Answers to Your Questions

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In today’s episode on the Marriage After God Podcast, Jennifer and I took the time to answer your questions. A question we received stirred up what we feel is a good reminder for us all as we give thanks during this Holiday season. “Keeping your faith in the hard times will produce a hopeful mindset.” Aaron Smith


Our faith is important to us no matter the season and it’s easy to praise God when life is great. However, we can quickly forget to praise God when things aren’t going great. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” James 1:2.

With this episode comes our sign off for the year and we hope to return sometime in January or February. Thank you so much for listening! Jennifer and I are incredibly grateful for your support and had fun answering your questions. We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

 

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Aaron:
Hey we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.

Jennifer:
Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

Aaron:
Today, we’re going to answer some questions from the community.
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:
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:
Love-

Jennifer:
And power-

Aaron:
That can only be found by chasing after God.

Jennifer:
Together.

Aaron:
Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God’s will for our life together.

Jennifer:
This is marriage after God.

Aaron:
Thanks for joining us Marriage after God family. We’re so excited about this episode. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We just want to invite you, if you haven’t done so already, to leave us a star rating and review. Wherever you’re listening, would you just find where to leave the review and click a star, and also leave us a text review. We love reading those. It also helps other people find the podcast. All the podcast apps use different algorithms and it’s based on how many downloads and how many reviews you get. So, that would really help us.

Jennifer:
Another thing we’re really excited to share with you is that Aaron and I love giving you guys free stuff, and we created a free download, something super easy for you to get. Just go to marriageprayerchallenge.com and you can sign up for the marriage prayer challenge, which is really cool. If you feel like you need inspiration in your prayer life, especially before marriage, this is just a great resource and tool that we created for you.

Aaron:
Yeah, there’s thousands of couples that have already signed up for this prayer challenge, and what you’ll get is you’ll get 31 emails over the next 31 days, giving you prayer prompts every single day to remind you to pray and to encourage you what to pray for, for your spouse. It’s really fun and we desire to give you encouragement in your prayer life because we believe that praying marriages are powerful marriages. So go get that. It’s marriageprayerchallenge.com. It’s completely free. Also, there’s another free download that we had I just want to let you know about. We don’t talk about it as much, but it’s called date night conversations. It’s 52 date night conversations that you can go on your dates over the next year, and you pick one of the questions, and you discuss it over your date night.

Jennifer:
Or all 52. That’d be a long date.

Aaron:
That’d be a long … hey, that might be an awesome date night. But the idea is that you would have a new topic to dig into to go deeper into your life and your future, and what God’s doing in your marriage and what He wants to use you for. So we created that. Just go to datenightconversations.com. It’s a completely free download. Go check that out today as well.

Jennifer:
Yep, again, we just made these for you guys. So if you have heard us talk about them in the past and you just haven’t got around to going to get them, go do that today.

Aaron:
All right, so this is just a fun episode on some questions that we received from the community.

Jennifer:
Yeah, I posted it to Instagram and we got a lot.

Aaron:
We got so many. They’re really great, and the goal was we just would go through some of them and answer them to the best of our ability. Some of them are personal, some of them are spiritual, but it’d be fun. Our idea would be, we love this, if you love this, we might do this once a month.

Jennifer:
Yeah, that’d be fun.

Aaron:
So, if you’re interested in asking us a question, make sure you’re following us on Instagram. You can either follow us at Marriage After God. Or @unveiled wife, which is my wife’s page, or @husband revolution, which is mine. Be on the look out for a story where we ask you to leave us a question.

Jennifer:
What I really love about this concept of doing a whole podcast dedicated to your guys’ questions is we know for sure we’ll be tackling topics that you’re interested in, but they may be topics that don’t necessarily need a full episode dedicated to it, so we can quickly answer it.

Aaron:
True.

Jennifer:
We’re just really excited about this idea, and so we’re going to do this today. If you guys are excited about it, share that with us. If you like the way that this has turned out, share it with us so that we know, and I’m really looking forward to doing this.

Aaron:
If there’s any specific question, an answer that you really love and would like an expanded episode on, let us know. Send us a message through @support@marriageafterGod.com or send us a message on Instagram. We’re active on Instagram.

Jennifer:
Okay, so something big is happening this week.

Aaron:
Well, tomorrow is a special day of thanks I think.

Jennifer:
Yeah, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I love Thanksgiving. I just love the-

Aaron:
Why do you love Thanksgiving.

Jennifer:
Well, I love the food. I really do. I love getting together with family and just celebrating specifically what we’re thankful for.

Aaron:
I would say this. Here’s a bonus answer to a question that no one asked. What’s something that me and you love? It’s food. We love food. So holidays … when we think of … When I think of Thanksgiving, I’m thinking oh man yams, turkey. I’m thinking of all these good things. So, in light of our love of food, what thing are you looking forward to the most on the table?

Jennifer:
That’s a good question. That’s a hard question on Thanksgiving because there’s so many good things.

Aaron:
Okay, put it in order of favorites.

Jennifer:
Well, I definitely love pumpkin pie.

Aaron:
You can have that first. It’s Thanksgiving. Why not? Start with pumpkin pie, work your way to the proteins.

Jennifer:
I know a lot of people like ham. I know, Aaron, you’re smoking a ham this year.

Aaron:
No, turkey, smoking a turkey.

Jennifer:
I’m sorry. I was going to say-

Aaron:
I do love ham though.

Jennifer:
I was going to say, so many people love turkey. Aaron’s smoking a turkey this year, but I prefer ham.

Aaron:
It’s true. I should smoke a ham one year.

Jennifer:
That’d be good.

Aaron:
But everyone wanted turkey, so we’re doing a turkey. I did one last year and it was incredible.

Jennifer:
And it’s just so traditional.

Aaron:
Yeah, so I’m going to smoke a turkey again this year. I’m excited about that.

Jennifer:
So what’s your favorite item going to be on the table?

Aaron:
I’ve always loved yams. It’s like my favorite Thanksgiving thing forever, and you make an incredible yam dish. We’ve mixed recipes over the years, and we’ve ended up on one that we just love. It’s got pineapple and all this delicious stuff in it. It’s very sweet. It’s almost like dessert. But there’s another variation. I don’t know if we’re going to do both of them where we put ginger snaps on top.

Jennifer:
I did buy a small box of ginger snaps just for you to have a little corning.

Aaron:
Oh man. I could eat a whole tray.

Jennifer:
I don’t like ginger snaps though. It’s not as good to me. But I start at dessert. Maybe I shouldn’t have started there, but one of my favorite things, and I feel like I’m really good at making it, is my mom’s recipe, but it’s stuffing.

Aaron:
You do make good stuffing.

Jennifer:
Stuffing is really good. I put bacon and sausage and all kinds of stuff in there.

Aaron:
You put everything in it. We should wrap it up in a burrito this year.

Jennifer:
What?

Aaron:
I don’t know. That sounds good.

Jennifer:
That sounds gross.

Aaron:
Bacon sausage stuffing.

Jennifer:
Anyways, we know that you guys are probably looking forward to Thanksgiving. Hopefully you are.

Aaron:
Yeah.

Jennifer:
That is just going to be a sweet time with friends and family.

Aaron:
I don’t think we should move on until I ask you and you ask me what are you thankful for?

Jennifer:
That’s a really good question. That’s a big question, because there’s so much to be thankful for.

Aaron:
These are bonus answers.

Jennifer:
I’ve been super thankful lately just for my family, you and the kids, and our health. There’s been several families in our life and people that I follow that are just going through a really hard season of health issues, and it really breaks my heart. But they’re going through it with such faith. Being able to still lean on God and trust in God, which is a huge testimony and brings glory to Him, but it makes me super grateful for our family and just for the health that we’ve experienced.

Aaron:
That’s a good one. I’ve been really thankful for our church community.

Jennifer:
You have been really thankful. I feel like every Sunday, you look at me and you’re just like, this is so cool.

Aaron:
Yeah, we’ve started this new church now a few months ago-

Jennifer:
Like seven.

Aaron:
Seven months ago. Not a few months ago, a while ago. The families that we’re involved with and everyone’s heard to grow and to be used and to encouraged, and to be biblical. It’s been really cool seeing the Holy Spirit work in other people so much and just everyone being on the same page. It’s just awesome.

Jennifer:
Even when you’re in a tight knit community like this and the Holy Spirit is working in someone else’s life, you get the impact of that because it overflows, doesn’t it?

Aaron:
Well, what’s the fruit on the tree for? It’s for others to eat. So we’ve been experiencing just tons of fruit in people’s lives and it’s just so sweet and good. It’s been exciting. It’s made me excited about what’s next in life an in church, and what GOd’s doing. That’s what I’m thankful for.

Jennifer:
Cool.

Aaron:
Of course other things. So we have 10 questions we’re going to get through. Why don’t we-

Jennifer:
These are questions from the community.

Aaron:
Yeah, I’m not going to say who said the questions.

Jennifer:
That’s okay.

Aaron:
But these are questions directly from people in the community. So the first one is what has challenged you most about doing ministry together?

Jennifer:
This is a good question. Well, according to our book Marriage After God, our marriage is a ministry. So are they talking about the moment we said I do?

Aaron:
I think they’re talking about our online, our writing, those things.

Jennifer:
Everything we do together. I’d say, for me, it goes down to communication. So there’s certain ways that I like to communicate, and you’re different than me. I’ve noticed this especially through the podcast, just that you say things differently. Sometimes I-

Aaron:
We have to start over. You’re like, Aaron, why did you say it like that. You threw me off.

Jennifer:
Other times, I just cringe and let it go, and I trust you and the way that you lead us. But I would say just our differences in personality, our differences in the way that we say things, and being able to share it on the same platform has been really interesting to me.

Aaron:
One of these days, we should just do a completely unedited episode.

Jennifer:
No, I don’t think they would appreciate that as much.

Aaron:
Then they can hear the real behind the scenes. No, I think that’s a big thing is communication because we do have different ways of working and being. Sometimes we even have different visions. Not to say that we’re not on the same page, but the way I would do something in general, you might want to do it differently.

Jennifer:
Even just co writing our books. I would want to say something a specific way, and you’d start out the chapter a certain way. So that vision you’re talking about, you have one direction and I have another. So being able to submit and yield our hearts to God and saying, God what do you want in this, that’s the only way we’ve been able to really bring our ideas and bring our vision, and bring it into unity together.

Aaron:
It’s also been cool to-

Jennifer:
Experience that.

Aaron:
Experience that and pursue that because where I’m weak you have strengths, and where you’re weak I have strengths. This is why we wrote the book Marriage After God. If you haven’t’ got a copy, plug, go get one today on Amazon.

Jennifer:
Right now.

Aaron:
Yeah, especially in our writing styles, I would write a certain way and then you’d go back through. I don’t write so many stories or intimate details, and you’d go back through and lace in the story that needed to be there. It actually filled it out really well, so that was fun.

Jennifer:
Teamwork.

Aaron:
Yeah, teamwork.

Jennifer:
The other thing that comes to mind about being challenged and doing ministry together is recognizing that, even though we’re walking on this journey and submitting our lives to God, and really desiring to glorify Him in everything that we do, and then realizing that we still have shortcomings and sin in our own life that hinders us at times, and then we have to wrestle with that. When we know we have to do a podcast and record it, or we know we have a book to write, and there’s conflict between us, or we disagree on something when it comes to parenting. That is so frustrating to me. That’s one of my biggest challenges is, oh now we have to go minister to others. This is so hard, but it’s also so good and refining because it challenges us in a way that gets us to the place where we need to be.

Aaron:
I would say the other thing that has been really challenging is … because you made a joke about our marriage being our ministry. Yes, we’re in a marriage ministry and that’s kind of the focus of the things we talk about online and the books we write, but we’re also married.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
And we had this issue early on of getting so involved and focused on the outward ministry and forgetting the inward ministry.

Jennifer:
Right.

Aaron:
So that balance of, well this feels like it might be getting in the way currently, and we need to take a step back, or we need to adjust. So I feel like that balance of doing this ministry that other people see and making sure that internally our ministry to each other and to our children is just as strong, if not stronger, than what we’re doing outwardly.

Jennifer:
Yep. Cool. Okay, so when should I finally change my last name? This is a funny question to me because I don’t know if everyone knows this or not. I was a Smith before I married you, Aaron Smith.

Aaron:
Yeah, I was a Smith and you were a Smith.

Jennifer:
Which made me really happy because I like the last name Smith. It was really easy to write.

Aaron:
Well, you wanted to keep it, which was awesome.

Jennifer:
I did.

Aaron:
That was actually a prayer of yours before we even met.

Jennifer:
Yeah, it was.

Aaron:
You were like, I want to keep my last name, and you got to.

Jennifer:
Yeah. So I didn’t have to jump through hoops to change anything, but I’m assuming that whoever is asking this question maybe just got married or has been married for a little bit and they’re wondering when should I do this.

Aaron:
Yeah, I’m not saying it’s going to be sinful if you don’t run and go change it right away, but if there’s a heart issue of you don’t want to change your name, you don’t want to take your husband’s name or your wife … I guess you wouldn’t’ take your wife’s name. If you don’t want to take your husband’s name, I would just check that heart issue and say, Lord, why am I holding on to this.

Jennifer:
We don’t know all the reasons why some people don’t.

Aaron:
I have no clue.

Jennifer:
We’re just saying, if you are asking this question and you have a desire to change your last name, just do it.

Aaron:
Yeah. For your husband’s sake, it just shows him that you want to be one with him. No, I’m fine with taking your name because we’re one.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
That’s super honoring to your husband.

Jennifer:
If you feel … if you’re kind of stuck on it just seems too hard or there’s too many things I’ve got to go fill out and do, hey-

Aaron:
The actual logistics of it.

Jennifer:
You can do hard things.

Aaron:
That’s what we tell our kids. You can do hard things.

Jennifer:
Go do it.

Aaron:
Yeah, question three. How distant are we allowed to be to in-laws when they are controlling?

Jennifer:
Okay, so I just want to share, first of all, that it’s so important in marriage to be communicating your feelings, in a respectful way, with your spouse about in-laws. I wouldn’t hold back things that you’re dealing with, things that you’re wrestling with, ways that you feel.

Aaron:
Again, in a respectful way.

Jennifer:
Yeah, when it comes to your family. Even though they’re your in-laws, they are your family, so be talking to one another about that.

Aaron:
I would also say I feel like sometimes there’s a cultural way of thinking, any culture, of they’re family, therefor they have unlimited access, because you would never push away family. Family, they’re special. They get this extra closeness. They get privileges that others don’t, which is true in a sense. But you’ve got to remember, when you get married, you’ve started a new family. The Bible tells men specifically to leave and cleave to their wife, to leave their home, they’re family, to cleave to their wife. You’ve created a new family unit. That doesn’t mean you just shun all your family, but if there are in-laws that are overstepping their boundaries and are acting in a way that is getting in between you and your spouse, that’s just not okay.

So the question is how distant are we allowed to be. You’re allowed to be as distant as you need to be to get the boundary across to your in-laws. Sometimes it just takes having a hard conversation right away. What you’re doing is not appropriate, and if you continue to act this way, you are going to push us away. I want you to know why. Now, if we grow and change, we have grace, we have mercy. If it’s something that you are … you’re talking about an in-law right now. If it’s something that you recognize and are willing to grow in and change and stop, then we’re willing to be patient and walk with you, and remind you, hey you’re overstepping your boundary again.

Jennifer:
What if they don’t want to have those hard conversations, but they’re willing to be distant? What would you say to them?

Aaron:
I feel like you’re running from probably the conversation that needs to happen. Now, if there’s someone being really wrong and abusive, I feel like you need to do what’s right for your family. Sometimes you do need to cut people off.

Jennifer:
But if you’re just avoiding that hard conversation because you don’t like confrontation, you may be missing out on a huge opportunity of growth in your own heart that God wants to use through something like this.

Aaron:
Or your in-law. They might say, oh my gosh, I never even realized. Yeah, I want to grow, I want to change, and I love you guys. I’m not trying to do that. You might have a breakthrough in the relationship.

Jennifer:
It could be huge for reconciliation. The other thing I want to say is sometimes we have this belief that the in-law is trying to be controlling because maybe they’re not meeting your expectations of them, or maybe they’re not like your family, so there’s this conflict internally and you’re wrestling, and that person’s not even trying to be controlling. You’re just perceiving it that way.

Aaron:
Maybe it could be stuff that you can overlook.

Jennifer:
That can be a heart check situation.

Aaron:
If they are coming in and they’re getting your spouse to make decisions without you being a part, if they’re doing things that are destructive and hurtful, then that is absolutely … just because they’re family doesn’t give them a right to be able to be that way. You have the responsibility, especially the husband has to recognize these things and say, we’re going to set healthy boundaries in a loving way for my family’s sake.

Jennifer:
Yeah. Here’s a word we all need to hear, especially with Thanksgiving coming and probably a lot of family interaction and in-laws being a part of the celebration. Remember that they are people and they are gifts to us just like our spouse, and we need to respect that. God created people and relationship, so we need to ask God. We need to go to Him and say, God, how do you want me to love this person today, tomorrow, the next day.

Aaron:
Sometimes that means telling them no, that means putting them aside and saying, you know what, you need to work on something. Your heart could still be right towards them, but that distance needs to happen.

Jennifer:
Or sometimes it’s a lowering of your expectations for how holidays work.

Aaron:
That’s true.

Jennifer:
You just have to set yourself aside.

Aaron:
Yeah. I do want to make a note. We actually have a whole episode dedicated to a Biblical relationship with your in-laws. So we’ll put a link in the description for that. But it was a while ago. I thought it was a fun episode. You should go check that out.

Jennifer:
Okay, moving on. How do you keep your faith during the hard times and keep a positive mindset?

Aaron:
So the first thing I thought when I saw this question, and I hope no one takes it harshly. When I hear someone say how do you keep your faith during hard times, our faith is knowing what God has said is true regardless of what is going on. So if my faith is only there in the good times, what faith do I have? None. There is no faith. It takes not faith to trust God when everything is good. Now, I think it does take faith when everything is good, but the faith gets tested and played out, and becomes real when you need to trust God, when you don’t know what’s next. That’s the whole idea of faith, that’s the hope for things unseen.

Jennifer:
So I was just going to read that because the first thing that came to my mind with this question is what is faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. So when I think of hard situations, people going through some really hard times, you have the assurance of what you’re hoping for, and you’re putting your hope in Christ, you’re putting your hope in God’s will for you and for your family, and for getting through whatever this hard time is. That is what faith is.

Aaron:
Yeah. So I would ask … I think of that blind man on the road and he stops Jesus, and Jesus says do you believe I can heal you. He says, I do believe, but help my unbelief. So I would say that your faith should remain intact even when you feel like you’re doubting. You should say, Lord, give me more faith, help my unbelief. I don’t know how this is working, but I trust you. So my answer to it is, if your faith dissolves in hardships, then it’s not faith. So you need to reconcile that and realize, now my Lord is good, and even in the hard times He’s doing something and I trust Him, and He’s good, and He’s going to take care of me, and He’s still there. I think of what Paul said. He said, I don’t count the current struggles to be compared to the coming glory. He says, all of these things that are happening to me, the worst things that could happen to me, are nothing to compare with the coming glory of Jesus Christ when every tear is going to be wiped away.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
When my body is going to be made new and whole, when there’s going to be no more pain and suffering, where there’s a hope we’re looking towards. That’s what we have faith in. It’s in God and His salvation that’s coming in Jesus Christ. We’re saved now, but we’re also waiting for that coming salvation, the restoration of all things.

Jennifer:
That’s so good. I want to make a note on the second part of the question because it says, and keep a positive mindset. I want to encourage everyone that God built us with a huge range of emotions and we feel deeply as human beings. When you’re going through a hard time, you’re going to feel some deep things. It could be sadness, it could be … whatever it is that you’re wrestling. We have to remember that God gave us those feelings to experience, but we still have to have self control in them. So it’s not just a matter of, yeah I’m going through this hard time but I’ve got to stay positive and have a happy face on, because you may not be able to experience that type of level of positivity in the midst of your hardship.

Aaron:
Yeah, read Job.

Jennifer:
Yeah, I just want to say it’s okay to have different emotions other than happiness going through a hard trial, but you can still have joy, and I think faith produces that in us.

Aaron:
Yeah.

Jennifer:
Even though we experience those really deep emotions, we can still express ourselves in a way that glorifies God.

Aaron:
Yeah, and I would change it. Keeping your faith in the hard times will produce a hopeful mindset.

Jennifer:
You know what I see in friends that … I mentioned earlier families that are going through really hard trials with-

Aaron:
We know quite a few right now.

Jennifer:
Sick kids and things like that. They’ll send out an update and then, at the end, they just sum it up with how much they love God, that they’re trusting in Him. They’ll share a Bible verse.

Aaron:
They’ll also rejoice that, through this trial, other people are seeing the light of God in them.

Jennifer:
Yeah, nurses, doctors. So I don’t think of that as being just a positive mindset. I see that as a testimony of their faith and their hope being on something so much greater.

Aaron:
Yeah. Let me read this, 1 Peter 1:3-9 says this. “Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that parishes though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Jennifer:
So good.

Aaron:
That’s kind of a summary of my thought on this. The tested genuineness of your faith, which is more precious than gold. The tested genuineness. Though we have various trials and things that come up in our life in suffering, in pain, we look forward to that coming salvation and obtaining the results of our faith. So I just want to encourage you that, in those hard times, is exactly when your faith is most necessary, when you need to lean on God more. So I hope that was encouraging.

Question number five, what would you say the hardest part of transitioning to parenthood is? I think this is a person who’s about to have their first child. The first thing I thought of was having no idea what we’re doing.

Jennifer:
Okay, but for me as a mom and having experience babysitting and siblings, and working in a preschool, I had the thought that I knew what I was doing, only until I actually gave birth and then quickly realized that I didn’t have a clue.

Aaron:
Right. Your own child is totally different than someone else’s kid.

Jennifer:
Well, there’s no break. So I would go babysit and then you go home and you leave the kids there. You go work at a preschool and then you go home. So there was always this break that I experienced. Well, with motherhood, there is no break. You have this responsibility and it’s a great responsibility, and when it actually soaked in, it was like whoa.

Aaron:
Yeah, it’s different.

Jennifer:
Yeah, it hit me really hard.

Aaron:
Some of the things were, I remember, not sleeping at all. Not because the baby wasn’t sleeping. I’m thinking of Eliot when we first had him.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
But because I was terrified that he was just going to stop breathing.

Jennifer:
Something was going to happen to him, yeah.

Aaron: I was all night just looking, is he breathing, is he breathing, is he breathing.

Jennifer: Yeah, I always thought motherhood would come so natural to me, and it just was a learning curve, and it went straight up the chart.

Aaron:
It’s still a learning curve every single time we have another child.

Jennifer:
Yeah. I think another one is just realizing how selfish we actually are and being in conflict with our own flesh to realize that maybe we wanted things to stay the way that they were. I liked working, and now things are different.

Aaron:
We didn’t realize how much freedom we had.

Jennifer:
Sleeping in or going places on a whim, or staying out late.

Aaron:
Only having to take care of ourselves.

Jennifer:
Yeah. We could skip a meal if we wanted to.

Aaron:
Yeah, we could travel easier.

Jennifer:
I know.

Aaron:
There’s just a lot of things that we realized, wow, we are really selfish.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
It’s actually one of the main things that God still uses our children to show us is how selfish we are and how foolish we are sometimes. He just reveals that stuff to us, which is really great. He sanctifies us through our parenting.

Jennifer:
No matter how hard the transition has been to parenthood, I don’t regret it at all. I absolutely love being a parent.

Aaron:
Not at all, yeah.

Jennifer:
And what I’ve learned and gained from it.

Aaron:
The last thing I would say has been hard, was a hard transition, and it’s something that we’re probably going to learn how to do for the rest of our parenting careers.

Jennifer:
You mean the rest of our lives?

Aaron:
Being on the same page as parents.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
We’ve gotten way better over the years, but there’s always more same pageness.

Jennifer:
The thing is you can’t avoid talking about those things. You have to get on the same page because the kids know when you’re not on the same page.

Aaron:
And they take advantage of it.

Jennifer:
Other people know when you’re not on the same page. It’s just very obvious. It’s not something that you can hide or avoid, or anything like that. There’s just things about parenting that you have to talk about.

Aaron:
For those parents that are listening who probably feel that way like, yeah we’re not on the same page, the most joy and excitement we experience is when we’re the most in sync.

Jennifer:
Unity.

Aaron:
Yeah. Parenting is just so much more joyful.

Jennifer:
But that requires both of us to-

Aaron:
Grow and mature, and change.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
Compromise.

Jennifer:
Support each other.

Aaron:
But I like what you said earlier when we were talking about working together is talking about not necessarily just getting my way or you getting your way, but saying, God what do you want.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
And us both aligning with that.

Jennifer:
Yeah, and going from there and talking about how it can actually look practically within our schedule and livelihood.

Aaron:
All right, question six. It says what are some positive resources you have found while finding healing with pornography?

Jennifer:
You read a couple.

Aaron:
Yeah, when I was going through this journey, there was two books specifically that I remember reading. The first one is a Christian perspective. The second one is a secular perspective, but they’re both very good resources. The first one is called Wired For Intimacy, how pornography hijacks the male brain. It’s a Christian perspective book written by William Struthers. He’s a professor of psychology at Wheaton College where he teaches courses on behavioral neuroscience. In this book, he literally breaks down how the human brain was created by God to work, and what pornography does with it, and how it creates pathways, and why it’s so addictive.

Jennifer:
It gives you the science behind it.

Aaron:
The science behind it, yep. He also explains in it why those same responses that pornography plays on was made for marriage, and the dangers in it, and why it rewires it and tweaks it. He doesn’t give any excuses for it. He just says what’s happening when we do that.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
Then the other one is called Treating Pornography Addiction, the essential tools for recovery. It was written by Dr. Kevin Skinner, a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sexual adduction therapist. He actually goes through similar things in this book, but he actually gives processes for the person addicted on how they can actually work through it, writing journals and steps that they can take to find freedom. I thought there was lots of really good stuff in that too.

Jennifer:
Cool. I’d like to share a resource that doesn’t have to deal with pornography perse, but it’s a great resource for women and men, but has to do with sexual intimacy within marriage. It was one of the first books I ever read about marriage, but it’s called No More Headaches, by Dr. Juli Slattery, and it was a really great book for putting your intimacy in a godly perspective.

Aaron:
I remember you read that and had a pretty big breakthrough in your own way of thinking about sex in marriage.

Jennifer:
Yeah, a big part of the struggle that I had was actually embracing sex in marriage and seeing it as a gift from God and all that. So she gives really great personal testimonies, stories from other marriages. I was really impacted by that book.

Aaron:
I feel like Juli has a few more books around-

Jennifer:
She’s got a whole ministry on it. It’s called Authentic Intimacy.

Aaron:
Yes, and I think people should check that out also.

Jennifer:
She also has a podcast.

Aaron:
The last thing I would say is true biblical community.

Jennifer:
Oh yeah, that was huge for us.

Aaron:
Being around other believers who are not … I’m not talking about the common accountability group where everyone struggles with the exact same thing and no one grows. I’m talking about people that are walking in purity, that love you, are excited for you.

Jennifer:
They’re going to say the hard things.

Aaron:
They’re going to say the right things, the true things.

Jennifer:
They’re going to exhort you. They’re going to ask you how you’re doing.

Aaron:
They’re going to be like, why are you still doing this. Don’t you remember that you’re free? This is not a part of you. This is not who you are. Knock it off. That’s what we need men, and women need it too. So getting in true biblical community that men and women have the freedom to know you and to communicate to you and speak words of truth and exhortation into your life.

Jennifer:
All right, next question. What has been the hardest lessons you have had to learn in your own lives and in marriage?

Aaron:
Some of these kind of overlap, but it’s just life in general I guess. The first thing I wrote down is dying to self.

Jennifer:
I thought he was going to be sharing the blankets in bed. I’m just kidding.

Aaron:
No, that was a hard one. We just didn’t do it in the beginning. No, dying to self. Taking up my cross, realizing that it’s not about me, that it’s about His son Jesus, and truly learning to be self sacrificial, which is so hard because our flesh is not interested in that.

Jennifer:
I think for me it was just one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in life is to strop waiting for change to happen and actually making change happen, realizing that I’m the one.

Aaron:
No, no, something is going to happen soon. Just wait here. Something is going to happen to us.

Jennifer:
Sometimes I struggle with believing that, if I just hold out long enough, something will change.

Aaron:
Someone else.

Jennifer:
Not me, someone else.

Aaron:
Yeah, my whole environment will adjust. One for me was realizing that realizing that my obedience to God is not contingent on my spouses actions.

Jennifer:
Okay, I remember when you kind of learned this and then you shared it with me, and I was impacted really.

Aaron:
Well because often we think she’s not respecting me, so why would I love her as Christ loves the church, or vice versa. Well he’s not loving me well, so why would I respect him. That’s just one common thread in marriage. But when you read the scriptures that are specifically talking to you, when I read Ephesians 5:25 or any of the versus where it talks to me about living with my wife in an understanding way, none of them are, if you’re wife does X, Y, Z, then you live with them in an understanding way. If your wife-

Jennifer:
The problem with this though is that the flesh is naturally prideful and stubborn.

Aaron:
Arrogant.

Jennifer:
Our flesh wants justification so our flesh wants the other person to change first and then we’ll do X, Y, Z. Christ comes in and says, nope.

Aaron:
Well, and I’ll say this. What got it for me was I realized that way of thinking, whether we like it or not, whether we have understood this or not, is a transactional relationship.

Jennifer:
It’s not unconditional.

Aaron:
Well, what it is is you pay me this and I’ll give you this. You do this for me and I will do this for you. That’s prostitution. That’s not marriage. I love my wife the way I’m called to love with my whole heart, whether or not she pays me for it, whether or not she gives me what I think I deserve for it, whether or not she does even what she’s called to do by God. That’s my calling. She’s not paying for my love. We’ve committed to love each other. This is not a transactional relationship. It goes both ways. Now, people often say whenever I would post something like that, there’d be people saying well it goes both ways. Of course it goes both ways, but it’s not required to go both ways for me to be obedient. My wife’s not required to do anything for my obedience. Because one day we’re going to stand before God and he’s not going to look down and be like, well did so and so do it. He’s going to look at us and say, did you do what I asked you to do. So that was a big thing for me.

Jennifer:
So something else that I was thinking about is … This is in my own personal life, but also in anything that we’ve ever overcome as a couple, Aaron, but realizing that even after overcoming sin, there will always be that temptation to sin. I always wanted it to be like-

Aaron:
It’s gone.

Jennifer:
Yeah, once you overcome it, you’re done. Let’s move on to the next thing. But then there’s this constant opportunity, temptation, situation that comes up where it rears it’s ugly head and then you have to overcome it again, whether it’s pride or jealously or anger.

Aaron:
Yeah, where you have to consistently be humble, consistently be in a repentant spirit, like continue to cut this out of me, change me.

Jennifer:
There were times when I was like, wait a minute, I thought I overcame that, I thought I passed that test. But it’s a continual process of growing.

Aaron:
Yeah, and it requires us to just realize who God is, that He’s so good, and be thankful that He’s patient with us.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
Because he’s so patient. The Bible actually says his patience and kindness leads us to repentance. That’s so cool that, because He’s patient and kind, we’re like, oh Lord thank you, and please forgive me. Question eight says this. Has this pregnancy been an easy one?

Jennifer:
Are they asking you, me?

Aaron:
It’s been great. I’ve had no morning sickness.

Jennifer:
Okay, so for me, this is pregnancy number five, and it has been hardest to date. I’ve had more headaches, I’ve had more nausea lasting well into second trimester, and then-

Aaron:
Yeah, usually you have a couple weeks only.

Jennifer:
Yeah, usually I’m done by 11 and 12, and second trimester is like heaven, but I’ve had a little bit of a rough time.

Aaron:
You’re already getting uncomfortable laying down.

Jennifer:
I’m not sleeping and stuff.

Aaron:
That usually doesn’t happen until almost the end.

Jennifer:
Yeah, but that’s okay because I always like to put things in perspective and I think there’s some women who have even harder pregnancies, so even though I might have uncomfortable nights or whatever I’m wrestling with, I’m just also very thankful that I’m able to carry this baby, and looking forward to meeting her. So excited. But yeah, I wouldn’t say that it’s been an easy one. It also makes me confront my age, because I feel older. You know when you recognize that you’re older. You wake up and your back hurts a little bit, or you just can’t bend over all the way. You’re like wait a minute.

Aaron:
Yeah.

Jennifer:
I’m getting old.

Aaron:
But we’re excited to meet Edith. March, so close. Okay, next question.

Jennifer:
It says, we are about to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. Any suggestions?

Aaron:
Congratulations.

Jennifer:
Yay, don’t forget the date.

Aaron:
Yeah, don’t forget. We’ve always kept our anniversaries low key. I think we’ve had some big milestone anniversaries like five and 10.

Jennifer:
But even then, it’s-

Aaron:
I think 15 is coming up in a few weeks.

Jennifer:
Mostly do dinner with some reflection. We like to talk about how things have been going.

Aaron:
A suggestion for them though, one year, which is milestone. You’ve spent 12 months as one. Before that, you were two individuals. Now you’re a single unit. So I would say why don’t you plan a date night and discuss what that year looked like for you guys. Wins and losses even.

Jennifer:
Highs and lows.

Aaron:
Yeah, and do some visioning. What’s the next 12 months look like? What do we want to do in five years? What’s God doing in our marriage?

Jennifer:
That’s so good. I would say this. Come prepared to affirm one another, because-

Aaron:
Yes, not just critical.

Jennifer:
Sometimes you can even go through highs and lows, but it’ll all about about you and what you experience from your perspective. But don’t forget to lift up your spouse and just be really grateful for having journeyed that together, even if it was hard, because we do learn as humans, whether it’s hard or blissful, that we’re doing it together.

Aaron:
Yeah. This would be a perfect time to use our 52 date night conversation starters because those talk about future and what God’s doing, and what our ministry is as a couple.

Jennifer:
Okay, so what are some wild ways to experience an anniversary?

Aaron:
I don’t remember if this was an anniversary, but I took you on a surprise date on a helicopter.

Jennifer:
That was really fun.

Aaron:
Yeah, so that would be … if you have access to a local airport that does helicopter rides around some sort of scenery or something, that’s a fun one. That was pretty exciting. It was magical.

Jennifer:
This isn’t super wild, but even something like rooftop dining if you can, if it’s not snowing outside. I’m just thinking something different and special other than just the normal down the street restaurant.

Aaron:
Right, there’s a restaurant in our town that certain times of the year there’s a rooftop experience. You just go on top of it and there’s a few tables, and you have to reserve it a week in advance. Those are fun because you see the whole city.

Jennifer:
Or go to a place that you guys have talked about going to that you haven’t, things that would really bless each other.

Aaron:
Make it something where you guys get to experience and talk about who you are now.

Jennifer:
And take a selfie, because those are fun.

Aaron:
And post it, and tag Marriage After God.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
Okay, last question. How do you juggle the time you need to meet all the demands of life, kids, marriage, job, church?

Jennifer:
Okay wait, I just had this question yesterday. I was asking myself how do I do this.

Aaron:
I ask it to myself moment by moment, what am I doing? How does all this work?

Jennifer:
So what’s the truth?

Aaron:
Well, I remember a drive a long time ago where we were driving up the cascade road to get to the lakes.

Jennifer:
I remember.

Aaron:
You were asking this question. You were like, how do we do all this stuff. I think we were writing a book.

Jennifer:
I think I had just had Olive.

Aaron:
Yeah, we just had our second and I think we were writing a book, and we had just moved. There was all this stuff going on in our life, and we’re like, how do we do all this stuff. I just realized, I said, we can’t. That’s the point. We’re only capable of so much as humans.

Jennifer:
We’re limited, yeah.

Aaron:
God made it that way on purpose to show us our need for something beyond us. We need God. He is the one that completes us, He’s the one that … Christ says we can do nothing without Him. So once you realize that you’re limited, first of all you start forgiving yourself. Let go. I actually can’t do everything perfectly. I can’t have it all put together. I can’t have the perfect Instagram account and have all the laundry put away and be sane.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
Some stuff, if you put energy in one place-

Jennifer:
It’s got to be taken from the other.

Aaron:
It has to be taken from somewhere.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
So the way Jennifer and I have navigated this is in seasons.

Jennifer:
Yeah, we’re seasonal creatures.

Aaron:
So if there’s a season where we’re working harder, like writing a book, and we get the whole family together and we’re like, we’re going to be in this season for three weeks, four weeks, whatever it is, two months maybe, and it’s going to be different. Some things are going to go by the wayside. There’s going to be more dishes in the sink at times. The laundry is not going to be as perfect. The house isn’t going to be as well put together. Not that we don’t care about those things, but in that season, more energy is going to these other things. We may not go on date nights, we may not have tons of people over in that season.

Jennifer:
There’s all kinds of different seasons. I’m just thinking I’m going to be in post partum again come spring, so we’ll have to have another conversation with the family about what that looks like.

Aaron:
Because you’re going to be needing to rest, and we have a new baby, and we’re going to have to transition the other four kids in learning what it’s like to be older siblings again to a new infant.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
So things will have to go out the window for a little while. Now we don’t do things permanently. We try and have goals in mind like, hey this season is going to end around this time, and we’ll try and get back to a different pattern.

Jennifer:
I would say that things don’t just get tossed out the window. They just get put down until someone can get to it.

Aaron:
Right.

Jennifer:
Just want to clarify.

Aaron:
Because there could be this idea of, well I can’t … I’m just going to put this very important thing away forever because I want to do this other thing over here. We just have to recognize the things that are priority. Marriage-

Jennifer:
I was just going to use that word prioritize because there are things in our life that could be put down that don’t need to be picked up right away. There’s other things that absolutely cannot be neglected. Our marriage cannot be neglected.

Aaron:
Our children cannot be neglected. Our church shouldn’t be, but it can be in different ways. So maybe you’re not as involved in every single thing every week, all the time, for a season.

Jennifer:
Or maybe you have to miss a Sunday. I just had to miss a Sunday because our kids were sick, and it makes me not want to miss again because I feel like I missed out. But you’ve got to talk to your spouse about what’s a priority and what’s not, and being okay in giving yourself grace for the things that aren’t, and knowing that you’ll get to it when you get to it.

Aaron:
There’s also ways of changing those things. I would never want you to think that church can go on the back burner, fellowship with other believers. But if you can’t be the one going out and going and pursuing, and doing that sort of thing, then just let your community know, hey I’m going to be down a little bit. I’d love to have you come over, but let’s make it low key, or only for an hour. So you’re still connecting. You’re still making those things priorities but in a different way.

Jennifer:
I will say this. I think, when we as people desire to do certain things, we really struggle to say no or I’m not going to do that anymore, and actually letting go of it when that’s what God’s asking you to do. So, that’s a heart check. We talked about heart checks earlier and just evaluating your life. I think it’s really important that we are willing to keep our hands and hearts open to God and saying, God what do you want, what is your will, what do you desire for my life. If it’s not this thing over here that I’ve been pursuing, help me get rid of it because I don’t have any peace right now trying to spin all these plates. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being able to let go.

Aaron:
Yeah, and I think, in our nature, we want to fill every gap in our life. If we don’t have this, we’re not doing this, this, and this, we’re not successful, or we’re doing something wrong. When there’s definitely seasons that need to happen of rest.

Jennifer:
Yeah.

Aaron:
So, that … I want to make one more point in this. If we could juggle everything and get everything done-

Jennifer:
We’d have more arms.

Aaron:
Yeah, if we could juggle everything and do everything perfectly fine and have this perfect life, we’d have no need for Jesus. We are flawed people, we are human, we are incapable of doing everything. We need people, we need rest, and we also need to be content and wise, and know that we’re not capable of everything. There’s definitely things that we need to say no to and put down and walk away from, or put on the back burner.

Jennifer:
If you’re that person that has done that really well, and maybe you don’t have a perfect life, but kind of what Aaron just mentioned, you have things put in order and you prioritize and you’re’ doing it well, and it’s because you’re leaning on God, don’t forget to give Him the glory. Let it be a testimony in your life of how you’re able to do so much because it is only of Him.

Aaron:
Yeah, and when you get brought low and you have to do less, because of sickness or pregnancy or whatever, life changes, give God the glory and say thank you Lord for slowing me down. Thank you Lord for this opportunity or this burden, or this suffering. Thank you. Because we’re told to be thankful for all things and in all things.

Jennifer:
I also want to make a note that everyone’s got plates that they’re spinning or whatever you said about juggling, and we have to remember that people are all experiencing different things at the same time, and we need to be able to give our friends and our family, and people close to us, grace when they don’t meet an expectation we had or something falls through the cracks.

Aaron:
Which happens.

Jennifer:
Or something happens and it hurts your feelings. You can communicate that to them and you can tell them, but just make sure you also realize the things that they’re going through. I think that’s really important. If you can, help them. Help them do what they’re doing. Support them in that.

Aaron:
To reiterate, this is something that Jennifer and I have to constantly walk through. Are we doing too little, are we doing too much, what needs to give, what needs to be picked up? It’s stuff that … we’re not immune at all to any of this stuff.

Jennifer:
This definitely gets me excited for having that end of the year conversation with you, Aaron, about just reprioritizing and envisioning what next year is going to look like, talking about how this last year went. Every year, we kind of have this conversation where we talk about goals that we have or things that we want to pursue, and it gets me excited for kind of just reorganizing our life and seeing what God has for us.

Aaron:
It’ll be fun.

Jennifer:
Yeah. Before we go and jump into prayer, because we always do that, I just want you to let everyone know what’s coming.

Aaron:
Yeah, we’re going to be taking a break from the podcast.

Jennifer:
Sorry.

Aaron:
Speaking of-

Jennifer:
I feel like I set that up for good news.

Aaron:
No, we’re going to be taking a break, and I want to encourage everyone listening, if they made it this far in the episode, which is awesome. You rock. Spend the next month, month and a half going through old episodes. We have almost 100 episodes.

Jennifer:
Wow.

Aaron:
Maybe even 100. So there’s a lot of episodes they can go through and they can listen to those. Download those old episodes.

Jennifer:
Or take a break with us and be really excited for when we jump back on in January.

Aaron:
Yeah, spend time with your family, listen to someone else’s podcast. There’s a bunch of good ones out there. So we’re going to come back on sometime in January, maybe even February, but I think January is when we’re going to do it. So we love you all. We thank you for going with us this whole time and we just want to pray. We’re actually going to pray for you. Dear Lord, thank you for all these couples who are listening today. Lord, I pray that you would pour your spirit into their homes. Show them your plan for their life, remind them that you have created them to worship you and to serve you. I pray that they would have a deeper understanding of who you are, fill them with your peace and love, and give them a deep and lasting desire for your word. Draw them closer and closer to each other and to you, Lord. Bless them. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thanks again for listening. We love you all, and we’ll see you in the new year. Have an awesome holiday season.

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 MarriageAft

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