Being married to a professional women’s soccer player makes for two very competitive people in a household. But we rarely compete with each other outside of the occasional putt-putt game, where we can tune into our competitive spirit. The best part of my relationship with Cheyna is that our foundation is set in Christ.
When we first started dating, we would read the same books, or go through the same Bible studies at the same time. Now, outside of going to church together, listening to the occasional sermon together in the morning, and praying with each other morning and night, we really are working out our own faith. I know for a fact that Cheyna is growing in her faith and relationship with Christ outside of her commitment to me, and that means so much to me. I love watching her be able to exercise her God-given gifts apart from me.
As a result, God has been able to work in and through each of us, both as individuals and as a couple, in incredible ways. And when I head out of town, I don’t have to be worried about what my wife is doing or if she’ll be OK without me. I know she’s good; her foundation and faith is in an amazing place that I can’t fill.
That doesn’t mean Cheyna doesn’t love me or want to be around me (or vice versa), but I know I don’t have to be her everything because Christ already is. I am able to supplement what Christ is doing in her life.
One thing we’ve learned from other couples and implemented into our own marriage is this: We make sure not to take each other or ourselves too seriously. We’ve heard many couples say that looking back, they stressed out about way too many things that really were not big deals at all. I don’t want to have to ask the question, “How many things did I take too personally and it ruined a relationship?” So Cheyna and I joke together all the time. Yes, we make adult decisions and grow together in maturity, but we always try to have a good time. I’m not trying to be this macho man of the house, I’m still very much of a kid at heart, as is Cheyna.
Though both of us are professional athletes, we barely ever talk about sports. It probably takes up only 10-15 percent of our conversations. We support each other in our career goals and passions, traveling to the other’s games and being home to care for our child and dog when the other can’t. I will never force Cheyna to do anything she doesn’t want, or doesn’t feel called, to do. She gave up playing overseas for me. I know she could be making a lot more money playing soccer overseas than she can in America.
Being of Jamaican descent, she also could have played for a national team elsewhere, in the Women’s World Cup or even the Olympics. And I know that she’s good enough to make the national team here in the States too. If she ever looked me in the face and said, “Jordan, my goal is to make the women’s national team,” then I would push her to reach that goal and encourage her along the way. If she looked at me and said, “My goal is to have fun in soccer and be the best mom that I can be,” then I fully support that.
Whatever and wherever she feels like her biggest mission field is, that’s where I want her to be — reaching others for Christ in that way. And in order to meet those goals, we ask each other, “What are we putting in our bodies to become the strongest we can be for this goal? How much sleep are we getting to be able to set a good example to our teammates? What are we watching and putting into our spirit to make us confident for game day?”
Yes, I’m ultracompetitive. So is Cheyna. When I came into college, I came in with the goal of being the best receiver at Vanderbilt and in college football as a whole. When I got to the NFL, I had the same goal. The more I grew in my faith in Christ, the more my thinking and motives changed. I still wanted to go after these goals, but who it was for changed.
Cheyna knows, and shares the same viewpoint, that my goal is to make God’s name famous. If I do great things in this game, I can point to Him. She encourages me in that and pushes me to be my best. She won’t slack up on me as long as I’m aligned with God’s will. And I want to do the same for her.
— Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.