LENGTH 26 Minutes
In today’s episode you’ll learn about overcoming smoking, combining a sense of purpose, and adopting a theme for your marriage, and how all of those things can help develop a healthy, happy and peaceful marriage and family.
Marcus and Ashley Kusi coach couples in their first year of marriage, manage the website OurPeacefulFamily.com where they maintain a blog and podcast focused on building happy, healthy, and peaceful families from the first year forward. The two are parents of a one and a half year old, Ellison, and will soon give birth to a second child. Marcus describes his daughter, “We have a one-and-a-half year old daughter, called, Ellison, and we love her to death. That’s who we are.”
Be sure to connect with them at their blog and social media (linked at the end) and let them know how you've been inspired by their story!
Outward Peace, Inward Peace
Ashley and Marcus Kusi were parents before starting moving their focus toward helping couples through the difficult first year of marriage. Their daughter, Ellison was born prior to their outreach to other couples.
Ashley says one of the reasons they knew they could work on their marriage while helping others in theirs was because they entered their marriage with a clear concept of what they wanted out of the relationship before the entered into it. “We saw what we didn’t want, and we knew what we wanted. So, that really played a huge factor in us actually getting married,” she explains.
No Peaceful, Easy Feeling at First
Saying their relationship wasn’t the typical “boy meets girl” type of situation, Ashley says the two of them were serious and upfront. They told each other, “this is what I wan, and this is what I don’t want.”
One of the things Marcus didn’t want was a wife who smoked or drank. Ashley says that, at the time, she did both.
She stopped smoking, saying it was just her being stupid. “But,” she says, “I am not going to get drunk… I will have a glass of wine every now and then. So, I didn’t just totally give up all of myself, but we compromised and we found that middle ground.”
Developing a Peaceful First Year
Marcus and Ashley say they focus their efforts on strengthening couples in their first year of marriage. “That’s our target,” Ashley explains, “but, we’ve found that actually, a lot of older couples who’ve been married for more than even 10 years, have been giving us the most feedback.”
Marcus says posts like the Appreciating Your Spouse article helps couples “solidify their marriage. And that is something that we – when we get such a feedback, it really helps us keep going. It means that we are doing something and we are impacting marriages.”
A Peaceful Family Theme for Marriage
In the conversation, Confessions of a Terrible Husband host Nick Pavlidis asks Marcus about the concept of a “theme” for a marriage. He replies, “it’s not just a theme for marriage, it’s a theme for your family and your marriage.”
Marcus explains that he and Ashley have chosen for their theme, A Peaceful Family. “So,” Marcus says, “ let’s say 20 years down the road if you want to look at our marriage to see if we’ve been successful or whether we’ve been able to achieve our goals, that’s one goal that we look at.”
Explaining that the theme is a form of accountability for the marriage, he continues, “So, 10, 20, 40, 50 years down the road, that will be the yardstick that we’ll be able to measure the success rate of our marriage.”
Ashley explains further, “You don’t start to build a house without a plan. And I think a lot of people go into marriage, and their just like, ‘well, let’s give this a shot, it’s 50/50 right?’ But, having a goal and a vision for your family and your marriage… really helps set the tone in your relationship. It sets your goals, your personal goals, your goals as a couple, and it helps you to grow together because you’re both working towards a common goal.”
A Plan for Peace
The couple explains how they came up with their theme, A Peaceful Family, even before they were married. “We knew this was the goal we wanted to achieve. We wanted to have a peaceful home that we can raise our kids in, wanted to have a peaceful marriage,” says Marcus.
He says the two then set the plans in place, and began to implement them, even before getting married “we implemented certain things through our daily activities to be able to create a peaceful environment for our home, and everywhere that we go in.”
Marcus says the efforts brought noticeable results as early as a year or two into their marriage. “We went into a grocery store one day to buy ice cream. A guy in his 40’s approached us and told us ‘you guys give off a peaceful vibe.’ Like, he just told us that he really liked the vibe that we give around, wow, if someone that we don’t know has been able to approach us and give us that feedback, then it means we are doing something right,” Marcus exclaims.
An Instrument of Peace
As marriage coaches, Ashley and Marcus don’t teach peace, but teach the process that couples need to take in order to reach their relationship goals and develop a responsible, healthy marriage.
“We want to help them achieve whatever it is [they want to achieve],” says Ashley. “But, then, the basics of any family theme should be to have a happy, obviously, marriage, and a healthy relationship.”
Nick comments that the theme for his podcast and blog, Confessions of a Terrible Husband is personal responsibility in marriage. “I talk about the little things. So, for example, you can do all of the big things right. You can be faithful, you can be gentle, you can work hard and everything like that. But, if you do enough of the little things wrong, that makes you really just bad at being a spouse, in my words.”
Marcus continues, saying that when he gets home from school and his daily errands, “I could see my wife is tired, she’s been with our daughter all day long. So, what I usually do is put everything aside and sometimes I’ll give her a hub and a kiss. And, I’ll give my daughter a hug and try to spend some time with her along, so that Ashley can have her own time and just relax.”
Ashley says that’s a big thing. But, “it’s all the little things. Because if he did just the big things it wouldn’t work for me… the little things he does with me like playing with our daughter, and I get to just watch them play, and it just makes me fall in love with him over and over again.”
Peace Over Struggles
Marcus admits that he struggles with time management. “I have lots of things going on and it makes it like it’s — they’re all important stuff that I need to take care of.” But, he says, he’s been trying to c”consciously make the effort to spend time with his wife and daughter. “That is the most important thing for me. And, I will say that is something that I used to struggle with, because, initially, it was just me and Ashley. Now, it’s me, Ashley, and Ellison. So, I have to make that conscious effort to spend time with them.”
Ashley says her daily struggle continues, but has gotten better. “I think it all stems back from just selfishness as a person. Sometimes, I let my emotions get the best of me, and I have to remember to really ask him or think the best… especially when it comes to quality time because that’s my love language.”
She says one of the books she and Marcus read during their first year of marriage that helped in the process of understanding each other is Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ Love and Respect. “It really just talked about thinking the best of your spouse, they’re not purposely trying to hurt you, which was important because in the beginning of our marriage, a ton of my insecurities came out that I didn’t even know were there.”
She says the book helped her understand that Marcus wasn’t trying to make her feel rejected when he was too busy to so spend time, or show appreciation for her. “It really just kind of checked me and made me look at myself and be like, ‘ok, wait a minute here, this is just your emotions and you need to take responsibility for them.
How Husbands Can Improve Their Marriages
Nick Pavlidis asks Ashley to tell husbands listening the one thing they can do to make their relationship better.
“I would say that you need to make time to connect with her, and to learn how she feels connected. Because not everybody feels connected in the same way, and it could change. It could be one way today, it could be another way tomorrow or next week…. so just keep pursuing her, and let her feel connected to you.”
Recommended Marriage Resources
Marcus offers a book for families that had an impact on their marriage. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, “that really impacted our marriage,” Marcus continues, “it gives us a whole different perspective on money. I had a totally different perspective on money and Ashley had another perspective…. so I just recommended this book and she read it and it got her thinking about it.”
Ashley says the book “opened up lines of communication we wouldn’t otherwise have known about, or topics to talk about.”
Marcus says he and his wife listen to the One Extraordinary Marriage show by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo every week, usually in the car when they’re going somewhere. “That is something we do every weekend. That has also helped us improve our marriage in different ways,” he says.
How to Connect with Marcus and Ashley
The two can be found on Facebook at Our Peaceful Family. Or you can visit their website at ourpeacefulfamily.com. Marcus suggests that you start with their getting started page first, so you can get a feel of the website, and then look at the about page to learn a little bit more about them as a couple and as marriage coaches.
While you’re on their page, check out their new podcast, as well.