Cheerleading Your Spouse
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In marriage, we can mistakenly assume our spouses know how much we love them. Authors Aaron and Jamie Ivey cheer us on to become our spouse’s greatest cheerleader and to understand how vital it is to a marriage.
Cheerleading Your Spouse
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, May 5th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I’m Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. When was the last time you were a cheerleader for your spouse? And when was the last time your spouse would say, “I felt like you were encouraging me”? We’re going to talk more about the priority of encouragement today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. One of my favorite video clips from the Art of Marriage® video series that FamilyLife® produced a number of years ago was something that was shared with us by our mutual friend, Robyn McKelvy. Robyn and her husband Ray speak at the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways with us. Robyn made the statement/she talked about the fact that, in high school, she had been a cheerleader.
Bob: She said the team that they cheered for didn’t win a game all season. [Laughter] Here it is, the fourth quarter, and you’re down by four touchdowns. Robyn said, “We cheered for a stinky team; but we had to keep cheering for them, even when they were stinky.” [Laughter] She said, then, she realized, when she got married, she had to put on—take off her wedding dress, she said—and put on a cheerleader uniform.
Ann: —and cheer for the stinky team? [Laughter]
Bob: There were days the team was not playing well, and you still have to cheer them on.
Ann: It’s true.
Bob: You guys had an opportunity to talk about this subject recently with friends of ours, Aaron and Jamie Ivey. Many of our listeners probably listen to Jamie’s podcast, which is called The Happy Hour. Aaron, her husband, is worship pastor at Austin Stone Church in Austin, Texas. He’s a songwriter; he’s a musician. In fact, Dave, since you played a song for him that you had written, you decided during this time, maybe, you’d let the pro take the guitar.
Dave: He sort of wanted to one-up me, and he surely did. [Laughter]
Bob: Let’s listen to your conversation with the Iveys.
Dave: You’ve got a song for us?
Aaron: I mean, it’s—I mean, the book is about love—so this is a song called Your Love Is Relentless. It’s about Jesus; it’s not about Jamie. [Singing Your Love Is Relentless] [Applause]
Ann: That is so good.
Dave: Yes; alright! Thank you!
Jamie: Woo! Good job, babe!
Ann: I listened to you, Aaron; and I’m thinking about your book—like, Jamie, you are so gifted: you are a communicator; you’re a writer—then, Aaron, your gifts are different; and yet, you guys complement each other well without impeding or being jealous of each other.
Ann: Is that pretty typical, or do you get jealous of one another and your giftings?
Jamie: I don’t think we get jealous of one another.
Jamie: No; I would say the thing that I have to work the hardest at is to—let me just throw all my junk on the table—
Ann: Good; good.
Jamie: —is to remember to like cheer Aaron on in what he is doing. I’ve had to learn—20 years—I mean, he will come in with a new song—and when I tell you guys I’m not musical, it—
Aaron: She ain’t musical at all.
Jamie: —all of you guys started singing—there is no way I was even going to open my mouth with a mic in front of me.
Jamie: It’s not even that I can’t sing; I don’t understand it. It all kind of sounds the same to me. I mean, it’s just not what I do. So he can bring a song in; and many times, I have failed and just been like, “Okay; it’s great,”—whatever—“What do want to do?” That’s been so hurtful to him.
Dave: You have a whole chapter called “Cheer.”
Dave: I’m sure you never read our Vertical Marriage book; but there is a moment in our marriage—I’ll make it very brief; because I want to hear what you think of this and, then, how it applies to marriage—Ann was asked to speak at our church to mothers of preschoolers. She says to me, last minute, “Do you want to go with me? It will be great. It’s only women; they’d probably love to hear a man’s perspective.”
Ann: “They are going to love Pastor Dave coming,”—like—“Oh, they are going to love it; come with me.”
Dave: We go. I/she’s like, “What are you going to talk about?” I’m like, “I don’t know. You do your thing, and I’ll just—
Dave: —“I’ll just be color commentary.”
Ann: He gets all animated, and he’s getting into this. I have no idea what he’s going to say. He goes, “Women, I don’t think you get what it’s like to be a man.” I’m like, “That’s true.” [Laughter] He goes, “You know what happens? Usually as little boys, we have someone in our lives, cheering for us, like, ‘Yes; you’re good at this. You’re good,’—‘Mom/Dad, watch me!’”
Then, he goes, “Then I found out I was good in sports. I have coaches and teachers, like, ‘Dave Wilson, you’re good at this.’ They are cheering for me.”
He goes, “Then, when I met Ann, she basically says, ‘Of all the men in the world, I choose you, Dave Wilson. You’re the man!’ and she is cheering for me.” And then he goes, “You know what it is like, now, women? It’s like this: I walk in the door, at the end of a long day, and all I hear is ‘BOOOO! BOOOO!’” [Laughter]
I’m sitting on this stool, and I’m like—
Jamie: You’re mortified.
Aaron: Oh my goodness! You’re like, “This is my event!”
Jamie: “What?! We should have, at least, talked about this!”
Aaron: “You’re the guest; it’s my event.”
Ann: Yes; we get in the car—I don’t even know how we ended—we get in the car; and I’m like, “What was that?!”
Dave: And again—
Ann: I said, “I am not booing you. I am helping you.”
Dave: Yes; it’s that whole/how important is it that your spouse feels like you’re being cheered by the other? I mean, talk about that.
Ann: I mean, it’s a chapter title.
Dave: You wrote about it.
Jamie: It’s—I think it’s one of the most foundational things to our marriage—
Jamie: —is that we’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders.
Dave: You never had that feeling of: “BOOO!”
Aaron: We’ve had—
Jamie: I’m sure you have; yes.
Aaron: —we’ve had moments, where it’s been like: “I don’t feel like you’re for me—and—
Aaron: —“you are the loudest cheerleader in my life.”
I would say it started out with us realizing how important that that is—and us, really, challenging ourselves and each other to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders—because, if you think about it, when you are dating somebody, you have no problem cheering them on:—
Aaron: —you’re writing them letters; you can’t wait to take them flowers or pick them up and tell them how beautiful they are. But for whatever reason, whenever you get married, that seems to kind of go away; because you assume, “Well, of course, you know I love you. I mean,—
Jamie: “I married you.”
Aaron: —“I’m still here”; right?—yes.
Aaron: But it just takes much more work and intentionality to go, “I want to keep reminding you that I love you.” Here is why: because every person is going to be cheered on by somebody in their life. Your spouse has a boss/a supervisor; they have a professor—they’ve got people in their life that really esteem them or think highly of them—so they are going to find verbal affirmation. They are going to find cheering from somebody—and if it’s not you—that’s going to become more and more attractive and more and more appreciated.
One of the ways for me to like make sure that I’m rooted, and grounded, and humble is to know that my spouse is actually the biggest cheerleader in my life. Because at the end of the day, who do I really want to believe in me?—it’s Jamie, not a complete stranger that I will never see again. We just talk about that a lot in our marriage—for me to be able to say, “Okay, Jamie; this is important for me—not just so you are puffing me up;—
Aaron: —“I don’t need to feel better about myself—
Aaron: —“but I want to know that you still believe in me after all these years.”
I’ve just made a commitment: “Nobody is going to out-cheer Jamie Ivey besides me—nobody.”
Ann: That’s good.
Dave: That’s good.
Aaron: That’s my commitment. I want her to get that from me. It’s not about being fake;—
Aaron: —it’s not about just: “Oh, you’re awesome. It’s about finding something in your spouse that you can cheer on, because there are a lot of things about me that Jamie shouldn’t cheer on. There are things that I need to change still. There are ways that I still need to grow, and mature, and all that kind of stuff; but in your spouse, no matter who they are, you can find something in them to cheer. It’s like believing into them something that’s true about themselves, which I think is so important.
Dave: Can you find it? I’m guessing there is a listener, right now, going, “You don’t know my spouse!”
Jamie: No, you can.
Ann: Let me ask Jamie that; because I have wives coming up to me all the time, because we talk about this often. She’ll say, “There is nothing!”
Ann: Talk to the young wife that says, “Honestly, I don’t see anything.”
Jamie: You know, I think that is important to kind of back up a little bit from the cheer thing, too; because Aaron just said it’s not about just puffing them up.
Jamie: It’s not about them—me sitting around and, every day, looking at Aaron and being like,—
Aaron: —“You’re awesome.”
Jamie: —“You’re the most amazing man I ever met.” That’s not what he wants, and I just/that’s dumb.
Jamie: It is a matter of: “How can I look at his world and his day-to-day life, and how can I be involved in it somehow?” We live very different lives—he works at a church; I run my own thing—“But how can I still be for him in whatever he is doing?”
For that wife, [who’s] like, “I don’t see anything good,” you can, at least, sit down and actually want to listen about their day. I think that goes a long way, just to have someone that is interested in you when you walk in the door.
You made the joke about that, and we’ve all experienced that. The thing is—man, when I was staying at home with little kids, the minute Aaron walked in the door, I didn’t care how his day was—I just wanted him to take the children.
Jamie: So that’s—even having to fight for that—of him, having to know, “When I come home, I’ve got to be on”; and me thinking, “When he comes home, I can’t just bail,”—because, now, we’re a team. It’s even just like investing in those little things and wanting to know how their day was.
Aaron: One of my favorite authors—his name is Brennan Manning—he says, “Every human being possesses the power to step into somebody’s life and place the courage into them to simply be by their words of affirmation.”
So many times, we’re waiting for somebody to become something and, then, encourage them or cheer them on; but part of encouraging someone is placing the courage in them to become the person that they are going to become. Do you know what I’m saying?
Ann: Jesus did it all the time.
Jamie: And we do it in our parenting.
Aaron: But to do it with your spouse—you might be tempted to go, “Man, he’s just working all the time. He just cares about his job. He is an overachiever,”—but instead, to go, “You know what? I see something in you that is really good. You work really hard,”—right? That’s not over applauding—
Aaron: —or saying, “You’re awesome.” There is an element of truth to that, and it’s placing the courage in them to do that better; you know? To say, “You work really well. I love that part of you,”—you’re placing courage in them that, ultimately, a spouse that hears that over, and over, and over again from their loved one.
When Jamie did that to me—that makes me want to go, “Man, I want to be a better man for her; because she sees something really great in me. I’m not the best man, yet; but I want to become a better and better man.”
Ann: It’s motivating.
Dave: After that moment in a marriage, she started to cheer me.
Ann: The reason I did was because I went to God. I was so mad about the whole thing; but I got on my knees, and I said, “God, is that true? Do I ‘boo’ Dave?” He said, “Yes.” My prayer was: “God, show me the greatness in Dave,” because God sees the greatness in all of us. He asked me to: “Start looking for it, and then call it out.” It gave me new eyes.
Dave: It didn’t change in a week.
Ann: It took a while, people.
Dave: Just like you were saying, she started calling me a great man/a great husband. I think one day she even got a cheerleader sweater, and it had a big “D” on it. [Laughter]
Ann: This is his dream; no.
Dave: It wasn’t for Detroit or Dallas—it was for Dave—but anyway, that never happened.
But I just remember something came alive in my soul. I used to say, “Men come alive when they are respected.” I think it is men and women.
Jamie: Oh, yes.
Dave: It’s not just men. When your spouse or somebody—you’re running to that place—because it lifts you up.
Jamie: I remember, when I was at home with the kids—and all of our kids are teenagers, so they go to school every day—it gives me an opportunity to work more. But I remember when I was a stay-at-home mom—and anyone, who has been in those shoes, knows, it’s not only exhausting, but a lot of times, it feels unrewarding.
Jamie: You’re just like, “It’s Groundhog Day over and over”; and no one cheers you on, speaking of cheering. [Laughter]They just demand things from you.
I’ll never forget this one year. Aaron gave me, for my birthday, a membership to a co-working space/co-working, where I could go and work for a day. Here I was at home, feeling as though God was putting a dream in me to do something different than what I had done previously to having kids. I was a teacher and a coach, and I really felt God stirring something.
I had said something to him; but I mean, I am a day-to-day mom. He gave that to me; and he said, “I want you to have this computer, and I want you to have these days at this co-working space. We’ll figure the kids out.” I remember feeling like, “He sees that there is more to me than just making sandwich lunches, and Goldfish®, and driving to preschool every day.”
Aaron: So many Goldfish.
Jamie: So many Goldfish. [Laughter] I just remember feeling so encouraged; and it was years later, you guys, before I did anything with that computer or the job I do now. It doesn’t have to be a computer; it doesn’t have to be a co-working space; but there is an opportunity, as spouses, to look at them and say, “I see something in you that, maybe, you don’t even see yet.”
Ann: As you are sharing that—wait, wait, wait—
Ann: —you are teary as you are sharing that,—
Ann: —because it meant so much.
Jamie: It meant so much to me, because he saw me. As a stay-at-home mom, so often, we feel so unseen. I love that season of staying home; I’m grateful. That is a privilege a lot of women in this world don’t have, so I would never change that for anything; but to be seen by Aaron, when he went every day to work, and I thought, “Well, that must be nice.” [Laughter] You have a lunch meeting?; okay.”
Ann: And everybody is cheering him.
Jamie: Yes. But I felt so seen, and it really/it meant a lot to me.
Ann: Aaron, what prompted you to do that?
Aaron: I probably did something wrong the day before; and I was like, “I’ve got to figure out something.” [Laughter] I’ve had people believe things about me that I didn’t believe about myself. Maybe, it wasn’t always a gift; it could have just been a word or whatever.
When somebody is that important to you—like a spouse—I just wanted to have eyes open. I’ve always seen Jamie as more than just like who she is today, because she’s awesome. I don’t know—just having eyes wide open to see: “What are all the unique things that make you who you are?—that makes you different than everybody else on the planet?” and “How can I pour fuel on those little fires?”—it was really that.
I say that, not as like how awesome I am; I’m saying, “We’ve had that intentionality grow in our marriage.” We didn’t start out that way; but the more we experience what it feels like to be cheered on, the more you look for opportunities to cheer the other person on.
Jamie: That’s right.
Aaron: So it might just start with little baby steps—
Aaron: —you know? Because the stories you are hearing—these are, sometimes,
20 years/10 years into marriage. I think you grow, and you mature, and you develop; you learn how to use muscles in a different way. I wouldn’t have, probably, done that the first six months of our marriage.
My encouragement is: “Take one step forward in seeing something in your spouse, and cheer them on in that way—it might be a gift; it might be a card; it might be a date night of you just going, “I’m going/here are ten things I really love about you.”
Ann: That’s sweet.
Dave: Yes; I know that I’ve told Ann—and she’s the best in the world at it—I mean, nobody cheers me like this woman.
Ann: You’re so nice.
Dave: This is the woman I said boos me; right?
Dave: She’s just an amazing cheerleader now, and I watched her do it with our boys.
You know, earlier you said, “Stay-at-home moms need to be cheered”; and it is so true; but so do men—even men that have jobs that/where we get cheered. You come home; and you’re like: “Does she see?”—
Dave: —“Do they see?”—
Dave: —this kind of thing. It’s so critical.
I would say to the listener: “Find something every day.”
Dave: It’s actually possible.
Aaron: Oh, yes!
Jamie: So like once a day, at least?
Dave: Yes; just find a moment in the day. I mean, Ann no longer gives me love cards—they are not love cards—they are cheer cards; we don’t call them cheer cards. You know, she knew the love cards—I was like, “Oh, you love me,”—and I threw it away. Now, she writes these things she is seeing, and they are in a drawer. I can pull every one of them out—
Aaron: That’s cool.
Dave: —because they are affirming. They bring life to a man or a woman, to a son or a daughter, to a neighbor.
Dave: Can you imagine your neighbors?—if they saw you as the ones that cheered them? It’s going to draw them to Christ.
Jamie: I’m going to say one more thing for these stay-at-home moms. What Aaron had to learn to do was that, when he was coming home—however long it took him to get from the office to home—that was his decompression time.
Jamie: He didn’t get to come in and lay in the recliner for the hour—like we don’t do that at our house—you come home; you get to be dad and husband.
I had to learn that, when Aaron comes home, I actually wanted those first ten minutes he walked in the door to be for me. The kids are all excited: “Dad’s home!” “Dad’s home!” “Dad’s home!” But I get those first minutes, because—
Ann: What’s that look like?
Jamie: —I needed that. I had not talked to anybody all day; you know? I had ridden in the car all day, listening to VeggieTales. I needed those first ten minutes.
We had to work through that because—until Aaron realized:—
Jamie: —“Time home is what I [Jamie] get; you know, you don’t get to come in and decompress”—for me, I didn’t get to just stay in the kitchen, and wave at him when he walked in—like we needed to have a moment; because if you’ve got little kids, you don’t get that again until 8:30.
Ann: No; right.
Jamie: I think that was really good, when we had little kids—was to decide, “Okay; when you walk in the door, we need ten minutes,”—
Jamie: —and that’s either just: “Tell me how your day was,” or—
Jamie: —“How was your day?” “Let’s hug; kiss,”—whatever it looks like.
Aaron: Put the TV on; throw out some Cheerios®: “Guys, Mom and Dad are meeting in the kitchen for ten minutes.”
Ann: That’s good.
Aaron: Just make time for each other.
Jamie: Yes, it’s intentional.
Aaron: If not, it never happens.
Jamie: You have to think about it.
Ann: It’s good; I mean, people can think, “Oh, our kids need us!”—no.
Jamie: No, they don’t; they’re fine.
Ann: What kids need is—they need to watch their parents—“Oh, marriage is a priority. This is important.”
Dave: And you just modeled complement;—
Jamie: That’s right.
Dave: —because you spoke the truth, and you heard; it complemented one another. I know you know that—but it was just like that’s a beautiful thing—because a lot times, we think, “I don’t want to share something that’s hurtful/that’s not cheering”; but sometimes, truth in love, packaged well, leads to a beautiful complementary marriage.
Jamie: That’s right.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to the cheer squad—[Laughter]—Dave and Ann Wilson talking with Aaron and Jamie Ivey about the importance of being cheerleaders for one another.
You talked about booing and being negative. Some people will say, “Well, I don’t do that.” Silence—I mean, imagine playing a sports game. Players have had to deal with this—they go into arenas today—and there is nobody cheering for them. That feels like a boo when we’re silent with one another.
Dave: Yes; and can you imagine, if there were fans sitting there, and not saying anything? It’s like your spouse sitting there, and there is no comment; it feels like a very loud boo.
Bob: Have you heard about this? This is something that happens at Taylor University.
Ann: Oh, you told us this. This is fascinating.
Bob: Every year, they have a basketball game, where for the first, I think, it’s until their team gets to ten points, the fans all show up and are completely silent. At first, it freaked the other team out completely. And then, everybody is kind of prepped for it now; but when they get to point ten, the place erupts with raucous, like they won the Super Bowl kind of thing.
Well, yes—that silent arena/when that’s true in your marriage—when you’re not speaking, proactively, words of encouragement and edification, it makes a huge difference.
Ann: I think it demotivates us, and we stop trying as hard. I’m going to tell you guys one more thing that’s not good.
Ann: When your wife comes out and she says, “How do I look?” and you could either say nothing or, even, “Fine,”—that, right there, is a bad thing, too—you might, as well, be booing. [Laughter]
Bob: So “Stunning” is the appropriate answer.
Ann: Or just: “Great!” “Good.” It doesn’t have to be “Stunning,”—like, “Great, hon.” You don’t lie; but I’m just saying, “Fine,”—
Dave: Are you talking to me right now? [Laughter] Or is this to the listener?
Ann: I’m helping the listener.
Bob: Your conversation has helped the listeners. We hope our listeners will get a copy of the books that Aaron and Jamie have written. I say “books” because they’ve taken the same subject/the same chapters—and Aaron has written a book for husbands, and Jamie has written a book for wives—they come packaged together. We are making them available to FamilyLife Today listeners.
If you will make a donation to support the ministry this month to help extend the reach of what we’re doing, here, at FamilyLife to help us help more people, more often, with practical biblical help and hope for their marriage, we’ll send you these books as our thank-you gift. In addition, whatever donation you make today is going to be matched, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $250,000. We’ve had some friends of the ministry, who have come to us and said, “We’ll match every donation, in the month of May, as a way to help advance the ministry of FamilyLife,” and to encourage you to be a part of the work that God is doing here.
You make a donation either, online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY. You’ll get the Iveys’ books; and your donation will be matched, dollar for dollar. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to make your online donation, or call us right now at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Thanks, in advance, for helping to extend the reach of this ministry and for investing—really, what you are investing in is the lives, the marriages, the families of hundreds of thousands of people who, every day, are coming to FamilyLife for help and hope. So thanks for making that happen.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about how important it is for us, as parents, to be regularly praying for our children and, at the same time, teaching our children how to pray. Nancy Guthrie is going to join us for that. I hope you can be with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Bruce Goff, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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