Conversation: Eric and Leslie Ludy
International speakers and recording artists Eric and Leslie Ludy have written 10 books together, including the recently released The First 90 Days of Marriage: Building the Foundation of a Lifetime. Eric, 35, and Leslie, 30, have been married for 11 years and live in Windsor, Colo., with their 19-month-old son, Hudson. They recently chatted with News Editor John W. Kennedy about marriage.
tpe: I know several Christians in their early 20s who already are divorced. What have you found to be the primary reason marriages fail?
LESLIE: For our generation one of the greatest desires is to be married to one person for a lifetime. But the resounding majority of young people donÕt believe thatÕs possible. WeÕve grown up in homes where that didnÕt happen. WeÕve seen heartbreak, unsuccessful relationships and divorce more often than thriving, beautiful relationships that last. WeÕre lacking in the practical department of how to build a relationship that will stand the test of time.
ERIC: A lot of it comes down to the attitudes and expectations we take into marriage. We often adopt a behavior pattern in our marriage that is selfish because our culture trains people to be selfish. A lot of teachings in the contemporary church even train us to be self-ruled instead of God-governed.
tpe: Tell me more about the lack of preparation for marriage.
ERIC: ItÕs like showing up on the battlefield without going through boot camp — without being trained mentally and physically for that grueling adventure. Romance is the outflow of labor. You have to work to build a foundation to survive the challenges of marriage.
LESLIE: If you go into marriage expecting your spouse to know all your needs automatically, you will be disappointed. Lots of women become discouraged and disillusioned with their husbands. But marriage is intended by God to get more romantic with time. We shouldnÕt have dismal expectations.
tpe: You advise young married couples to curtail some of their busy schedules in order to spend time together.
ERIC: Our priorities are proven by how we live. If we spend all our time at work, thatÕs our priority — higher than God, higher than our spouse. When we talk about putting Jesus Christ first in our existence we sometimes mean it in theory but not practically.
LESLIE: If you start the marriage off when both of you are insanely busy — working at jobs, going to school and hardly ever seeing each other — it builds the wrong foundation.
tpe: You note in the book that couples are too willing to share private information with family and friends. Talk about a lack of healthy boundaries.
ERIC: We call that the principle of sanctuary, guarding whatÕs most important. When married for only two months, we were over at another coupleÕs house and I started talking about our tight finances. Leslie was uncomfortable with that. I realized there are things that need to remain just between us. By keeping them ours alone it actually cultivates intimacy. We hold back 90 percent of our life in writing our books. We wonÕt violate our intimacy.
LESLIE: One of the biggest problems in modern marriage is the emotional barrier that builds between a husband and wife, where they only offer some of themselves to each other and there isnÕt implicit trust. A woman needs to know that whatever happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom. A guy needs to be assured that when he shares something with his wife sheÕs not going to call up her mother or best friend with all the details.
tpe: YouÕve learned that bad things sometimes happen in good marriages.
LESLIE: A lot of people think we have the picture-perfect fairy-tale marriage because we wrote books called When God Writes Your Love Story and When Dreams Come True. But weÕve had a lot of trials most people donÕt know about.
Right after we married we moved into a house that was falling apart and infested with fleas. We had raccoons in our chimney and pipes that exploded. We had no money and our car always broke down. I was sick in bed for two months straight.
ItÕs easy for couples to turn against each other in difficult circumstances instead of getting down on their knees before God. God challenged us by asking if we were going to rely on our own determination and willpower or if we were going to rely on the supernatural strength of Christ to make the marriage work.
I also had a traumatic labor and delivery. Our son was in a life-or-death situation at 3 days old. For five months he woke up screaming about every hour and we hardly got any sleep.
Our natural tendency was to snap at each other and argue about what should be done. But we realized if we yielded to Christ instead of our selfish desires we could actually end up growing closer than we had been before.
ERIC: Difficulties in marriage are inevitable, but intimacy can grow in direct proportion to how well you handle the direct challenges.
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