our story of marriage counseling

this month marks six years of marriage under our belt.

in the thick of college, just barely in our 20s, we committed to a lifelong partnership. we've done some serious growing up together. once we graduated, luke watched over me as i suffered through the most difficult year of depression. in year three, i was a listening ear & shared words of encouragement when luke lacked passion in his work & felt directionless.

in the trenches of year four, we struggled the most. we were new to owning a farm, i was frustrated at work, luke was working terribly long hours & he was in the thick of his first year of grad school. we never saw each other & when we did, we argued.

week after week, i cried for even the briefest relief from our exhausting schedules & ragged state. we craved the connection we once had, but we lacked the tools to communicate that to one another. late one night, at the end of our straw, we agreed to ask for professional help.

friends, marriage counseling was the best decision we have ever made.

it's taken me two years to sum up the courage & share our story in this space. 

be it the pressures of others or our self-imposed expectations, we believe that if our marriages aren't perfect, they are doomed to fail. we experience so much good in our partnerships yet we were afraid to admit the ugly parts. we can all agree that marriage is hard, but when we're faced with the difficulties of our relationships, we shy away from the rough edges & ultimately miss out on a deeper level of intimacy. over coffee & g-rated conversations with our girlfriends, we skimp on the nitty gritty for fear of judgement. 

friends, decorating tips are fun & living on a budget is good, but the reason we are here is for a deeper connection, a rallying cry that says we are not alone.

my ultimate hope is that sharing our story makes you feel brave & encourages you to take action. 

walking into that room with it's box of kleenex & an old man at a desk was easy. breaking down our walls, really learning to listen & forgiving one another was the hardest part. and as it always does- it got much harder before it got easier, but friends, it is always worth it.

that stranger of an old man soon became our wiser, more seasoned friend with so much for us to learn. he taught us marital tools to use when the going gets tough, challenged us & always encouraged us. he equipped us with a better understand of ourselves & how we each fit into our relationship. he reminded us that we should never be embarrassed of our journey but celebrate our willingness to fight for a healthy marriage.

friends, there's hope. 

we will never be perfect at this marriage thing, but we're celebrating how far we've come. year six, you were such a good one. and when we're in the trenches once more (because we know we will be), we'll have the insight to share our honest story & the tools to fight for us.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing your marriage counseling story. An additional heart and ear to listen to our fears, hopes, struggles, loves is such a gift.

June Mears Driedger

Bevy @ Treasured Up and Pondered said...

Bravo!! Saying yes to the hard parts. What a great post! I'm encouraged and I hardly know you. Me and my hubby are in year eleven (will celebrate 11yrs in May) and we've been there - though maybe not as bravely.

With Christ - moving forward - even in the trenches. That's the only direction you can go - in a trench. Forward or backward. Go forth!!!!

Blessings on your day and your marriage. Happy Anniversary!

Erin said...

I applaud you for sharing. Like you said, it's not easy to talk about counseling, but I think it's something people need to hear. I'd love to hear about the tips you were given!

cindy b said...

My hubby and I will soon be celebrating 33 yrs of marriage. So often couples think that saying "I do" means easy peasy. During year 5/6 there were some serious relationship issues. We too, Natalie, chose counseling...best decision ever. Has it been smooth sailing, absolutely not, but we can now manage the rough waters. By the way, I love your blog, instagram, etc. Thank you very being "BRAVE"...

cindy b said...

My hubby and I will soon be celebrating 33 yrs of marriage. So often couples think that saying "I do" means easy peasy. During year 5/6 there were some serious relationship issues. We too, Natalie, chose counseling...best decision ever. Has it been smooth sailing, absolutely not, but we can now manage the rough waters. By the way, I love your blog, instagram, etc. Thank you for being "BRAVE"...

Anna Lintern said...

Thank you for sharing! I could only imagine how hard it was to! My husband and I were young like you (22 right out college when married & moved out of state too) and the first three years were not butterflies and rainbows. He was in grad school for the first two years and I NEVER saw him. No joke, I would go for weeks without seeing him in the daylight. We also dealt with the death of his mom 10 months into our first year. But we were always willing to work at it. We had to learn each other's love language and how to treat/talk to/live with each other. We have not reached the point of marriage counseling but we have told each other that if we ever get there, we will do it because we believe in our marriage. Thank you again for sharing and happy 6 years!

Ali @ Anything You Want said...

Very brave of you to share this. Sometimes we all need a little help, and recognizing that is often the hardest part. Just by being open about this, I'm sure you're helping many people who were too scared or ashamed to ask for help on their own.

Kim said...

God bless you for sharing this.................and for having done something about your marriage when the going got tough. People, please, please do not give up on your marriage. Please do not be more willing to dial up a lawyer..........than to dial up a counselor. Work at it! Make time for one another. Get the "tools" you need to go to a place of greater health in your marriage.
May God pour out His richest blessing upon marriages! upon yours!

Kelly Ann said...

Wow! Thank you for your honest and brave post. I have read your blog for quite awhile, but have never commented. I am still a newlywed (celebrating a year this September) but we've been in a committed relationship for 7. Marriage certainly has it's struggles (this year has been a doozy for us) It is a breath of fresh air reading your story. Thank you for touching on your tough years, so those of us who have been there don't feel quite so alone. Particularly love the "G-rated conversations with girlfriends" part. The few times I've truly opened up to friends about struggles, is when I have received my best comfort, advice, and deepened friendships.

Thank you again for sharing and happy 6th anniversary to you both!


Summer Twitchell said...

Thank you for sharing. I know how hard it can be to share things like this. My husband and I married young (21 & 23) and are in the midst of limbo/major changes in our lives, coming up on our 4th anniversary next month. We're expecting baby no. 2, he's thinking about going back to school (which would severely cut down our income), we're buying a house and moving. The past year has been a rough one and we have considered counseling. Your honest post makes me more inclined to find someone once we get settled in our new place. I think it would definitely help us in the long run. :)
Congratulations on 6 years!

Shannon Evans said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing! Years 6 & 7 were the hardest for us and we got a LOT of counseling, but tomorrow is our 9th anniversary and our marriage has never been better. Cheers to staying committed and being HONEST about the journey! xoxo

Eliza said...


My heart jumped with a sense of relief and connection when I saw the title of your post. Thank you so much sharing about this. I am getting married in a few short weeks and can relate in many ways to this. We began our relationship in high school (we were babies!) and have faced so much struggle over the years. We have turned to professional counseling and even though I am a social worker,, I still struggle with the stigma and myths about therapy.
I have read your sweet words about your marriage and husband before and felt jealous of your "perfect" relationship. It is so easy to believe that everyone else has it right while we are "failing".
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. Your courage to share has really impacted me.
PS. My soon-to-be-husband is a farmer and we hope to have our own farm in the next few years, so I love reading about your farm life!

Abigail Hoppen said...

Thank you so much for sharing this.

Being in the blog world it's really hard to open up your soul and share that behind all the perfect instagram pics and selfies that sometimes things are not perfect.

My husband and I have also been through our share of ups and downs and its usually when we are both swamped which happens almost every year. The silver lining is we WORK on it. Marriage is work.

I'm so proud of you (ye who i've never met) that you value your relationship and love each other enough to take care of business.

Cheers to year 6 and Cheers to many more!

Anonymous said...

My name is Sofia and I live in Sweden. I follow you on Instagram, and felt that I had to read this post. It was important for me to read, right now. We got married in 2009, and the last years have been... tough. We´re in therapy now, and it helps. But we´re not through yet.... Thanks for bringing me hope!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I've been with my partner 4 1/2 years and we have been through some major transitions over this time- it's hard! But I have learnt so much about myself through it all and with every difficult experience I feel our relationship and understanding of one another grow and change. Lately I have been wondering about other peoples relationships and what is 'normal', I see people on blogs and Instagram with their partners/husbands sharing their happiest times and this has often made me doubt my own relationship and compatibility. But really, every day is not full of romantic gestures, I know that! It can be so easy to become disillusioned by comparing ourselves to others when we are only seeing a tiny piece of the picture. Your honesty is beautiful and I'm so glad marriage counselling has helped create a better relationship for you and I'll definitely keep it in mind for the future! :) xo Rachael

Natalie Hall said...

Really loved this post. That was some much needed REAL encouraging words you shared. PS I love your top, where is it from?

ali grace | cookies and grace said...

Yes, girlfriend. Yes. We have recently gone through some marriage counseling in our third year of marriage and it definitely was the best decision we've made. We still struggle, things are definitely not perfect, but we are committed and know that marriage is worth fighting for. Thankful for you and your honest words!

Jenny said...

We've been married 28 yrs & the longer I'm married the more I realise that it comes down to choice. Relationships move in waves of highs & lows. We have to choose to act out love even when we don't feel it in the lows...eventually the feelings follow again. There was a time I figured we'd just be miserable for the rest of our lives together. Then one day I noticed we weren't so unhappy & eventually I was feeling love again. It sometimes take years but it's worth it.

For me the changes came when I gave up self & CHOSE to serve & love anyway. That is hard. I stopped keeping mental lists of who did the most work or what he did wrong & just chose to do the right thing even if it didn't feel good.

I will admit after going through such a hard time in my 30's with my marriage, then getting past that & being so happy that we didn't give up - I thought it wouldn't be that hard ever again. But life can be hard & we face different things at different stages. When we entered the empty nest it became very hard again. I've come to realise that is just life. Things are on the upswing again for us but I expect we'll have more highs & lows as life goes on. As we age & face declining health I expect there will still be hard days. Knowing there are hard days & choosing to fight for the person you love through them is worth it. It's good for our marriages, our children(no matter their age) & our country...to work to make our families strong.

I love your blog so much. You're such a fun beautiful family & I am thrilled that you're willing to do the hard things to make your family strong!

Katie Falkenberg said...

Thank you so much for this.

Meredith Kimbrough said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I got married at 23 and had our first child at 25. We have been married for over 20 years. It has been a hard journey but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Your words will touch someone who needs that encouragement that we all go through it. It's refreshing to hear someone who is young and only married a few years to admit marriage is tough but you totally can make it into a beautiful thing. Keep doing what you're doing! Good stuff :)

Kate Kunkle said...

Hey Natalie!
You have been a big role model for me over the past few years! I've been so inspired by your creativity, your "dress for happiness" motto, and - so close to my heart, your happy flags! (I leave in the middle of class to make sure I don't miss out when you post new ones! I just wanted to say that I too, have recently started marriage counseling (year 4 of marriage!) and this is the FIRST time I'm admitting to it. I think that there's an extremely negative connotation, people think it's the last resort. To us, it was the first! We wanted to stop our problems in their tracks and I think that it takes a lot of bravery for anyone to seek outside help. I just wanted to thank you for sharing because really, what's wrong with wanting to make your marriage better? Absolutely nothing. Rock on, lovely lady!

Kate Jordan said...

Dear Natalie,

You're so brave to share this! There is no shame in getting a little help. I think pretty much every relationship can benefit from counseling. For everyone I know who has done it, its just made things so much better. Good for you! You two are wonderful!


Jerusalem Greer said...


Madeline Hall said...

thank you for sharing this! I just read your "about me" story as well. I also married my husband when I was 20 years old...he was 22. I finished up my last semester of college in our first year of marriage, and then we made a major move to New York from Texas. We have been married over two years now, and I feel like you would understand a lot of the things I have experienced, just mainly on how much we've grown as individuals since marrying!! Anyway, I really appreciate you sharing your story. There is no shame in getting help.


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