21 Days to More Love
About the Guest
Want to move your marriage off the back burner? Author and blogger Becky Thompson challenges wives to remember their courtship and do the things they did back then in order to see their marriages thrive. Thompson got the idea from her dad who shared his secret for his own 38 years of marital happiness: "I wake up and tell myself it's the first day I'm married to your mom."
Becky Thompson challenges wives to remember their courtship and do the things they did back then in order to see their marriages thrive.
21 Days to More Love
Bob: If you’re a wife and a mom, have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you had to put your marriage on the back burner for awhile? Becky Thompson remembers a season like that.
Becky: I was barely keeping my head above the water. My husband’s gone a lot. I am shouldering the responsibilities of our home and our children and anything else to keep our lives at home going. When my husband walked in the door at the end of the day—I hate to share this—but I wanted him not to need me—I wanted him to just be okay. I just wanted our marriage to just sort of auto pilot for awhile and not need anything from me because everybody needed me all day long.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Your marriage is always important. But there are days when it just doesn’t feel urgent. So what do you do on those days?
We’ll talk more with Becky Thompson about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. I was going to ask you if you ever felt like there was a time back when you had kids at home—when you felt like your marriage got moved to the back burner. But I think the better question is—was there ever a time it got moved completely off the stove?
Dennis: [Laughing] Or got moved back onto the front burner.
Bob: —or into the refrigerator
Dennis: We would have to leave—with six kids in ten years—we would have to have some getaways occasionally to move it off the back porch back onto the stove.
Bob: You had regular date nights; right?
Dennis: We did.
Bob: Barbara took the initative to plan all of those; right?
Dennis: No. No—those were at my initiative. In fact, let me introduce our guest to our audience. Becky Thompson joins us. Becky, welcome to the broadcast.
Becky: Thanks so much for having me. I am happy to be here with you guys.
Dennis: Becky is a mom of three. She married her husband at the age of 19.
Bob: Were you both 19 when you got married?
Becky: No—he was older—just a little bit.
Dennis: She has written a book called Love Unending, a 21 Day Love Challenge where you are challenging moms to move their marriage back off the back burners Bob was talking about.
Bob: —or out of the refrigerator, if that’s where it’s been.
Dennis: Yes. Off the back porch—and put some heat to it. I want to know—how did that come about in your own marriage? I mean, you have three children. Their ages are—this may explain it all.
Becky: Seven, five, and two.
Dennis: That does. Okay. We now know the cause.
Becky: Right. I was a blogger and I still am a blogger who writes online—I write online. I share just my life as a being a young stay at home with three little kids.
Bob: And the name of your blog is?
Becky: Currently you can find me at BeckyThompson.com.
Dennis: But you have a code name.
Becky: I do have a code name—formerly known as Scissortail Silk.
Bob: Can you explain that for us?
Becky: Sure; I’d love to. Scissortail is the state bird in Oklahoma—the scissortail fly catcher. Silk is the old western slang word for barbed wire—which makes absolutely no sense why you would call it silk—but it’s this old slang word. In Oklahoma you’ll see scissortails sitting on barbed wire fences, and it might be the only thing you’ll see other than pasture, wheat fields, and cows for the miles and miles that it takes to get to my house.
When I started this blog it was a picture of where I was and where I was singing my song from, so a lot of my message was about how to just find grace in the days of motherhood. Find grace for yourself—find grace for your kids—find grace for your marriage. Late one night I sat down and I write a blog post thinking that maybe my 500 followers—of the time—will read it and be impacted by it and hoping just to encourage them.
I said, you know, “I’ve really forgotten how to be a wife when I’m busy being a mom. I have forgotten to turn around when my husband walks in the door at the end of the day and just greet him happily to see him and not just to hand off a baby.
I wish that someone had told me in the beginning to cling tightly to my husband. I wish that I had better prepared myself.” I woke up the next morning and that blog post had gone viral. Nearly a million people shared it or read it and clicked share with their family—from around the world.
Becky: It was a heart issue that I realize was common in all cultures—in many places was when we become moms, we often forget how to be wives. These messages come in saying, “Yes, I feel just like you! But what do we do about it? What is the strategy to get back? How do we go back to the beginning?”
It had all of these messages coming in. I thought, “I don’t know what to do! I wrote about how bad it is. I wrote about how I felt overwhelmed and I’m glad you relate, but I don’t know the answer.” So I sit down with my dad late one night in his living room.
I’m eight months pregnant with my husband’s and my third baby at the time. I don’t really know why I didn’t come to him sooner. I’m not really sure why I didn’t say, “Dad, what’s your counsel? What’s your advice?” before that night—before I got to the place where I needed that sort of help.
My dad sitting there in his winged back chair with the only light coming from over his shoulder at his late night cup of coffee just looks like he is going to have good wisdom. He looks like he is going to have some good truth to share. He looks over his shoulder right before he answers to make sure my mom is not listening. He whispers, “Just do what I do.”
“Okay, Dad. What do you do?”
“Every day I wake up I tell myself that it’s the first day that I’m married to your mom.”
I remember sitting there thinking what would that even be like, to treat each day as if there was not a day before—to treat each day as if this was the only time that we were going to have this conversation?
No record of wrongs—no day before that we have to forgive—no “your turn-my turn” history that we have to overcome—just a clean slate each morning. What would that even look like?
You know, I think my husband and I fought on our way from our honeymoon. I think we fought as we left the ceremony about what we were going to each because we didn’t have a chance to eat at our ceremony. Real life happens, but what does that look like to live as if each day were the first? I realized maybe to keep love from ending we have to go back to the beginning. That was the Genesis of Love Unending.
I wentback and I made a list of—well, I aimed for as many as I could think of—of things that had changed since day one—just simple behaviors that had changed and ways that I interacted with my husband on those days that were different than I would have if it were the day we said, “I do,” —the day we fell in love.
Dennis: Such as?
Becky: How I spoke to him—how I asked him to hand me something—something so simple as, “Honey, will you get me a towel?
I need to get our little girl out of the bath.” It might have been, “I’m ready to get her out of the bath! Can you just get up and bring me a towel?” “Can you just—if you’re not going to help with bath time—can you just bring me a towel?” It’s awful and it’s real and it’s honest—and I’m not proud of it. [Laughter]
Becky: I’m not proud of it.
Bob: Becky, if we had come to your husband Gerard on the night you were having this conversation with your dad, and we had said, “Gerard, how are things in your marriage? How is Becky doing as a wife? Do you feel honored? Do you feel valued? Do you feel cherished as a man?” What score would he have given it at that time do you think?
Becky: Oh, man. I don’t want to be honest about that. You know, I was really struggling and I want to say the word “failing”—I was not doing very well. I was below a five—I was barely above a one. I was barely keeping my head above the water. My husband is gone a lot. I’m shouldering the responsibilities of our home and our children and anything else to keep our lives at home going.
When my husband walked in the door at the end of the day—I hate to share this—but I wanted him not to need me. I wanted him to just be okay and not need anything from me because everybody needed me all day long. I just wanted him to be okay. I just wanted him to work it out. I wanted our marriage to just sort of auto pilot for awhile.
Bob: Just take care of yourself.
Bob: Don’t require anything of me and be there to pitch in if I need a hand.
Dennis: So Becky, I’ve heard this sermon before. My wife has said to me, “When you come home, I just feel like I need someone to rescue me, not someone who needs me for anything—”
Dennis: “—because I have been caring for kids all day long.”
Becky: Exactly. The cool part about Love Unending is that it starts with greet lovingly. That’s because when we first come back together, we have the opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the time together—whether that’s evening, whether that’s day—whatever that looks like in each home—we have the opportunity to set the tone.
When we were dating—in the beginning—if I was going to treat it like it was the first day we fell in love, I wouldn’t say, “I need your help.” It would be, “I want to engage with your heart.” “I want to see you and not just what you can do for me.” I think so many young moms are in the space of, “Praise the Lord! Help is here! “Praise the Lord, I have a partner who can come alongside me!” But we’re not ready to invest—we’re not ready to jump in and engage because we’re just “out”. We haven’t saved any love for our spouse.
Dennis: Let me ask you a question. Don’t you think that this could also describe a woman who is in her career that’s demanding, that is skimming the cream off the top off every day and she’s coming home at the end of the day where she’s feeling like, “I want to be rescued at the end of the day”?
Becky: You know, I think no matter where you’re pouring out your heart—no matter what space is occupying your time—
whenever we come back to our spouse, we have that opportunity to decide if we’re going to engage or if we’re going to fall back and just disengage. I can see a woman in any walk of life saying, ”I’ve given all day long. I need someone to fill my love tank. I need someone to pour into me—to be my rescuer,” as you said, because the truth is, most of us don’t get a whole lot of time with our spouse each day. So when we come back together we have to make the decision about whether or not we are going to invest or pull back.
Dennis: You had grown up in a Christian home, so you had a spiritual background. Would you say you were a mature wife and mom as you started out your family? I’m not saying you had to be perfect—that you had arrived—but would you have characterized yourself as going, “I understand the Bible, what God expects of me as woman—wife—mom”?
Becky: I can say, “Yes” in confidence. I knew everything that I should be. I knew everything that would be expected of me. I know the principles of God’s love—and what that looks like lived out in family.
I also knew that I was not succeeding in who I wanted to be. Scripture says we can love because He first loved us—in 1 John 4. I think in marriage—with young children in the home—we get in this place of broken cycles of love. When the mom is so focused on the child or the dad is so focused on the child—no matter who it is—when they’re so focused on the child, it almost breaks the cycle of intentional love with the spouse.
When you don’t feel loved by your spouse, when you feel like their attention is pulled in another area, it can be hard to reciprocate love that you don’t feel. It can be hard to love back. I think our hearts are designed to love back because we’re created to love God back—because he loved us first. When we break the cycle of love with our spouse—when we break who’s loving and who’s giving—and nobody is really putting any effort in—no one is being intentional, then who’s going to love first?
Who’s going to fix that? Who’s the one who is going to be first?
Wives, I wish that I could say I had written a book for our husbands to be the ones to do this but, through this process I realized that I can only change my own perspective and behaviors. I can only decide what I’m going to invest. Even though I feel spent, if I don’t invest in my relationship—if I’m not the one to put any effort out—then my husband doesn’t have anything to respond to. We can actually love our husbands in response to God’s love, even when we don’t feel loved by our spouse.
Dennis: So, what did that look like on day one?
Becky: Day one looked like greeting lovingly. My husband’s response when I greeted him at the door as if it were the first day we were dating—as if, “I’m so happy to see you. I missed you while you were away.” My husband wanted to know what was wrong, He thought something had happened. He thought I had spent too much money.
He wasn’t sure what I needed, but he was pretty caught off guard because it was so unexpected for me to be standing there waiting at the door.
Bob: We have a friend of ours who used to work here and I remember him saying that he got into a place where—as he would drive home from being here at FamilyLife all day—there was a point in the road where, on his drive home, he would pull off and he’d spend five minutes consciously shifting from work to where he was headed. He said, “’I’d just pull off every day and I’d take five minutes.’ I’d go ‘I have to put work behind. I have to shift into husband and dad gear because I’ve got to hit the door engaged in what’s going on here, rather than still being on the cell phone when you’re in the driveway—still finishing up something—and not really getting home until 30 minutes after your car arrived.’”
Bob: So this does cut both ways for husbands and wives to be all there when we’re with one another.
I’m thinking about my wife as she was raising our five kids. I mean kids can be pretty demanding of your time, your attention, your energy, your affection—your everything—to the point that even if you’ve trying to save a little, by the end of the day, there’s nothing left in the tank. They have sucked it dry.
Becky: This is where we have to recognize—as mothers—that first, if we’re going to have anything left at the end of the day, we have to let the Lord be our source. We have to stay full of Living Water. We have to be pouring out Living Water and not just…whatever is in Becky’s tank—whatever is in our tanks.
I think that also looks like cultivating real fruit—fruit of the spirit—rather than manufactured fruit. As moms we get in the space of trying to make our house full of peace, trying to make our homes full of joy—rather than letting our homes be full of God’s love by staying rooted in the Word of God by remaining focused on His presence and doing that.
We try to make the joy rather than focus on who God is and let that flow.
Dennis: Yes, but let me stop you there. I remember during this period of time when we were having our kids, Barbara would say, “Where do I find the time to do that?”
Dennis: I mean you’re talking about being in touch with the Living Water. You’re being refreshed—you’re praying—you’re talking with God—the Bible’s reminding you of what’s right—reminding you of your responsibility. How did you—how are you doing that today with all the demands on your time?
Becky: For me right now I feel like I’m going on rations. I don’t just mean rationing the daily bread that is the Word of God—I mean sometimes I’m actually in the closet shoving in some pita chips before I have to jump back out because I didn’t get the chance to have a proper lunch. So that’s a picture of what my life actually looks like!
It spills over into my time with the Lord. I’ve got to take in whatever small moment I can have. It does not always look like 30 minutes in the morning before the kids wake up. I know that works for a lot of people,
but with my schedule—my kids sometimes—even my two year old will wake up in the middle of the night—come crawl into my bed—I’m carrying him back to his own bed—things like that. My day doesn’t always start the way I want it to with quiet moments. I have to be able to say, “It doesn’t have to look the same way every day. It doesn’t have to look like strategy.”
I just need five minutes to fill my heart with God’s truth and let that conversation of whatever begins in the Word of God continue through the rest of the day. Often that just looks like praying at the kitchen sink, praying as I’m loading my kids into the car, remaining focused on the continual presence of God in my life, knowing that He’s not just showing up when I’m reading my Bible. He’s showing up as my heart stays focused on who He is.
Bob: Okay. I have to ask you this because I asked you earlier—on a scale of one to ten, what grade would you give yourself—actually I asked what grade would your husband have given you? You said, “I’d have given myself a one or a two.”
Becky: It was low.
Bob: Was your husband—would he have said at that point, “She has just blown it as a wife”, or was he kind of like, “I guess this is just what marriage is and you just live with it and endure”?
Dennis: Yes; settled into a new normal.
Becky: I wish he was here to answer that for himself but, you know what? I think we had settled into a new normal. I think everybody goes into marriage with expectations of what their spouse is going to be like. We want our spouse to be a certain way, but really when we’re centered on who God is in our marriage and who He is to us and He is the anchor that holds us together, do we get any of those expectations even close to accurate.
While I would want him to say that I hadn’t blown it, I honestly think he had no expectations for me to change. I don’t think he was looking for any difference. Now where our relationship was at that place—I honestly wanted to do a lot of it myself—I think moms do this sometimes—I can’t speak for all moms—but I know that I wanted it done a certain way—whatever it was—
I wanted it done a certain way. So I wanted my husband to help me, but I also wanted him to do it how I wanted to do it.
Bob: There’s a right way to load the dishwasher.
Becky: There’s a right way. [Laughter] You know, that is actually something that I realized in one of the days—that we have to correct sparingly by showing our husbands and showing our children that in a relationship, dads can make decisions differently than moms do, and still come to the same safe place—still come to the same good conclusion—that Dad doesn’t have to do it Mom’s way.
Bob: Here’s how we’ve said it at our house—we have looked at one another for years and have said, “Different isn’t always wrong. Sometimes it’s just different.”
Bob: Now MaryAnn is quick to say, “Sometimes it’s wrong.” [Laughter] I say, “You’re right, sometimes it’s wrong.” But sometimes it’s just different—and we have to recognize that what we think is the right way—there are seven ways to get from your house to church—the one you choose on a particular day may not be the one your spouse thought you were going to choose driving to church that day.
It doesn’t mean it’s wrong—it’s just different! When we can relax with some of that—that can really let some of the pressure off of the marriage.
Becky: Exactly. In our particular situation where I had these expectations and I had the way I wanted it to be done, I found my husband withdrawing when he couldn’t complete it the way I had wanted it. “We’re not using those diapers anymore, we’ve outgrown them. We’re onto these diapers.” “She doesn’t like to be held that way to go to sleep. If you’ll just hand her to me, I’ll put her to sleep and then we can just be done.” I found him saying, ”Well, you can just do it then.” Not out loud—but I watched and witnessed him sort of take a step back and say, “If you want it done your way, then I’ll just let you and then there’ll be peace here—there will be a unity here.”
Bob: Dennis this is a principle we’ve seen over and over again with men. Men when they are in any situation, if they’re not winning or at least competent in what they’re doing, they’re going to quit.
Dennis: They’re going to retreat.
Bob: So if a wife keeps saying, “You’re’ not good at that,” don’t expect your husband to get better. Expect him to go to the easy boy, get the remote and say, “Okay, have fun.”
Dennis: Well, that’s kind of the result of a phrase you used earlier, Becky, where you said your husband had no expectations. If you think about it, a relationship that has no expectations—that’s a dangerous place to be.
Becky: It is.
Dennis: Because, I think the nature of a marriage relationship is obviously giving up your life for the other—but there are expectations.
Bob: We can depend on one another for certain things.
Dennis: Right. And if you’re listening right now and your marriage is kind of banging empty and there are no expectations, I think you may need a refresher on how to love. I think that’s what Becky is really talking about in her book.
I have my Bible open to 1st Corinthians 13 and I just looked at one phrase here—“Love never ends.”
Dennis: It always has a beginning.
Bob: Sounds a lot like the book Love Unending.
Dennis: It kind of does, doesn’t it? [Laughter]
Dennis: I think what Becky has done in her book is she is taking a very simple truth from Scripture and she’s giving moms who are exhausted—who are whipped—who are in need of all kinds of needs being met by her husband and by the Lord—she’s reminding them of the truth and then pointing them back to a practical plan that I think will work.
Bob: The great thing about the book is that each chapter is a daily strategy. It’s a daily roadmap for how you can rebuild—reheat your marriage relationship—how you can reprioritize it in the midst of what is admittedly an exhausting, crazy life when you’re a young mom.
We’ve got copies of Becky’s book in our FamilyLife Resource Center. The book is called Love Unending—Rediscovering Your Marriage in the Midst of Motherhood.
You can order copies from us at FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call to order at 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word TODAY.
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Now, tomorrow we’re going to talk more about how an exhausted mom who has let her marriage atrophy a little bit, can breathe a little fresh air into that relationship. Becky Thompson will be back with us tomorrow. Hope you can be back as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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