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Here’s How Ben Roethlisberger Grows in His Marriage

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Here’s How Ben Roethlisberger Grows in His Marriage

How good was Ben Roethlisberger in his prime? As the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl — at the age of 23 — and having set many other records during his 18 seasons with NFL champs the Pittsburgh Steelers, the now-retired pro athlete achieved legendary status. Yet on the home front, he often found himself struggling because, like many men, he believed, “I can work hard, I can make money for our family, keep a roof over our head, whatever, but when it comes to spiritual things, my wife just takes the reins, and she’s just better at that than me.”

With time, he found an improved balance in his 12-year marriage to Ashley Harlan. But the couple did face their share of struggles. Today, Roethlisberger is sharing the details of their journey, hoping to help others strengthen their own marriages in the process.

Ben Roethlisberger: ‘I Knew She Was the One’

As Ben Roethlisberger told the “Dad Tired” podcast, when he first met Ashley, “I knew she was the one early on when we first started dating. And I told her that … I wished that I would’ve married her earlier because everything would’ve been better in life.” Despite that conviction, he said, after marrying and starting a family, “it still wasn’t perfect, ’cause we had kids, and I loved my wife, [but] I still had a job that I loved and put probably up there pretty high on my pedestal.” 

Of course, football wasn’t the only thing competing with Ashley for Roethlisberger’s attention. He explained, “We had kids pretty early into our marriage, and, to be honest … it was either my kids or football first, and then either my wife or faith.

“My wife fell pretty … well, not far, but … I mean, fourth on the list, that’s pretty high, but it’s still way too low from where it should be. I definitely put my kids above my wife.” 

Facing the Problem

As a proud dad of three, Roethlisberger said, “It’s very easy to sit there and say, ‘This is more important than my wife.’ Because I’m the dad, I’m supposed to protect my child, son or daughter. 

“I can see how you can even push faith. I did push faith back a little bit because this is my kid.” But, while making those decisions was understandable, he said, they also led to major consequences in his personal life. 

Roethlisberger shared, “About six years ago I think, as my faith was improving and getting better, I kind of had that aha, wake-up moment.” In that period, he recognized, “I was drinking too much … and drinking led to pornography and things that just are not good in terms of a relationship.” 

Fortunately, he said, Ashley set him straight. “My wife was like, ‘Listen, this is not OK, this is not good. You need to get this thing figured out.’ And so it was just like a snap.” Shortly afterward, he recalls, “She comes from putting the kids down to bed, comes down the stairs, is about ready to let me have it again … and for whatever reason, when she walked down the stairs, I said, ‘Can we go outside and pray? Can I pray for us?’” 

While both spouses grew up in the church and this moment occurred about four or five years into their marriage, Roethlisberger said they’d never prayed together before that. And yet, he recalled, “By the grace of God, she accepted that invitation to prayer, and we went out and prayed.” 

Admittedly, he added, “I don’t even know what I said, but it was probably awful.” Luckily, the quarterback noted, “It was enough to get us started on the right track. And since then, the transition has been where God and my faith is No. 1 by far, my wife is right behind that, and then my kids.” The result? Today, Ben and Ashley are growing together in their faith and marriage, and have even started the Roethlisberger Family Foundation. Their goal? To help others find the same strength in their personal relationships and in their connection with a higher power.

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