Justin and Megan will have been married for 15 years in May of this year. They live in North-Central West Virginia, where Justin serves as a pastor at growing church. Megan currently serves as a substitute teacher when needed. They have two girls, currently ages 9 & 7. Justin and Megan co-author their blog, Do Not Disturb, and have also taken opportunities to speak on the subject of marriage or intimacy whenever possible. They recently launched a Marriage Mentorship ministry at their home church, and hope to be a resource for many couples in the years to come. They also like long walks on the beach (true story). You can also connect with them on Twitter @_DoNot_Disturb.
Every couple has valuable treasure hidden in their relationship. The objective of our Featured Couple interviews is to “mine” and share that treasure with other couples – in order to encourage, inspire and motivate them to become better spouses and build better marriages!
Today’s Featured Spouse Date couple is Justin and Megan!
How did you first meet?
Justin: Are you currently smiling? Well, you should be. If you’re not, maybe this will make you smile — We first met the day before my brother married Megan’s sister. Crazy, right? So technically, I married my sister-in-law’s sister. You can look that up if you want, but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing illegal or unbiblical about that.
Even though we first met when our siblings were married, we didn’t begin dating for several months. We both attended the Creation Music Festival in PA the next summer, and we began dating shortly afterwards.
What was your first date? What encouraged you to keep dating?
Justin: Well, after we both attended the Creation Music Festival, we both had this desire to begin dating, but neither of us openly communicated that desire to the other.
So, shortly after the festival (remember that my brother and her sister were already married), my brother called me and asked if I wanted to meet them in Pittsburgh, PA to hang-out for a day. I was unable to, as I had some other responsibilities I had to take care of. But then they made things much more interesting. “Megan is going to be there, too!” Awww man! I just spent all last week with her and I’d love to see her again! I really, really want to be there!!! But I just couldn’t make it.
But as they were driving into Pittsburgh they decided, “Well, if Justin can’t come to us, we’ll just go to him.” So here was Megan, still a high school student, driving out of state without her parent’s permission to meet me. (She even ended up staying the night at my parent’s house!) In the end, neither of us asked the other one out, we just hugged and knew we would begin dating. And we never really considered not being together ever again.
What was your most memorable date ever and what made it so outstanding?
Justin: Probably the time we set 17 alarm clocks at Wal-Mart 2-3 minutes apart from one another, and then secretly watched the staff go crazy every time one went off. (OK, that never actually happened. But it’s better than anything else I’ve got off the top of my head.)
How do other people describe you as a couple?
Justin: I’m pretty sure most people we know would say, “Those are the people you want to talk to if you have questions about marriage or sex.” Simply by saying that, they recognize we have a very strong marriage and really enjoy being with one another.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a couple and how has that shaped your marriage? How would you advise another couple facing a similar thing?
Justin: Over the past couple of years we experienced a number of challenges back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Megan’s mother was diagnosed with ALS, and we watched her quickly lose her ability to speak and engage in life. She passed away last year, and we experienced three additional family deaths over the next three months. Throughout this time there were other extended family crises happening as well. It was a very challenging season, and one we’re still recovering from today.
What are some of the best marriage resources you have come across?
Justin: This is going to be hard to narrow down, but I’ll do my best:
- “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller is probably the best book on the subject of marriage we’ve read. We actually wrote a study guide for it that’s currently on our blog. We’d like to update it soon, but it’s literally been downloaded by tens of thousands of others, so we’re glad others have found it beneficial. What we appreciate about this one is that Tim Keller doesn’t give the reader information to apply in their marriage; he simply gives an explanation as to what marriage is, and gives the couple the opportunity to figure out how to apply it within the context of their marriage. It’s a fantastic resource.
- “Grace-Filled Marriage” by Timothy Kimmel. This one includes study questions already in the book, and we recently led seven other couples through the study. It’s a great resource.
- “Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman is a simple, often recommended resource.
- “Sheet Music” by Kevin Leeman is a good resource specifically on sexual intimacy.
- Specifically for women, anything by Linda Dillow. That said, husbands should read her stuff as well to better understand their wives.
- Finally, we’ve begun using the Prepare/Enrich assessment in our mentoring of other couples. It’s a great assessment for couples to take and discuss with a more experienced couple.
- Oh, I can’t forget to mention The Marriage Bed. A really, really fantastic online resource for couples.
There are other great resources that focus specifically on Marriage Mentoring, or that are written solely to husbands or wives, but these are probably our most recommended resources.
Tell us about an “Aha!” moment that you have had in your marriage and how that has helped you become a better spouse.
Justin: You may find this hard to believe, but men and women are different. Most of them even have different interests. One may enjoy things like games and music and Seinfeld, while another may enjoy…well, investing all of time and energy into their family. Because of our differences, we’ve learned to sacrifice some of our personal interests for the sake of our marriage, or come to some compromises.
One compromise we made was in regards to games. I used to enjoy the occasional video game, which was something Megan had no interest in doing. However, I learned that her primary love language is quality time, so I continually tried to find a way that I could enjoy one of my interests while also speaking her love language. The result was playing some board games. It took some trial and error, but I’ve discovered some games that we (and our kids) really enjoy playing, and it gives her tons of quality time, and me the opportunity to enjoy thinking creatively and competitively. It’s been a real win/win.
I really don’t think this point can be underestimated – when other couples make compromises and understand one another’s interests and love languages – it will have a tremendous impact on their marriage.
(For the few of you who may interested, some of our favorite games include Stone Age, Ticket to Ride, Dominion, King of Tokyo, Carcassonne, Takenoko, Forbidden Island / Forbidden Desert, among others.)
What are some of the practices in your daily life that best reflect your commitment to each other?
Justin: We really are best friends in every sense of the term. One of our regular practices is simply talking with one another every single day. Regular texts through the day, more discussions in the evenings, and so on.
Somebody with a very successful marriage once told me that her husband was committed to talking with her a full 15 minutes every day. Even though he was on the road 4-5 days a week for his career, he regularly fulfilled this commitment over a 40+ year period of time, even if many of their conversations were by phone. This had a tremendous impact on their marriage, and the “At least 15 minutes of communication every day” is advice we’ve kept in our own marriage through the years.
What is one of the most inspiring or rewarding experiences you have ever had together?
Justin: Early on in marriage, we did a long Bible Study on the Book of Genesis together. I think it was 25 or 26 lessons or something like that. I remember going through that study and taking the opportunity to discuss our answers with one another once or twice a week until we finished it. It gave us a way to not only be in God’s Word together, but also discuss what we were learning in a simple way. We’ve carried on this experience later in marriage, by trying to read at least one book together each year and talking about what we learn from each chapter as we go through it.
We would also acknowledge that with all of the challenges we’ve experienced over the past couple of years, we’ve come to recognize that we’re a team, no matter what happens. Knowing every single morning that each of us has a partner that is participating in our lives at 110% is inspiring in and of itself.
What would you do for a last minute date night together?
Justin: We don’t get out too often on a ‘date’. We would likely go to the local coffee shop (yes, we only have one) and just enjoy the downtime. If you want to get crazy, we could even do dinner out and a movie. If you want to get real crazy, we’d even get popcorn. With butter.
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