Confessions of a Happily Married Man

Finding God in the Messiness of Marriage


By Joshua L. Rogers

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Discover God in the messiness of your marriage, as popular marriage and family columnist Joshua Rogers offers spouses hope with real-life stories from his own marriage and helps you see how God is at work in the ordinary and extraordinary of your relationship.

Confessions of a Happily Married Man is a husband’s painfully honest account of his first ten years of marriage. It offers a window into the perspective of a man who went from “hello” to “I do” in nine months and then figured out how hard marriage could be.

When Joshua Rogers thought back on the marriage books he had read or sermons about marriage he had heard, it occurred to him that he could only remember one thing about them: the stories. That’s why this book is anchored by stories that other couples will relate to and can easily learn from. The stories are cringe-worthy, humorous, inspiring, heart-breaking, and full of wisdom–but the author isn’t telling the reader what to do with that wisdom. He’s letting the reader learn along with him as he’s gradually becoming more self-aware, increasingly grateful for his wife, and surprised to discover what God is doing in the middle of it all.


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IN JUST A FEW PAGES FROM NOW, YOU’LL READ JOSHUA ROGERS’S “baby monitor story.” I won’t spoil it for you here, but it’s one for the ages.

If I’m honest, my marriage to my wonderful wife, Erin, is filled with volumes and volumes of baby monitor–type stories. Some of them (okay, many of them) are primarily the result of my own mistakes and shortcomings. Erin would be the first to “own” her part as well.

And yet, despite it all, and certainly by the grace of God, we’re happily married.

Happily married… a phrase that Joshua Rogers uses in the title of this book. You and I have heard this expression countless times. That’s the dream. That’s the goal! When husbands and wives join themselves in this holy covenant before God and man, “happily married” is what they’re after. No one wants to be unhappily married.

Sure, during the traditional wedding ceremony we make vows to love one another “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” But I think we’d prefer to experience only the good parts of those scenarios—better, richer, healthy. Right?

Of course, that’s not the reality. Few would argue that marriage is actually a magical utopia of better, richer, healthier. At least not all the time. Why? Because we’re sinners! You’re a sinner, and so is your spouse. When two sinners get married, there’s gonna be friction. Just ask Erin!

Unfortunately, as Christians we often excel at pointing out the sins and shortcomings of others while conveniently ignoring our own glaring deficiencies. This can be especially true in marriage. We tend to obsess about every little speck in our spouse’s eye while remaining oblivious to the plank in our own. (See Matthew 7 for Jesus’s thoughts on this issue.)

A happy marriage, then, is not a relationship in which both spouses are perfect. If perfection were the goal, we’d be in trouble. A happy marriage is rather a relationship marked by humility, forgiveness, and grace. Over and over again.

At Focus on the Family, where I spend most of my time, Joshua knows that we have developed a series of “12 Traits” that we believe best characterize a thriving marriage, disciplines that all married couples should cultivate. These are not for perfect people. They’re for sinners. They’re for husbands and wives committed to pushing back against their own selfish tendencies to pursue a marriage marked by that same humility, forgiveness, and grace.

This book is the perfect ramp up to these. Here’s a brief summary of each trait:

1. Lifelong Commitment—Marriage was created by God and designed to be an arrangement that lasts a lifetime, “until death do us part.”

2. Spiritual Intimacy—A shared spiritual commitment is a strong predictor of marital success.

3. Communication—A strong marriage is built upon a solid foundation of positive communication and open, honest, empathetic interactions.

4. Healthy Conflict—A conflict-free marriage is likely not a healthy marriage. Thriving couples understand that disagreements can actually help strengthen their relationship and deepen their intimacy.

5. Cherishing—Cherishing your spouse is an attitude of the heart, a resolve to see the best in him or her even when the road gets rough.

6. Nourishing—Nourishing is an action; it involves communicating love in a way your spouse finds meaningful.

7. Quality Time—It’s tough in our fast-paced world, but thriving couples spend quality time together and prioritize date nights and other opportunities to simply enjoy one another.

8. Physical Intimacy—You’ve probably heard it said that sex is the glue that helps hold couples together. It’s true. It might look different for each marriage, but couples who embrace a healthy attitude about sexual intimacy increase their chance of success.

9. Shared Responsibility—This might look different for each marriage, too, but thriving couples understand that they are on the same team and that they’ve been given the privilege of working together. Success isn’t about what benefits him or her; it’s about what benefits us.

10. Coping with Challenges—As if the challenge of two sinners being married to one another wasn’t enough, there are also external pressures that will impact every marriage. Thriving couples can learn how to not only cope with crisis but to grow from it.

11. Healthy Individuals—A marriage can only be as healthy as the two individuals contributing to it. Thriving husbands and wives commit themselves individually to a lifetime of spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental growth.

12. Community Minded—Married couples aren’t meant to live in isolation. They need to surround themselves with community, both for the support it gives them and the support they can offer others.

Why am I outlining these traits here? Because whether he realizes it or not, Joshua Rogers actually demonstrates many of them in the pages of Confessions of a Happily Married Man. I appreciate the transparency with which he shares some of the struggles he and Raquel have faced over the years… including that baby monitor story! (It’s fantastic. You’ll see.)

At one point in this book, Joshua admits that he’s not a “relationship expert,” despite being introduced as one by an Australian TV host. And that’s a good thing. Maybe we don’t need more relationship experts. Maybe we need regular, real-life people who are living out God’s good gift of marriage even in imperfect and sometimes painful ways.

You’ll relate to this page-turning book. I guarantee it. Joshua and Raquel have faced some unique struggles. And some common ones. You will recognize your own marriage in some of these pages. This book is a reminder that every marriage gives us the opportunity to grow in Christ. And to be Christ to our spouse. And to reflect Christ to a world that desperately needs Him.

That’s a high calling and an awesome privilege for married sinners like you and me!


Greg Smalley, Psy.D.

Focus on the Family VP of Marriage & Family Formation,
coauthor of Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage


The Story We Absolutely Had to Tell

ON VALENTINE’S DAY LAST YEAR, I HAD A CONVERSATION THAT led to one of the most consequential decisions of my marriage: My wife and I decided to tell our story in this book.

To be clear, I initially had no interest whatsoever in writing a book. My heart was broken over my dad dying. I was still suffering from the psychological aftershocks of doing an extreme treatment for a chronic illness. I also had a demanding job as a civil defense attorney that was pulling me away from being the husband and father my family needed. I felt drained.

But on February 14, dear friends came to visit unexpectedly, and after a family Valentine’s dinner of roasted chicken and fries, my friend Josh looked at me and said, “Have you ever thought about taking your articles and making a book out of them?”

I guffawed, but Josh was so enthusiastic about it that by the time the conversation was over, I believed that some of my stories about marriage could bless readers—maybe people needed to hear real stories from a happily married man. Maybe a few of the hard lessons I had learned could help others.

Three days later, a network news website published one of my pieces about maintaining a forgiving heart toward your spouse. I got an email from a reader named Vincent who complimented my writing and added, “I think you should write a book with all of your articles. It will certainly help a lot of couples.”

I began thinking, Wow. Two times in three days. What if God really does want me to take my articles and make a book out of them?

An hour after Vincent’s message, I called one of the editors at the network and asked if he could make a small correction to my article. He made the change, complimented my writing, and said, “Have you ever thought about taking your articles and making a book out of them?”

That was three people in three days who were saying the same thing: Take your articles and make a book out of them. I had no doubt at that point: God was up to something.

I emailed a friend and told him that I believed God wanted me to write a book about marriage, but I needed to get an agent. Thirty minutes later, I received an email from a reputable book agent named Robert Wolgemuth. He had read my piece, looked through some of my other articles, and liked what he’d seen. “Would you be open to a conversation about working with an agency like ours to write a book?” his message read. “This would be our honor.”

I read the email in a stupor. Then I looked up from my phone at my wife and said, “Raquel, this is crazy. I’m going to write a book about marriage.”

When Robert and I talked on the phone a couple of hours later, we marveled at the way the Lord had brought everything together. I described my book idea to him and, although he liked it, he had one concern. “Are you sure your wife will be OK with this?”

Raquel and I prayed about whether to move forward, and after taking it to God, we came to the conclusion that He was calling us to it.

“Are you sure you’re willing to put all of this out there?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “So many married people out there are hurting, and they feel alone. If our stories can help them notice how God is at work, even in the messy stuff, it’s worth it.”

Raquel and I began brainstorming about the book and came to the big question of how the book would begin. It would have to be with a story. We looked at each other and knew, without a doubt, which one: the baby monitor story.

Baby Monitor Nightmare

Three months after our first daughter was born, Raquel and I went on a trip to visit Raquel’s grandmother in Puerto Rico. It was a nice trip overall—unless you count ten infamous minutes that occurred at her grandmother’s apartment. What happened in that little span of time is by far the most awful, humiliating moment of our marriage.

We weren’t our best selves with each other, and by that I mean we were frequently “acting ugly” as they say in Mississippi, where I grew up. A lot of it had to do with the fact that Raquel’s hormones were “out of control” (her words, not mine) and she was exhausted from trying to keep our new baby girl on a rigid sleeping and eating schedule.

We managed to hold things together when we were around her family, but when we were in the car alone, we would bicker about—well, pretty much everything. The worst was when we were driving around the island in the compact Toyota Corolla we had rented. Raquel sat in the passenger seat and kept telling me how fast to drive, which lane to be in, and whether to turn left or right. I would raise my voice and tell her to get off my back, and then I would remember our baby sleeping in the car seat and hope we weren’t somehow scarring her subconscious with all our bickering. But it wasn’t the driving drama that sent us over the edge—it was a baby dedication, of all things.

We thought it would be nice to honor Raquel’s grandmother by dedicating our daughter at church on the following Sunday. Things got messy on Thursday, though, when Raquel’s aunt asked us to sing a couple of duets in Spanish at the service. Raquel and I speak Spanish and sing, but we had no idea what songs to sing or where in the world to find accompaniment music. I quietly (and with a touch of irritation) shared these concerns with Raquel one afternoon in her grandmother’s apartment, and she swiftly accused me of having a bad attitude. Before long, we were having a whispery argument that kept getting louder, so we decided to go to the guest room to hash it out.

Once we closed the door, our tempers flared. At first, we argued about the baby dedication performance; then we launched into more general accusations of each other’s faults. Adjectives like hypercritical, hypersensitive, lazy, controlling, and stubborn flew back and forth, until suddenly, in the middle of a sentence, Raquel froze and stared at the baby monitor, which was right next to us. We simultaneously had the same thought, but I was the first to speak.

“Oh my goodness,” I said. “The baby monitor is right next to you—it’s on!” This was significant because the speaker for the baby monitor was sitting in the living room, and Raquel’s grandmother and aunt were home.

“Don’t worry,” I said, breathing a sigh of relief. “I just realized I turned it off right before we came in here.”

We continued rehashing our grievances until we got tired of arguing, and Raquel left the room. That’s when she walked into the living room and saw that the monitor speaker was, in fact, still on. She looked at it, hoping she was mistaken, but then she heard me rustling about in the room. She looked around and noticed her aunt walking down the hall toward her bedroom and heard her grandmother clinking pots in the kitchen.

Raquel’s heart sank as she turned off the monitor and returned to the guest room. “I just went to the living room, Joshua. You didn’t turn the baby monitor to the ‘off’ position. You turned it to voice activation.”

We started arguing over whose fault it was that the baby monitor had been left on. It didn’t matter by that point, though. We had just given her family a peek at what we were really like behind closed doors, and we couldn’t take it back. We were exposed, ashamed, and more aware of our weaknesses as a couple than ever.

The Other End of the Baby Monitor

Welcome to the other end of the baby monitor, where you’re about to listen in on the life of a happily married man who’s learned almost every lesson about marriage the hard way.

I want to assure you that my wife and I have many cringe-worthy episodes in our marriage that would be far more embarrassing if they were broadcast on a baby monitor. We also have moments that would make the eavesdropper laugh and cry and want to apologize to his or her spouse for being unloving. My favorite moments, however, are the ones in which I can step back and say, “You were in that, God? Really?”

Your marriage has those moments every day, though you might not recognize them. From the day you and your spouse said hello for the first time to the absurd argument you had last week, He’s in it all. And with just a little bit of attentiveness, you’ll notice Him at work, using ordinary life as His tool to craft you and your marriage into everything He planned it to be.

My prayer as you read this book is that you’ll notice God in the frustration of pointless arguments, the tender moments of spiritual and physical intimacy, the negotiations over who’s in charge, the conflicts over the in-laws, and the dark nights of your souls when all you have is each other. More than anything, I want this book to encourage you to sit with Jesus on the other end of your baby monitor, to invite Him to listen in and point out the moments that you don’t even realize are significant. Those moments are happening all the time, whispering His name more often than you may have ever noticed.

You’re the Expert

One time I appeared on a morning show in Australia via satellite to talk about the value of giving your spouse a performance review (there’s more about that later on in the book). I came home and watched the interview with Raquel online and caught something I had missed during the taping: They had introduced me as “relationship expert Joshua Rogers.”

When Raquel and I heard that, we burst out laughing. Regardless of what an Australian morning show host may call me, I can assure you that I’m not a relationship expert. I’m not even an expert at my own marriage. I’m just an observer, a happily married man who has discovered a great deal about my marriage (and myself) by paying attention to what God is doing in my day-to-day married life. If that makes me a “relationship expert,” then I’m an expert, and I’m hoping this book will make you one too.

So, let’s go. Let’s turn on the baby monitor and see what we discover. If my experience is any indicator, you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I have been to find God in the messiness of marriage.


In the Beginning

I WAS TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OLD AND HAD FINALLY MET THE woman who was “the one.” Granted, she was a friend of a friend and I barely knew her, but I could just feel it—she was it.

The woman sat across from me at the sandwich shop. Ten minutes into the conversation, I popped the question: “So, when do you see yourself getting married?”

She looked down and seemed flushed—perhaps uncomfortable.

“Well, um, I hadn’t really been thinking about that. I just got out of a long-term relationship a couple of months ago and—I don’t know when I’ll get married.”

I sensed that I may have overstepped my bounds.

“I wasn’t asking because I think we’re going to get married or anything—goodness no,” I said. “I mean, this is our first date, right? Of course, I wouldn’t have asked you out if I didn’t think you were marriage material—but um, anyway—marriage is so far off for me. I mean, I probably won’t even get married until after I graduate from law school in a year and a half.”

The date went downhill from there, and, as would be the case with almost every other woman I went out with before I met my wife, no second date came of it.

I had issues.

Carrying Extra Baggage

To understand the misconceptions I had about marriage as a young man requires us to look back on some of my foundational years.

Some of my most vivid memories of childhood—both positive and negative—are of my parents’ relationship. The happiest memories of our family involve music. Mom and Dad, both talented singers, raised us around Southern gospel, worship choruses from the Jesus Movement, and kids’ songs from Psalty the Singing Songbook albums. Mom and Dad had a beautiful, harmonic blend and would often sing duets at church. One song in particular stands out in my memory: “I Am Loved,” a 1980s Christian ballad in which the singing couple declare their affection for each other and God’s love for them. I can still see Mom and Dad on the stage gazing at each other and then turning to the congregation to sing, “We are free to love each other, we are loved.”

As much as Mom and Dad may have loved each other and Jesus, they ultimately couldn’t survive the storms they weathered during the early years of their marriage. This included Dad’s nervous breakdown after the two children from his first marriage died when the small plane they were traveling in crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Things had already been hard before that, but as Mom later said, “It’s like he stopped wanting to live after the kids died.”

For thirteen years I watched my dad free-fall through mental and emotional instability that’s best summed up by a play on the words from an old nursery rhyme: “When he was good, he was very, very good; and when he was bad, he was horrid.”

On the one hand, Dad would make breathtaking declarations of love for our mother and cause us to blush by kissing her in front of us. He rolled on the floor with us and made us laugh with his jokes until we could hardly breathe. We went on hikes with him for what felt like miles and miles, listening to him give us tours of nature’s cathedral out in the boondocks of Mississippi. Dad could, best of all, make Scripture come alive for us with the most vivid descriptions from his wild imagination.

The confusing part was how, at the same time, his presence was so emotionally disorienting. Dad moved in and out of the home four different times—not for another woman but in search of peace for his troubled mind. When he was home, he was unemployed for long stretches of time during which he would go from the joyful, fun dad to a brooding, overweight, angry version of himself. We were frequently on the receiving end of tirades in which he called himself the “king” of our home. This occasionally involved absurd demands, such as him ordering Mom to show him respect by purchasing bigger hot dogs when she went grocery shopping.

Mom spoke positively of Dad when I was a boy, even when he moved out. In doing so, she lent her dignity to him—until she didn’t. When I hit adolescence, her dedication to preserving his reputation began wearing thin. She couldn’t really protect it anymore anyway. She, my brother, and I were living with Dad’s brokenness every day; and eventually, she got to the point where she could barely look at him when we were in the same room.

When Dad finally followed through on a threat to leave us for the fifth time, Mom shut the door behind him and never let him in again. Cinderella finally threw her glass slipper at Prince Charming, and my brother and I watched it all unfold like a Disney cartoon from hell.

A “Eunuch for Christ”


  • "It's all too common for married couples to part ways as soon as trouble hits. But in Confessions of a Happily Married Man, we see a solid relationship that's thriving not because struggles are absent, but because God is present within those struggles."—Jim Daly, Focus on the Family president
  • "Full of humor, humility, and practical guidance for pursuing a God-honoring relationship, this is an exciting new resource for men and women, married or single."—Ann-Margret Hovsepian, Best-selling author
  • "In Confessions of a Happily Married Man, Joshua uses their real-life love story-with all its twists and turns-to provide a practical road map for couples in every stage of life. . . . On top of the practical help, this book is wildly entertaining!"—Dave Willis, Best-selling author and co-host of The Naked Marriage podcast
  • "Too often in our culture, marriage is understood in ideal rather than real terms. . . . Joshua Rogers's honesty, vulnerability, and superb storytelling skills will encourage readers to see marriage for what it really is-and what it really can and should be."—Karen Swallow Prior, Author of On Reading Well
  • "If you've been married for any length of time, you will find yourself in this book. In pulling back the curtain on his own imperfect marriage, Joshua Rogers creates space for the rest of us to reflect honestly on our own."—Drew Dyck, Contributing editor to

On Sale
Dec 17, 2019
Page Count
208 pages
Worthy Books

Joshua L. Rogers

About the Author

Joshua L. Rogers is a husband, a father of three, an attorney, and a writer. He has been published at, the Washington Post, Christianity Today (, and (a ministry of Focus on the Family). He has also garnered two Evangelical Press Association awards. Over the past fourteen years, he has served as both a civil and criminal prosecutor. You can read more of his writing at and follow him @MrJoshuaRogers on both Facebook and Twitter.

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