Congratulations on your marriage!
Thank you, Jim.

And you’re already on the road! I was hoping Jacob came along with you today.
I wish. He had to work this weekend but I’m going to see him tonight.

How did you know after all these years that Jacob was the guy?
The big defining element was that he knew how to cherish me as a woman. I think a lot of guys struggle with that because it takes a lot of strength and a lot of confidence, as a man, to really truly cherish a woman. I found in other dating relationships that I hadn’t felt fully appreciated or cherished or led spiritually. But with Jacob, there was this “cherishing” factor that was there with him.

I remember conversations soon before we got engaged where we would look at each other and say, This is really amazing. This is so special what we have here — and tears came to our eyes because it was so beautiful.

I asked God to confirm to me that we were meant to be together as husband and wife. God did confirm it through Scripture, through people that I respect in my life, mentors speaking into my life through prayer, through peace. Second to giving your life to Jesus, it’s the biggest decision you’ll ever make in your life.

I’m thinking that for a person in your position —   a young, female celebrity — dating could get pretty complicated.
Definitely, yeah, very tricky. I look back and honestly I’m glad to be done with that season of my life. No matter how you cut the cake, dating is difficult. It’s vulnerable. You can’t control it. You don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s a trust experience with God. It’s a trust experience with the person that you’re dating and sometimes, honestly, the person you’re dating isn’t necessarily trustworthy. So it’s a process of guarding your heart but not overly guarding it because you want to be open to love. It’s a very challenging season. Being recently out of that season I can emphasize with a lot of people that are still in it.

How did you and Jacob prepare for marriage?
We went through marriage counseling with a friend who was Jacob’s youth pastor when he was a teenager. He and his wife worked with us, which was incredible. They had us look up and respond to marriage-related scripture. They shared their stories and asked us tons of questions — really challenging, intense questions.

We knew this but they took us way deeper: the reason marriage is so important is because it’s very much a picture of Christ in the Church and that relationship. When marriage is in a broken place, it can be very damaging to a culture when people see Christians not cohesive in marriage; that’s why it needs to be taken so seriously. It’s a covenant. They emphasized that you’re speaking your vows of covenant before God, before your family and friends. It was very sobering, in a way, to recognize the gravity and the hugeness of marriage, but then also realize that a relationship is one day at a time. You’re not dating one minute and married the next; it’s a process.

Any particular resource that was helpful?
Probably the best book that we read in our preparation for marriage which I want to recommend to every married couple, is a book called Love and Respect. It’s about how the husband needs respect and the wife needs love and if you stop showing that to each other it kind of makes you spin in this crazy cycle. It teaches about showing unconditional love and unconditional respect, even sometimes when that spouse is not entirely showing you what you want out of the relationship. It emphasizes the grace of God and how we need God to live in marriage the right way. We need His strength and His power and His grace in our lives to love that other person sacrificially and so that really helped my perspective. To every married person listening, go get Love and Respect. It’s awesome.

I think marriage is beautiful, wonderful and a fascinating thing.

I like to say that marriage is a symbolic foot washing. You guys actually washed each other’s feet.
Yes. We washed each other’s feet as symbolizing the servanthood that we want to express in our marriage every day, preferring each other above ourselves.The other element — and probably the most powerful — was that we exchanged purity rings. We did that close to the beginning of the ceremony representing that we had saved ourselves for each other.

Wow. This day was a fulfillment of what you both had hoped and prayed for.
Very much. I think both of us at certain points in our lives felt that it may not happen — that we may never find somebody that met those ideals — which meant that neither of us would marry. We would not settle for less.

When we found each other and realized there was this soul connection with very similar family backgrounds and ways of viewing the world, it was like: Is this real?  (laughs) It is such a dream come true; we’re feeling very blessed. We would really appreciate people’s prayers as we grow in marriage.

How do you think your relationship is different because you waited? How could it have been otherwise?
Let’s start with the ceremony. Our wedding was medium-size — about 150 people — and different people said there was such an extraordinary sense of the Holy Spirit and such a beauty to the wedding itself. Some said it was the most powerful wedding they’d ever been to and I really think it was the purity element that set it apart.

A friend of ours said that it’s so rare that you see two people that have waited for each other and that there was a magical, lovely element that came from that.

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And in marriage, there is a trust when we’re not together: he’s not thinking about anybody else and I’m not thinking about anybody else. No shame. No guilt. Just being able to come to that honeymoon and to our marriage with no shame — kind of like Adam and Eve before the fall — there is a paradise element that is very profound.

Do you think your purity platform will be different going forward?
In some ways I think that message is more powerful than ever because it’s being fulfilled. I’ve spoken to people since getting married that have said: It gives me so much hope. Single people that are holding out can see our marriage as an inspiration to them in being able to see the end of the story. It’s been a beautiful thing to be able to tell them God’s way is the best and His way for romance is absolutely amazing.

I think in going forward it will be more of an affirming message: God’s way is beautiful. Be faithful to your spouse before marriage and in marriage.

A before and after story.
Yes, that’s true.

You’ve been married a whole…
Five weeks.

Any early, marriage surprises?
We actually worked through quite a lot in our dating relationship. I think neither of us are the kind of people that want to let things build up or let anything fester. We don’t shy away from conflict. Any time my husband senses that there might a little something going awry he will ask me about it, which is so courageous. He is a very strong, secure, loving person and he nurtures my heart in that way when he says: Hey, let’s talk about it. What’s going on with you?

And Jacob leads you spiritually…
Probably the biggest thing that I have appreciated so far is that he has been leading devotions. We were given a devotional book called Night Light by Dr. Dobson and his wife Shirley. We’ve been reading that every day, even when we’re apart because he has been traveling for work some and I have, too. Even long distance we will read this devotion and respond to the questions. If we can’t talk on the phone because he’s overseas we’ll email each other. That has been such a bonding thing to have devotions each day and will be a tradition we’ll continue.

So, part of his work life is travel also.

How might that affect your relationship?
I think in some ways so far — praise the Lord — it’s deepened our love for each other. When you go through that trial of missing each other and have to work at other ways of communicating, your relationship can get stronger.

I don’t want it to be a habit, though, because it’s so hard being away from him. I believe that  “leaving and cleaving” doesn’t just mean your family. I think it means prioritizing marriage before anything, under God and second to Him.

I will probably travel with him quite a lot and I’m super excited about being his helpmate, his support, and his wife. I’ve waited to be somebody’s helpmate — somebody I believe in with all my heart, believe in their mission and their calling and so it’s a joy to get to do it now.

Other than doing devotions together, are there any other ways you express spiritual intimacy together?
We pray together quite a lot. We were on the phone last night and he prayed for me and he’ll text me and say, Hey, just to let you know I’m praying for you right now. And he did this morning while I was leading worship. We feel prayer is a big part of our intimacy as a couple.

When was the last time you guys had fun?
Oh, my goodness, we always have fun. (laughs) He makes me laugh. He’s got this quirky, goofy side to him which I absolutely love.

When I was home last week we went to the beach and he was making me die with laughter with a story he was telling. So whatever we do and wherever we are, that’s where home is. We share our hearts a lot and it’s a beautiful connection.

Copyright © 2011 by Jim Mueller, President and co-founder of Growthtrac Ministries.