together as one

couples that make it do these 6 things

Reclaiming the lost art of 


  1. Look Up the Word Chivalry. Now, Practice it.

We live in a society that has traded opening the car door, giving up a seat, pulling out a chair, and paying the bill for a partner for a casual “Wanna hang out?” and “We’ll take separate checks.”

Chivalry is holding yourself to a higher standard in a relationship—a measure of kindness, generosity, and respect. A standard different from what a me-first world expects from you.

You don’t open the car door or pay the bill because your partner is incapable; you do it to show respect. You do it to show your partner value and dignify them through your actions.

In the days before people started just “hanging out,” we all put more thought into and worked harder at courting. Courtesy and politeness seem so old-fashioned. Yet, as a society, we’re losing the art of properly pursuing people we’re interested in, and we’re also losing the grace in knowing how to appropriately respond.

You don’t open the car door because your partner is incapable;

you do it to show respect.

Relationship experts all agree that relationships built to last are built on hundreds of “little” gestures that say, “I’m interested in you. I admire you. I want to honor you. I want to be loyal to you… I love you.”

If chivalry is dying, it should come as no surprise that more than 50 percent of first marriages fail.

Want to do something different to strengthen your relationship? Get in touch with some old-fashioned chivalry.

2. Engage in Courtship AFTER Marriage

(Kevin here.) When Jackie and I were first dating, I paid attention to many little things that I let slide later in our relationship. Before dating, we had met several times at public events. I thought Jackie was very attractive and finally mustered the courage to ask her out. When she said “yes,” I went into planning mode. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, right?

So, I planned our date meticulously. I said, “I’ll pick you up at 7:00 p.m.” Earlier in the week, I left her a note that said, “I really look forward to getting to know you. Can’t wait for our date.” The morning of our date, I washed and waxed the car—it looked good. That evening I showed up at her apartment at 7:05 p.m. I walked her out to the car, opened her door, and then we went out on a perfectly-executed date. At least, that’s the way I remember it.

Some years after we were married, I asked Jackie, “How about we get out for a date tonight?” She said, “That’s great. What time?” I said, “6:30 p.m.” Later that evening, I’m coming home from work at 6:00 p.m., and I’m thinking, “I ought to wash and wax the car. But I’m late, no time for that.” I pull into the driveway, run upstairs and shower, grab the first clean shirt I can find, and go back down to back the car out of the garage.

Now, it’s roughly 6:45 p.m. I’m in the car, in the driveway, and I’m waiting…and waiting…and waiting. At 6:50 p.m. I look at my watch and think, “Well, maybe she doesn’t know I’m in the car.” So, I offer a little encouragement, you know, to “get her off the dime.” I hit the horn: Beep…beep…beep!

Jackie comes out with a tense frown on her face. Opens her own car door and gets in. Knowing that she’s upset and I’m in trouble, I break the ice with, “Well, what do you want to do?” I had no plan. “She responded, with fire in her eyes and one word, “REALLY?”

What changed? What changed between our early courtship and a potentially delightful date that imploded?

Sadly, the answer is we stopped working at it. We stopped doing the little, yet huge, chivalrous things that say, “You are important. We are important. I cherish you.”

Sadly, we stopped working at it. We stopped doing the little things that say,

“You are important.”

We were guilty, like many couples, of taking our relationship for granted. We fell into a routine and stopped paying attention to the details, the small gestures of care that keep a relationship intimate and vibrant.

We forgot that deep in the heart of everyone is the desire to be wanted and fought for. Many of us downplay it and pretend that it is less than it is because our partners fail to step up. But the yearning remains. We all want to be desired, to be pursued, to be the priority. The longing to be romanced doesn’t stop just because you’ve been married or together for years, and the relationship seems secure. In fact, as we grow older and change, the desire to be wanted and shown that we are wanted intensifies.

And what else? Everyone looks in the mirror and asks a critical question: “Do I have what it takes?” Do I have what it takes to step up for my partner? My family? My dreams and obligations?

What are the differences?

Women want to be seen, feel understood, and feel safe. Make her feel desired, loved, cherished, and safe, and you will affirm her femineity.

And what do men want? To be appreciated. A man wants to be the hero in the eyes of his partner. Make him your hero, and you have the key to his heart. It helps answer the crucial question and affirms his masculine identity.

Small daily improvements in your ability to court your partner have a profound effect over time—a compounding effect. Keep these simple words top of mind: Never stop exploring. Never stop mining. Never stop opening the drawers of the treasure chest that is your spouse.

Never stop improving and growing together.

Do this, and you will create an exceptional relationship—one that is built to last. 

The Compound Effect:

Small daily improvements in courting your partner

have a profound effect over time. 

  1. Skip the Audience

When you look at strong, satisfying relationships that withstand the test of time, they aren’t publicized. Keeping your relationship off social media means it is yours. There is something sacred. Something held in private, and that’s enough. It doesn’t need to be documented on Instagram. Your relationship isn’t enriched or justified by “likes” from people you hardly know. Your love needs no comments. When it’s private, it’s honored, and it’s safe.

Comparison, via social media, has two very powerful and diametrically opposed feelings: awe and frustration. Both of which put pressure on a relationship.

When the love between two people is genuine and authentic, it rests securely in its own passion and commitment. There is no need to show off, compare, keep up with others, or create a public façade that they are in a happy, healthy relationship. Your relationship is not a hashtag.

If you post often and it’s all about you and your partner, ask yourself, “Are we trying to convince others so we can convince ourselves that we are really happy? Are we seeking validation for our relationship from other people on social media so we know we are “okay?”

“Happy couples spend less time telling their story and more time living it, enjoying each other’s company, being in the moment.”

Happy couples aren’t narcissistic and don’t have anything to prove. They spend less time telling their story and more time living it, enjoying each other’s company, being in the moment. Posting has a way of taking you out of the moment and away from one-on-one time with your partner—the kind of face-to-face time that characterizes a truly romantic relationship.

Happy couples spend less time telling their story and more time living it,

enjoying each other’s company, and being in the moment.

When the focus changes from “being with you” to “documenting our fun,” something changes. Intimacy is something to be cherished and protected. It’s no longer intimate when it’s between you and your Facebook followers.

That said, a key ingredient to a healthy, happy relationship is creating great memories together. Images help us document those memories and relive them. Images keep friends and family in the loop. Great relationships have the support of a caring community. But that’s different than spending every 30 minutes of your vacation posting an image of love that doesn’t really exist. Posting to impress won’t deepen your intimacy.

  1. Fight for It

Put two flawed, broken, idiosyncratic, and emotional people together, under one roof, for any length of time, and you get love and war. Relationships are hard. The covenant of marriage is about sharing self-giving, other-centered love, and it requires a lot of emotional labor. Love is not just a feeling; it is a daily decision. It requires patience, generosity, selflessness, stamina, and faith. Most of us don’t come by these virtues easily or quickly.

That a relationship should be effortless is a pipedream. Happily ever after is a fairytale. That when you find the right person, “it will just work out” is a myth.

Marriage is as much about being the right person as finding the right person.

You have to fight for love. It “works out” because of the person you decide to be. Marriage is as much about being the right person as finding the right person.

Being the right person requires self-awareness. Self-awareness is the springboard for change. But self-awareness comes through difficult, often painful feedback and tough love. And, when it does stimulate change, that change doesn’t follow a nice, neat linear line between the old you and the new you. It’s messy. We exhibit new attitudes and new behaviors that give our relationship hope. Then, we give in and slide back to old ways of being and think, “WTF, I thought I was over this.” Our partners thought so too.

Relationships built to last demand vulnerability and courage, especially when you feel weak and don’t want to be exposed. But you fight for it. Not because you feel like it, but rather because you made a commitment—a commitment to move beyond your quitting points.

Sadly, in shaky relationships, people lose sight of what it means to commit. Loving your partner is often a gutsy, visceral decision of the will—the will and vulnerability to forego being right, to initiate reconciliation, to be patient and listen more than you talk, to compromise, to work through issues…together. It’s a choice, not a feeling.

Love is often a gutsy, visceral decision of the will to forego being right,

to initiate reconciliation, to listen more than you talk, and to compromise.

It’s a choice.

These days, fighting for it is like swimming against the current because we live in a world that traffics in entitlement. If the news is anything to go by. If watching our legislators make policy informs us of anything. If listening to our special interest groups advocate for their rights teaches us anything, most people live as though they are entitled instead of living as though they are blessed. We want what we want, and we want it cheap, easy, and now.

Bring this attitude into a relationship, and you are doomed. You will bounce from one person to another, thinking there are greener pastures, until you wake up to the fact that pursuing a more attractive person has left you empty and disillusioned.

You make meaning. And, you make it through hard-won battles with pride, selfishness, insecurity, and doubt. On the other side of that shit show, you build a life and a legacy together.

Marry a fighter. That’s the advice we’ve given all three of our children. Marry someone who has done hard things. Who has overcome limitations and setbacks. Who didn’t tuck tail and run because the challenges they faced were too much. Marry someone who has someone (you) and something (your relationship) to fight for and is willing to step in and step up. And, marry someone who believes in Someone to fight for you both.

Most people live as though they are entitled

instead of living as though they are blessed.

  1. When You’re There, Be There

In many respects, smartphones are a modern miracle. Before Steve Jobs, who would’ve thought we could manage our entire lives—personally and professionally—through these digital hubs? In seconds, we have access to the world’s knowledge, and this has changed our lives irrevocably.

But our phones have become an all-to-convenient distraction from doing the emotional work of relating. We lull ourselves into a media-filled stupor because of screen addiction. Same images, same quotes, same stories, same drama. It’s a choice that doesn’t foster the kind of intimacy that builds a healthy relationship. When was the last time you sat down with your partner, face-to-face, without your phone, and had a deep, meaningful conversation about your relationship for more than 30 minutes?

Sadly, the average couple spends 37 minutes a week in conversation, and the majority of that time is spent talking about chores and running the household. That’s a ticking time bomb!

Sadly, the average couple spends 37 minutes a week in conversation, the

majority of that time is spent talking about running the household.

When was the last time you shut off the television, took a stroll, or poured a glass of wine and talked with your partner about your dreams and aspirations? Your sexual wants and needs? What you admire in each other? How you could manage conflict more constructively? Your next adventure and how to best save and plan for it?

Want a simple hack? Eliminate the distractions because your partner is worth it. Change your behavior because you value your partner, and it will enrich your relationship. Generosity often unlocks our passion, and passion fuels the perseverance required to change.

The GOATS, the greatest athletes of all time (think Michael Jordan or Phelps, Serena, Kobe, Lindsey Vonn, or Tom Brady), have at least one thing in common: focus. Conditioning, perfecting technique, nutrition, studying film, you name it, they have a maniacal focus. When they are there, they’re there! They aren’t somewhere else.

The GOATS achieved the pinnacle in their fields because they focused more intensely, for more extended periods than anyone else.

Outside of knowing God, the most critical decision you will ever make in life is who you spend your life with and how you choose to spend that time. This one decision has the power to make your life wonderful (not easy, mind you) or f*ck it up miserably.

Have you known any couple who made it past the 7-year mark in marriage and then woke up one day indifferent and unfulfilled, wondering, “What happened? How’d we get this way?”

When you unpack it and look at how they spend their time, it’s no surprise. They log way more screen time than they do in conversation, rediscovering each other. With kids, chores, and other obligations, they can’t find time for each other. We have news for you (and ourselves). You don’t find the time. You make the time for each other. It’s a choice.

Once you start down that slope, it can become very slippery. You stop investing in each other, which makes deep conversation more uncomfortable. You avoid the discomfort by medicating with screen time, work, alcohol, bunko, or something else. And then, the cycle repeats and reinforces itself. Drip…drip…drip, the frog of a healthy, happy marriage, is slowly being undermined until there is nothing left, and it’s dead.

Of course, the opposite is true as well. Couples that carve out time to explore their relationships and rediscover their wants, needs, and desires get better at it, just like the GOATS. They become more comfortable talking about things that got awkward and uncomfortable. They get better at telling the truth in love without wrecking the relationship. They find new ways to romance each other because they discover unique needs and desires.

Maniacal focus. Eliminating distractions. Trading various forms of routine medication for deep, meaningful conversation is a major key to a thriving relationship. When you’re there… be there, be fully present.

Outside of knowing God, the most critical decision you will ever make in your life is who you spend your life with and how you choose to spend that time.

This one decision has the power to make your life wonderful or f*ck it up miserably.

  1. Come Together As One

The greatest desire of the human heart is to be loved and accepted. The greatest need of human existence is to belong, to be in relationship…to know that we are of inestimable value.

Imagine a genuine acceptance that removes fear and hiding and creates the freedom to be completely vulnerable, to know and be known.

Imagine a genuine acceptance that removes the need to posture and pose, project a façade, and pretend you are someone you aren’t.

Imagine that this freedom fosters a pure connectedness so honest and open and real that the persons involved become ONE with each other.

The only word that could come close to capturing the closeness of this relationship is ONENESS, a connection where there is sheer UNION without loss of individual identity.

The ancient Greeks had a word for this: Perichoresis (pear-ee-core-ray-sis)…being TOGETHER AS ONE. Together, by definition, assumes there are two individuals. Otherwise, what is it that’s coming together? As one, by definition, assumes that there is unity between individuals, but there is no loss of identity. Two people don’t become enmeshed in one another, like a drop of water in a river, and disappear. No, they remain individuals, but their uniqueness melds together so closely they are AS one. They come together, and they complement, strengthen, and complete one another in that union.

Doesn’t this describe every healthy, happy, well-adjusted relationship you know? Isn’t this what we all want in a romantic relationship?

Yet, we live in a society that has become so categorical and so individualized that we think we need to constantly prove ourselves to show our worth. So, being supported—especially with chivalry—is seen as a sign of weakness, of being inept. This perspective wreaks havoc in our relationships and causes many to walk on eggshells. The truth is, it takes as much courage to be vulnerable and accept help as it does to be strong and independent.

The greatest desire of the human heart is to be loved and accepted. The greatest need of human existence is to belong, to know that we are of inestimable value.

We get it. Finding the balance between caring for a woman and respecting her independence is a dicey road to navigate. As is showing a man he is the hero and yet not being entirely dependent upon him.

There are certain segments of society that believe chivalry should be dead. But in a healthy relationship, men and women don’t cower from stepping up just because stepping up isn’t seen as progressive. In a healthy relationship, we understand that being pursued, wanted, and cared for doesn’t take away from our strength.

People who love you, who are for you, and care about you want to support you and enrich your life. Self-giving, other-centered love says, “You are my priority. I want to do whatever it takes to make you feel honored and cherished, to put you on a pedestal and add value to your life, even if that starts with a small gesture of opening the car door, paying for the meal, and asking before assuming.”

A person who has inner security and assurance will respond, “Your caring for me does not deplete my strength or diminish my capability. So, I will not close myself off from it.”

When two people adopt this perspective, they can remain individuals and come Together As One.