Marriage is Easier Than You Think, The Power of Good Habits

“Don’t follow my example,” said marriage event speaker and author Ted Lowe with his characteristic humor. Ted doesn’t recommend people look to his story for a model of how

to begin a marriage. Ted and Nancie got engaged six weeks after their first date, moved

to different parts of the country to finish school, then married just a year later. “We had no idea what we were doing,” he chuckled.

Twenty five years and four children later, Ted and Nancie are living proof of the power of the material found in the books Ted authored. Married People, How Your Church Can Build Marriages that Last was published in 2014, and Your Best Us: Marriage is Easier Than You Think released in 2016. Ted has been speaking and writing about marriage for 20 years, he said, work which became the foundation for the books.

“Look on Amazon and you’ll find thousands of books on marriage,” Ted said. “I wanted to write a marriage book for someone who didn’t like marriage books.” (Ted says he pictures a 34-year-old named Brad as his audience when writing.) “My office is full of millennials. They said they are not going to read anything longer than 100 pages.”

Ted and Nancie spent their early married years in California, where Ted joined the staff of Saddleback Community Church and earned his Master’s of Christian Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary. The Lowes joined the drama team at Saddleback — ironically their part was portraying a “fighting couple.” They became so proficient at their role they began performing at marriage events across the country.

Their work led them to Atlanta, where Ted became Director of MarriedLife at North Point Community Church, Atlanta’s largest, led by Andy Stanley. He transitioned in 2010 to Married People, the marriage arm of non-profit ministry Orange (8,000 churches use Orange curriculum for babies through marriage).

In his experience determining content for the books, Ted found “most guys don’t want to ask for help. They feel ashamed or embarrassed. I had to make it simple, not all Christianesey, and it had to be fun, or they wouldn’t want to come at all.” His motto, “Less content, more often.”

Ted found date nights offer a threshold experience to get someone involved and motivated to engage. Married People developed a variety of date nights packaged as “Your Best Night Out” (alternatively, “Your Best Night In” during quarantine.) “It’s a positive thing. Someone realizes they want fresh insight, but a date night is not super churchy.

“People are afraid if they rip off the band-aid they might bleed to death,” he said. “A date night is not as scary. It enriches you, helps you get connected and takes you in a good direction. We dive into some solutions – things you love to do already.”

Your Best Night Out

Married People creates and promotes date night ideas to help couples get out and laugh together. Ted stressed each date includes step by step instructions from start to finish to keep things simple. For example, one date suggestion started with a Spotfiy play list, included conversation kickstarters for the drive to the restaurant, instructions how to make a paper football and a game to play with the craft.

Couples can find ideas posted on Married People’s social media pages (where the Lowes suggest they share pictures of themselves on their dates afterward.) The plan is for couples to have a good time and take a vacation from the serious issues.

“We’ve so pushed the importance of communication, couples feel like everything has to remain on hold if they have any unresolved issues. It is okay to take a vacation from talking about something. There are some of your issues/differences you may never resolve. Just go have fun together, go laugh,” Ted said.

Marriage is Easier Than You Think

The premise of The Best Us is found in its subtitle – Marriage is Easier Than You Think. Ted encourages couples to start small. “I feel like people are so overwhelmed. Even if we have the world’s fanciest answer, they are too exhausted to absorb it.

“Just do the little things,” he said, catch your spouse doing things right, touch physically with no ulterior motive, acknowledge each other for routine things like cooking, or leave a Post- it™ note of affirmation.

“One small win can lead to something huge.”

“Most people don’t have bad hearts, they have bad habits,” Ted said. He wondered if developing good habits could change a marriage. The book proposes the Core 4 habits, which he and Nancie teach couples how to apply through their podcasts, retreats and speaking events.

Core 4:

Have Serious Fun

Love God First

Respect in Love

Practice your promise

Ted noted habits become flexible when circumstances change and engage emotions, which couldn’t have been more applicable than during this past year with the stressors of Covid.

“In a crisis, everything is emotional,” he said. “Habits are changing. The cement is wet again.” He cited research showing the results of the pandemic were mixed. “38% of couples say they are struggling more, but 57% report doing better. And 4% are just missing.” He referenced a study conducted after Hurricane Hugo, which showed more divorces, but also more weddings and more babies born. “People tend to make decisions about relationships following a life threatening event,” he said.

“Finances are part of the stressors for the 38% struggling. This is a crazy time for a lot of people. Can we help people have those kinds of conversations based out of confidence and tenderness?” he wondered, “offering words like, ‘I believe in you,’ ‘How can I help you?’ ‘We are on the same team.’ Camp out on Ephesians 5:21 – have a Christlike response to each other.

“I think more than ever, couples are in flux. I get excited about thinking how we help people right now create new habits. It could be powerful.”

One Thing(s)

Three weeks before churches shut down last spring, Married People launched their newest resource, One Thing(s), providentially available online. “We wrote, produced and sourced the whole thing prior to any thought of Covid,” Ted said. One Thing(s) encapsulates the best advice from five different marriage experts, tapping into their combined 100 years of research and content.

“Sometimes one thing can change everything,” he said.

Ted asked each leader to share what they believe is one best practice for marriage. He packaged those interviews into 20-minute episodes, resulting in a six-part series that can be viewed online individually or through a church, at the cost of $24 per couple. The episodes require no reading, no homework. Couples talk in the moment about what they learned, allowing the experience to be guilt and frustration free.

Topics include relationships and money, temperament, and emotional/physical intimacy, spoken by experts like Dr. Jim Burns and Kathleen Edelman.

“People needed something powerful; they needed to be encouraged. They did not need to be overwhelmed,” Ted said. “What we landed on was so powerful and doable. But these things are not shallow: they are deep and rich.

“Couples get an instant win they can build on from there.”

What if marriage is simpler than you think? Why not check it out at Married People Home Page.

More about Orange

The name of the ministry, Orange, comes from a picture of the relationship between the family and the church. Yellow represents the light of the church; Red, the love of the family. Combine the two and they make orange, or in the case of the ministry, Orange. The color red is more vivid than yellow, because it represents the preeminent position of relationships at home. “Sunday morning is great,” Ted said. “But what happens at home is even more important than what happens at church. How do we pour into those

churches to help families?”

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