The Journey with Ron Moore

Far too many couples are convinced that a weekend marriage seminar, or the newest book on marriage with be the silver bullet that “fixes” their relationship. We all wish it were that easy. There are no quick fixes for marital satisfaction. Certainly, seminars and books can be the catalysts. But relationships improve (or not) only if couples are willing to do the hard work of applying the new knowledge and skills. Albert Einstein well said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were when we created them.”

Stable and satisfying marriages are enjoyed by two people willing to do the hard work. In my doctoral work, I took couples through a process of pre-testing, an enrichment program, and then post-testing. Not surprisingly, the couples who did the least amount of work in the enrichment program scored lowest on the post-test and the couples who did the most work scored highest. Marriage is an ever-changing connection that has to be continually examined, recharged, and redirected as new circumstances, stages, issues, and problems arise.


Here are four very basic things you can do to get started:

  1. Take 10 minutes 5 days a week to read a devotional together. I suggest:

My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

Heirs Together for Life, Charles and Norma Ellis (Banner of Truth, 1980)

Becoming Soul Mates, Les and Leslie Parrott (Zondervan, 1995)


2. Take 5 minutes 5 days a week to pray together.

Praying together can be difficult for many couple. Here are some things that will help.

  • Establish a set time to pray. Make the time work for you and your schedules.
  • If you are not used to praying together, begin by praying silently together. When comfort and trust is built finish the prayer time by praying aloud.
  • If you are not comfortable praying aloud together, write out your prayers then share them with each other. In them you will be able to develop the discipline of praying openly and honestly.
  • The more you pray together, the more you will want to pray together. Also, you may want to check out a couple books by Ken Boa, Face to Face: Praying the Scripture for Spiritual Growth and Face to Face: Praying the Scripture for Intimate Worship (Zondervan, 1997).


  1. Begin dating again.

A major desire that spouses have is for their partner to be a friend. Re-fresh your friendship by going out and having fun together. Dates need not be expensive. A walk in the park or on a trail provides much opportunity to talk and enjoy one another’s company. If dates have fallen by the wayside, begin with one a month. Have some fun.


  1. Schedule a thirty minute weekly meeting.

Establish a time to meet once a week where planning, conflict resolution, and healthy communication can take place. I know it sounds too simple, maybe even too formal. But a weekly meeting is an important habit to establish in a growing relationship. With busy schedules, it provides a time to put upcoming events and activities on personal calendars. Researchers Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg note that a weekly meeting provides a tangible way to place priority on your relationship by carving out a set time. So, find a comfortable place, grab a cup of coffee, and take a few minutes to get on the same page.

I believe far too many young men and women enter the dating game with no real plan. This leaves them open to move forward in a relationship based on immediate emotions. Too often they find themselves involved before they take a hard look at the person with whom they have fallen “in love.” “Love is blind” as the saying goes. Deep emotion can keep us from seeing another person’s true character.

Young people (and old people for that matter) move through dating, to engagement, to marriage without a thorough assessment of the person they are getting ready to look in the eyes and say “for better or worse.” Even when the relationship gets out of hand many feel it is too late to adjust or jettison.


Therefore, it’s important to make decisions before you get involved in a relationship.


Below is a process I call MATE. This is an evaluation process parents can use with their children to talk to them about the type of person they want to date. This is also a process young adults can use as they maneuver the complicated and confusing path of looking for a future spouse.


MATE is an acronym for Must Have, Add-ons, Take it or leave it, and End of the Road. I will explain each of these below. I asked our own children, ages 16-27, to give me examples of each. Two of them are married. Input from my daughter-in-law and son-in-law are included as well.

Certainly, some of the examples are subjective. You will not agree with all of them. You will need to guide your children to a list of their own. Use our examples to start the discussion.


This represents the starting point, the must haves. These things are non-negotiable. They must be there from the start. The relationship doesn’t even get started unless these are present.


Must Have Examples:


Person of character

Person of high moral values


Easy to talk to/spend time with

Physically attractive

Respects you without requiring you to change

Respected by peers




Just below the “Must Haves” are the preferred things you desire in a relationship. These are not showstoppers, but they are serious considerations. They are the things you may or may not want to live with or without.


Add-On Examples:

Spiritually mature

Knows calling/vocation

College graduate

Gets along with family/friends

Similar views of husband/wife and mother/father roles 

Good sense of humor

High (or low) activity level

Challenges me intellectually (makes me think)

Has a good relationship with his/her parents/family.

Wants a good relationship with family of origin and spouse’s family

Good conversationalist

Makes me laugh

Willing to lead

Shows empathy

Willing to be spontaneous


Take It or Leave It

You could go either way. These are optional things. Electives. Available but not obligatory. May be family of origin issues.


Take It or Leave It Examples:

Good singing voice


Likes the Oklahoma Sooners

Wants to live in the same places

Close with family

Would rather vacation at the beach than the mountains

Volunteers in the community

Specific physical characteristic (I was looking for someone taller than I was, and I did succeed. Note: This came from my daughter-in-law who is 5’5” and my son is 6’3”)

Likes coffee

Has tattoos

Eyebrow ring

Willing to travel and/or move away

Morning person

Likes dessert

Enjoys playing games

Likes repairing things

Likes dogs


End of the Road

These are showstoppers. A character trait. A bad habit. An annoyance. If this person did this thing or acted this way there will be no future. This discovery may not be made until months into the relationship. However, if it shows up, game over.


End of the Road Examples:

Not a believer

Does not respect his mother

Addicted to video games

Allergic to peanut butter

Drug use


Alcohol abuse

Unwilling to listen

Loud chewer

Crazy laugh

History of lying/deceit

Does not get along well with immediate family/close friends

Large debt with no plan to try and actively decrease

Unwilling to travel and explore

Rude to waiters at restaurants

Not well matched on significant issues (denominational differences, political differences, etc.)



Explosive temper


Previous marriages/relationships


I encourage you to use the MATE process with your children. We have had a great time discussing this with our children. Let me know how your children respond.


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