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Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood! First, we want to thank you for all your support and the excitement surrounding the Risen Motherhood book. We dedicated the book to all of you: the moms in our community who are in the trenches alongside us, looking to Jesus in the midst of all motherhood brings. In the book, we talk about many common topics moms face and apply the gospel to postpartum body image, school choices, feeding your family, service, marriage, and so many more things. We hope this is a timeless resource that not only encourages you in your current season, but shows you how to apply the gospel to your own unique circumstances and follow Christ right where you’re at. If you haven’t already, you can snag a copy anywhere books are sold. Okay so to celebrate this big week, we wanted to do something really different. We invited our husbands, Brad and Mike, to talk about marriage in the little years. Keep in mind, they’ve never been interviewed on a podcast before, but we were so encouraged to hear their thoughts, experiences, and insights in this season of life. They do a good job of introducing themselves, so let’s jump into the conversation with my husband, Brad, and Laura’s husband, Mike.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood! I’m Emily, and I’m here with my sister-in-law, Laura.
Laura: Hey guys!
Emily: And then we have two of our most special guests ever here.
Laura: For sure.
Emily: It’s our husbands! My husband, Brad.
Emily: And Laura’s husband, Mike.
Mike: Hey everybody.
Emily: We want our audience to get to know you a little bit. Why don’t we start off by having Brad share how long we’ve been married, your occupation, hobbies if you have them. Tell them a little about you.
Brad: Absolutely. Well one thing, I’ve been married to Emily for 10 years, but I’ve known Laura for over three decades. [Laughter]
Laura: Brad is my brother. Did we say that yet?
Emily: I don’t know if we’ve made that clear. That’s a good clarification.
Laura: It’s so funny to know how long people might go without knowing we’re sisters-in-law—even though we try to say it most times. So that’s the relationship dynamic in this room.
Brad: I’m the connecting link.
Laura: Well, I like to think I am. [Laughter]
Brad: So, I’ve been married to Emily for ten years. If anyone’s curious, we did meet through mutual friends, and the rest is history. I enjoy cooking breakfast for our family. I’ve got zero musical talents. Some special interest would be trying to influence, as much as I can, our kids to do a couple different things. One, for them to walk fast.
Laura: Ah, yes. That was a big one for Dad; that we all walk quickly.
Brad: We don’t want them being slow walkers. Two, have good handwriting; legibility is key there.
Laura: Brad writes in a centimeter script.
Brad: It’s very readable.
Laura: It’s perfect and precise. But very small.
Brad: And the last thing is for our five kids to learn how to say no to things. There are lots of opportunities and invitations to say yes, and I think a good life skill to learn how to say no.
Laura: That’s a good one. I need that.
Emily: What about you, Mike? Introduce yourself.
Mike: I’ve been married to Laura for just over nine years now. Brad talked about meeting Emily through mutual friends, so a fun fact is that Brad and I were actually buddies in college before I knew Laura. Another link.
I worked in engineering/production management type roles in the petrochemical industry for about ten years. Recently, I’ve transitions to more bio-based/food production industry. For special interests or hobbies, I’m not really a big hobby guy. I love being outside and doing that with our family as much as possible.
Laura: You’re into birding right now. Mike has binoculars, and we bought a few bird books. He’s out on the front porch looking for birds all the time now. I think that’s a real hobby for you.
Mike: I love wildlife. Tent camping; I try to do that once in awhile with the kids.
Brad: Mike’s an outdoorsman. I’m more of an indoorsman. [Laughter]
Emily: Well, while everyone is googling the petrochemical industry, Brad you should say what you do for a living.
Brad: I live and work in central Iowa in real estate. I’m starting another business soon that coincides with the book launch; we’re doubling up around here. I stay pretty busy between work and family.
Emily: Brad is very entrepreneurial.
Mike: Very entrepreneurial.
Laura: And organized.
Brad: And good handwriting.
Laura: Great handwriting. [Laughter] Real quick for our listeners: what's one thing they may not know about us?
Brad: Emily is not a morning person, and she can talk very loudly. I have to ask her to down her volume. That’s interesting though, because we recently discovered that Emily does have mild to moderate hearing loss. That was some news to us—
Emily: I’m talking loudly for a reason! [Laughter]
Brad: She’s talking loudly for a reason. I would also say that Emily is very future-oriented, which gives her a good perspective on life and decisions—big or small. She can place those in context. One thing we learned early on is she doesn’t understand why people drink milk at dinner. She thinks it’s a rule or an agricultural—
Laura: Like an Iowa thing?! [Laughter]
Brad: Yes, like an Iowa thing.
Laura: What? Mike doesn’t understand why people drink it either!
Mike: I think there’s some truth to that.
Laura: Brad and I grew up drinking a big glass of milk at dinner. Didn’t we?
Brad: Sure. It’s what you do.
Laura: It’s what you do. And Mike always thought that was disgusting. So, we drink water now.
Emily: Air high-five, Mike.
Laura: I had no idea that more people than Mike thought it was weird.
Mike: It’s a heart-land thing.
Emily: Yeah, you come to Iowa and you drink milk.
Mike: Or go to the barn and get hydrated.
Emily: We’re all learning new things.
Brad: Mike, what do you have?
Mike: So, Laura is kind of adventurous, or she can be. That’s what sealed the deal for me early on in our relationship. We were dating—I can’t remember for how long—and she took me sky-diving.
Laura: Yeah, that was true love.
Mike: We jumped out of a plane. That’s pretty wild.
Laura: It took our relationship to new heights. [Laughter]
Mike: It was a big deal. I talked about being outdoorsy before. She’ll go camping with me; she’s gone a couple of times while pregnant.
Laura: That’s also true love.
Mike: How far along were you?
Laura: 12 weeks and 34 weeks. I mean, that is commitment.
Emily: Thanks, Brad, for never taking me camping. [Laughter]
Mike: But you enjoy it, right?
Laura: The 34 week one was hard. I was pretty big. I enjoy the daytime, just not the sleeping.
Mike: They’re pretty intense camping trips.
Laura: Like we have to bring our own water, people! We put gallons of water in packs and carry it with us. There’s no fresh water.
Mike: Pretty remote areas of northern Minnesota. We’ve backpacked across Europe. There’s definitely some adventure there. So, Laura has an adventurous side.
Emily: Thanks, guys. So today’s show is about marriage and the little years. We get a lot of questions from listeners asking what it looks like to grow in marriage when you have lots of little kids at home, and how do we overcome challenges. So, let’s talk. What’s the hardest thing about marriage?
Brad: I think one of the challenges about marriage in the little years for us was making time for one another. I remember we used to go on exciting dates that were involved—jet-skiing or going to shows—but now, we’re pretty happy if we can sneak away after the kids are down. Maybe a grandparent can pop over for an hour and a half so we can get away and have time with each other. It’s morphed, but I think having time for that relationship in the little years is an important piece; it’s hard, but you can do it.
Emily: I totally agree with that. I think it’s harder to have fun, to cultivate hobbies, because that takes time. We may be able to check off the box that we were able to go out and have dinner, but there’s the transition time of easing into the conversation and then jumping back into home life. I think that’s something you go without in the little years. What do you think, Mike?
Mike: Parenting is such a joy, such a blast, and there are so many amazing things about it; but at the same time, it’s draining. It takes so much energy—whether it’s physical, emotional, or intellectual. There are so many things to discuss and so many decisions to make all the time. How are we disciplining in this area? And each kid is different and unique. That investment takes away from your marriage. So it’s kind of similar to the time thing, but it’s a lot harder with that focus on parenting to love each other well and stay connected.
Laura: That emotional toll of pouring so much out into your kids. It’s that idea of giving your husband the leftovers. I concur. So then, on the flipside, how has God actually grown you or used marriage to grow you in this season?
Mike: I think I have grown some—Laura can tell us how much—in respect to serving in our marriage. We talked about the different kinds of energy investments into parenting, I think all that lends itself to have more opportunities to serve more. You can see chances to help your spouse. I think I’ve started to learn how to do that without being asked, and learning how to do it with the right place in my heart. A lot of times, if Laura was really busy—even with the ministry—I’d step up in a certain way here or there, and I’d hope she’d notice it and say something. That’s doing things for the wrong reason. I’ve started to come to grips with everything Laura does. She’s running a ministry, she wrote a book; there are a lot of ways I can help out more and not come home and prioritize what I want, whether that’s relaxing or doing stuff outside. In the end, those things aren’t going to fulfill me in the end anyways.
Laura: You have grown a lot in that. I think you’ve always been a huge servant to our family, but over the last few years, it’s been neat to see that with the circumstances the Lord has put in our life, we’ve been forced to lean on one another. I think there are certain things in life where you can decide to be more dependent or work more as a team and give more of yourself, or it could push you the other direction. I think God has been gracious to push us towards serving one another really well. I remember our pastor asked, “Who is the biggest servant you know?” And he said, “Your answer should be your spouse.” And I was so grateful, because I did think of you! It was really sweet, because he said, “You have a front-row seat to their life. You see them more than anyone else. So hopefully, the person who is the biggest person in your life is your spouse, because you spend the most time with them.” That was challenging to me; am I serving my husband well? Will he think of me? It was a good question to ask myself.
Brad: I would definitely say Emily and I have a solid, happy, fulfilling marriage. We have moments and time of disagreement, for sure, but I think God has used marriage to show a spotlight on my own sinfulness and selfishness. When you’re in the context of front-row seat or life-on-life living, the other person can’t help but see the best and the worst. I think before marriage, I thought I was doing okay. But when you’re with somebody, you’re confronted by all the ugliness—and you’re experiencing it with somebody you love. Yes, I’m a new creation in Christ, but the marks of the fall are still clear. I think God has used these little years to refine and shape my life; and to reveal the need to hear and preach the gospel to myself, to have it preached to me, and then to preach it to others. I need that encouragement, Emily needs that encouragement; we all need that encouragement.
Emily: It’s interesting thinking about how in marriage, we come in with a lot of expectations. Early on, that’s one of the first thing revealed. I expected we’d eat dinner at this time, and you expected to eat at this time. There’s an opportunity for conflict! I think that’s one way we’ve both grown, Brad: putting our expectations on Christ and coming to one another with different expectations or seeing ourselves as co-laborers, unified in this mission God’s given us to raise our family and to show everyone around us—as business owners, parents, or working in the church nursery. It’s amazing, ten years later, I think there are things we still have expectations we have for one another that we have to take to the Lord and ask, “Where are my needs being met?” You’re my partner, not my primary need-meeter.
Laura: Not only with expectations, but also assumptions. I think I’d often find myself thinking—if the baby was crying at night—that he was just sleeping or pretending he couldn’t hear them, because he didn’t want to get up with the baby. Or on a night he might work late, I’d assume he wanted to be at work and not home with our family. I needed to change my assumption; I needed to believe that what he told me was true. No, he does want to be at home; there’s a lot of pressure at work. He does want to get up with the baby, he’s just really sleeping through it. All moms out there: just remember they really do sleep through the crying. It’s amazing! But believing the best in him, his motives, and his assumptions has been a big mindshift in extending generosity towards what’s happening in his life. I don’t assume the worst or assume I know all his motives and heart. I have to remember that I’m not his Holy Spirit. I can say things all day long, but ultimately, I cannot change my husband’s heart. That can only be done by a work of God and the Holy Spirit.
It was really helpful for me to remember my place and role in your life, trusting that God will change you as he sees fit on his timeline. He’s sanctifying you, and in that, he’s working on me the most. The first place I need to look is in my own heart for the sin I have, not trying to look into you and what you can fix. I think the Lord has worked on me the most by saying, “No, look at you first. Look at your own heart, not the other person’s. I’ll deal with them as I deal with them. You’re responsible for you.”
Emily: Yeah. Building on that, one of the questions we get the most from moms is, “How can I encourage my husband to grow spiritually or lead the family?” Or, “I do see these areas of life that I see he needs to grow or change, but how do I approach it?” That can be really tough to figure out what that posture should be. There’s tension between praying and trusting the Lord, and figuring out what our actions should look like practically. Brad and Mike, we’ll put you in the hot seat. How do you feel most encouraged to grow spiritually in our relationships?
Mike: I think one of the best things wives can do is find ways for dad to partner with them. At least in our marriage, Laura is way more nurturing. She’s worked on it, but I also think she just knows better how to disciple our kids. When she can give me insight into what she’s doing with the kids, how she’s working through heart issues and disciplining well, and how she’s having really good conversations with them, it gives me chances to join with her in that. It gives me insight into what happened that day and tees me up to step in alongside her. That’s huge. It’s encouraging to me when she trusts me I can help with those things. And it helps me grow spiritually when I step into those conversations and help our kids work on sin issues or matters of the heart—that works on my heart. When you have those conversations with your kids, you have to address things in your own heart. I’d encourage moms to find ways to do that with their husbands.
Brad: I think this is a great question. It’s some ways it an easy one for me, because Emily does encourage me to grow spiritually and lead our family simply by her example. When I say that, I’m saying how she lives in the 24-hour period in the day—she’s faithful, she prays, she reads and teaches truth to our family. Many of the children’s resources seen on social media come to our home, and she’ll sit and walk through them with the kids at the breakfast table as we’re getting ready. So she makes time and is intentional. Another example I have is that this year, I took my oldest to school. Emily gave us some flashcard questions that have a Bible verse on one side and two questions on the backside as conversation starters. I’d talk with my son about those things on this 12-minute drive to school, and I think if mom didn’t do that, we’d be doing mental math or thinking about landmarks along the way, making sure they could pronounce road correctly.
Instead, we used that time—because of what mom did—well. I keep them in the center console so I can pull them out and read them, pass them back so he can read them, and we talk about what it means to be strong in the Lord or putting on the armor of God. I don’t even know where to find that stuff; they come in a little plastic baggie, and we keep ‘em.
Laura: They just magically appear! [Laughter]
Brad: Yeah, it works. She’s a tremendous example. She makes it easy for us, like Mike said, but her example is inspiring.
Laura: I think being an example is such a good point. I know Mike invests well in me by my seeing his example of desiring to follow the Lord, wanting to have conversations, wanting to grow. So often in parenting, we feel like we need to be perfect or already have arrived. We need to know the right answer or the resources. But really, it’s been neat that every time I’ve seen Mike want to invest well in our kids, to grow spiritually, to read a Christian book, or to read the Bible, I’m caught up in that too. I think that works that way with both of us; we’re people moving forward together. That’s a beautiful picture of marriage and something I love about my relationship with Mike: when he’s inspired, I’m inspired, and vice versa. I think that’s what’s marriage designed to be. We’re all striving for “our future glory selves” (Tim Keller). I can see what Mike could be, and Mike can see what I could be, so we’re encouraging each other today towards the ways God could sanctify us in the future. I love that idea of examples: running the race and caring for ourselves first, recognizing that’ll sweep up the other person in the story you’re playing out in your life.
Emily: I remember sitting at a wedding years ago, hearing the officiant talk about how this couple’s joys would now be linked. This one person’s success was this other person’s success; one person’s struggle and lack of flourishing would affect the other person. That can be discouraging or incredibly encouraging as a married couple. Our spiritual progress and joys are linked, and can often encourage one another.
Hopefully something in there was encouraging to you guys today as you listened. We’re grateful Brad and Mike were willing to sit in the hot seat and come on the show!
Laura: Nice job, guys.
Brad: Absolutely! Thank you for having us.
Mike: Yeah, thanks guys. This was fun.
Emily: You can find out more about the topic of marriage and motherhood, especially in the little years on our website, risenmotherhood.com. We’ll also have show notes with additional resources. You may also see some behind-the-scenes footage if you head to our social media, @risenmotherhood, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Thanks, guys!