Marriage Lessons from Strange Places

Marriage Lessons from a dog - AdobeStock_108633441We’re always trying to learn more to help our and your marriage. And sometimes we find marriage lessons in the strangest places. We received a newsletter from Turnbull Ministries and WALLA! They came up with some great ones!

Bob and Yvonne are great marriage ambassadors that God uses continually. This is just one of many times! So, read, pray, glean, and use what God shows you will apply in your own marriage relationship. We’ve added just a few thoughts in [brackets] but the rest comes from inspiration that God gave to the Turnbull’s. (And for more, you can visit them at

Below are a few of the Turnbull marriage lessons we hope will inspire you.


The other day we were with a group of friends and the conversation turned to a discussion about pets. More specifically, their dogs.

When we got home that evening, we reflected on that gathering and both of us had noticed that when our friends started talking about their dogs they were animated and enthusiastic. It got us thinking as to what it was about their dogs that had them speak with such great affection about them. So, we decided to make a list of the qualities that make a great dog.

As we wrote out the list a light bulb went on as we realized that the qualities that we cherished in our dogs, should be qualities we should strive to live out in our relationships with people—particularly marriage relationships. So, as you read through them you might ask yourself how you are doing in building these qualities into your own marriage.


They are loyal. No one knows more about loyalty than dogs. They are there with you 24/7. When times are tough for their owner, they do not pull away or go looking for another owner. No, they walk besides you through any challenging situation.

Does your mate know you are committed through thick and thin? Or are they concerned that you would walk when times get tough? What about your kids or close friends? Are you there for them with your time and focused attention? [And are you and your spouse united in your interactions with them?]

We are assured of God’s loyalty toward us. In Hebrews 13:5, …God assured us, ‘I will never let you down, never walk off and leave you’

We need to pass this on to our spouse and to others. How are you doing concerning loyalty towards these important people in your life?

More Marriage Lessons from a Dog

They accept you. Dogs love you the way you are. Plus, they will love you no matter how unlovable you are on any given day. Since they are not continually trying to change you or are critical about your actions, it can cause you to strive to be the person your dog thinks you are.

That is why we need to make sure we are not a ‘Speck Inspector’ in our marriage relationship. In Matthew 7:3-5 it tells us that too often we are looking at the shortcomings (specks) in others and never see the faults (the planks) in our own life. We must deal with things in our own life before we go looking for ‘specks’ in our spouse and others.

A verse that can help us with acceptance is Romans 15:7 – ‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.‘ When someone feels acceptance by someone they care about, they are much more open to make the changes that are needed in their life. How are you doing in accepting your spouse and the other people in your life? [And are you more accepting of others than your own spouse? Prayerfully consider this. It happens. But you can change that. And you SHOULD change that, if that’s the case. It’s not likely you will “cleave” to someone that is picking you apart.]


They listen to you. You can talk over your problems and ideas with them, and they will never criticize you. They will also keep confidences as you share different things with them. Bob remembers how his childhood dog (a 141-pound German Shepard/Canadian timber wolf mix that he called Big Al). He got him through some tough times. As he would talk to him about his problems, he remembers Big Al always cocking his head and giving him his full attention. As long as Bob was talking to him, eye-to-eye, Big Al’s eyes were never diverted or distracted. Through his attentiveness it made Bob feel that every word he was saying was worthy of listening to.

What about you? Do you listen to your spouse with that type of attentiveness?

Some ideas to be a better listener include:

• Get rid of distractions. Whenever possible, look at your spouse when he or she is talking.

• Don’t give advice or fix it unless asked. [That’s a tough one, isn’t it? We’re often sure we’re God’s gift to our spouse to ‘straighten them out!’ And that could be. But it isn’t always. Be aware of that. Give the same grace that you want your spouse to give to you. Give the same grace you know God would have you give.]

• Don’t constantly interrupt.

This fits so well with:

James 1:19, ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.’

How are you doing in listening to your spouse and to others when they speak? Are you quick to listen?

Even More Marriage Lessons from a Dog

They are grateful. Dogs let you know when you’ve made them happy. Watch them when you either feed them or throw a ball at them. They get all excited. Their tails start wagging. They jump up and down or run around in circles. In other words, their appreciation towards something you have done is not a secret. It is noticeable.

With your spouse and loved ones, don’t keep your appreciation a secret. Don’t take them for granted. Make sure you notice the many things they have done. And make sure you show your appreciation by saying something, especially thank you.

[Several years ago, God convicted me of not treating Steve with anything close to the same enthusiasm as our dog. One day when Steve arrived home from work God spoke to my heart. I’m sure I heard Him say, “Get up and greet your husband like you care that he comes in the door. Don’t take his coming home for granted.”

[I noted that our dog seemed happier to see Steve than I did on some days. And that’s NOT good! Sure, I can’t wag a tail like a dog. And I can’t imagine that Steve would want me to be jumping up and down in the same way. (That would not be a good picture for anyone to see.) But I can certainly do better than staying put and yelling out “hi” from the other room. And you can too. Make sure you greet each other enthusiastically and lovingly whenever possible! Don’t let your dog show more love to your spouse than you do.]

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’

How are you doing in showing gratefulness towards your spouse and loved ones for something they have done?

And Here’s the Last of These Marriage Lessons from a Dog:

They are forgiving. When you have had an awful day and you, unfortunately, take it out on them, instead of holding it against you they will come up and look at you with those puppy dog eyes that can melt you right on the spot. They hold no grudges.

In relationships—particularly in marriage, we can rub each other the wrong way and it can cause frictions. The best way to overcome it is to practice the Spirit of Forgiveness. Basically, admit when you are wrong and forgive when they are wrong.

Eph 4:32, ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.’

So how are you doing in building these qualities into your marriage? [Remember: we’re told in the Bible, “As far as it be within you be at peace with all men.” You can’t control what your spouse does or doesn’t do; but you can control your own actions.]

If you’re not doing as good as you would like in this area of your marriage, then in the next five weeks take one quality for one week and work on it. Then the next week, add the second quality and so on. By the end of five weeks, you will end up being the person your dog really thinks you are, which will greatly benefit your marriage and all your relationships.

Fun and thought-provoking marriage lessons, aren’t they? We think so, and we hope you do too. So, as you go about this week (and beyond) look for ways to show love to your spouse enthusiastically. We intend to and hope you will too.

Cindy and Steve Wright


To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:

7 Essentials - Marriage book


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2 responses to “Marriage Lessons from Strange Places

  1. Great insight here! Thanks for sharing [and adding your own thoughts]. God is working through you!

    1. Thanks Markus! We really appreciate your affirming words. It is our utmost prayer that God will use us to help other marriages. This is a heartwarming affirmation. It lifts our day, no doubt!