This Valentine's Day, passionate evangelist Jay Lowder is encouraging couples to take the challenge and restore broken relationships.
After more than 17 years of marriage, he and his wife, Melissa, have had their fair share of ups and downs, with Lowder admitting he nearly called it quits 13 years ago.
"All the time people think there was some major event," Lowder told The Christian Post about why he almost abandoned his marriage. "That wasn't the case. What it really boiled down to was we just didn't get along. There was a lot of distance, a lot of bitterness between us."
In order to give his marriage a fighting chance, Lowder was forced to confront the issues he had pretended didn't exist.
"For men, this is a difficult thing because most would say 'well, I'm just going to act like it didn't happen, I'm going to ignore this and it'll go away.'"
"I used to not want to come home, so I would go out to the movies a lot at night and find anything I could do to avoid going home," he recalled.
It was only after a close friend challenged Lowder, who was on the verge of divorce, to attend couples counseling, that he reluctantly faced up to the reality.
He admits the process was difficult, sharing that the hardest part was hearing the truth about the way he had failed his wife.
"In order to work through the problems she had to hear what I had to say, and I had to hear what she had to say," he explained.
"There are two or three sentences that I can remember just as clearly as the day she said them."
Now he challenges others to live out the kind of marriage intended by God.
"The goal in marriage is not just to avoid divorce … the goal is to be happy, the goal is to have a good marriage, to have a right marriage," he stressed.
Lowder believes that only with God can a couple have a good and lasting marriage and that a "commitment to work it out" is a key characteristic missing in today's society.
"You can't do it on your own, and anybody who thinks so is crazy, because you don't have within you those capabilities," he insisted.
"If you stay committed to God … you develop the mentality that I'm going to stick to this no matter what."
The pair first met while both were in separate relationships. At the time, Lowder's sister, hoping to evangelize Melissa, had brought her to a service to hear him preach. Though she did not come forward at that time, a conviction of Christ had entered her heart that night.
Lowder admits that there are ongoing difficulties in their marriage. However, he and his wife are always open with one another when discussing God and spiritual things.
"One of the things that we try to do is we try to have a devotion together. I still believe there is a lot of power when a husband and wife pray together," he shared.
Despite growing up in the church, and even having brought others to Christ, Lowder was initially unable to commit, instead turning to the destructive vices of the world for contentment.
But after losing his job, girlfriend, and being kicked out of college, Lowder concluded that life was not worth living. At 21 years of age he decided he would commit suicide, but was interrupted by a roommate who was sent home early from work that day as he held a pistol to his own head.
Today, Lowder leads Harvest Ministries, traveling across the globe to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. He has spoken at over 250 crusades, rallies and conferences since his calling into evangelism. Currently, he resides in Wichita Falls, Texas, and has three children, Lane, Kayley Faith and Graham.