3 Lessons and 2 Tips From Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff3 Lessons and 2 Tips is a series of interviews in which some of my favorite people (and probably some of yours) share three lessons they’ve learned by being married, plus two tips for single people.

This edition features Jon Acuff, who is singlehandedly responsible for fostering my ability to find meaning in the flattened biscuit I found stuck to the bottom of a slip-resistant shoe.*

But better than for the impact he’s had on my memories of being a writer stuck working at a Popeyes Chicken, Acuff is known for being a New York Times Bestselling author of four books, including his most recent, Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average & Do Work that Matters. He has been married since April 21, 2001 and graciously agreed to share some of what he’s learned as a husband:

AS: How did you meet your wife?

JA: We both went to Samford University in Birmingham, AL. (Fortunately God made sure I didn’t meet her when I was in college because I was an idiot.) After I graduated, I worked at an ad agency as a copywriter. Jenny was a senior and got an internship at the agency. We worked on a big project together and fell in love.

AS: What’s the first lesson you’ve learned in marriage?

JA: That you have to be deliberate about doing life together. The default as humans is to naturally drift apart and continue to build and manicure your own life, even as you’re supposed to be living as one. You really have to fight to stay connected.

AS: And a second lesson?

JA: Create a space and a time where you get to talk without iPhones or computers. Three to four times a week Jenny and I spend a few hours talking and brainstorming where are lives are going.

AS: And a third lesson?

JA: Put your kids to bed at a smart time. I feel like the third one should be “Marriage works best when you are connected to God,” but hopefully that’s understood. From a more practical approach, I would encourage couples that have kids to put them to bed. I know folks who let their young kids stay up to 10 p.m. and it guarantees that the couple never has alone time to connect. (This one might be harder to live out once we have teenagers, but we’ll adjust then.)

AS: What’s one tip for readers who are single?

JA: Don’t ever buy the lie that a husband or a wife is going to “complete you.” That idea works well in movies but destroys marriages in real life.

AS: And a second tip for single readers?

JA: If you want to meet people, go do things where people are. Be active in building community. My friends who want to get married and think that perhaps God will deliver a perfect spouse to their couch, while they wait and isolate, are sorely mistaken.

Connect with Jon Acuff: Click here to visit his site, here to follow him on Twitter, and here to like him on Facebook. *Curious about Jon’s connection to the biscuit I found stuck to the bottom of my shoe? Click here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great interview, thank you for posting it!

    Jon is an amazing guy, great author with a realness many gurus lack. Was a pleasure meeting him at a book signing in San Antonio for his new book.

    I definitely resonate with the idea of a spouse not completing you. That may have been a concept that worked easier in previous generations when life and career and passions were perhaps more simple.

    You have to do you, be you, learn yourself – you have to mature to a point where you understand who you are as a quality person is who you’ll attract. We all want to marry up, but unless you’re presenting the world your authentic self, and unless that authentic self is worthy of the partner of your dreams, you’re setting up for disappointment and broken dreams.

    Jon shows his authentic love for his family everywhere, even on Twitter. His wife should have no doubt what a treasure she is to him; it’ll be a good day when more husbands and wives and partners learn to tend the garden of their relationships with such care and encouragement.

    • Arleen Spenceley

      Thanks for the feedback, James! I share your sentiments.

  • Christine Boatwright

    I met my husband at Samford University, as well! SU…bringing people together. Thank you for posting this! It really seems like Jon is the real deal.

    • Arleen Spenceley

      Love it! And Jon is one of my favorite authors. His work has helped me (and continues to help me) hone mine.

  • Tom Quiner

    Great post. Karen and I just celebrated our 37th anniversary. When I was “courting” her (sounds old-fashioned, but every woman deserves courting), there was no e-mail, cell phones, etc. Long distance cost 24 cents a minute, so we couldn’t afford to talk but once a week. We wrote 2 to 3 long letters to each other every week since we lived 12 hours apart. We really got to know each other by taking the time to write about our hopes and dreams, which quickly became shared hopes and dreams with God at the center of our lives. I recommend it.