Written with love, by Karley Kiker
By this point I think you guys know how I feel about journals. I love them (as evidenced by the fact that I started filling one with letters to my future husband at the age of 14—you can read more about that in column 1). So I think you’ll understand the excitement I felt when, in the middle of writing last week’s column on four practical ways to cultivate intimacy in marriage, I discovered the coolest journal while scrolling through Instagram—the Our Journey Journal, a product that was created specifically for married couples!
Like we talked about last week, one of the most effective ways to foster intimacy in marriage is through communication. I loved the advice my friend Ericka shared, as it’s such a practical way to open the door to meaningful conversations: “Pray together and keep a prayer journal, or read either a devotional or marriage book at night before bed together.”
To me, the idea of keeping a joint prayer journal is a perfect ten. But here’s the thing. My husband has a serious thing against writing. As in...he loathes it. (Which is why it’s literally a miracle that he managed to write to me for six months before ever revealing that he had feelings of the non Pen Pal variety for me, but that’s another story.) But for my sake—and for the sake of actually taking the advice of my own marriage column—he agreed to try out the Our Journey Journal with me over the weekend. The verdict?
“It was a great conversation starter,” Taylor says.
Column advice was followed. Conversations were started. Intimacy was cultivated. Win win win! Since Taylor’s review is a little on the short side, though, here’s a little bit more about the Our Journey Journal from my perspective:
It’s marriage-minded and requires joint participation...and I love it. The foreword says it all: “Marriage is a journey. It’s an amazing experience that’s unique to each couple! The trials, the triumphs, the milestones—they are all so important in defining your journey. So write it down, reminisce and reflect!” Taylor and I worked on the How We Met and Funnies sections this weekend and agreed not to look at each other’s answers until we had both finished. The biggest conversation starter turned out to be our responses to the “Silliest Fight” question...a disagreement about my desire to purchase an over-priced macaron while traveling in Vancouver (his answer) and the hurt feelings that ensued when he didn’t bring me back a donut from his morning Bible study at Dunkin’ Donuts (my answer). I know. We obviously need to lay off the sugar.
It’s a memory-maker for now and later. The journal’s Cost of Living and Current Events sections will be fun to look back on later in life...and I love that it makes the assumption that we’ll still be together in the future to do just that. (For the record, I do too.)
It’s lighthearted and serious at the same time. We can laugh while filling in our Firsts, Funnies, and Favorites, and talk seriously about our hopes and dreams when working through the Relationship Goals and Trials + Triumphs sections. Perfect balance.
It encourages you to seek wisdom from family members. The Awesome Advice section requires handing your journal over to loved ones to seek wisdom, and I’m so glad that we did! I expected my parents to contribute one or two lines, but they both returned the journal having completed an entire page. Here are a few tidbits that they shared with us:
“Today you’ll hear, ‘I have to think of me,’ or ‘God wants me to be happy’ or ‘I don’t deserve this.’ Any statement that has ‘I’ and ‘me’ in it first smacks of selfishness. There’s no place for that in marriage.” -Mom
“Marriage is the classroom where the PhD of ‘dying to self’ is earned! The greatest achievement is in the discovery of the mystery, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’” -Dad
“Affirm, affirm, affirm. Look for what your spouse does right instead of pointing out the faults.” -Mom
“I believe God designed marriage to be the chisel that is used to chip away our character defects and help us become our best selves. It is best to remember this when we become angry, and especially when the enemy speaks lies to us about ourselves and our mates.” -Dad
My parents wrote their entries separately, but their advice shared a common
denominator—the unsuitability of selfishness in marriage. (More on that here.) I’m so
thankful to have their words of wisdom and encouragement down on paper!
It includes a section for love letters (my favorite). Two weeks ago I shared that Taylor and I exchanged messages, care packages, and letters throughout our long-distance friendship turned courtship. As I was writing about the importance of continuing to pursue our spouses in marriage, though, I realized that I’m not fully practicing what I preach. I used to spontaneously send Taylor notes or emails just because I knew it would make him smile. Now that we live AND work together, I’ve fallen out of that habit...but I want to get back into it. I love that the Our Journey Journal has provided a place for me to do just that.
If you’re looking for a practical way to start applying some of the intimacy-building tips we discussed last week, I recommend picking up a copy of the Our Journey Journal from Aisle Always Love (and actually using it)! Cheers to you as you continue on your own marriage journey this week—through ups, downs, highs, and lows, it’s such a blessing to do life with your best friend. Even when he forgets to bring you the chocolate sprinkle donut you asked for. :)