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“The Seven Rings of Marriage” Couple Talks Weathering Life’s Storms

Married for 14 years, Jackie and Stephana Bledsoe draw inspiration from their own experience to outline 7 stages, or “rings,” that will equip couples for a healthy marriage.?? Read Transcript


Well, this Sunday Jackie and Stephana Bledsoe

will be celebrating their 14th Valentine's as husband

and wife.

For many years their marriage was

anything but a bed of roses.

Take a look.

NARRATOR: This is author, speaker, and blogger Jackie

Bledsoe, And this is Stephana, his wife of 14 years.

They have faced serious challenges

during their relationship, like premarital parenthood, and even

homelessness.

But they say through it all they've

learned lessons that have gotten them through tough times.

In Jackie's new book, "The Seven Rings of Marriage,"

he shares keys to a long lasting and prosperous relationship.

And please welcome to the 700 Club Jackie and Stephana

Bledsoe.

Nice to meet you guys.

Great to meet you.

Nice to meet you, Wendy.

Well, today you guys have a loving relationship,

which I can see just from your beautiful smiles,

but it's been a hard one.

Tell us a little bit about your story, Jackie.

Yeah, it's been very challenging.

We've been married almost 15 years.

It will be this summer, and through it all

we've experienced all the ups and downs, even

to the point of being homeless as a family.

We've experienced financial challenges,

we've experienced intimacy challenges, in-law challenges.

You name it, and we've probably gone through it.

Well, Jackie, you admit that you messed up.

You were unfaithful in the marriage.

Talk a little bit about that.

Yeah.

And it was actually prior to us being married,

so we did things the wrong way.

We went about it the wrong way.

We were dating, and actually became

intimate before we were married, and we had our first child.

And during that time period, I was unfaithful.

So it was just one thing on top of the next,

and it led to where we are, with some challenges

that we experienced the first few years in our marriage.

Well, Stephana, how were you able to forgive Jackie?

It took a lot.

There were a lot of arguments, and just questions,

insecurities about whether or not

it was genuine, what we had.

But I think it was through prayer and our relationship

with small groups, and just guidance

from older, wiser couples that helped us through it.

Of course, like you said, this happened

before you got married, so did the fact that you did walk down

the aisle, and now you had a wedding ring and all that,

did that help you to trust him more,

or was that still something you had to work on?

It was still something we had to work on.

I think that we got married, and that

was sort of a-- this is what I want,

but I still kind of questioned it.

So--

Jackie, how did you prove, or how did you

earn your trust again with her?

Yeah, I just had to continue to be faithful.

And to be honest, when I asked her to marry me,

I wasn't sure if she would say yes.

So that was the first step, and then that just continued.

We met with a pastor and his wife, and he helped both of us

through it.

But I just had to continue to trust God, and just

show faithfulness to Him and to her,

and pray that that would win her over.

Stephana, what was the lowest point in your relationship,

and how did you get through it?

I think the lowest point was probably when

we were homeless as a family.

We-- my husband lost a job, and one thing after another.

It was a spiral effect, and we were without a home

with our then daughter.

So it was three of us.

Three of you, I mean, literally on the streets,

or did you have some place to stay?

No, just not a home of our own.

Right.

So we were staying with friends,

and then we would relocate to a family member's, and it

was just kind of from pillar to post, is what it felt like.

How did you guys get through that?

Yeah, it was just trusting Him, and coming together.

And one thing that we think back on, and we came together

versus going against each other.

We could have easily-- she could have easily pointed

the finger at me, because I didn't do the things that I

promised I would do for her as the husband,

and as the father of our child.

But she didn't.

She came closer to me, and we both came closer to God,

and we just had to rely on Him.

He never left us during that time period,

and that kind of set that foundation of our relationship,

and our trust in him through all experiences.

And then how long did it take to get another job,

and to get back on your feet?

It took awhile to get-- I don't remember.

I think we started a business next,

and it took a while for us to get

the income flowing in there.

But we went from place to place, but God showed faith for that,

that people opened up their doors to us, people blessed us,

and He never let us go without, even though we

were in that situation.

Yeah.

Well, you guys have written a terrific book

called "The Seven Rings of Marriage." great title.

Jackie, what are the seven rings of marriage,

and how did you come up with that concept?

Yeah, the seven rings of marriage

is basically-- it's a model.

It is what successful, lasting, and fulfilling

marriages go through.

So we looked at it, and we put together our marriage story,

and then we shared it.

And we found out other people could relate,

and we've interviewed couples ourselves,

and they can relate as well.

They've gone through each of those seven rings

to get to the point where their marriage is successful,

it's lasting, and it's fulfilling.

Right.

So what you're saying is like, just having a big rock,

that ring doesn't really count, as far

as having a successful marriage.

That's probably the least important ring

out of all of them.

Well, you've gotta give us a couple of these rings.

I know you want people to get the book, but give us a couple.

Yeah.

I'll give you the first three.

The first two are obvious.

It's the engagement ring, and at that point,

you know, it's kind of like you're just happy,

you're in love, and all these exciting things are coming,

but it's really an important time to build a foundation.

And that foundation is on a relationship

with Jesus Christ, both your wife, or both your husband

and yourself.

Next is the wedding ring, and that's

where you make that commitment, and it's just

not a commitment where I agree to do this,

you agree to do that.

It's a covenant relationship with Christ as well.

And then last, or third is the discovering,

and that is the challenging point where

you start to learn new stuff.

You're living with this person, and you're like, wow,

I did not know that.

And you learn stuff about yourself as well.

So for me, I learned I was a little bit selfish.

Probably a lot a bit selfish.

Just a little.

Just a little.

Well, that's exciting.

Well, how important is it for couples to remain

sexually pure before marriage?

I know you guys didn't walk down that road,

but God has redeemed it, and you've

learned from your mistakes, and God forgives.

But how important is that for maybe somebody who's

watching right now, and they're tempted to go down

that road before it's time?

Yeah.

I would say there's some practical things

that you can look at.

First, you risk having a child before you're married,

and you not getting married.

Right.

So that was something that we risked as well.

But ultimately, at the end of the day we looked at it,

and by us becoming intimate before then,

we didn't get a chance to really know each other,

and become friends, and really just allow

God to work in that relationship, and the things

that we were challenged with as a single.

And then we brought this mess together

before allowing him to work through it.

Those are some things that I look at.

But, you know, you have to really just line it up.

And we've experienced doubt because of what

we did before marriage.

That's right.

Well, Stephana, you now have a loving family of five,

and what are some of your most important traditions

that you guys enjoy now?

As a family, I think probably the most important thing to us

is prayer and dinner together.

They sound really simple, but they have been really, really

special.

We love to have dinner at least once, or have

a meal at least once a day together at the table,

and it's typically dinner.

And then we have a prayer jar on our table

that has popsicle sticks in it, and we write

prayers on the popsicle sticks.

And so everybody gets to pull a stick and pray over something

that is important.

How old are the children?

15, 10, and 6.

OK.

Do you allow cellphones at the table?

No.

No.

But it's a fight.

It's a battle.

It is.

Because that kind of deats the purpose of having that family

time, right?

Yes.

Yeah.

Yeah.

So, is she a good cook?

She's a wonderful cook.

You guys brought up dinner.

Yeah.

Now I'm hungry.

I'm thinking about food right now.

She has spoiled all of us from eating anyone else's food.

Our kids go and they're looking, like, I don't know,

that's not mama's kitchen.

Well, you guys, Valentine's Day is of course Sunday,

and-- I'm sorry.

What are some things that you guys

are planning to do, and some things

that other couples should maybe try

to kind of get the spark back?

Yeah, well, I think the biggest thing is just spend

some time together alone.

Spend some time with your spouse,

and that's what we hope to do.

It's going to be challenging, as we'll be gone for a few days

and we'll get back, but really focus on the relationship,

and just have conversation.

We were told by one of our marriage mentors

to have more dates that don't involve stuff,

but dates that you're not doing much so you can just talk.

A lot of times we do dates and we distract ourselves

with all the other things, phones and everything else,

but really focus on that time of just

having one on one time, and communication.

Romantic dinner.

There you go.

There it is.

Valentine's Day.

Well, happy Valentine's Day, and thanks

so much for sharing your book with us, "The Seven Rings."

Jackie's book is, again, called "The Seven Rings Of Marriage,

Your Model For a Lasting, Fulfilling Marriage,"

and it's available wherever books are sold,

so be sure to pick one up for your valentine,

and be sure to spend time reading it together, right?

That's a good idea.

Yes.

Right.

Absolutely.

All right, thanks so much, guys.

God bless you.

Thank you.

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