Tag Archives: Josh Collins

10 Mistakes in Marriage – Oh, I’m a Great Listener.

10 Jul

Oh, I'm a GREAT Listener!

I’m betting on the fact that you can catch the sarcasm in that title. I mean don’t get me wrong, sometimes I am a great listener, or at least I can be. But often times, what happens is I get distracted or lock on to one idea or another and then lose myself while waiting to respond.

I think we all do this.

Especially the waiting to respond part.

Has your spouse ever accused you of not listening?

Have you ever been sitting in a conversation, heated or not, and then all of a sudden lose yourself in the moment?

One moment you’re sitting there and then the next moment you kind of forget where you are and you haven’t heard the last few sentences of whatever was being said.

Yeah me too.

I can remember growing up and being told that I had two ears and one mouth for a reason. Makes sense when you think about it, but for most of us, I don’t think it stops us from rambling that much.

I can also remember being taught as a kid, that there is a difference between just hearing something and really listening. I’m pretty sure Chesterton said that at one point.

I don’t think I truly realized what that meant until I got married.

I’ve always thought I was a good listener, but it wasn’t until Mary and I started to really go through some tough times that I began to understand that I’m not as good of a listener as I thought.

Over and over again, we would be sitting in a counselors office, and she would begin to describe a way she felt or express something to me and it was like what I was hearing was not at all what she was saying. It was getting filtered by my own sets of issues and woundings creating something different altogether.

Of course we often do this to each other, but over these last 10 years what we’ve learned is that we’ll never truly be listening to one another if we’re not able to show each other empathy.

Listening well presupposes compassion, and compassion will always involve healthy doses of empathy. (tweetable)

Empathy is the key to becoming a great listener. If you’re not able to put yourself in the shoes of the other and completely engross yourself with their feelings of pain, sorrow, joy, what have you, then you’ll lack the ability to truly connect. And lets face it, nothing lasts without connection.

I can remember one time in particular where Mary came home really hurting about something. Rarely have I ever seen her hurt but this time it was evident. We were living in a small apartment at that time and somehow our conversation had us sitting on the floor in the middle of the hallway.

The memory brings tears to my eyes, because I can’t stand the thought of my beautiful wife in any kind of pain, especially when I know I added to it! But she was telling me about one particular relationship she had been hurt by, and I remember sitting there just reacting and responding as though I could fix it.

Foolishly, I immediately started to suggest this and that, blowing past her feelings, and in the process creating an even deeper wound.

Being empathetic to the hurts of my wife in that moment was the farthest thing from my mind.

I’m not proud of that and I wish I could take it back.

Ernest Hemingway famously said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.

He was right, you know. Most of us never really listen, we’re just waiting to reply.

Looking back at that memory and others like it, I realize what a bad listener I was and how much pressure that has put on my marriage.

But even in those hard, ugly, painful seasons of marriage, I’ve experienced God’s grace over and over again.

That grace has taught me about the connection between listening and being known.

We all deeply desire to be known. It’s one of our core needs in life. And when we give the gift of truly listening to another, we give them the gift of being known.

Tim Keller paints a beautiful picture of this in the book The Meaning of Marriage. He says:


Sometimes the greatest gift we can give to one another is just to sit and listen.

Now I find that I’ll ask Mary if she wants me to just sit and listen or if she wants me to respond. I’m really ok with either. More than anything I want her to know I’m there for her. I’m her biggest cheerleader and loudest supporter! And that no matter what happens or what she goes through, I’m the one that’s still going to be there no matter what.

Those are the gifts that listening can give.

Have you ever known a bad listener? Have you ever been a bad listener? Are there any tips or suggestions you’ve come across that has helped you and your spouse in your marriage become better listeners?



the.josh.collins.My name is Josh and I’m an Architect. But I don’t design houses or beautiful buildings or even great monuments. I design Experiences. But not just your ordinary experiences. I designAwesome Experiences. That’s why I’m an Experience Architect.


4 Apr
Note: Having recently celebrated 10 years of marriage, I began a series of stories, or rather mistakes I’ve made in those 10 years. I hope that through these deep, personal stories, you’ll come to see, as I have, the gloriously beautiful experience of the Gospel that is marriage.

Acquiescence Is Not Compromise I don’t know about you but rarely do decisions get made in my marriage where both Mary and I are completely on the same page. Oh it happens every now and again, giving us a glorious experience, but more often than not, we go back and forth a bit, sometimes producing conflict. I think for a long while I viewed any type of conflict between Mary and I to be this great definition of failure in my marriage, as though it were doomed because of it. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve began to accept this as a pretty normal experience. Funny how renaming something as normal, changes our perspectives completely. Think about what we’ve uncovered so far in this series about marriage.

  • Rarely if ever, are we fully prepared to handle the dynamics that surface in our marriages. But that’s ok, that’s precisely where we meet and experience The Father’s provision.
  • Marriage is created for us to experience the gospel, and what is the gospel if not a story of our transformation (change). And we all know how hard change can be!
  • Marriage consists of 2 very different people who have drawn together by various attractions. It’s ok that we’re different, that’s exactly how we’ll experience the oneness that marriage creates.
  • Marriage illuminates the fact that we’re both broken, needy people, in great need of this gospel that we’ll experience from one another.

So by understanding that conflict and rough edges are normal experiences in marriage, we can be freed from the weight that we’re somehow flawed or not enough. I remember growing up, witnessing the marriages around me and one thing stood out to me like a sore thumb: in just about every example, the women played this “silent” role. Oh sure there were a couple, like one or two, examples where that didn’t hold water, but for the most part that was my take away. Of course it didn’t help all that much that in most christian circles, the dialogue on marriage focused way too much on the “submission” aspect of women and not near enough on the husbands participation in that process.

As Mary and I were getting to know one another and learning one another’s stories while dating, one thing we very much agreed on was how much we believed that the truest definition of marriage was grounded in terms of partnership. Meaning, neither one of us, got to have carte blanche when making decisions or living out our stories together. This, as you already know and have read, was not so easily lived out.

As years passed, our stories of brokenness and woundedness began to play out, triggering each other, and our agreed vision for how we would relate to one another became much harder. I quickly began to feel disrespected every time Mary would challenge my thought process or question my decisions and Mary eventually just grew silent, holding in her truest feelings and thoughts. The dynamic that began to play itself out as a result was me trying to go BIG and LARGE (dominating) and Mary retreating, growing small and silent. Both courses of action proved to be disastrous in our relationship. Once the wounds from these patterns of behavior grow old and stale, and keep getting re-injured over time, healing becomes much harder to experience.

Let me set the record perfectly straight, husbands we need our wives to flat-out tell us when we’re wrong. That is love and respect. (Please tweet that!)

It’s been through years of counseling and support from our community that Mary and I both, are learning that true compromise is not the same thing as simple acquiescence. As a matter of fact, acquiescence is just a big word for fear based retreating. It’s a model of relinquishing your voice to a potential perceived rejection.

Now when we’re on opposite sides of an issue, we’re learning to remind one another of what truly matters. Sometimes it’s Mary taking the lead, other times it has been me, but either way we’re getting better at reminding one another of our shared vision for our marriage and family. What we experience through this is, often times the points of contention start to shake loose when properly looking at our collective priorities. By reminding one another that we’re for one another, love one another, and support one another, it becomes easier to see where we need to shift on any given idea.

Through this shared vision, this shared gospel-lens, our differences don’t take up as much of the spotlight, but rather who we’re becoming and where we’re headed does. That’s what true compromise is all about. Now if only our government and politicians could learn that. Over time I’ve grown to crave and desire Mary’s input and when I don’t get it, I feel a bit lost, even unsure at times. I know that I’m made better by her input in every direction of life. I’m experiencing that I become more of the man, God created me to be through the, sometimes brutally honest, feedback Mary gives me.

This has proven to be incredibly rewarding as earlier this year we were able to come together with a shared vision for partnering with an organization called Franktown Open Hearts. Mary and I have a business called Tinsel & Twine where we create these awesome outdoor marketplaces that brings the community together to support all sorts of various creatives and artists. I can’t tell you the joy that I felt in experiencing that provision from our great Father!

What a beautiful picture of grace! Do you struggle with acquiescing in order to just avoid conflict? How have you learned to compromise in marriage?   Untitled


My name is Josh and I’m an Architect. But I don’t design houses or beautiful buildings or even great monuments. I design Experiences. But not just your ordinary experiences. I designAwesome Experiences. Thats why I’m an Experience Architect.  You can read more at http://www.the.josh.collins.com.

Fighting Failure with a Better Vision (Mistakes in Marriage)

13 Feb

Fighting Failure With A Better Vision

The photo above was taken from the entrance to the farm where Mary and I got married. It’s a perfect metaphor for the topic of this last post in what has been a truly humbling series to share with you.

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller

The reason why this photo is the perfect metaphor is because we each stand at a crossing like this. Everyday we wake up and look at our spouses and face this same choice. We face crossroads like this in our life all the time, each and everyday.

Which way are we going to choose? Which direction are we going to steer our life, our marriage, our families?

Looking at the photo above, both paths would lead you somewhere, but only one would have led you to the wedding. Only one would have led you to the reception, the feast, and the beautiful reminder of the gospel, that was our wedding ceremony.

What I’ve learned, and what I hope you’ve seen through this series of mistakes, these deeply personal stories, is that only one direction takes us where we want to go. And only when both husband and wife make the same choice, take the same path, do you end up in the same place together.


That word. Isn’t that the only way to journey through life and marriage. Isn’t that the only way live?

You feel it when you’re not together. When you’re not together rarely does anything in life turn out very well. It affects and tends to disrupt everything we encounter in life, when together isn’t the picture of our marriages.

I certainly have experienced it to be true.

“Marriage has the power to set the course of your life as a whole. If your marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won’t matter. You will be able to move out into the world in strength. However, if your marriage is weak, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are marked by success and strength, it won’t matter. You will move out into the world in weakness. Marriage has that kind of power—the power to set the course of your whole life. It has that power because it was instituted by God. And because it has that unequalled power, it must have an unequalled, supreme priority.” – Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

As you’ve already read in the previous mistakes, clearly I was living proof that what Helen Keller speaks of above, is true. While I may not have been blind, I certainly was not living with any version of a gospel centered vision. (If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series I encourage you to do so. If for the very least, you’ll feel much better about yourself!)


Earlier this year, I was given, what I believe to be a prophetic word, from a good friend. This word has dramatically changed everything for me. It has given me the redemptive gospel context for which I now believe every marriage should operate under.

I’m not talking about egalitarian versus complementarian. I’m not talking about anything that the theologically elite present in ways to dominate, control, and manipulate.

The vision (word) I’m talking about is collaboration.

In that moment, when that word was spoken over me, it was like I was breathing my very first breath of fresh air in decades. Like all that I had known was stale, dry, and insufficient. In an instance, I felt a freedom that I hadn’t known. Because probably for the first time, I could appropriately name what it was that I had been wrestling with for as long as I could remember.

Collaboration spoke to the very essence of what it means to serve one another, what it means to love one another, and what it means to see the betterment of the other. And by definition, speaks to a shared sense of vision, a shared sense of direction.

That was the key that began to unlock everything for me.

And I believe it can for you as well.

You see when collaboration is what you’re after, each and every choice is made with the other in mind. Every opportunity for self to rise to the top of the hill and take over, is immediately put in check by the consideration (shared) view of the other. That’s an image of out serving one another, out sacrificing one another, and out loving one another.

A collaborative vision for your marriage will lead to an awesome marriage each and every time. (Be Awesome. Tweet That.)

The last thing I’ll say about collaboration is this: the word collaboration invites grace. It leaves room for mistakes, messups, and mis-steps. You can’t be FOR the other, and not allow room for grace to permeate throughout the relationship.


Here’s a challenge for you: schedule a purposeful, intentional time between you and your spouse to sit down and write out a collaborative vision for your marriage. What are the things you want to be known for? As a couple, what do you stand for? Support? What legacy do you want to leave for your kids? What mission do you want to tackle together?

Feel free to share those things in the comments below, but for sure take those things and put them where you both can see them and be reminded daily of your collaborative vision.

Avoid the blind spots of life, by intentionally reminding one another, how you’re FOR one another, and FOR that vision.

Then let the gospel of grace lead you walking that vision out daily.

UntitledMy name is Josh and I’m an Architect. But I don’t design houses or beautiful buildings or even great monuments. I design Experiences. But not just your ordinary experiences. I design Awesome Experiences. Thats why I’m an Experience Architect.  If you want to read more about Josh and his work, you can go to the.josh.collins.com.

I’ll Never Get Caught.

12 Dec
Note: Having recently celebrated 10 years of marriage, I began a series of stories, or rather mistakes I’ve made in those 10 years. I hope that through these deep, personal stories, you’ll come to see, as I have, the gloriously beautiful experience of the Gospel that is marriage.

I'll Never Get Caught Part 1

These may be the last words you ever read from me. Not because of some proverbial notion that I get hit by a bus, or I’ll never write again, or that I have run out of things to say, but because honestly, these words will tell a story that’s difficult to share. One that you probably won’t enjoy that much.

Enjoy is not a very good word to use there so let’s go with the word hate.

Hate is a much stronger word, I know. But it’s the most accurate word I can grasp right now.

I use it because I have felt this tension inside me, building throughout this series, knowing it would lead here.

And I hate here.

I have lost friends because of here.

I have seen smiles turn to blank stares because of here. I know you know what I’m talking about, the disapproving, disappointing blank stare. The ones that stay with you forever. The ones you never forget — ever.

My marriage has never been the same because of here.

When I look at the photo above, I’m reminded again, and I grieve some more from the loss that here has handed to me.

Let me tell you, we reap what we sow alright. No one in their right mind can deny that. It’s a spiritual certainty. (Tweetable.)

It’s something like the spiritual equivalent of Newton’s 3rd Law.

Even suggesting to tweet that phrase above just seems silly in the context of the gravity of this story — eh, this mistake that is.

I remember growing up and hearing that phrase again and again, you reap what you sow, always thinking I would be some sort of exception. Like for some unknown reason I would escape punishment, I could avoid being caught. Caught for what I didn’t know then, but whatever it was I would sow, I just imagined that the reaping would be for someone else, not me.

Boy was I wrong.

I’m sure by now you’ve discerned that in the story of my marriage exists some darkness. Some places I’ve been, decisions I’ve made, and patterns of behavior I’ve committed of which I hate. Stuff that, sure, The Father, in only His loving-kindness graciously redeems, but the wake of which continues to pierce old wounds.

Trust is an extremely sacred thing. Once it’s fractured, it’s not so easy to repair. Only affections of the heavenly realm can mend that which is broken.

I understand that now more than ever.

For me it started early as child, discovering a stack of Playboys in the bathroom — at least that’s how I remember it. That beast grew as I fed it, until there were just remnants of innocence left. Pornography sank its ugly teeth in me early as a child and wouldn’t let go till it nearly took everything from me.

I know God has a plan, I’ve always known that. Some of the fondest memories I have of my grandmother are her writing those words in birthday cards, holiday cards and handwritten letters. I know He takes our messes and turns them into messages, but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to hate who I was back then.

I’d give anything now to be able to travel back in time and rescue that little boy, love that 13-year-old or even beat the crap out of that 20 something.

I was so foolish to think that I could hide it forever.

It wasn’t but a few short months after our wedding that Mary caught me the first time.

Somehow I wasn’t as careful as I thought and she found some traces of something disturbing on the computer. Suddenly I was found out. I was trapped with nowhere to hide.

To be honest, I was scared and embarrassed. I mean we had talked about it a little bit when we were dating. And when I say a little, I mean, I did what all of us men typically do when we’re sorta kind of fessing up to something; we try to candy coat things. Like how when we’re late for something we’ll tell someone we’re farther down the road than we actually are.

Only when Mary refused to come home, did it really start to sink in on just how serious things were. I couldn’t ignore the plank in my eye any longer.

I hate that it didn’t stop there.

I hate that at that moment things would change for years to come.

I hate that for years to come I would continue to struggle with pornography.

The greatest storytellers in the world talk about story in the context of redemption. They tell how we all have parts of our stories that God redeems. I certainly talk about that a lot as well. But it’s always nicer and neater in the context of someone’s else’s story. It’s always easier to tell someone else’s story, than the dark parts of your own.

That is until the sunlight breaks the dawn, until the freeze lifts and makes way for new warmth and until that fateful stone rolls away.

There’s a new song in my heart these days, one that I can’t stop singing. One that draws deep into the well of my soul producing a flood of tears. The words covering each and every broken reminder of that place, that man I once was. It’s called The Rock Won’t Move by Vertical Church Band. The chorus reads:

The Rock won’t move and His word is strong.

The Rock won’t move and His love can’t be undone.

The Rock won’t move and His word is strong.

The Rock won’t move and His love can’t be undone.

The Rock of our salvation.

Even though I can’t say that the story ends here, and that the morning sunrise chased away all traces of darkness and pain, I can boldly proclaim that The Rock didn’t move. He was right there in the middle of it all. His words are strong and His love can’t be undone.

Again, right in the midst of the storm, while the storm was still raging, as scriptures describe, Jesus calls to us all. He certainly was for me and promises to continue to do so for you today. No matter what your storm looks like.

The disgusting statistics of those addicted or struggling with pornography are astounding. They tell us 1 out of every 2 men are addicted to pornography. While I’m empathetic and compassionate for those struggling, can I get close and step on some toes for second? There’s only one thing at the end of that tunnel — death. If you or someone you know is struggling, get help. Do whatever it takes.

Josh Collins

Josh’s series 10 Mistakes in Marriage will be continued here on http://www.morethanabeard.com.  If you can’t wait, you can check out his website at www.thejoshcollins.com.

Becoming Initiated

16 Aug


When did you become a man?

If you’re someone like me, who tends to ask really tough, hard questions, eventually, you’re going to come to a place where you realize some questions don’t have answers; at least easy cut and dry answers. But those are the best kinds, I think. They are the ones that provoke the best conversations, invite the best relationships, and tell the best stories.

I want to be known as a man who asks those kinds of questions.

Allow me to ask you one of those.

When did you become a man? Continue reading

The Most Important Thing We Forget About Growing

13 Jul


As someone who loves to create awesome experiences, I love finding inspiration in the random things of life. I get asked all the time where I get my ideas from and I simply respond by saying that I have long considered myself a noticer and often feel like I have a unique ability to see things in ways most people can’t.

And one of those things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is gardening.

Yep, gardening.

Funny I know, but seriously over the last several years I have had the urge to learn more and more about gardening and have actually spent a great deal of time practicing on my own home garden.

I started off small with just a few potted peppers and tomatoes. Then finally, this past year I went all in and added cucumbers, raspberries, strawberries, carrots, squash, and several different kinds of tomatoes as well. I even had spinach until my daughter Molly, was helping me one afternoon and pulled them, mistaking them for weeds.

Now I am by no means an expert, or even a fledgling biologist, but I do fancy myself knowing just enough now to be dangerous. And what I’ve learned is that in order for my garden to produce the best vegetables, the conditions of the soil, the plant location, and amount of sun and water all have to be just right. A healthy balance must be struck with all those components, in order for my garden to produce good healthy fruits and vegetables.

The same can be said of life. Continue reading

Alphabet Of Manly Virtues: “B” Is For “Brave”

9 May

Letter BIn the alphabet of manly virtues, the letter B generates a plethora of options. Picture the scene from 3 Amigos where Alfonso Arau playing, Elguapo asks, “Would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?” and you pretty much know what’s going thru my head this very minute.

For me what immediately rises to the surface is the word Brave.

Now to most of us, this would seem to be an obvious selection but it just so happens to be the one that I’m extremely passionate about.

I began a journey many years ago and have been developing something for several years now, centered on answering the question, “Are You Brave?”  Continue reading

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