Staying Together Chapter Thirteen: The Six Most Important Words

9 10 2017

This completes a thirteen-week blog series that has shared a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is available through House to House Publications.

We are settled. We do not have to always agree, but rarely do we disagree. Steve is Mary and Mary is Steve and we desire the very best and the highest goodwill for each other. We are not competing with one another and we are not jealous of each other. We will not settle for mediocre in our relationship and we will not allow a spirit of discontentment to show its ugly head. We both know that through the grace of God and His goodness to us, we gained something…or someone in marriage. When we said “yes” to one another, we said “no” to every other possible partner out there. We have no regrets.

What are the six most important words in marriage? Are you ready to hear them? Once you hear them, you will be accountable for knowing the right thing to say and to do.

You’ll find those six words, maybe nine, in chapter thirteen, the final chapter of Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair. I hope you have enjoyed this thirteen-week series introducing you to our new book. Please order a copy for yourself today and one to give away to a couple you know. Please consider running a “Staying Together” small group to encourage other marriages.

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Staying Together Chapter Three: The “One” of Us

31 07 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. Now available to purchase at a 30% discount through House to House Publications.

When we buy a new car, we enjoy the new-car smell. We appreciate the fact that it doesn’t break down from age and worn parts. We love that it’s clean and shiny, without a single stain on the carpet or scratch in the paint. However, unless we provide the proper maintenance in the months and years that follow, our car will eventually break down.

It’s not necessarily bad or wrong for a marriage to run on “new” for a season. Because it’s new, kindness abounds; disputes are short-lived; forgiveness comes easily. But when the new begins to fade, we tend to be less forgiving and extend less grace. Like the new car that begins to exhibit problems, has its dings and dents, and shows signs of wear, we become less concerned about its daily care and its future. In fact, we may even begin to dream about its replacement.

Thankfully, human relationships are different from cars. Old love is deeper and stronger than young love. As we age together, we can appreciate the differences rather than trying to make our spouse like us. The wise couple learns to use that “incompatibility”—those differences—to their advantage. They begin to learn that no team is made up of similar talent, and each member has a different strength to be used in a particular area. Just as in a healthy business, management acknowledges its own weaknesses and then hires those who can make up for those differences by bringing their strengths alongside a discerning leader. As our marriage matures, we learn to not be threatened by those strengths. We begin to realize that God called together this team of two to become one.

For much more on the process of two becoming one along with challenging assessments and questions, please see chapter three in our book, Staying Together.

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Staying Together Chapter Two: The Fear and Insecurity Found in Us

24 07 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. Now available to purchase at a 30% discount through House to House Publications. 

Growing up with an angry and physically abusive father, Greg (a real person in our lives) adopted mechanisms of self-protection. Those mechanisms kept him out of harm’s way with his dad. He learned when to talk and when not to talk; he also learned that silence kept him from revealing his true self and his true emotions. Introversion protected an already fragile esteem and, in his environment, helped to prevent the experience of further pain.

Bringing those personal childhood precautions into marriage did not help Greg, however. His wife thought he became distant and quiet because of something she did or said. She continually second-guessed what he seemed to be thinking or feeling. Growing up, Greg’s insecurities were a direct result of his fear of his father’s abusive treatment. Today, even though he lives as an adult with a woman who loves him, he has been unsuccessful at overcoming this fear and being vulnerable with her. It is slowly killing his marriage. What once served a purpose and worked for him is now harmful and destructive. The inward silence speaks loudly to the very person he should feel most comfortable opening up to, his wife.

Other causes of insecurity can include:

■ A poorly developed concept of oneself, brought on by a low or underdeveloped self-confidence

■ Feelings of inadequacy

■ A negative body image

■ Never having felt accepted or approved of by others, especially those who were perceived as important in our life

■ Unrealistic expectations by authority figures still trying to be met as an adult

When our identity becomes intertwined with our insecurity we can become steeped in self-adoration. Perhaps the most telling definition of long-term insecurity is that of the idol of self. We bring these emotional insecurities and identities into our marriage, tending to look to our spouse to meet our unmet needs and provide all that we lacked in our lives prior to this relationship. This is unfair and unrealistic to our spouse.

For answers to insecurity within your life and your marriage, please see chapter two of Staying Together.

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Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For #22

30 06 2017


In 2011 my first twenty-one blogs were titled, “Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For.” I loved the idea of starting a blog about something I am passionate about: preparing for marriage. I recently read through all 21 of them once again and did a bit of editing. In doing that, I realized I missed a really important area. That area was spiritual formation through prayer.

In learning to place God first in our lives, my wife and I have discovered that our similar spiritual values and our longing to pray for and with one another are vital to the health of our relationship. Dating to eventually marry a fellow believer with the commonality of core spiritual values has created a oneness in our relationship that is simply unsurpassed to any and all other areas of marriage unity.

When we encounter a difficulty or a bump in the road of marital bliss, our first response is to pray together. The scripture relates that the reason we fight and argue is because we do not pray first. (James 4: 1-2) If we can discover this freedom with the one we are looking at as a life mate, we are well ahead of the game. Why? Because our relationship with Jesus and our ability to pray and look to Him is the most intimate thing we can do together. And, it is by far, the most mature act. Look for a life mate that looks to God first, it will take a lot of pressure off of you.

Start reading those first 21 blogs here.  Or, recommend them to a friend who is looking for their life mate.

That One Ideal Partner, A Soul Mate?

19 06 2017

Is it really possible to find that one special person, your soul mate for life? With the potential of literally millions of people on the earth today and the possibility of tens of thousands of connections, is it even remotely conceivable to find “the one?” Should we be holding out for this one special person…the only one for me? It’s a romantic thought isn’t it? And it seems that God placed that desire within each one of us.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “In such a great inevitable love, often love at first sight, we catch a vision, I suppose, of marriage as it should have been in an unfallen world.” Tolkien was married to Edith until her death at age 82. He once told his son that theoretically there might be someone better suited for him out there somewhere other than Edith, but then concluded, …”So what?”

I agree, especially after looking back from the 42nd year of marriage mark. You will never convince me that God had nothing to do with our saying “I do.”   We know He did, but then again we also realize that we could have made other choices and reached the same milestone.   Marriage takes time to settle. It takes a full-on commitment from both parties and it takes lots of grace. Someone once told me that in life you’re either in a storm, coming out of a storm or about to enter one. Having that life mate to weather the storms together is nothing short of a miracle from God.


Fifteen Really Cheap or Free Dates

13 02 2017

images-6Running out of ideas for inexpensive, but fun date nights? It’s time to celebrate your Valentine, so here are a few ideas, many that my wife and I have enjoyed over the years:

1. Visit an open house or a new model home for creative decorating and renovating ideas.

2. Try a new hiking or biking trail in your area.

3. Rent a Red Box movie or download a free movie.

4. Visit several local thrift stores or a flea market and enjoy some bargain hunting.

5. Go on a coffee, tea or ice-cream date.


6. Is there indoor ice-skating in your area? If not, try bowling.

7. Take some back country roads you’ve never driven on and see where you end up.  Keep the conversation going while you enjoy the drive.

8. Try a new museum or art gallery. Look for tours you haven’t been on in your locale.

9. Visit your favorite wing night restaurant.

10. Take advantage of free music concerts at local parks.

11. Cook together or create a new dessert.images-7

12. Go on a scenic photo shoot and take some selfies. Then, post them on-line or on Facebook and ask your friends to guess where the pictures were taken.

13. If you’re near your home area, take your spouse to a favorite childhood spot.

14. Watch a really old movie you love or never viewed before.images-4

15. Take a night walk. Be sure to use a reflective vest and carry a flashlight.

Bonus date: Dig out your old photo albums, sit on the couch and laugh!  Send us your ideas.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

Love Locks

6 02 2017

imagesYou most likely know about the railings of the Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge in Paris, France. For years couples have been placing pad locks on this railing and then throwing the key into the River Seine as a romantic ritual of their love. Eventually the city had to intervene. It seems that according to those who know such things that the added weight of thousands of locks affected the integrity of the bridge and needed to be removed.

In June of 2015 forty-five tons of symbols of love were removed from the bridge railings. When I read about this it made me wonder how many of those couples were still enduring, committed, making sacrifices for images-2one another and “locked” together in love. In 1975 I said “I do” to my bride, Mary, while at the same time saying “I don’t” to every other woman. We never put a padlock on the bridge in Paris, but we have remained committed in our love to God and then to each other. I guess when God’s word says that His love endures forever (Ps 106:1), He provided a picture to us that love can, at the least, endure a life-time.

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