How Wife for Life Changed My Marriage

In July of last year, I wrote a bit about Wife for Life (the book and the University experience).  I had just met Ramona for the first time in real life and wanted to share about how she had influenced my life for good over the past 9 months.  

And now here we are again, another 9 months has past since then and I got to see Ramona in person again a few days ago (she was in Utah for a speaking event). 

Meeting Ramona Zabriskie
Me, Ramona, and my mom (my mom took 3 semesters of Wife for Life University with me)


So I thought it was time for another update and for some more details on how Wife for Life has impacted my life.


Some details about me and my marriage

First, let me back up and tell you some more about me, and my marriage.  

This coming December, my husband and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage.  In that time we’ve lived in 2 states, received 3 degrees (a bachelors degree for each of us, and a Phd degree for my husband), and had 4 kids.

All in all, we have been really blessed.  We have always worked hard to be intentional and maintained a pretty good marriage and relationship. 

But of course, we’re still human.  We’re two different people and there’s a big learning curve with this whole marriage thing.  But for the most part, the state of our marriage was pretty uneventful – in a good way.  Until year 7.

Pregnant with my 4th baby
Pregnant with my 4th baby


Challenges in our marriage 

I was pregnant with our 4th baby, my husband had recently finished graduate school, we’d moved across the country, and my husband had started a new job. 

All of these circumstances combined to make for some rockier terrain in our marriage.  For some reason, I was very emotional during that pregnancy.  It seemed that we fought more during that year than in the entire 7 years before, combined.

Yesterday I was reading through my old journal entries that I wrote and it was interesting to read about my thoughts and feelings that I was experiencing during that time period. 

Reading my journal brought back the memories.  I remember that time.  I remember how confused, insecure, hurt, and imbalanced I felt. 

And even though it’s kind of hard to read those entries, I’m glad that I recorded those thoughts and feelings.  I’m glad that I can look back and see the progress that I have made.

Now, 2 years later and armed with the Wife for Life knowledge, I can now see clearly that I was operating from a place of fear. 

Those fears were stirred up and magnified by my thoughts about my husband and our marriage at the time.  My insecurities, and how I acted on them, then stirred up my husband’s fears and it all resulted in the perfect storm and a lot of fights and disconnection.


Becoming more unified again through companionship inventory

A few months after I gave birth to our daughter, we started to figure things out and regain some unity again.  Thanks to an idea from a friend, we started doing a weekly companionship inventory

We have now done this little ritual every Sunday evening for 87 weeks in a row.  It mainly consists of us alternating back and forth and telling each other 5 things (at least… we usually lose track and say more than 5) that we appreciate about each other. 

We try to focus these expressions of appreciation on things that the other person has done during the past week.

The interesting thing is that although one of our original reasons for starting this companionship inventory ritual was to have a designated time and space to work out any issues in our relationship (after the expressing appreciation portion), it’s pretty rare that we even have any issues to bring up. 

Expressing appreciation and feeling appreciated helps to put things back into perspective and kind of melts away the problems that are usually inconsequential anyway.

Companionship inventory has helped our relationship a lot.  I would highly recommend it.


Discovering Wife for Life  

A couple months after starting this little ritual, I happened to watch some interviews from The Mom Conference.  As I was scrolling through the options of interviews to watch, I skimmed across one by Ramona Zabriskie called “Your Power to Succeed in Marriage.” 

I was this close to picking a different interview to watch.  After all, my marriage was going well at the moment and I figured I needed more help as a mom than as a wife.

Something in me felt really drawn to Ramona’s interview though.  So I decided to give it a quick listen.  I didn’t realize how impactful that tiny choice would turn out to be in my life.

As I mentioned in my other post, I loved what Ramona shared.  I was very intrigued to learn more.  I ordered her book, even before I was finished watching her interview. 

A couple months after reading the book, I signed up for my first semester of Wife for Life University and I am currently in the middle of my 5th semester of W4LU. 

Yes.  You read that correctly.  I am taking the same class for the 5th time in a row.  I’m also currently reading the book for the 5th time.  If you’re curious about why I would take the same class so many times, you can read about that here.


Challenges are blessings in disguise

Even though year 7 was the hardest year of our marriage so far, I have come to see that it was a blessing in disguise.  Without that rough year in my recent memory, I am fairly certain that I wouldn’t have watched Ramona’s interview – I would have thought “eh.  I got this marriage thing.  It’s the mom thing that I struggle with.  Better not waste time watching an interview about marriage when I could be watching one about motherhood instead.”

Remember how I said that our marriage was getting better after starting companionship inventory?  Well, it’s continued to get even better now that I’ve been adding Wife for Life skills to my personal tool box.

I’ve seen subtle – but big – positive changes in both my husband and I, individually over the past year and a half – and that has led to positive changes in our marriage.
I think that part of the positive changes (at least in my view of our marriage) have come from my husband actually changing – which just happened to be a byproduct as a result of my subtle, but big, changes. 
But a lot of the changes have come because I view my husband differently.  I understand him better… without him even having to articulate his thoughts/feelings (men aren’t so natural at that.  haha) – of course, not 100% of the time, but a significant amount of the time.
My husband and I
Married for 9 years!

What is Wife for Life and why is it so amazing?

You may be wondering what’s so special about this Wife for Life stuff.  Well, let me give you a little glimpse…


Understanding your why

Ramona helps you to understand your why.  Why do you want to be married?  What are you really trying to achieve?  When you understand why, you have a solid foundation – something that you can hold onto even when things aren’t going well. 

Your why also helps you to know what you are really working towards – what kind of marriage you are really trying to build.  Your why helps you to maintain perspective, perseverance, patience, and practice.  Ramona also helps you to understand your husband’s why.


Understanding and using your strengths

Because of Ramona, I better understand my gifts and strengths that come from being a woman.  Because I am aware and understand these more, I am able to harness this power and use it for good to bless my own life, the life of my husband, and the lives of my kids.  I feel empowered and I feel more fulfilled.

Ramona teaches women how to better understand themselves and their husbands.  She does such an amazing job of being pro wife and pro husband at the same time.


Understanding how insecurities and fears play a role

Remember how I said that year 7 was so rough because I felt so confused, insecure, hurt, and imbalanced?  At the time I didn’t really know what was going on. 

In reading back over my journal entries during that time period, I see insecurities and fears written all over them.  It’s amazing how many fears I was getting trapped by but I didn’t even realize it.  I just thought that my husband was the problem. 

Wife for Life helped me to understand what was really going on.  The problem wasn’t the circumstances.   It was what I was thinking about the circumstances.  The problem was that I was seeing the circumstances through the lenses of my female insecurities. 

And those insecurities turned me into a crazy lady.  Living with a crazy lady isn’t pleasant – for me or for my husband.  Haha.

Then to add insult to injury, my female insecurities triggered my husband’s male fears – although neither one of us really knew what was going on or how to accurately and appropriately express those insecurities and fears. 

The cycle would continue with my husband’s fears (that were triggered by my insecurities) would then trigger even deeper insecurities in me.


What I’ve learned that has helped my marriage

Wife for Life has educated me about some of the biggest/most common female insecurities and male fears.  That bit of knowledge alone has been so freeing and powerful.


Celebrating our 9th anniversary
Enjoying the slopes for our 9 year anniversary


Ramona has also taught me more about how men are designed, how their brains function differently than women’s brains.  She’s taught me how each of us – men and women – are designed to fulfill specific roles – we are meant to be different.  We should celebrate our differences.  We are better together.

I’ve learned how to communicate more respectfully, how to navigate conflict, how to be my husband’s intimate (not just physically, although that is definitely important), how to be my husband’s inspiration, and how to best show love to my husband.

I’ve learned how to take care of myself as a woman and how to take responsibility for my own happiness.  This frees up both myself and my husband from unrealistic expectations and unnecessary hurt.

Ramona has taught me how important it is for a husband and wife to work together in working towards his quest and her dreams – that both spouses have something amazing to give to the world and it can be a joy to help one another to succeed and make a difference.


My favorite thing that I’ve learned from Ramona

One of my favorite things about Ramona’s approach to the topic of marriage is the vision that she presents and invites her students to reach for and work towards – not just a marriage that survives, but a marriage that thrives

Not just a marriage that is just good or just great, but a marriage that is grand.  A marriage that leaves a legacy.  A marriage that makes a difference in the world.  That’s the kind of marriage I want… even though I didn’t know it until Ramona put it in my sights.


Skiing for our 9th anniversary


This is just a small glimpse of what Wife for Life has to offer.  There is so much more.

I have learned a lot from Ramona over the past 18 months.  This knowledge has been life changing – and I don’t mean that lightly.  I often think about how that tiny choice to watch Ramona’s interview (and what that led to) has probably made a bigger difference in my life and marriage than I will ever really know. 

It has changed my course, and the course of my marriage ever so slightly for the most part – and more dramatically in other ways.  This change for the better will continue to affect me, my marriage, and my family for years and generations to come.  

I still have a lot to learn.  I’m not perfect.  I just keep practicing and improving.  Life keeps moving along.  I keep learning and growing and changing and so does my husband.  Our marriage just keeps getting better and better, of course with the occasional disagreement thrown in every once in a while because we’re still human.  🙂


My husband and I


Could you benefit from Wife for Life too?

I know that it’s easy for newly weds (or even some long-timers) to think “I don’t need that Wife for Life stuff.  My marriage is going well.  I’ve got this figured out.” 

Well, sister, I’m here to tell you that you may feel like that right now.  I was in your shoes once.  But eventually, the honeymoon phase will wear off.  Eventually you will realize that the mindset of “love is all you need” might not get you very far if you don’t have the knowledge and skills to back it up. 

Insecurities and fears have a way of  getting the best of us – especially when we are uneducated about what is really going on inside ourselves.

So do yourself (and your husband) a favor.  Go buy a copy of Wife for Life.  Read it.  Mark that puppy up.  Underline.  Write notes in the margins.  Journal,  Journal, Journal.  Practice, Practice, Practice. 

And if you really want to be serious about your wifely education, come to Wife for Life University.  I promise you won’t regret it.  You probably won’t ever want to leave.

And no, this post is not sponsored. 🙂  I just love Wife for Life so much and I want to shout it from the rooftops.

4 Responses
  1. Sharlene

    Dear Shelly,
    Thank you for your beautiful post. Your story is an inspiration to me. Thank you for your faith and your endurance to not give up. I love your blog and thoughts. They touch me so deeply and I am grateful you share like you do. Thank you!! Thank you!! Your family is beautiful and I am so grateful you shared the beautiful video with us.

    1. Shelly

      Thank you so much for your comment! It means a lot to me. 🙂 Thanks for reading and cheering me on. 🙂

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