Marriage is a Verb



Yes, I know you may beg to differ and immediately reject my concept that marriage is a verb. But give me a second, ok?

All week I’ve kept writing, while at the same time reminding you that I was on vacation. It’s the reason I’ve been less responsive in emails and in the comments area.

I don’t mention it again because I want to make you jealous. Instead, I want to highlight one of the most important facets of my life with my wife – that we take breaks.

Not from each other, but from our daily routines where we’re rushing past each other.

The Misconception of Marriage and of Faith

It’s funny but whenever the topic of faith or marriage comes up, I hear people talk about them like a car or gas in a gas tank. They treat them as binary (I have it or don’t have it) like you might talk about a car. Or they treat them as something that you measure (I don’t have much) like you might describe how much gas is in your tank.

I don’t think either can be characterized that way. I find that both are much better thought of as verbs.

Yes, now you know why I don’t consider myself much of a writer. I capitalize the wrong words, misspell, and don’t know parts of speech. None of these things are as important for a public speaker, but for a writer, eh!


When you think of marriage as a verb, you quickly realize it’s something you do, protect, engage in, and build up. It’s not a binary checkbox you mark.

Melissa and I take breaks at least twice a year to get out of the routines we fall into during the regular year. At least one weekend a year we also get away without the kids. And every other year we take a week away from the kids.

Sounds very structured, huh? Planned even, right?

Because it is. It’s the strategy we’ve embraced to help us remember why we got married and why we had kids.

Let’s be honest

There are times where anything you do often enough starts to bother you, right? My friend Brian just wrote about and used the illustration of playing a song you like until you hate it. I totally don’t know what that’s like. (just kidding)

Marriage can get like that if you’re not careful. The constant routine can let you take things for granted. The little things can bother. You can choose to let your expectations get unreasonable (hoping they’ll meet your every need before you even share it).

I was once married before. For 20 months. Until my ex left me. I could give you the ten reasons it was all her fault. But how about I give you the one single reason it was mine?

I came to take the whole thing for granted and acted that way. I acted like it was a noun. For life.

We take breaks…together.

I won’t ever make that mistake again. But left to my own devices, I’ll walk myself right back into a rut I’ve created on my own. I know, you’re nothing like that.

But that’s why we set up our regular breaks. Together. To spend time with each other outside of the rush, outside of the work, outside of Kung-fu and swimming, and school, and who’s-going-to-cook-tonight.

And as we take the break, as we vacation, the same thing happens every time. We rediscover why we love our kids. They’re cute. They’re fun. They’re sweet.

Ok, we’ll keep ’em. :)

And we rediscover why our marriage works: because we treat it like a verb, rather than a noun.

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  1. jasonbahl says:

    I receive updates in my email when you post a new blog, and there was a typo:

    “And every other year we take a year away from the kids.”

    Looks like you corrected it, but the typo made me literally laugh out loud. That would be a unique way of parenting!

    Anyway, great post, as always. I LOVE reading your blog!

  2. Ruthie says:

    Awesome. It’s like the DC Talk song, “Love is a Verb.” Great write up and great reminder for those in relationships. I also laughed out loud when I read that you take a year away from the kids. 😀


  3. Chris, your blog is one that we follow to help us be more productive and effective. That’s why I **so love** getting this post today. It’s so easy in the busyness of launching a business, building a website, and making all the bits work together smoothly to forget why we’re building something. My marriage and my kids are so vitally important. I can spend so much timing trying to get my new membership site to work well, but it’s harder to remember to give that kind of energy to building my relationship with my wife, or my influence with my kids. Thanks for the reminder. I love it.

  4. Chris, thanks for this reminder. Because I work from home and Shelly’s a stay at home mom (she works 2X as much as me) it’s easy for us to take for granted the time we spend together. Sure, we’re around each other a lot, but that doesn’t mean we make the most of our time together.

    And tonight we have a date, which I’m looking very forward to!

    • chrislema says:

      Melissa and I both work out of our home. We’re around each other all the time. And she’ll still need to remind me to schedule a date night just to get some time together. If not, we’ll be very aware of each other, but not actually connecting, know what I mean?

      • Josh Eaton says:

        Great post Chris. My wife and I both work from home as well, on either side of a shared desk. So while we see each other all day long it’s easy to fall into the trap of considering that time “spent together”. Something I’ve had to learn to work on since we started this!

  5. Joel says:

    A great reminder thanks Chris. My situation is like Brian’s, it’s easy to take things for granted and it does take work not to (which I need to do!).

  6. metalbagg says:

    Chris, . . . this post really hits home. My wife is my best friend, . . . really, she’s pretty much my only friend anymore. The life of a freelancer can be tough on friendships. I’m just not available as much anymore. We treat ourselves to a 4-day trip in Puerto Peñasco each year with the kids (being that it’s a 4-hour drive) and we usually camp and do a snow trip as well. In fact, we do a ton of little family events. But honestly, we have not taken a single vacation together in nearly 5 years (just before my daughter was born). I see this picture of you and your wife enjoying some couple’s time together and it makes me feel like I’ve been making excuses. Sure, no one wants to leave a 2 year old and 4 year old at home, but me and my wife’s relationship is important as well and we obviously need to start planning some more (us) time! She is a full-time High School teacher and pursuing her Masters online, while I’m juggling numerous projects. The weeks seriously feel like days! Hahah! It’s crazy.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing your personal insight on family and marriage.

    Have fun!

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