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Wednesday, December 7, 2011
You may have noticed that the title of today’s post is also the tag line of my blog. I’m excited to share with you today a guest post by Lori Lowe, a fellow marriage blogger at Marriage Gems and author of the book First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage, which comes out tomorrow.

In what follows, Lori shares about a real-life couple from her new book who wholeheartedly embraced a counter-cultural approach to their lives, and consequently to their marriage.

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Guest post by Lori D. Lowe

One of the couples I interviewed for my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss, are people I have known for ten years. In fact, they helped inspire me to write the book, because they are such a strong role model for a loving, sacrificial marriage. While the other couples featured in the book live all across the country, the Johnstons happen to live next door to me and have been married more than 30 years.

I didn’t know some of the deeper aspects of their marriage until I sat down to interview both of them. In my book I share many of the secrets to their marital success. First, they chose a counter-cultural lifestyle, which is to say they don’t let the dominant culture define their values. Their Christian faith is primary in their lives. And their values include not allowing materialism to define or control their lives.

Many of us will say we aren’t materialistic, but we love to shop every weekend. We would love to get new furniture, a nicer car, or a bigger house. Maybe we even save up so we can spend on these big-ticket items as often as we can. When we earn more, we are excited to spend more. The Johnstons, on the other hand, committed early in their marriage to be satisfied with what they had and to earmark extra earnings for charity rather than for increasing their lifestyle level.

One of the reasons they did this is they were involved in mission work in other countries. They met people who were exceedingly happy despite their extreme levels of poverty, and they understood that joy does not come from things. Instead, they find joy from being generous and sacrificial to others.

Over time, they also learned how to take this sacrificial mindset that is modeled by Jesus and be more giving and sacrificial to one another. They learned to give in more, instead of insisting on being right. They make daily efforts to please one another, and work to ensure the other is fulfilled. For example, Phil is a physician but makes time to be in a symphonic choir, and Margaret is a retired teacher who receives fulfillment in the garden and in volunteer work. They encourage others in their faith lives and marriages. They work to improve their communication.

And they have found the more they give of themselves, the more their cups are filled back up. They call this the paradox of giving, the fact that we get more by giving more. Happiness research has shown that volunteering and generosity add to our happiness, so they aren’t the only ones to discover this concept.

The lesson they teach through their personal story is that love is sacrificial, and that we need to create a cycle of giving (inside and outside of our families). Christians understand the ultimate example of sacrifice, but it can be difficult to live counter to our culture, which tells us we should give in order to get. Our culture, particularly in America, tells us that freedom and the pursuit of happiness are the highest ideals. Love is often presented in our culture as a romantic notion where we are expected to be constantly happy. How do you define your own values? How do you choose to live them out?

The good news is that living a life of sacrifice and love is not demeaning or sad. It’s ultimately the most joyful and rewarding of choices. Deep down we all want to love and to be loved. Placing your spouse’s needs above yours can be difficult sometimes, but often that act of love pays you tremendous dividends in your marital happiness.

Of course this blog, Journey to Surrender, is all about this mission, as you know if you are a regular reader. I’m sure Scott’s continued insights will help us learn more about how to keep moving in the right direction.

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Lori Lowe is a journalist, GenXer, and child of divorce. Her book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage will be released Dec. 8th on and in various e-book formats at Couples featured in the book experienced many challenges, including infertility, stranger rape, child loss, infidelity, drug addiction, unsupportive families, faith differences, military separation, life-threatening illness, raising a special-needs child, financial crises and much more. You can also connect with Lori at or on Twitter @LoriLowe.


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