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Tony and Lauren Dungy Share Uncommon Marriage Tips

CBN.com -Tony and Lauren Dungy have been married for 31 years. They talk about their relationship in their new book Uncommon Marriage and share what they’ve learned about lasting love, and how to tackle the obstacles life can bring. 

Shawn Brown, 700 Club Sports: What is that you want readers to get from the book?

“To know that marriage is tough, but it’s doable. It’s a great institution; we need to raise that institution back up to where it was held years ago. I think we’ve taken marriage way too lightly in our country. It is important. It is God’s plan. And we’ve got to do it God’s way,” said Tony.

 “And that marriage is a commitment. God intended it to be long lasting. And when we encounter difficulties or challenges, then we work closer together. And it’s so easy to say that, you know, ‘I’m giving up and I’m throwing in the towel.’ But God intends for us to stay together and work through those challenges,” said Lauren.

They say the biggest challenge is learning how to communicate.

“Communication is a key. I can’t emphasize that enough. And it’s so important that you’re on the same page, and you’re talking and praying about everything. And often times, that little misunderstanding can create a lot of problems,” said Lauren.

Shawn: When you say communicate, sometimes it means something different to a wife than it does to a husband. What does it mean to you? 

“I think there’s two parts to communicating. It’s talking, but it’s also listening. And it’s important to listen and hear the other person. If you’re too busy talking and getting your point across, or saying what’s on your mind, then you’re not able to communicate effectively with the other person,” said Lauren.

Tony adds, “I would agree with that, and then the next step is taking it and applying it. It’s one thing, we have a discussion, and we both hear each other. But then where are we going to go from there? And do I really hear what she’s saying and say, ‘okay is important. So do I need to act on this in a certain way?”

Tony and Lauren learned this lesson first hand. Tony was an assistant coach in Kansas City and decided to take a job in Minnesota. The problem was he didn’t make sure his wife was fully onboard with the move.

Tony tells the story. “One of my good friends, Denny Green, got the head coaching job with the Minnesota Vikings. He said, ‘come on up. Let’s talk about this.’ I knew in my heart, Coach Green was –I’d known him, I’d played for him. He was coming in new. It was going to be a great situation. He was making me defensive coordinator, just—I knew, you know. The Lord’s telling me this is where to go. So in maybe one day, ‘hey, I’m not going back to work with the Chiefs, we’re going to Minnesota!’”

Lauren was not quite prepared for Tony’s news. “He knew, but he wasn’t sharing that with me. So that’s so important. He didn’t share. He didn’t communicate the way he needed to.”

Shawn: It’s interesting because for men, for us, we really did think we’re communicating!

Lauren interjects, “You made a statement and then you’re out the door. That’s not communication.”

Shawn: Help us understand. How did you feel in that moment? I think sometimes we just – I know for me, I don’t get it.

Lauren explains how she felt in that situation. “Left out and I really felt, we can never pray enough. And I think we needed to pray more about it and just have that assurance and know that this is where the Lord was directing us and where we should go. And I felt that Tony was communicating with everybody but me. It was a good lesson, though, as we look back on it, that we really needed to communicate better with each other.”

With a lesson learned, moving forward, Tony and Lauren made sure they were on the same page. After four years with the Vikings, Tony became the head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Six seasons after that he became the head coach for Indianapolis Colts, where in 2008 he became the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl. The Dungys say in addition to communicating, there’s another essential key to a strong marriage….prayer.

“If you ask us, one key to having that uncommon marriage, I really do think it is praying together, praying for your spouse all the time,” said Tony, “but praying together with your spouse. That’s what makes it special.”

Lauren underscores the importance setting time aside to pray with your spouse. “And that’s something that we’ve learned that’s important. We’ve carved out that time and for us, it works first thing in the morning, before we get busy with the kids. Before we get busy with our daily routine, we get up and we take time to pray together, and read. And we have that fellowship with our Heavenly Father.”

The Dungys have chronicled three decades of life’s experiences to help people understand that through God, marriage can work no matter what, obstacles come their way. 

“Jesus Christ is the center of our lives. He directs everything and we’re living to serve Him, said Lauren.”

Tony concludes saying, “I think if I’m single, and I’m following Christ, He’s given me direction. Lauren’s following Christ and given her direction. Now we want to come together as a couple. Well, we would go in different directions if we weren’t both following Christ. So to have Christ as that kind of guidepost, we know we’re going to come together and not go apart.”

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