I’ve been married once and engaged twice. I married my wife Georgette in 1999. What happened before I met Georgette? Back when I was engaged the first time, my motto could have been, “Measure once, cut twice.”
After I graduated from the University of Illinois in 1993, I moved to Austin, Texas to start my career as a software engineer. Not too much later, a friend from college introduced me to a friend of hers. We developed a long-distance relationship based on our mutual interest in spiritual and emotional growth.
Around November of 1994 I figured out I wanted to return to school for a counseling degree. To do this I needed to leave Texas, so I quit my job. I asked her to marry me; she said yes.
A few months before the wedding, I moved to her location. Even though living close by was good for us, we ran into some potholes. We attended counseling together for a couple of months, which helped our relationship, but doubt lingered in the back of my mind. As we approached the wedding day, my mood shifted from excitement to alarm.
In hindsight, my first engagement was more of a logical choice rather than a realistic one. Back when I was still in Texas, I went to individual counseling. This moved me from being too cautious to the opposite extreme: too careless. My choice to be engaged was more of an overzealous reaction to my counselor’s advice. Under these circumstances, discounting the signs and red flags was too easy for me. For example, I overlooked her inability to separate from her mother in an emotionally healthy way. As you will see later in this book, this says as much about me as it does her. I can see now that my need for emotional connection overshadowed the reality that the decision to marry deserves our utmost respect.
I was not ready to be married and/or this was not the right woman for me. Fortunately, I realized my mistake before it was too late. Unfortunately, breaking the engagement one week before the wedding cut it a bit close. I learned first-hand that marriage is not something to jump into with both feet without due diligence.
In college, I majored in computer science and worked with a professor as an undergraduate research assistant. I appreciated working with him and even took his independent study class.
However, my first two years of college were difficult. I felt lost. My high school friendships faded. I attempted to make new friends, but no one seemed to understand me. To make matters worse, I was robbed while delivering pizza, which led me to quit my job.
During this time, God used my relational emptiness to draw me to Himself. I became a Christian in July 1991. I remember to this day what it was like not having Christ in my life. The contrast energizes me: one day I was antagonistic toward the idea of God existing, and the next God enabled me to believe in Him.
The final project for the independent study consisted of me building a small finite state machine (logical computer chips containing “and” and “or” gates wired together so they remember to turn on the same lights in each state, plus a switch to trigger the next state). My professor was impressed with my effort, “Most computer science people have their heads in the clouds, but you actually built something out of computer chips that works.” That feedback increased my confidence. It was exciting to learn that I am able to make the abstract understandable to others.
A few months later, my professor announced he was leaving the university because he accepted a position in Austin, Texas. He called me before I graduated and said he’d like to hire me.
In Texas I connected with a dynamic group of Christians. I felt at home with them because we shared an intense desire to grow and learn. The youth pastor named the group Ecclesia 546 (Ecclesia is Greek for church and we met at 5:46pm). This group is the best church experience I’ve had to date. I am thankful to have had the experience and regret it lasted only one short year.
God called the leader away from our church. God called me away, too. This group further influenced my desire to return to school to study counseling.
Cancelling the engagement was difficult but for the best. I spent the summer pondering and recovering from the broken relationship. Then in the fall, I moved to Columbus, Ohio to start working on my counseling degree at Ashland Theological Seminary.
Two years later, I met my wife Georgette. We met in the context of a church group, which I believe helps make the decision process more straightforward and safe. Also, I was wiser because of my previous experience. Two years later we married. Georgette and I have had our ups-and-downs, but I am grateful God brought her into my life.
Most of my life, I’ve felt five to ten years behind my peers emotionally. In my twenties, I had the maturity of a teenager. In my thirties, I was more like someone in their twenties. I suppose this could describe many people, but for me it’s been a blessing and a curse.
Becoming a Christian, knowing God and His love, attending my own counseling, marrying Georgette, and counseling others have helped me catch up emotionally. Some days I still feel like a child—but now I know I am God’s child.
I’ve had a career as a software developer and I currently work as a professional counselor. With this book, I am a published author.
My love for learning grows every day. Being behind emotionally has taught me the value of growth (emotional and spiritual), psychology (the study of the soul), and philosophy (the love of wisdom). Actually, God gifted me with understanding and gently nudged me into the counseling field when I became a Christian. I feel alive and filled with purpose today more than ever.
Finally this Book
I actually started writing this book in 2007. I’ve started it three times. The first two times I lost my sense of direction with it. Finally I’ve finished what I started! I didn’t understand why at the time, but I understand now that I simply didn’t know all of what God wanted me to put into it.
Marriage is a calling that we must first enter and, once married, re-enter daily by faith. Knowing everything about your fiancé or marriage partner is impossible. However, we can enter marriage with due diligence. Working through this book will prepare you for your upcoming marriage, or if you are already married, it will help you navigate to a place of health.
This book contains the best of everything I’ve learned about marriage both personally and professionally. You will learn how to build your marriage from establishing the roots (a strong foundation) to producing fruits (emotional intimacy, children, fruit of the Spirit, and eternally lasting ministry).