Experiencing the Best Marriage for You and Your Spouse – Ted and Nancie Lowe

fun has always been a huge part of our
relationship I always say she married me for two reasons one because I’m brutally
handsome the two because I was funny so one of those is not true so I have to
keep the funny thing up and I got to keep that game down welcome to the focus
on the family broadcast helping families thrive they welcome ted Nancy to focus
on the family well thanks for having us now in the answer you’re not the
co-author here so I got to ask you is it as easy as Ted makes it out to be he did he did let me read it as he’s
going no but he did want to be authentic and I said yes this is true and this is
these are things we’ve really actually done yeah and it’s a good thing and I
love Ted what you’ve done here with that subtitle particularly marriage is easier
than you think we do tend to make it difficult why you know I think we’ve
been convinced that a group of PhDs which are great have the answers to
marriages somehow the average Joe and Sue have to extract those answers right
and I’ve had many friends their counselors and psychologists who say you
know we’ve just forgotten a lot of the basics like being kind and so then
working with married couples for a long time and worked at a church for 10 years
and we would have these events once a quarter and we would just talk about one
thing we don’t walk away with just one thing and so we would always do that out
of God’s Word and the whole night would be based on that and I kept hearing
myself say over and over this may not be easy necessarily to live out but it is
easy to understand you know why would God make the gospel you know really
really complicated and make marriage complicated God’s made the gospel clear
and how we love each other is clear being kind is just it’s the self-control
and dying to self because sometimes I don’t want to be kind and I don’t want
to blow that off eyed I want to say something snarky but I don’t because I’m
just trying to be kind but there is you have to make that choice it is and how
have we found the the tool to be able to do that speak
to the wife because listening doesn’t mean practically when you’re upset your
husband and something is irritating you and he’s not aware of it and that makes
you even more upset and should know my goodness why doesn’t you know that
irritates me and what do you do as a mechanism to back up and say okay I’m
not gonna let my flesh have the victory here I’m gonna do what the Lord would
want me to do I think before we just used to let it go and it would get ugly
and I I think we just got tired of that to go why it just gets so gross and ugly
why are we treating each other like yes why that’s why we let it escalate to
that where it is just yuck and so I think I think we made micro moves back I
don’t think it was just some big revelation one day of being a little
kinder a little more gentle with our words and then just watching how we
responded to each other and it’s just evolved into I think a general sweetness
and kindness most days yeah and that’s somewhat trained for the benefit of the
listener let’s roll the clock back let’s talk about how you met and how you got
married and kind of that background because many people will connect with
your story because you’re your if I say this in the most complimentary way
typical you fell in love you were attracted to each other talk about those
days and then getting married and looking the other way with these things
and then eventually the irritations pile up yeah so we dated for like six weeks
right and decided we were gonna get married and then I moved across the
country we were living in Alabama at the time I moved to California and so we
don’t tell singles our story a lot because we don’t want them to emulate
that you need to decide to get married after six weeks God works in mysterious
ways certainly does and we thought we were the special couple that we were
gonna have no issues whatsoever we kind of feel sorry for everybody else because
they didn’t have what we had we had some older couples going you need to watch
out for this this could be a problem we’re late mm-hmm
I feel sorry for them that’s never gonna happen right and then we got married and
Wow but we look back and we felt like we
were having like these great moments of Awesome mixed with these moments of
awful and I couldn’t just I couldn’t figure out how those two things worked
out because we would have some great moments oh absolutely loved hanging out
we’re really close to the beach it was great but then we had all these moments
we’re awful we’d get any silly fights that you know I always say silly fights
can cause serious damage right and so we were like nisa we just let it go and but
let it go not like hey we’re not gonna talk about it like let it go we’re just
gonna say what we want to say and so I think what we’ve learned is is to pull
that back but we learned kind of the hard way God put some great couples in
her life to kind of show us the way we always say we don’t have an excuse to
have a bad marriage because we’ve always been surrounded by great people doing
marriage doing marriage well it’s so God allowed us to be exposed to some great
stuff it changed us yeah Ted in that context though you could be surrounded
by great people but you don’t listen to them absolutely so how do you keep your
heart open to those great words of wisdom when people say hey watch out you
know the thing that was amazing to me is we had been married about four years and
we started traveling with a big ministry that was doing events in arenas and so
they had every marriage guru in the country up on stage and here we are
fighting in the green room a good time I mean if you could see a video of us in
the beginning to now and we’re not perfect but I would wish our marriage on
anybody know because we’re perfect but because we thought we’ve come so far
we’ve just learned some pretty basic things right that changed everything so
that’s what we’re passionate about it’s going okay because people feel so
flooded when their marriage is in trouble
right they feel so flooded and they feel so confused they feel like it’s so
complex and a lot of times just these small simple things can make a huge
difference now Ted mentioned being you know at a
speaking event and you’re fighting in the green room that would be one of
those graphs moments that it kind of ugly and then we had to go on stage and
be funny and charming like we liked each other we weren’t
speaking about mirrors we were doing scenes of conflict which we were great
real because they weren’t so much acted as reality I think I think people
connect with that I mean one of the difficulties we have particularly in
Christian leadership is there’s other people on the stage may have been going
through the very same things you were going but they hit it better so why do
we do that especially as Christians why do we try to project perfection when
brokenness is what draws people to the cross I remember one time when Ted was
speaking and when he was working at the church and one of these marriage events
and we’ve always I don’t even know if we had a discussion about it but he’s
always been transparent and we always have about just struggles and all and I
remember someone came up to me after it and was like I can’t believe you let him
tell stuff like that and I’ve never heard that why wouldn’t I I mean like
what it what’s the benefit to me or to anybody else for us to hold our our
negative stories to ourselves I mean it it serves no purpose I feel like
especially if you can have you can learn from them and others around you learn
from them I think that’s the context in which they share in the book your best
us you mentioned these areas of conflict in your early marriage you tended to
lean on humor did the humor cover things up or was it an important part of making
it better I think I don’t think we use humor to cover up I think we used humor
to rescue ourselves sometimes it’s a good thing yeah it was kind of repair
Tim’s jobs and so we would start laughing I would make fun of the LAT
last fight fun has always been a huge part of our relationship
I always say she married me for two reasons one because I’m brutally
handsome and two because I was funny so one of those is not true so I have to
keep the funny thing up and I got to keep that going oh and he still tells
stories that he’s told he still makes you laugh
well since we were first married and I’ll go oh please tell that again how
critical is that to have humor in your relationships I think it’s huge I think
it’s huge it’s it’s the joy it’s what we had when
we were dating that’s what drew us together I mean no one says when they’re
dating Oh dad I just met the most amazing girl and she’s completely
passive aggressive I can’t wait to get together to work that out you know they
got together because they loved being together and having fun so just to
continue that because sometimes couples stop that and so I just I think it’s
huge it’s what brings joy into the day because you keep it light yeah
what about in terms of temperament and wiring you know what if – and forgive me
engineers have senses of humor I get that but just for illustration sake what
if two engineers are married and there’s just not a lot of expressive humor in
that relationship well the reason we call the book your best us it’s because
I feel like a lot of times as Christian leaders will paint this picture perfect
pedestal couple right and we want everybody to aspire to be like that and
I think that’s way more creative than that I think he’s painting different
stories every marriage is completely unique and so we encourage couples don’t
be a version of someone else just be your best us that’s where they came from
you engineers may have engineering humor like for them that’s funny to them it
doesn’t have to be funny to anybody else but the two of them but I think the
thing is what are you doing to keep joy in your relationship what are you doing
to keep it light are you smiling at each other like what what are those things
you know we can take things so so seriously we think we have first world
problems a lot yeah you know we talk about all these things being so
difficult we’re like oh wait a minute that was total first world problem and
then we’ll laughing it’s key how do we how do we in our marriages how do we
stay away from the complaining trap like that first world problems you know and
you’re just complaining to one another sometimes about each other other times
about your circumstances I think that phrase for us has been the thing that
phrase has stopped us in our tracks many times it’s been more helpful for us
probably in the complaining space than anything because it sounds so silly
coming out your mouth when you and if you ever travel outside the country you
try to keep those memories in your mind to go don’t say that I’m frustrated
because the wireless doesn’t work in the far end of our house right that’s that’s
crazy yeah what are those triggers for you give us an example in your marriage
of complaining nothing to having teenagers makes you maybe makes you
aware of when they complain of how silly things sound because and it just we say
this a lot since we were 17 well even since we got since we’ve been married I
mean I just think back back in those early years I’ve just not being grown-up
yet and then maybe it didn’t hit till 40 but like to go we’ve grown up and just
what’s important what is that silly to complain about it sure is maybe when we
first married we would have complained about it or got our feelings hurt or
made a big deal about it but that’s a line we use a lot alright let’s get to
it you develop four key habits for couples who want to experience a strong
and healthy marriage everybody just went okay what are they you get they got
their pin and pin your repaper down they’re ready to go all right number one
serious fun and we have definitely touched on that the importance of humor
love God first I think fundamentally this is it and sometimes our experiences
become wax our our habits become wax praying together reading together it’s
true for Jane and me sometimes we just go through seasons where we’re busy it’s
a terrible excuse but speak to that issue of keeping God first and how do
you do that one of the things I think is a little bit of a paradigm shift in
terms of what we’ve been teaching churches and leaders and couples is a
lot of times people see their faith is impacted with only the two of them are
praying together doing devotionals together for us we feel like if you can
along with God by yourself if you become the best version of who God wants you to
be by yourself that you’re God makes us a spouse we can never be on around you
know what did Jesus say you know the love the lord your
with all your heart soul body and mind then love others and I think there’s
something to be said about the order of those two things that when I am filled
up with you God wants me to be I’m I’m a spouse that I could never be before I
mean the Freeth of the Spirit describe a pretty great spouse and so we feel like
a lot of times couples are trying to get all these relational needs met from each
other you know and what a lot of us are living in communities of two and so
we’re trying to get all these needs met by you know what people used to get met
in a village but also only the needs that God can meet you know there’s a
classic movie Jerry Maguire where he says you complete me and I think a lot
of people think that that’s what marriage is supposed to be and I think
God didn’t never design or supposed to complete us he wants to complete us and
that won’t fully happen till heaven yeah and it’s well said Nancy from a
woman’s perspective though those those needs are there they’re real the
emotional needs and a lot of husbands struggle meeting those how do you set
your expectations in such a way that Ted can actually meet those expectations
that you have for and you know speak again to a woman’s heart we laugh at our
house I am I have far fewer words than Ted does at home we he’s more the talker
but I think I’ve seen this shift of him of just being careful with my heart hmm
that that we were talking this morning before we came and he that has just been
the shift what does it look like for you what I think the way he responds to me
even when I’m doing something that I’m sure is quite frustrating even the way
his facial expressions there’s not a roll of the eye there’s not a there’s
not a shake in the head how do you fight that desire to win to be right whatever
it might be when you could give a little smug look that proves your point
I mean it’s so human to do that how do you how do you overcome that yeah so I
grew up in a very demonstrative family and so people wake they
loved each other hard but they are also fight hard and so it was just everything
was pretty dramatic and there was lots of expressions and I’ve watched how
tender her heart is she is very very sensitive her mother talks about the
fact that she is very very sensitive so I know that look that she’s just that
little girl grown up and I have to be so careful with her how do I fight it I
think it’s back to spending time with God I think it’s back you know having
the Holy Spirit do things that I can’t do out of my flesh because my flesh
wants to roll my eyes my flesh goes I’m right she’s wrong right and the Spirit
of God in me says you be careful with her heart because I have entrusted you
to her and we have been through some really hard things where she has just
served me so well we’ve become closer than I ever dreamed that we could be
right and how can I not be careful you know the Bible doesn’t have a lot of
verses on marriage but one of us two men is you know do not be harsh with your
wife and she said to me before she goes I don’t like it when you use your work
voice don’t come home with work voice and so I’ve had I’ve had to learn you
know drop that at the door and I’ve heard a man say one time his wife said I
want you to talk to me like a woman and not a man and so I think it’s just those
simple things to go and this is one we’re passion about what we do you can
choose not to be harsh any longer with your wife well you can have those
moments absolutely go and apologize saying I’m working on it but people can
choose how they treat each other and that’s the thing because I just get so
frustrated I can’t help from getting mad but yet they have great control at work
great control with perfect strangers I’m convinced me a marriage that’s in
trouble right now if they would treat each other as well as they do their
co-workers with that amount of respect the way they listen consideration that
their marriage would do a 180 and you’re touching on that very next thing which
is that love and respect component which we’ve done a lot of broadcasts on but I
mean that that’s true a woman needs to feel loved and generally and and that
man needs to feel respected and your you’re illustrating that what about the
power of the wedding vows I mean these are things we say and often
unfortunately we forget that commitment that we made before the Lord right why
are the wedding vows and remembering them such a critical thing you Solomon
reminds us about you be intoxicated by the wife or your youth we’ve heard that
to go wait a minute you made a promise to this young lady we married when she
was 23 and I was 25 so we were we feel like now while we were kids but I still
promised her in front of her family in front of her friends that that they
could trust me with her forever and not you know so many people say we’ve just
changed of course you of course you have I hope you have in this many years but
for us we say marriage is not about the big day it’s about the everyday mmm in
this country last year we spent seventy two billion dollars in wedding
ceremonies and I’ve been one year in one year that average is thirty thousand
dollars per ceremony and I broke the internet because I can’t find one stat
on what people actually spend on their marriage and so we say it’s not about
the big day it’s about the every day it’s about what we call micro moves that
marriage aren’t made up of the grand gestures they’re not made up of great
vacations if that were the case you know celebrities would have incredible
marriages they’re about these little moments these micro moments and we say
the combined total of micro moves equals the condition of your marriage I like
that it’s so true and that’s a good thing for us as married couples to
remember and for those that hope to be married someday these are the right
things to concentrate on Ted it seems that love and respect is one of the most
difficult attributes to get down because we fight so often in an ungodly way or
we discuss things in an ungodly way let’s put it that way if you don’t fight
what is perhaps one of the greatest lessons we can learn in this area of
love and respect right for us we’ve created an exercise along with people
way smarter than us about to discover what are we really fighting about
because you’re really not fighting about you know that that he got home ten
minutes late you’re really not fighting about the role of the eye you’re you’re
you’re talking about something deeper you’re talking about wounds you’re
talking about things that trigger each other and so one of the things that
we’ve seen with the book that’s been the most helpful is this how do we take this
cycle of love and respect when we’re doing it wrong and start doing it right
and really just that starts with discovering here’s what I’m really
winded here’s where our spouse is really wounded and here’s a different way to
respond and that for us has been massive right and that’s the feeling Nancy
you’re saying that Ted really cherishes or guards your heart yes response and I
think it was just an yes and understanding to go
why is she sensitive why is she why is she responding that way when I yeah
didn’t really say anything yeah because their negative response is mine would be
to get defensive and hurt would be to withdraw so the more she would withdraw
the more defensive that I would get and in being defensive I was communicating
to her that she didn’t measure up and by her withdrawing she was saying to me
that I was defective that was our woundedness huh because it’s deeper than
that we brought those wounds into marriage and we were that for us was so
huge that I know that when I get defensive one I’m never going to win by
getting defensive I’m never gonna win a fight by trying to win but that’s when I
protect her heart just to go stop just stop talking dead but in that regard
Nancy you had to learn I would think so don’t let me fill in the blanks you fill
him in but you had to understand that and somehow had to communicate that you
had to understand that so you wouldn’t in some ways verbally attack him so he
would become defensive right and start the cycle right we were trapped in the
car actually these would I like to say that I am NOT a marriage expert I’m a
marriage guinea pig and so this was we were I was driving we were trapped in
the car and he’s like I got some questions for you and that’s how it
usually starts and so he launches and he’s asking questions and it evolved
into this of where’s the woundedness and it was a calm moment if we’d have been
in a fight it would have been horrible but in that calm moment of nothing’s on
the table we’re just talking no energy no it was just flat it was easy
to talk about and then the next time there was a fight it played into my head
of going oh when we were in that calm moment this is what we were talking
about this is and now I’m I’m feeling it now I’m feeling it living out now what
are you gonna do well I get so relate to that because some things out of your
control you can’t be responsible for I’m thinking of kids kids again in that
marriage discussion when kids are doing things you don’t want to do and the
spouse is saying hey how come you didn’t do this to prevent that behavior you’re
going I don’t think me doing that would have prevented that behavior because
he’s his own person sure and he’s responsible to God for that behavior and
I’m his dad but you know I can’t own him and you understand that a few times
absolutely and I think that defensiveness it does come up because
you don’t know what to do and for men particularly when we can’t fix it we’re
in trouble because now we feel inadequate we feel
like we’re not up to the task and we’re in trouble that’s another phrase that it
saved a million fights as our house as I would say to her you want me to fix this
or fill this and every woman listening right now it’s just gone oh we know the
answer it’s filled this which to a man makes zero sense time right but for her
it makes perfect perfect sense tell me to fix this or fill this probably 95% of
the time she’ll say you know fill this or what I’m just gonna have to respect
what does that mean to fill it I think it’s to be there to listen to say I’m
sorry and that you know even I have to constantly constantly fight the
inclination to fix it I mean I am sitting me the three point fix-it plan
I don’t I don’t save you I think that’s the good heart of him man is he really
does want to rescue and save his wife and and go there and so I have to fight
it the whole time internal dialogue for me is like don’t say what you want to
say I’m so sorry which to a man makes no sense this is basic marital advice and
you’ve done a great job in your book your best us
and Nancy I think you’ve provided great color commentary here thank you as the
mini-pig of marriage not the expert yes it’s so refreshing that both of you talk
so openly about where you were at where you’ve come from and the lessons that
you’ve learned hey I’m John fuller and thanks for watching
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