a couch in their den because of her drains and Buster slept right there on the other couch just to be close to her. He cleaned the drains, cooked, took care of the kids, helped brush her hair, and helped her in the shower daily.

Last year, The Friths found out about a tumor on Buster’s pancreas. Jenny says, “He showed he had the strength and faith of a warrior. When he came out of surgery, he was so pale… He spoke quietly, “come here.” When I leaned in gently to give him a hug, he said, “I love you so much.”

The way the Friths maintain the health of their marriage is through communication and spending time together. “We work together to get things done and truly enjoy each other. We pray together each day and make God first in our marriage, family, and lives.”

To Love and to Cherish

Jenny, who was 15 years old when she first met Buster says, “we’ve always been friends, but marriage brought new experiences like finances, children, work, ministry, sickness, etc. I thought I knew what love was back when we were young, but I have grown to love him more deeply than I ever knew possible. “

The way Buster cherishes his wife is through supporting her in every way. Before he leaves for work, he kisses her on the head and tells her to have a great day and reminds her that he loves her. He also calls her during the day to check on her and the kids. From housework to homework he helps out daily, even after a long day at work. “I love that when he comes home, he will find me before he does anything else. He will come to wherever I am to find out about my day and hug me and kiss me as soon as he gets home. He always puts others first and has such a servant’s heart.”

 Til Death Do Us Part

When asked about to talk about how death makes Jenny appreciate her spouse she responds, “This last year was eye-opening for me (referring to sickness). We can talk about death and try to imagine it, but until it comes or we are faced with an attack, we

simply cannot imagine how overwhelming and gripping it is to experience even the thought of truly losing your spouse.”

Though the spot on her husband’s pancreas was discovered a year ago and has since been removed. She vividly recalls what it was like to receive the news. “I had to literally sit down as I received the call. I knew he had not looked well and was having abdominal pain and of course, being a nurse immediately thought of pancreatic cancer.  That phone call literally took my breath away. I had to go and sit down at my kitchen table and ask the nurse to repeat what she just said. I heard it, but I needed to process it. I had to leave immediately and go get orders for another scan to be done at the hospital. As I got into my car, I started saying, “this is not happening” out loud.” The thought of losing her husband was too much to bear.

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Something Old Something New

When asked to share some old school advice Buster refers to scripture, In 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul tells us to pray continuously and give thanks in all circumstances, for that is Gods will for our lives.” Buster adds “in marriage, we should pray continuously together, as a display of unity in our appreciation for His many blessings, regardless of what we might be going through.” 

 He continues with some new school advice for husbands, “Youll commonly hear the old saying happy wife, happy lifebut don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the words or trapped into believing that her happiness is fueled by material things. Your wife has a fundamental need to know shes loved, cherished, and appreciated. A light touch as you walk by or an unsolicited compliment on her looks or what she’s wearing lets her know that she is noticed. Listening to her and holding her when she’s upset (even if shes upset with you) shows you care.” Buster believes that if a man really wishes to show commitment to investing in a marriage that arranging a surprise date night or weekend away sends a strong message. “When the pace of our world (especially if you have children) makes you feel too busy unselfishly spending time together and small displays of affection strengthen the bonds of marriage in ways a new house, car, or diamond ring cannot.

 Something Borrowed

 Once while preparing to teach a couples’ class about expectations, Jenny and Buster realized that even though they had been married for more than 10 years, they were guilty of letting misplaced expectations cause division within their own family. As they taught they learned strategies for communicating expectations. As they set out to pour into the couples in the class, God used the information they were sharing on expectations to not only strengthen their marriage, but also their relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. 

Something Blue (something extra just for fun)

Buster has a brilliant strategy of finding out what’s going on with his wife. He has learned to listen to their children who are homeschooled because they are his wife most of the day. By listening to their kids, he can tell if she is stressed or simply needs encouragement. Buster says, “my daughters occasionally greet me when I come home and quietly inform me about something she is struggling with. Those are the days she especially needs to know she’s loved, cherished, and appreciated.

A question that Buster would like for his wife to answer is, “What is one aspect of our lives we could change to make our marriage and family stronger?” and a question that Jenny would like for her husband to answer is “What is something I can do to make your life easier?” When asked if they would do it all over again Jenny and Buster referred to a sign they have hanging in their bathroom, “If I had my life to do over again… I’d find you sooner so I could love you longer.” They said they would do it all over again in a heartbeat.


For the reader: What question would you like to ask this couple?


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