On the holidays I…surfed, and surfed and surfed. I would describe myself as a good surfer, nothing too fancy, but I LOVE catching waves. I LOVE sitting in the surf. Two hours in the surf, three to four times a week, for 6 weeks, is an incredibly blessed way to spend a holiday. The surf on the holidays would be described by the "coasties" as well below average this summer though.
On the holidays I…grew a beard. My middle son said he would like to see me with a beard, so I did. Movember finished (read my last article of 2013) and a week later (much to my wife's disgust), I stopped shaving and grew a beard. Now removed, and back on kissing terms with my wife, my middle son is happy, has an array of photos to document it's progress, and he also had the fun of shaving it off into an array of styles- Wolverine look was the favourite.
On the holidays I…made some home brew - alcoholic and non-alcoholic ginger beer, and a beer titled "Caribbean Siesta".
On the holidays I…saved my marriage.
â€¢ In 2012, there were 49,917 divorces granted in Australia, an increase of 982 (2.0%) compared to 2011.
â€¢ People between 40-44 years of age had the highest percentage of divorces granted, with 16.9% of males and 17.6% of females being granted a divorce falling in the age group in 2012. (www.abs.gov.au)
These figures were confronting to Belinda and I. We have had a number of couples in the past two years that we know very well or we know of, who are heading down the road to divorce. We are now in the 40-44 age group and so are many of the people we know who are now separated, were or are contemplating separation or are now permanently separated.
We were not sure how to help these couples. Should we help these couples? Should we bother at all? Should we just focus on our own relationship, work out our issues and "give the marriage a tweak around the edges" as Belinda likes to say to me often?
An important question
How were we going to stop our marriage falling apart now or in the future? What issues had we not sorted out in our 18 years married? What are the issues we don't confront? Our youngest starts Prep school this year, will I look at Belinda in 13 years time when he finishes school and say to her, "Who are you? I don't love you. I don't know you anymore. Goodbye."
Belinda and I have spent the past six weeks blaming many people, circumstances, societal, cultural and worldview issues that have contributed to the destruction of these relationships around us. We have discussed these in the context of our own marriage and looked at the areas where our marriage was perhaps being torn apart by these influences.
We have sat down together, talked and prayed for these couples. I have made my wife a double shot latte and sat, listened and discussed our successes and failures as a couple of nearly 20 years.
I would love to think my first article of 2014 (thank you for reading!) is the article that saves 1000 marriages, but I doubt my words - I doubt myself. Maybe I just continue to save my own marriage and maybe, just maybe, our marriage can be an example to others. I don't think it is too unrealistic or idealistic to believe that a marriage can be saved.
I have dictated quite strongly to Belinda that my own edict for our marriage is: In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
This has served us well for our 18 years of marriage. The "silent treatment", the "tantrums", the snide remarks or "put downs", the "storming off", "the threats", "the strong words" and the "raised voices" do not work. But how we have dealt with these times certainly has strengthened our bond and saved my marriage time and time again these past six weeks of summer holiday and the 18 years previously.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I love you, Belinda.
Russell Modlin teaches Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin's archive of previous article can be found at