Dr. Stephen and Lisa Leonard have been married for 20 years, have two kids and run two successful jewelry and accessory companies. Everything seemed to going along smoothly but Stephen says their relationship hit a rough patch two years ago. That launched launched him and his wife into a soul-searching journey to comfort their emotions. After reflecting deep on their marriage, they realized that one of their core values - communication - had broken down. Stephen and Lisa knew that it was the time to rebuild, work on honesty and rethink the way they do things.
As a former pastor and now the founder of the new men's accessories company, Stephen David Leonard, Stephen utilized his life-learning experiences to help repair his loving relationship with his partner.
For more on Stephen and Lisa's story, please check out his blog for an incredibly raw and honest account of his personal journey.
Stephen and Lisa's relationship is back on the right track and stronger than before. Here are three tips they suggest to help reinforce a solid foundation.
#1: Importance of recognizing that real love between two people is not a love song: After 20 years of marriage, Lisa and Stephen have learned that romantic love is a beautiful thing, but it cannot save a marriage.
Stephen: Real love is so much more complex. The real thing, day in and day out with dishes and diapers, it's more complex and we have to recognize that. And when we do we have the opportunity to grow individually and together.
Lisa: And just having conflict. We can be honest, talk it out, fight and then move past it.
#2: Each of us needs to take responsibility for our own healing and wholeness: Most problems in marriages are not with our partner, but with us.
Stephen: One of the things I've learned is you really have to take responsibility for yourself. It's easy to think that the problems in our relationships, in your marriage are about your partner. The fact of the matter is, each of us can only take care of ourselves. You have to take the steps to identify whats going on with you and get whole.
#3: Ask how you can be a better partner: Share and listen — even when it’s hard. Love requires sacrifice, courage, strength and willingness to change.
Stephen: Be willing to ask questions. I used to be so focused on being heard and now I focus much more on listening.
Lisa: We've done a lot of marriage counseling, which I highly recommend. Just to have that vulnerability to enter in and take responsibility for what's mine and be honest with each other. It's hard work but it's so worth it.