A Lighthearted Marriage

8648346_m-webIt’s said that desperate times call for desperate measures.

For my husband Ted and me, one such measure occurred en route to our honeymoon destination, Paris.

On the car ride from our condo to the airport, it struck us that we’d forgotten one very important item: a camera. I mean, seriously, who — prior to the days of iPhones and Instagram — packs for the City of Light and forgets a good, old-fashioned camera?

Yeah, that would be us.

No big deal, we decided. We’d make a quick stop and buy one. So there we were, at a K-mart less than a mile away from Norfolk International Airport, frantically determining our photographic future. Not only did we choose poorly in a store, but this was before the ease of googling reviews on that handy-dandy smartphone.

Desperate times, people. Desperate times.

We wouldn’t discover until over 7,000 miles later that’d we might as well have taped the word “loser” to our foreheads.

Our developed film revealed the not-so-pleasant surprise that we’d invested our money in a 110 camera. Remember those? Perhaps we should have invested a bit more money in our purchase and, oh, I don’t know, maybe read the packaging materials more closely. In our defense, we now own a Nikon DSLR. We’ve learned.

The whole “Paris Honeymoon Camera Fiasco,” as I’ll call it, could have created an ongoing point of contention for Ted and me if we’d let it. After all, who was supposed to track down and pack the camera? And whose idea was it to grab a photographer’s nightmare off the shelf? Instead, we chose — from the beginning — to see the humor in it.

A lighthearted marriage
Over the last decade of marriage, a sense of levity — or lightheartedness — has carried us through a myriad of seasons. We’ve navigated the joy of our daughters’ births as well as the pain of job loss, cross-country moves, and a miscarriage. And while we’ve certainly cried tears of frustration and grief along the way, we’ve also never stopped finding the humor in life.

M.M. Belfie once said, “Something special happens when people laugh together over something genuinely funny and not hurtful to anyone. It’s like a magic rain that showers down feelings of safety and belonging to a group.” I don’t know about magic rain, but for us, laughter has been “good medicine.” In fact, if there’s one thing we know how to do — and do well — it’s laugh together.

So how do you maintain a spirit of lightheartedness in your marriage? The most important element we’ve learned is that of an unburdened heart.

The unburdened heart
Dictionary.com defines unburdened as “to cast off or get rid of, as a burden or something burdensome.” What is a burden? It’s a “weight, encumbrance, impediment.” In marriage, this can translate to unforgiveness or holding a grudge.

If you ask Ted about our arguments — whether intense or trivial — he’s likely to shrug his shoulders for lack of remembrance. This man just doesn’t invest the energy into storing how I’ve sinned against him in the past. Once it’s settled, it’s settled. Me? Sure, I may recall what a disagreement was about, but I can look back at it with appreciation for what we learned through it.

We try to live in the joy and freedom that comes with short accounts. We do our best not to hold grudges and instead to extend grace. Remember the camera? Well, we’ve had a lot more “camera” moments in our marriage. Let’s see, there was … um … okay, I guess my memory isn’t that great either.

My point is this: An unburdened heart can’t co-exist with a record of wrongs. It’s difficult to feel lighthearted and at ease with someone you’re keeping a tally on. With forgiveness comes freedom. Because we both know the other isn’t holding any grudges, we’re able to be ourselves, to admit our weaknesses or immature reactions and laugh about them together.

When it all comes down to it, an unburdened heart is a lighthearted heart.

One day, Ted and I will return to Paris. This time, though, with our iPhone 7’s in tow. Of course, we’ll also be sure to bring along the levity that’s served our marriage well since that “Paris Honeymoon Camera Fiasco.”


Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: Marriage Together (Moody Publishers). As the founder and editor of the webzine Ungrind and a regular contributor at several popular blogs and websites, she unites the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage couples. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. To learn more, visit AshleighSlater.com.

  • Lovely, Ashleigh! Very refreshing. You guys are a great example … keep it up, in the Lord’s grace!

  • Love you exploring this aspect of marriage!

  • Cindy

    Love this Ashleigh! Love reading your stuff! P.S. Miss your family!

  • Angela

    We too forgot a camera for our honeymoon only to discover it once we were at our destination. To get to a store with a camera would have required a ferry ride from the island back to the mainland and a lengthly and expensive cab ride. Our only “images” are sketches my husband made. Shortly before our 10th anniversary (25th is now around the corner) I discovered the since forgotten sketch pad and had three sketches matted and framed for one of his presents.

    They hold a place of honor on our living room wall.

    • What a great story, Angela! I love how you all have framed the sketches!!

  • Really cute story Ashleigh. I tend to be pretty serious over the deeper matters and trials in our marriage and I know I could use a lot of growth in being light-hearted. Thank you for the encouragement in that!

  • Cortlin Cabbiness

    Came here through Kirk Cameron’s Facebook page. Great story Ashleigh! I’m going to forward this to my fiancée. We do tend to get in meaningless arguments sometimes and I do feel like there is some kind of record of wrongs that we are subconsciously holding on to—and I don’t want that at all! Thank you very much for sharing this. It really helped me so much and I’m sure it will help her as well. God bless you 🙂

    • Cortlin, I’m so glad it was helpful to you as you prepare for marriage.

  • Angela

    God truly knew how very much I needed this teaching…especially today! I, too, take things too seriously much too often! I need to put into practice what you have lived through and shared. I treasure and adore the Husband and family God gave me; I need to do a much, MUCH better job of enjoying them instead of taking everything so serious. Thank you so much for this message!

    • Angela, I’m glad it was encouraging and helpful to you.

  • Ashley McDowell

    What a great story and also very encouraging thank you. May The Lord continue to bring love and joy to you and your family.

    In Christ alone,,

  • Craig

    Ted sounds like a smart man….allowing things to roll off his back and not hold a grudge; as God also told us, our sins were “remembered no more….they were “buried in the deepest sea….blotted out.” Congrats on taking life lightly 🙂

    • Craig, he is! I’m thankful to have a husband who’s so gracious and forgiving toward me — and who makes me laugh on a regular basis. 🙂

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