How a Rental Car Guards My Marriage

I’m passionate about my marriage. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to protect it. Recently, this meant renting a car and driving to the Philadelphia airport by myself.

It all started in December, when my husband, Bob, and I brainstormed a way to thank Suzy, our lead teacher of Secret Keeper Girl, for ten years of ministry partnership. A Caribbean cruise seemed just the thing, so we bought Suzy and her husband, Jonathan, two tickets. Of course, we thought we should tag along and got two tickets for ourselves.

In the week leading up to our departure, some challenges arose and Bob had to join Suzy and the rest of our Secret Keeper Girl team in Chattanooga the day before our vacation. That meant Jonathan and I would depart from our hometown on our own rather than with Bob. I guess some women would have felt comfortable taking a four-hour drive to the airport with a trusted male friend. I didn’t.

And it’s because of something that happened in a hotel room in California almost 20 years before I was born.

One afternoon in 1948, a young Billy Graham invited a few friends—George Beverly Shea, Cliff Barrows, and Grady Wilson— to his hotel room in the city of Modesto. There, in that room, the four men decided (among other things) that to protect their marriages they would never be alone in a room or travel alone in a vehicle with any woman other than their own individual wives. The commitments they made to each other became known as the Modesto Manifesto. From that day on, Graham stated, “I did not travel, meet, or eat alone with a woman other than my wife.” One of the great hallmarks of his life-long ministry is that it was scandal free. What a gift of faithfulness he gave to his precious wife, Ruth.

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Bob and I heard about the practical way this man lived out his passion for his marriage when our own marriage was brand new. We decided to follow his example. We don’t follow it because we are speakers. We made the decision when we were in our twenties and working as marketing consultants with no dream of writing books, speaking, and traveling. Our verbal commitment to one another is something like this:

  • We don’t go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex.
  • We don’t get in a car or room alone with someone of the opposite sex.
  • We copy one another when emailing someone of the opposite sex with personal information.

Through the years we’ve had friends, board members, business partners, and complete strangers question our decision. But we’re stickin’ to it.

My vacation cost me $211.15 more than I’d planned for one simple reason: My marriage is priceless to me.

Dannah Gresh is a best-selling author and the creator of and Secret Keeper Girl. Used with permission.

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