Q & A - Not Seeing Eye To Eye In Marriage
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” - Ephesians 4:1
- How do I become more selfless in my marriage?
- What are some Tips for consistency in communication within marriage to build intimacy?
- How do we live for God together...my husband never really been to church Etc?
- How do you work through disagreements on hobbies? IE motorcycles?
- How do you keep chasing dreams God's call you to, when your spouse is in a totally negative place?
- Do you still struggle with trusting your husband? Speaking about p 0rn and how can you battle thoughts?
- What is your number one advice to couples struggling?
[Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.
[Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.
[Aaron] And today, we're gonna answer some questions from the community about not seeing eye-to-eye in marriage. Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after.
[Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife.
[Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution.
[Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade.
[Aaron] And so far, we have four young children.
[Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media.
[Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day.
[Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life--
[Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God--
[Aaron] Thank you for joining in this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together.
[Jennifer] This is Marriage After God.
[Aaron] Hey, welcome back to another episode of the Marriage After God podcast. This is gonna be a Q&A episode where we polled our community and we got a buncha questions about a specific topic, which is not seeing eye-to-eye, and we're gonna answer those in a bit. But first, before we get into that, Jennifer, is there anything new going on in your life? Is there anything you wanna chat with me about?
[Jennifer] I love chatting with you. Something that I wanted to share, that's been on my heart for our listeners, is just something that I been doing intentionally with a girlfriend of mine and that is discipleship and it's going really well, we meet bi-weekly. And the reason that I wanted to bring it up is because I think so often we can go about our days and our times and our schedules and just focus on what is at hand and what we need to do and sometimes we forget about discipleship or mentorship or how we impact other peoples' lives. And I just think it's really important for us to consider, you know, who's that older, more mature Christian in our life that we can glean from? So, someone we can be spending time with that will fill us up that will maybe speak truth into our life or see something that isn't going the way it should be and call it out in us or maybe we can go to them for a question. And then, who's that person who is younger than you that you can reach out to and have an impact in their life? You know, be that person for them.
Yeah. So, I just, I'm bringing it up because it's been going so well in my personal life that I just thought, "Man, if they're not thinking about this, "I want them to be thinking about this."
[Aaron] Well, and it's a, we've talked about this in past episodes, about the necessity of community and walking with each other and our ministries in other people's lives.
[Aaron] Just the importance of we're not autonomous creatures, we're part of a body, and God's given us gifts that must be used to glorify Him and to mutually build up the Church and to encourage each other and to bless each other, so.
[Jennifer] And sometimes our flesh can get in the way, you know, those insecurities where we go, "Oh, it'd be really nice to spend time with that person." But then we answer for them, right? We go, "Oh, they're too busy." Or, "They can't." Or, "I don't know"--
You're really good at this, aren't you?
"I don't know what to say."
Answering for people.
Answering for people, yeah. And you've drawn me out of this. But my encouragement to that person is don't answer for that person but surrender to God, pray about your desire to build that relationship up, and then have the courage to just ask. And if they say, "I can't at this time," receive it and say, "Okay," and pray about, maybe, who else you can engage with in that way. But chances are, they're gonna be thrilled to hear from you.
[Aaron] Yeah, I've been through something very similar. Not necessarily, I don't have a scheduled meeting with a single person each week or every other week, but I've been trying to intentionally meet regularly with all the men from our fellowship. Mainly to get to know them more, to get into deeper relationship with them, to be encouraged by them. But also to, yeah, disciple. And we're called to make disciples, we're called to walk with each other and sharpen each other, as iron sharpens iron. If we're not doing that and we're just kind of going about our day and, yeah, we see 'em at church on Sundays and then we leave and we have dinners every once in awhile, but if there's no intentional, like, "'Kay, I actually want to be in this person's life, "lifting them up to the Father, "and I want someone in my life doing that for me," we're kind of missing out on a huge part of what it means to be a believer, so. That's a great encouragement for everyone listening.
So, before we get into the questions, we wanna tell everyone about our free things that we have to offer you guys. We've made a bunch of resources now that I feel like they keep compiling, like, we're making more and more. 'Cause we get an idea and then we're like, "Okay, "let's make it and let's give it to everyone," so.
[Jennifer] And I gotta admit, I'm the one that pushes for the new ones because I want you guys who have already been through, maybe, some of the ones that we've been offering to jump into the new one, which, the newest one we just launched is the Parenting Prayer Challenge, which, oh my gosh, I'm so excited about.
[Aaron] Yeah, it's a totally free email challenge and essentially, we send you an email every day for 31 days giving you a prayer prompt for a specific area of your child's life, either your son or your daughter, and it's a reminder every day.
[Jennifer] And it doesn't matter what age your kids are because it could be for your infant all the way up to your adult--
Your kids that are out of the house.
[Aaron] And you can get that at parentingprayerchallenge.com, all one word. It's totally free, you should go sign up today if you haven't. And just a quick note on the other ones, we have a free download called Date Night Conversations. It's a list of 52 conversation starters. You can get that at datenightconversations.com, one word. And then the last one is Marriage Prayer Challenge. It's similar to the Parenting Prayer Challenge, but it's for your marriage.
[Aaron] Yeah, you can sign up to pray for your wife or you can sign up to pray for your husband and we send you a prompt every day for 31 days. So, get those, those are completely free.
[Jennifer] All right, so we are moving on to today's topic, which, we're doing a Q&A. We already polled the community from social media. We usually do this on Instagram, so if you're not already following, be sure to follow @marriageaftergod. You can also follow me @unveiledwife for some more wife encouragement and then @husbandrevolution for more husband stuff.
[Aaron] And we'd love for you to be following us on Instagram so that you can see the behind the scenes stuff in our life. When we do the polls, we'd love for you to participate in those. We look at all those questions that you guys give us.
[Jennifer] So, what we do is we poll you guys, we ask you to submit your questions, and then we use those to order these Q&As.
[Aaron] Sometimes the questions are not all in the same category, but if we find enough in a category, we're like, "Oh, that's what we're gonna talk about." And so, we try and answer those. And we also always wanna start with: we don't have all the answers.
Yeah. That's a funny way to start out a Q&A.
We know this.
[Aaron] We will answer to the best of our abilities, we will answer based off of things we've experienced and, as always, we're gonna try and, to the best of our abilities, point back to scripture. We don't always do that well either, but that's our heart because we know that the Word of God is the Word of God; it's perfect and we know that everything that we order our life by should be ordered by it. And so, we try, to the best of our ability, to do that, so.
[Jennifer] So, today's kind of overarching topic is not seeing eye-to-eye in your marriage, which can play out in a lotta different ways, but I would also label this as disunity. So, this idea of not being unified--
[Aaron] Right, not on the same page.
[Jennifer] Not on the same page in marriage.
[Aaron] Which is that, the analogy of not seeing eye-to-eye, that we're unbalanced, you know, one's higher, one's lower, and so you're not seeing in the same space. And so, you have the, unity is a huge thing for marriage. And I'm sure that many marriages don't even struggle with this, right? Like, this is a unique issue in--
[Jennifer] I'm gonna correct Aaron, I'm gonna correct that.
[Aaron] We're not gonna see eye-to-eye on this.
[Jennifer] I think every marriage encounters this.
A lot, actually.
Every human relationship.
[Aaron] In the history of human relationships.
[Jennifer] Because we're all different heights.
[Aaron] Like, it started in the Garden of Eden. You look at Adam and Eve.
Come on, guys.
[Aaron] Eve was like, "Oh, it does look good to eat." And Adam's like, "All right."
No, just checkin'.
[Aaron] And just, from the very beginning, not seeing eye-to-eye. But that's what we're gonna talk about today. There's quite a few questions, so why don't you start off reading some scripture?
Okay. So, we're gonna dig into Ephesians 4 and starting in Verse 1, it says this: "I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, "urge you to walk in a manner worthy of "the calling to which you have been called, "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, "bearing with one another in love, "eager to maintain the unity of "the spirit in the bond of peace." And if, for some reason, you hear that verse right now and you're like, "You guys have shared "that verse so many times on this podcast"--
I'm not gonna apologize. The more we say that verse and the more you hear it and the more we live according to it, we will experience this, right babe?
[Aaron] Well, and it's essentially Biblical meditation. We're repeating it, we're chewing on it, we're gonna say it over and over again because it's true.
[Jennifer] And we're gonna see how it applies to our life and, you know, what we are--
[Aaron] Well, and it's a good tone to start with, to set the mood for this conversation, because no matter where you're at in your marriage, you could be thinking, like, "My husband "just thinks this certain way "and I'm not gonna get on that page with him." Or, "My wife just doesn't understand," fill in the blank. If we're eager to maintain unity with our bride--
With our spouse.
[Aaron] That's gonna be the place that we start from, not a, "They need to change because I'm not gonna change." It's a, "What needs to change so that "we're on the same page?"
And maintain is, that's a constantly occurring, that's not a, "Okay, we got on the same page "and now we're fine for the rest of our lives." This is a consistent--
Oh, we gotta realign--
Oh, we gotta do it again.
Oh, let's do it again. Let's continue to be this way, yeah.
[Jennifer] Yeah, so I couldn't help but start out, also, obviously, God's Word is the priority and first and foremost, but I also wanted to start out sharing a little bit from Marriage After God because we've--
Written a book for you and if you haven't gotten it yet, we want to urge you to get it, but this is from page 56 in Marriage After God and it talks about this idea of oneness, okay? You know, in Genesis, it talks about two becoming one flesh and so, we though it'd be great to elaborate on this in Marriage After God and so--
[Aaron] Okay, so I'm actually gonna read this section. Jennifer's actually a little outta breath, being pregnant and all--
He's saving me!
[Aaron] So, it says this, it's on page 56: "One flesh does not mean two "independent individuals sometimes acting as one, "neither does it mean two individuals "negotiating a workable schedule where they "inhabit the same space but leave each other alone. "One flesh is a picture of unity, a joining together, "a growing together, where parts of each are woven together "in a way that there is no noticeable seam. "Oneness is one of the greatest ways "we show the world the true gospel."
[Jennifer] So, what you're saying is it's powerful.
Our oneness in marriage.
Did we write this?
[Aaron] Yeah, the idea of oneness it's not our idea, it's a Biblical idea, we pulled that from the Bible directly. And it's, again, the reason why I wanna talk about this and we always go back to it is because our marriage represents something more than just our marriage. It's a symbol that God created to represent Christ and the Church and the relationship between the two, that we are no longer separate, we're no longer nomads, we actually are part of Christ, we are one with Christ, the same way my wife and I are one. But when we walk in disunity, when we walk in brokenness and we're not seeing eye-to-eye, we're against each other where actually--
[Jennifer] Or even apathy where it's like, "I know we're off, I know we're"--
"And I don't care."
"Not seeing eye-to-eye "and I don't care."
That's so dangerous.
It's not the symbol that God intends it to be, so we're walking in opposition to God's way when we walk that way, so--
So, it's good to maintain that, you know, what you were talking about earlier, it's good to--
Have priority in our marriage to focus on unity.
[Aaron] So, question one, from the community, it says, "How do I become more selfless in my marriage? "I wanna please my spouse."
Okay, first of all, this is just an outstanding question. I love that someone is even admitting that they want this because so often, our flesh gets in the way, our selfish nature gets in the way of even admitting this.
[Aaron] Yeah, 'cause we're selfish.
Naturally, without the Spirit workin' in us. I guess I would first say, this was specifically from a wife to a husband but I said spouse because it goes both ways, and the short answer and the practical answer is: serve the other person.
Right? The antidote to selfishness is service, you know? The antidote to wanting my feet washed is washing someone's feet. You know, you look at the picture of Christ and what he did for his disciples. And so, I guess, I just had a conversation with a brother from church, we were talkin' about meeting with people, and I brought up this idea of how, if you look at anything in life, how does anything grow? You feed it. Like a tree: you water it, you nurture it, you feed it, you prune it, and it grows. If I want my muscles to grow, I have to work them out, I have to use them, I have to feed them with the right nutrients, and I have to do the correct thing for them to work. I can't just sit back, wish they grew, desire them to grow, desire these things to happen, but do nothing.
Children, right? You want them to grow--
You gotta feed 'em, it's like--
Oh, that's not--
But more than that, you can't just sit back and just let them have at it in the world, you gotta--
Teach them and--
[Aaron] They can't be left to their own devices, they have to be guided and teached and disciplined and corrected--
And talked to and taught.
You said teached.
[Aaron] Teached. Oh, did I really?
Okay. So, in the same way, to become more selfless or, on the flip side, less selfish, you have to practice and work out that muscle.
So, an example in our marriage: we all go through these seasons where I want physical intimacy and maybe Jennifer can't give it to me. Like, we're pregnant right now, so this is a natural thing that happens, but times that we're not pregnant, maybe she's tired or whatever. And in my selfish flesh, I want something physical. But the selfless, spiritual-driven decision would be like, "Okay, I'm using that as a trigger, "I'm recognizing I want something. "I bet my wife wants something, too." And so, I tried, and I didn't do this every time, I don't do this all the time, but it's something I tried practicing is, "I'm gonna go and try and"--
[Jennifer] Give me the thing that it is you want. So, if it's a foot massage or--
Yeah, I want something--
[Aaron] Physical but I'm gonna go and say, "Hey, can I give you a massage?" And she wasn't even expecting it.
And that, it wasn't to manipulate, it was purely like, "I know I want something and right now, I'm just, "I know she probably can't give it or isn't interested "and it would be very selfish for me to "try and make her feel bad about it "or try and get something without her desiring it as well." So, I go and serve her. And so, that was one example, is practicing that muscle of service. Which, again, I'm not tryna make myself sound great.
[Jennifer] So, I think the word that keeps coming to my mind as you're talking, Aaron, is the word initiation. And we have to be initiators, we have to be people who are willing to start first and not let our selfishness get in the way of that. And so, that would be my answer to this question, is: be an initiator. But even, prior to that, I would say we have to be people who are willing to get into God's Word and know it and let it transform us. And how does that happen? When we recognize our selfishness and we repent of it.
Right? Because without repenting of your own selfishness when you see it flare up, you're never gonna change. You're always gonna be a selfish person.
[Aaron] Which, repentance literally means to change your mind about. So, thinking you deserve something and therefore you're not gonna give something because if you're not getting what you deserve, why would you give what someone else doesn't deserve, right? And two scriptures come to mind when I think about this, a way of thinking about how to know when to give, to be selfless. I think of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others "as you would have them do unto you." And that's kind of a trigger, is any time I'm desiring something, it's probably a safe bet that the other person in my life, my wife, also is desiring something, right? And so, if I take that as a trigger, like, "Oh, I want, I'm trying, my flesh wants something "or my heart wants something." I can say, like, "Oh, I can go give this to my wife. "The thing that I want, I can give to her." But it's gonna be different, it may not be the exact thing I want, but. Let's say I want time to myself. It's probably possible that you want time to yourself. So, I can go be like, "Hey, "would you want to go out tonight?" Or, "Is there anyone you want to get together with?" Or, "Do you just need to go take a bath?"
Like, I can think that way. And so, I think of that loving your neighbor as yourself or doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, it's just thinking about the things that you want and then flipping it and saying, "How can I give the thing that I want to someone else?" The second verse that comes to mind is in Luke and it's about lending to people and it says this, it's Luke 6:34 through 36, it says, and this is Jesus talking: "And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, "what credit is that to you? "Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. "But love your enemies and do good and lend. "Expect nothing in return. "Your reward will be great "and you will be sons of the most high, "for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. "Be merciful even as your Father is merciful." And this is kind of not directly talking about selfishness but it's this idea of lending without this expectation. Like, give without saying, "I'm giving to you "only if I'm guaranteed you're gonna return it to me." That's true selflessness. So, that's what it's saying, is God's even kind to the ungrateful and evil, he's patient with them, let's the rain fall on them as well and gives them crops. That's what this idea's talking about. You know, so we should be merciful, so.
[Jennifer] You know, I was gonna ask you a question in conjunction to this question and that is: when people, when a couple, when they're not seeing eye-to-eye or there's disunity in the marriage, usually they don't want to serve each other, right, and so there's that that they're combating. And my question was gonna be: how do you do that, how do you serve each other, how do you love each other amidst that disunity? But I feel like you just answered it in that scripture.
[Aaron] Well, it's giving, so, and we always go back to this, I have this quote I say all the time: we can't let our obedience be contingent on our spouse's actions. Like, "Well, you're not loving me "the way I wanna be loved or deserve to be loved, "therefore I'm not gonna respect you." It doesn't work that way. The only person we have control over is ourselves. So, the only person we have to worry who's being obedient, yes, I'm concerned if my wife's being obedient to the Lord, but for me, the only person I can actually control, in the Spirit that God's given me, is myself. And so, even if my spouse isn't walking the way I want them to or doing what I want them to, I can still choose to walk in righteousness, I can still choose to walk in love and be graceful and merciful and patient and kind and loving, right, on my side.
That's really good. So, even when there is disunity, even when you're not seeing eye-to-eye on a specific thing in your marriage, you can still love unconditionally.
Cool. Okay, so let's move on to number two. "How do we live for God together? "My husband never really has been "to church or anything like that, so."
[Aaron] Okay, and again, this would go back to you have a wife that's not, doesn't go to church with you, isn't a believer, and the husband is a believer or vice versa in the situation.
[Jennifer] So, how do you live for God together when one person isn't already living for God?
[Aaron] Again, I go back to you can't control the other person. You can't make someone live for God that doesn't wanna live for God.
[Jennifer] Basically, this is a not seeing eye-to-eye on a spiritual level.
[Aaron] Yeah, on the greatest level, I would imagine. But you, the Bible gives instruction to the wife on how she can walk in a certain way that can totally spiritually influence her husband. You see that with the husband, the husband can walk a certain way that will influence his wife.
[Jennifer] Regardless, any person who is following Christ and Christ is living inside of them has an impact in this world.
[Aaron] And if your spouse, as the Bible says, is willing to stay with you, even if they don't love God, if they're not walking with God, and they're staying with you and you love God, think about the thousands and thousands of hours that that person who doesn't know God is gonna be around God because of you. Like, it's not like you walk up to a stranger on the street and they had a split second that you got to preach the gospel to them. Like, this person's living in the gospel daily. It's going have effect.
[Aaron] So, I would say there's no answer on how you can walk together with God if the other person doesn't want to, but you can walk with God for your spouse and in front of your spouse and toward your spouse.
[Jennifer] And I would say your greatest desire, before even living for God together, is: how can I get my spouse to live for God? And so, being prayerful for their salvation and being prayerful that they have a growing desire to serve God.
[Jennifer] That's a foundational thing that needs to happen.
One more note on this. So, me and you, we got married, and from the beginning, wanted to serve God together.
Right? Essentially, what this wife is desiring, for her and her husband, we were there. But even in the middle of two believers who love God, loved each other, and wanted to serve God together, we were often not on the same page spiritually, we were often at odds with each other in how we wanted to serve God, in our own sins. So, even in the midst of what you might be desiring, of that perfect, like, we're both chasing God together, you still have to walk in your own faith, uprightly, with God for your spouse because they're going to fail you at times, they're not going to be on the same page with you. And that's something that we experienced.
So, we were on the other spectrum of wanting to do it together but still felt chaotic sometimes.
[Jennifer] Yeah, and I would say, after all these years of continually growing in our personal relationship with God, that is what has brought us closer together and has driven that desire to continue to serve Him together. And so, I would say to live for God means that you know Him and so, a good starting place, well, we already talked prayer and praying for salvation, but, is knowing God, getting in His Word, going through resources like Husband After God or Wife After God.
[Aaron] Yeah, our marriage devotionals.
[Jennifer] Yeah, which you can get and maybe you'll start it and maybe your spouse won't. Maybe you'll be halfway through and it's still sitting untouched for your spouse. Maybe you'll be finished with it for months and finally they pick it up. I don't know how God orchestrates all of that, all I know is I've heard plenty of stories where a couple has the resource and they start going through it and it draws their hearts closer to God, so. And that's just one resource out of so many out there.
[Aaron] Okay, so question number three. We have a lotta questions, so we'll see if we can get through 'em. It says, "What are some tips for consistency "and communication within marriage to build intimacy? "i.e. You may not be in an agreement on a topic, "so how do you communicate through it?"
[Jennifer] Gosh, I wanna say don't go into it super inflamed and heated.
But that's the best way. You go in at a hundred.
No, but sometimes you just feel that intense about it and so, whatta you do, Aaron, when you have that intense of an emotion about a topic or about something that you need to navigate with your spouse?
I mean, practically, being quiet, starting with silence. I think of that scripture that says, "Be slow to speak and quick to listen and quick to hear." 'Cause often, to be honest, most of the communication issues in marriage is misunderstanding. Because you, as a emotional creatures, God's made you more emotional, you're gonna say something with emotional words and I'm gonna interpret that a hundred different ways and none of the ways I interpret it are how you feel, right? And men being logical creatures, and that doesn't mean women are illogical, it's just hearing something and it's not what you meant and it's not what you're saying and I'm hearing it a certain way and I'm putting it through my own filters and that's what happens, so. Being slower to just jump at the person and be like, "Oh, you said this and that hurt me." But actually hearing and listening and being slower to saying stuff because once the words leave our lips, they're gone and they're--
Yeah, but we're also held accountable to them, right? I think something that I've learned in our own marriage, Aaron, is the way that I can have self control in coming to you with my emotions and still be respectful but still communicate them to you and let you know, "Hey, when this happened, I felt this way." And so, I'm not yelling at you, I'm not out of control, I'm not making you feel little, I'm just explaining this is what happened and this is how it made me feel. And I think it's important for couples, like you said, to be slow to speak and quick to listen so that we hear each other. I think hearing each other is so important.
[Aaron] Yeah, and then, and we always bring this up, is: what is your intention? Is your intention to win, is it to defeat your spouse?
[Jennifer] Well, the goal should be unity, right?
Right. But that has to be a conscious decision, like, "Am I mad right now and I wanna destroy you "or do I actually want there to be peace?" And not just apathy, like, "I just don't wanna deal with it "so let's not talk about it anymore," but, "Am I fighting for something and it's chaotic "or is this something that I even need to be fighting about? "Is this even matter, what I'm frustrated about "or what we're miscommunicating about?" But recognizing that the whole purpose, at the end of it, is that we're unified, we're reconciled, we are one again, we're in intimacy, you know?
[Jennifer] Well, and intimacy means to be known. It's not just a physical intimacy, although that's how you're known physically, it means to be known. And the way that we make ourselves known is we are vulnerable, we are transparent, we are real. And so, we're not hiding anything, we're not keeping things from each other, but we're also not disrespectfully just throwing it all out there. There's this self control that comes with it and a safe place where we know we can communicate back and forth and that's what builds intimacy in marriage. That's what makes me feel known, that's what makes you feel known.
[Aaron] Yeah, so knowing your end result, which is, it should be humbleness, because God wants his people to be humble, and it should be reconciliation. So, that deals with 99% of our arguments from day to day. It's very rare that we're having arguments over real big things, it's always the little things. And then, what happens is you get all those little things, when the big things do come up, you're gonna be infinitely better at dealing with that with your spouse 'cause you know that you're on the same team.
[Jennifer] A good little side note tip would be to start out and use sentences with I instead of you. So, you're not pointing the finger here, you're actually opening your hand and saying, "I want you to know who I am."
[Aaron] Mm hm, yeah, that's good, that was a good tip. So, here's a good one. Everyone's gonna have some level of issue.
[Jennifer] What's the first thing that pops into your mind when we say this question?
[Aaron] How do you work through disagreements on hobbies? And the example that was given is motorcycles and it's probably very personal to that person.
But women have, this actually could be a wife's hobby. But any hobby at all, hobby's essentially the extracurricular, it's, "I have this passion "outside of my home or outside of my work or"--
[Jennifer] Which, I know you'll generally answer, but I just have to say, when I saw this question come through, I think there would be a disagreement on something like the example they gave, motorcycles--
[Jennifer] Because it's dangerous, right, and so, we also have to address that aspect of, maybe, what this question means, but why don't you kick it off?
[Aaron] I would, on the hobbies side of things, regardless of what the hobby is, because there's so many different levels of ability. There could be a wife that is into skydiving with their husband and most people would be like, "No way," but they're like, "No, this is totally fun." So, I'm not gonna just pick on any specific hobby 'cause that doesn't matter, for the most part. I'm sure there's hobbies that are absolutely like, "Well, that's sin, you shouldn't be doing that."
[Jennifer] And then there are safer ones, like quilting.
[Aaron] And then there could be totally benign ones that mean nothing and it's like, "Well, what's the big deal? "This is not a sin that I'm doing this." The questions should always be wrapped up in wisdom. Can you afford it? If your wife or your husband's not in agreement with it, that should be immediately a red flag because you're not in unity and it's not just a, "That person needs to change how they think about my hobby," because what if God put an insight or a discernment in your spouse? Because remember, you guys are on the same team, regardless of if you feel like you're in a team or not, and your spouse has a reason for having an issue with it. Now, that spouse, as you guys communicate about the hobby, humbly, it could, you could find out that the spouse just has, like your wife, has some sort of disposition from a childhood about the thing you're doing. So, it has nothing to do with anything else other than they just feel uncomfortable.
[Jennifer] But if that's the case, is it worth it to listen and hear?
[Aaron] But what I'm saying is they could, through the conversation, be like, "You know what? "I am being irrational and it's not that big of a deal." Or--
The point is that they're talking about it.
Yeah. Or it comes to this side of, "Well, "I just can't get behind it." And then at that point, are you gonna say, "Well, then get outta here 'cause I'm gonna keep doin' it"? And then essentially, you're choosing a hobby over your spouse.
Well, on the flip side to this, the spouse that's in disagreement with that spouse's hobby, what's your heart posture and reasoning? Because are you just against it because you don't like them spending time alone from you? Are you just against it because you don't like what they like? So, I feel like the biggest part of this question, and it's for both spouses in the marriage, is: what are the motivations of your heart?
On both sides.
And are you communicating that to each other?
[Aaron] Right, and usually, if you're defensive about something, if you're trying to defend and protect your hobby, that usually is rooted in something and you gotta immediately start asking yourself, "Why am I trying to protect this so much? "Why does this thing mean so much to me?" Because you could be using that hobby as a surrogate for your marriage. Like, "I get more fulfillment out of this thing "than I do out of my marriage or my kids."
[Jennifer] Like an escape or something, yeah.
[Aaron] And if that's the case, that's dangerous and that's called an idol. You should be careful with that. So, I think, any, there should be nothing in our life, not a single hobby should have any sort of weight against our family, against our ministry, against our marriage, against our responsibilities at our work, with our kids, none of that. Anything, it doesn't matter what the hobby is, it shouldn't be off the table for a negotiation. It should be something that you should humbly be willing to release, if necessary. And the necessity could be your wife or your husband just is like, "I don't like it." And to be honest, even if they're irrational, they are one with you. And if you're gonna just say, "I disagree with you, "you're irrational, I'm gonna keep doing it," you've just literally, how are you ever gonna be intimate, on any level, with a person that you said, "I don't care what you say, I'm doing it anyway"? You just can't. So, I would just put a warning in anyone's life, and this goes for the husbands and the wives, if there's anything in their life, a book club, a quilting club, a hobby of, like, you name it, everyone that's listening is probably thinking, "Oh, I have this hobby."
[Jennifer] "I know what my thing is," yeah.
[Aaron] And my job right now is not to say hobbies are bad 'cause you can totally have a healthy hobby, maybe it's something that you do with your family, maybe that it's something that you do by yourself, and you have total control over it and it doesn't get in the way of your responsibilities and your family totally feels taken care of and loved and that you're present--
[Jennifer] And they actually enjoy participating in it with you.
[Aaron] Yeah, there's lots of things. But at the same time, if you have any level of, "I'm not lettin' this thing go "and no one's gonna stop me," that's a wrong heart. And whatever that thing is that you're into has got some sorta hold of you that you need to deal with.
Yeah. So, I wanna share two things. One of them just kinda popped into my heart and I can't push it away for some reason and that is: if you, the individual, have some sort of hobby and you've been feeling convicted in your own heart because of timing, finances, lack of--
How often you're doin' it.
[Jennifer] Yeah, whatever the thing is, please please please please please don't push that feeling off and just wait for your spouse to come and share their disagreement with you about it. Be a mature, Christian person, yield to the Holy Spirit--
Who's speaking to you.
And say, "God, what are you trying to tell me "and how can I surrender this to you?" If that means give it up 100%, are you willing to do that? I just felt like I had to say that. The other thing is more personal, but I just wanted to share an encouragement. I didn't want it to all sound negative. But Aaron, you have been so good at, first, learning who I am, I don't wanna say studying me, but over time together, you know me pretty well and you know the things that fuel me, as a person, like writing and painting and crafting, and you encourage me in it. Now, there have been times in our marriage where we've been so strapped, it's like, "You can't spend that money on that, "you know, whatever that thing is." But there's also been, often, there's been times where you know that I've been going, going, going and you look at me and go, "I think you "just need to go to a coffee shop and write. "You just need to go do this thing with your girlfriends. "You just need to," and you're a supporter and an advocate for giving me space and time to be fueled by the things that interest me and I just had to say that because I think that, as a husband and wife, we have an incredible position and opportunity to support one another in the things that do fuel us, the things, the hobbies that we're interested in. And you've been really good at that, so I just wanted to say thank you but also use it as a testimony for those listening that they can be that way in marriage, it just requires communication.
Yeah. That was good, thank you, I wasn't expecting that. Okay, why don't you read question number five?
[Jennifer] How do you keep chasing dreams God's called you to when your spouse is in a totally negative place? So, I'm imagining this is a season, not just a day but not always like this, but they're just in a negative place and how are you supposed to keep moving forward with those dreams that you, maybe, were chasing together or were hoping to chase together?
[Aaron] This, it sounds more personal, it sounds like this person, whoever it is, feels like God's called them to something specific.
Oh, like individually.
Yeah. And they're spouse is in another place.
Either emotionally or mentally or maybe they hate their job and the other spouse is trying to pursue a ministry of some sort or--
[Aaron] The question itself tells me that the initial, the way the question's worded tells me that they're missing out on the first calling.
[Jennifer] Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
[Aaron] We have a responsibility, we're told to love our neighbor as ourself. And I always say, "Who's your closest neighbor?"
It's your spouse. And then your kids and then your actual neighbors and then your fellowship. And it's not like you neglect the others for the first, but you don't go out of order. I don't neglect my wife, when she needs me the most, to go serve someone else. That's out of order.
Well, and here's what I think about that, is: if, let's say it is individual and one of the spouses is pursuing ministry or whatever they feel God has called them to do or maybe it's that they had a specific calling as a couple and that person's in a negative place now and they're not doing that anymore. How effective would either one of them be in any of those situations if they're not unified in their marriage?
Not very effective at all. Well, and here's, this is actually the sad part, is they actually could be effective. But they're not effective where it counts. You know, we have children at home, we have our marriage to take care of, and it's not just to have a happy marriage, it's that we have a powerful marriage and that we, like, if I can't minister, we say this in our book Marriage After God quite a bit, actually, if I can't minister to my spouse, what right do I have to go and minister to someone else? I don't want to minister to you, you're in a negative place, but I'm gonna go try and minister other people that are in a negative place. There's something backwards with that. And I also understand that you could be, have already in this mode and you see God moving and God's using you and then your spouse, your husband, your wife, is going through something. And you're like, "Well, do I have to put everything "on hold because this thing's happening?" Yes.
Is it totally possible that God brought them to that place and then is asking them to postpone it or wait until--
Something else happens? That could be part of it, right, just as an encouragement.
[Aaron] Yeah, I'll get, I don't have the specific scripture on this, but Jesus, when Jesus talked to the Pharisees, you know, we all have a negative connotation of the Pharisees, right? But the Pharisees were God's people and they were the priests in line, they were the ones that were to teach the law to everyone, right? But Jesus, the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees was not just that they were Pharisees. The reason they get a bad rap is because of how they acted. They acted holy and they did the thing that they believed God was calling them to do without doing the things that they should have been doing.
[Jennifer] The very specific things that He--
[Aaron] Yeah, He gives this example and He says, "You take advantage of your parents. "You say, "The things that I would "give to you, I give to God instead."" And that's exactly, that's what this question sounds like to me. "God's calling me to this thing over here "but my spouse is holding me back." And I feel like Jesus would say the exact same thing to that person: "Okay, you wanna do what I want you to do, but you're "neglecting the thing I've already told you to do. "I've told you to honor your husband "or submit to your husband." Or, "I've told you to love your wife "as Christ loves the Church. "And yet, you don't wanna do that thing 'cause "they're holding you back from my call in your life? "My call in your life is that also." And so, in another place, Jesus tells to the Pharisees, he says, "You tithe your mint and your cumin "and yet you neglect the weightier things of the law." He says, "You should, the weightier things "are justice and love and mercy." And he says, "And you don't do those things when you "shoulda done those things and the other ones." So, I just go back to this idea of if there's something going on, let's say you have a spouse that gets injured and you no longer can go do the things that you usually do and the ministry that you had and now you have to focus on your spouse. Does that change that you're doing ministry? No. No, you just have changed your energies to a place that the energies need to be right now. If your spouse is in an emotional place, broken, they lost a family member, they're depressed, they're going through things, do you just leave them behind because they're getting in the way of the true ministry? No, if it says the good shepherd was willing to leave the 99 for the one, the one is your spouse. You don't, you leave the 99 that God can take care of because it's God and it's His sheep and His ministry, and you can minister to the one that God's given you. And minister and wash and take care of. And that should never be neglected. I just, we can't do that, I can't tell someone, "Yeah." Well, first of all, we like to use words like, "God told me to," and "God's shown me," and "God's given me" as if that's a trump card. "You can't tell me I'm not supposed to "do this thing because God called me to it." But you know what I can tell you? I know what the Word of God says and if you're not doing the things that the Word of God says, it doesn't matter what you believe, you're wrong. And I'm not trying to be harsh but I am trying to be harsh because many, many families have fallen apart because of this very thing. "No, I'm doing what God wants me to do "and you need to be left behind."
[Jennifer] They forsake what He said in His Word.
[Aaron] Yeah, and another quote in the book, I said--
In what book?
In Marriage After God, yeah. I said, "Don't sacrifice your marriage "on the altar of, quote unquote, ministry." Like, "Oh, I'm doing ministry over here, "so my wife has to deal with it. "She's not gonna ever see me, she has no idea if I love her. "She gets the last bits of my energies "rather than getting the best of my energies "and being the thing that energizes me to do more ministry." It's so much more fruitful to do it the other way than leave them behind. And I just, I think that's my answer.
[Jennifer] I think you've covered it really well. So well that I think we should move on to number six. Do you wanna read that one?
[Aaron] Yeah, it's about me. Do you, Jennifer, struggle with trusting me?
[Jennifer] Do I struggle with trusting you?
[Aaron] Specifically speaking about porn, how can you battle thoughts, like the--
[Jennifer] So, I just have to say, I feel like we need to record a whole 'nother episode on this topic altogether because--
[Aaron] We've already done one but--
We should probably do another one.
Well, I have received, really, lately, a lot of wives messaging me about this very topic, about trust and rebuilding trust after finding out that your spouse has sinned against you, sinned, especially with pornography, and so, that just needs to happen, but it's not gonna happen this season, so I'm just gonna have to plant that seed and say, "Stay tuned." But just to answer this question, up front, for you guys. I don't struggle to trust you anymore, Aaron.
[Jennifer] I think it's because we've worked so hard on building that trust back up and it absolutely takes time. And because, in the beginning, there were times that I did struggle with doubt and fear, especially times that I know you were left alone while I was out running an errand or something like that. And you know what it required is humility and communication. Because I had to be willing to say, "Hey, I'm thinking about you right now and I just, "I don't want you to fall into temptation. "Just be strong, I'll be back at this time." Or when I got back, I would ask you, "Hey, how've you been?" And the more times that we had encounters where you continued to stay pure, it built that trust up in my heart.
[Aaron] And then, specifically, along that journey, what did I do, anytime I did choose to get back into pornography?
You told me and you repented and you shared with me your own frustrations over the struggle of sin that you had, but you owned it and you were real with me and--
[Aaron] And no matter how little the offense was.
[Jennifer] No, and I knew that you struggled with shame and guilt and I knew it was hard for you to tell me. And you learned how to give me a place to respond when I was emotional over it because it makes, I mean, just thinking--
Without trying to control your response.
Yeah, 'cause it just, it made me broken knowing that those things took place and I felt a lotta things and I thought a lotta thoughts. But I would say that the humility of you coming to me or me coming to you and the reconciliation process was so important. And when I say reconciliation, I mean we talked about it. Even if it took two and a half hours, we talked about it. We prayed for each other and we tried to affirm each other that we were gonna move forward.
Right. And the, some of the, just the practical things is: first of all, it does take time and you should never expect your spouse to just flip a switch and be like, "Well, I'm gonna trust you again." 'Cause that's actually not even Biblical. It does take time to build trust. Now, forgiveness immediately is Biblical, but that doesn't mean immediately, "Oh, we're back to where we were." No, there's been broken trust and it takes time, it takes repetitive purity, right? And then, the other practical is: I made a commitment to tell you, to let you know. And here's the thing, is: the offenses, although they changed in size, relatively, the thing I did, I still confessed it to you and you were able to see the true repentance in me. And so, it's not like it was the same each time, it was less and less and less. But my continuing to come to you and say, "Hey, I made this choice. "Yeah, it was a split second, "but I chose it and I feel shameful about it "and I wanna repent to you because this is not who I am "and it's not who I wanna be and so, I need to tell you." 'Cause I've learned, through the Word of God and through experience, that the confession and repentance is one of the ways that God's given us to kill our flesh. My flesh hates it, it wants to hide in the darkness and keep its, it wants, my flesh wants to not be known because it feels icky and I don't wanna be seen for what I truly am. So, the being consistent and telling you the truth and not just waiting 'til you found out but actually coming forth and saying, "Hey, I made a bad choice." And calling it what it is, a choice, not minimizing it, not justifying it. Those kinds of things helped you trust that I was actually changing. And that I love you and that I don't wanna be that person and that I'm willing to tell you because I want you to know, for my sake, so that I can heal and change and repent and be repented of that sin.
[Jennifer] Yeah, I appreciate you sharing all of that and the second part of this question is: how can you battle those thoughts? And I just am thinking back to all of the stuff that I used to struggle with because the sin that you chose to partake in were like seeds planted in my mind and heart for the temptation to feel insecure or unloved and fall into those traps where your mind is just going wildly crazy with the worst kinds of thoughts about you and of our relationship. And I would say that being vulnerable with those and still being willing to be in an intimate place with you where I can say, "Because you did this, I feel this way," or, "I'm thinking these things," and revealing those types of thoughts to you helped me battle them. Because I gave you the opportunity to affirm me and say, "No no no no no, I know I chose that "and I'm so sorry, but that's not who you are. "You don't have to be insecure because of what I did." And there was this back and forth of understanding each other that I think was really valuable.
Right. And again, another thing that, for the spouse that has dealt with this and is dealing with it, the mistrust is a natural consequence for a sin.
Right? And so, we have to recognize that. And so, another thing that builds trust, from the offender's side, is, 'cause what happens is: I've confessed, we've dealt with that event, and then you are leaving somewhere and it's a time when you know I would, usually, in the past--
[Jennifer] You mean I flared up with anxiety inside my whole being?
Well, but, no, if you say something like, "Hey"--
"I wanna encourage you to stay pure while I'm gone." The not truly repentant person would say, "Babe, babe, we already dealt with that, you don't need to bring that up."
Oh, getting defensive--
Like, "C'mon, you don't trust me?" No, I should be totally humble and willing to be like, "You're right, thank you for reminding me "and be praying for me and I'm gonna let you know "if I feel tempted and I'm gonna call you and I'm gonna." Instead of being defensive and prideful, I'm gonna be humble and realize that it's totally natural for my wife to not trust me and she's gonna learn trust by how I receive her care for me in that moment. You reminding me, like, "Hey, don't go to that thing." Me receiving that is a trustworthy action, right?
Yeah. Another way that I battled thoughts of mistrust was I asked a lot of questions. So, if I ever felt uneasy about a situation or discerning. You know, maybe I woke up from a dream or something where it was like I couldn't shake it, I asked.
Or you just feel it. Like, "Hey, something's off."
Yeah, I asked you. I asked, "Have you been struggling?" And so, I think that when we recognize that we're battling thoughts, you can't just keep battling them, you can't just keep, you're just gonna be wrestling the whole time, right? And so, being able to open up and share with your spouse the types of thoughts that you're having and also go to God and say, "God, these are "the types of thoughts that I'm having," and finding scriptures that would help fight those thoughts for you and--
[Aaron] Well, and also be praying and asking God to transform your own heart, asking God to transform your spouse's heart.
To purify your marriage.
Yeah, to use you both for His work and for His kingdom.
[Jennifer] See, I told you that this was gonna be a big topic. I feel like we just--
There's a lot, there's a lot more, yeah.
[Jennifer] We need to be able to do another episode on that.
Yeah. All right, so the last question, it's kind of a bigger, blanket one. It'd be: What is your number one advice to couples who are currently struggling with this eye-to-eye thing? They're not on the same page, they feel at odds with each other.
[Jennifer] Well, I will say this: one of the most powerful, impactful, incredible ways that God got ahold of our hearts, Aaron, and made change and transformation in our lives and our marriage was entering into mature, Christian, Biblical community and being transparent with people who we allowed to speak into our lives and say--
"You're off base, bro."
But sometimes we didn't even see that we were off on that whole eye-to-eye thing and we got called out for it and so, like, bickering or whatever the thing was. And I just remember how, and even still to this day, it's been such a huge part of our testimony, is being in Biblical community and how being a part of the body, and I don't mean like a one day a week type thing, I mean immersed in it where you know you can text that person, call that person, meet them on the fly for dinner to gain wisdom, to ask advice, to cry about, to praise for, you know, all the things.
[Aaron] So, the bit of advice I would give that goes in align with being a community, and it kind of, it's, I talked about it quite a bit in this episode, is humbleness. And in Luke 14:11 , he says, "For everyone "who exalts himself will be humbled "and he who humbles himself will be exalted." And all through Proverbs, it talks about this idea of the humble will be lifted up and the haughty are God's opposed. To receive anything from community, you have to be humbled and willing to hear. Like, "Hey, I think you are being a bonehead, Aaron." Like, "Oh, you're right, I agree. "I didn't realize that, I need to change in that area, "I need to go apologize to my wife." So, that humbleness, and even outside of community, in your marriage, if you're in a difficult place, there's something miraculously, spiritually powerful about humbleness. All of these fights we get in, all of the eye-to-eye issues, it's all because they're not seeing our eyes, they're not on our page, which is pridefulness. When we could be like, "Maybe I need to be on their page."
[Jennifer] Or humility would point your spouse's eyes up to God and say, "No, look at Him."
[Jennifer] "Don't look at me in this, look at Him."
[Aaron] Or recognizing you're wrong or maybe don't know or don't have the answer or need to sit back and say, "You know what? "I'm just gonna, I'm gonna let you have this one because, "I mean, I know I've been wrong in the past anyways." It's not a false humility, it's true humbleness, recognizing who you serve, you serve God. And so, in community, which was the number one thing that we believe totally transformed our life, but it also took us, in community, being willing to listen and hear and receive, which takes humbleness.
And time, yeah. So, that would be my bit of advice, is: man, humbleness is gonna go infinitely farther than any level of selfishness or pride.
[Jennifer] So, the next time, it could be today, tomorrow, next week--
[Aaron] It's gonna be right after this episode, probably.
[Jennifer] If you are finding yourself in a place where you're not seeing eye-to-eye with your spouse, remember humility.
Remember to pray. Remember to go to God and say, "God, what is it that you want? "'Cause I don't want to get in "the way of what you're doing."
Yeah, "How can my response and actions "and attitude right now glorify you?" And that, man, it changes everything 'cause you're like, "Oh. "Yelling and throwing a dish at the wall "is not gonna glorify God right now." Or, "Telling my spouse that they don't know anything "or that they're wrong, those might not glorify God."
[Jennifer] Well, that wraps us up for this episode of having answered your guys' questions. Thank you again so much for being there and submitting those questions when we called out for them.
Yeah, appreciate it.
And, again, if you wanna participate in a Q&A episode, all you need to do is follow @marriageaftergod on Instagram and wait for the next time we poll for 'em. And then you can submit your question and we try and get through as many as we can with the time that we have. And if we ever do an episode where you're like, "I know my question would've fit in there," and maybe we didn't get to it, just message us and let us know. But we just love hearing from you guys and we love participating in this way where we get to kind of answer your questions or at least try.
[Aaron] So, as usual, we end every episode with prayer. So Jennifer, why don't you pray for us?
[Jennifer] Dear God, thank you so much for marriage. Thank you for our spouses and thank you for the opportunity that we get every day to walk this life with each other. We pray for humility to be a priority in our lives, that we would walk humbly before each other, that we would be motivated by how you're moving in our lives individually and in our marriages. God, we thank you for our marriages and we just pray for unity. We pray that, even in times where we don't see eye-to-eye or we have disagreements or there's conflict, that you would remain at the center of our marriage and that we can submit our hearts to you. God, we pray that we would be one with each other, that we would pursue oneness in our marriage and support each other in that way. And God, we pray that these situations that come up in marriage where we don't see eye-to-eye would be an opportunity where we can learn from each other, where we can grow to understand each other, where we can experience intimacy. No matter what, we pray that your will would be done and that you would be glorified. In Jesus' name, amen.
Amen. So, thanks for joining us on this week's episode. We love y'all, we thank you for being a part of the Marriage After God community. And we just wanna invite you, if you have not yet, would you leave us a review? We love your reviews, they help the podcast get reach, and new people find it because of your reviews. So, if you wanna leave us a star rating and a text review, we'd love that. See you next week. Did you enjoy today's show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you're interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.