Derek Bush

Derek Bush.

Editor's note: National Marriage Week USA (Feb. 7 to 14) is a collaborative campaign to strengthen individual marriages, reduce the divorce rate and build a culture that fosters strong marriages. This four-part article series are written by local residents and is sponsored by the Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken Inc. Contact Roger Rollins at 803-640-4689 or rogerrollins@atlanticbb.net.

This article is about comments from Derek Bush on his marriage.

“My wife is a gift from the Lord that I don’t deserve.”

I have this written on a note as a reminder at my desk at work. Often, I look at my reminder and remember it's time to go home. Other times, I look at my reminder and think it must be difficult to be married to a lawyer. My vocational calling requires me to think rationally and logically as I sort through the details of other people’s lives, but when home I may respond emotionally to the details of my own.

It seems incongruent, but it really isn’t. At work, I’m “on” doing my job, working hard for my clients. At home, I’m “off” winding down from the day.

What I’ve learned in marriage is how important my “off” time at home is to the growth of our marriage. Even more important is my desire to communicate with my wife during those times when I’m “off” about how my day has gone. Not just the facts like I would a case in a courtroom, but how I experienced my day. (Quick sidebar – I’m not perfect at this by any means, but I am growing.)

I tell my wife as I tell many people: criminal defense is a unique avenue of ministry for me. My wife, being the Godly woman she is, wants to know how my ministry is impacting my walk with the Lord. This is where communication, and how I communicate in general, plays its major role.

My wife and I have set up some very easy steps that have promoted connection and communication in our marriage, and communication about my vocation. It starts with connecting in the morning, by sharing a morning devotional together over breakfast and praying over our day together. It ends with us connecting by sitting down to dinner at the table (not the TV) to debrief and share about our days.

So, here are the steps we take.

Step one: Pray together. A marriage that prays together stays together.

Step two: Spend intentional time in devotionals with one another and see how the Lord is growing us.

Step three: Break bread together without the distractions of your phone and TV. This is huge for us.

Step four: Leave work at work. I often tell folks that as a criminal defense lawyer I’m paid to carry the weight of other people’s sins. It’s hard to leave that weight at work if you aren’t intentional about unplugging yourself. So I unplug.

Step five: Share openly and vulnerably. I try to share openly about my work – the ins and outs of my work day, how the court system works, how my trials go and how the law works practically speaking. Sharing openly allows my wife to better understand how I move through any given day, how my stress levels change during trials and to better participate in conversations at attorney functions. I also have to share vulnerably – how I feel, what impacts me emotionally and how my walk with Christ is being impacted by the work that I do. Sharing vulnerably also allows my wife to better understand how I see my client’s stories so that she can understand, empathize and pray for my clients while also supporting me.

These steps seem easy, but they aren’t. So I would challenge each husband and wife to try praying together, doing devotionals together, breaking bread without distractions, leaving your work at work, sharing openly, and sharing vulnerably for 30 days and see if it doesn’t improve your marriage. Take it step by step, and I’m confident it will.