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Encouraging Your Wife Through a Move

with Susan Miller | March 2, 2009

Relocating your family can be stressful. Today, Susan Miller, founder of Just Moved, recalls her family’s moves as her husband, Bill, pursued his career in the hotel business, and Bill talks about why men need to support their wives during this transition.

Relocating your family can be stressful. Today, Susan Miller, founder of Just Moved, recalls her family’s moves as her husband, Bill, pursued his career in the hotel business, and Bill talks about why men need to support their wives during this transition.

Encouraging Your Wife Through a Move

With Susan Miller
|
March 02, 2009
| Download Transcript PDF

Susan: So many times Bill and I would be living under the same roof but be miles apart.  And, you know, the distance between us at the different seasons of our life when we moved, and the different stresses and pressures, and I think sometimes, as women, we get caught up in those circumstances and sometimes, you know, I would just say, "Lord, I've got to focus on what's real and important and doesn't change.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, March 2nd.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  How does someone keep the right perspective and stay spiritually anchored in the midst of a move?  We'll talk about that today.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  Can I tell you something really, really stupid I did once?

Dennis: Sure.

Bob: This was back in 1984.  Mary Ann and I had been married for five years, and we were moving.  We were going to be moving from Tulsa, which is the town where Mary Ann grew up, where all of her family lived; going to be moving to Phoenix, Arizona.  And our house hadn't sold yet in Tulsa, but I needed to be out in Phoenix for the job, so I went on ahead, and I said, "I'll look for a new house out here in Phoenix, find something that we can move into."

Dennis: I remember this story.

Bob: And here is the other thing I said – "The company has agreed that they'll pay for our move.  In fact, they'll pay for the guys to come in and do the boxing up and the whole thing."

Dennis: What a deal, huh?

Bob: So I found the house.  Of course, in those days, you really couldn't send back pictures via the Internet to let your wife see what the house looked like.  Mary Ann hadn't seen any of it.  And then, once I'd found the house that she hadn't seen and put the offer in on it, because I knew that the company was paying for the move, I thought, well, it's all taken care of.  I don't need to go back and help with that.  I mean, they'll just load it all on the truck and get it out here, and I'll just wait here until they come.  Pretty stupid, don't you think?

Dennis: I always thought – you know, I'd heard the story.  I'd only heard that you bought the house without Mary Ann seeing it.

Bob: Well, yeah, but …

Dennis: But the rest of the story is that you …

Bob: I just waited in Phoenix …

Dennis: … let her move?

Bob: She handled it all.

Dennis: And you're the one who wrote the book – what's the name of the book you wrote, Bob?

Bob: "The Christian Husband," or "Mistakes I've Made and How You Can Learn From Them."

Dennis: What if, Bob – think about this for a moment, now, I'm serious – think about this – what if you could have called anyone in America and had America's moving coach to have coached you through that move.  Who would you have called?

Bob: I wouldn't have any idea who to call, but I do today.  Now I would have called Susan Miller and said, "Help!  Help!"

Dennis: And she's here – mysteriously and magically she's here – Susan, welcome to FamilyLife Today.

Susan: I can't tell you how excited I am to be here with you and Bob, Dennis.  This is so awesome.  We're going to talk my language today.

Dennis: That's right.  Was there any hope for Bob back then?

Susan: You know, there was, he just didn't know it.

Bob: I certainly didn't.  That's pretty obvious.

Dennis: Susan and her husband have been married 42 years.  They have two children, six grandchildren, and she is the president and founder of Just Moved.  And she is America's moving coach, and she's written a book called "After the Boxes are Unpacked, Moving On after Moving In."  And I have to say, Susan, I've got a pretty thick bunch of research that was done – not by any random group of people.  This research here, it's over 50 pages of research was done on our staff who have joined FamilyLife. 

Our ministry has been a very rapid-growing ministry for a number of years.  We've had a number of people relocate and bring their experience and hearts for the family here to FamilyLife, and we began to realize that we weren't getting it right about this subject of moving, and so we asked their opinion.  And I'm going to tell you something – moving is hard on people, isn't it?

Susan: Yes, it is.  It's very hard.  It's an emotional adjustment.  It's when a family is uprooted.  Many times a marriage is impacted.  For many women and many husbands, it is like a brick in the wall that builds between them.  And it's very traumatic.  Moving is a crisis, and a lot of people don't realize it does have a beginning and an end, but it's what happens during that time that's vital to the family and to the marriage.

Bob: You went through 14 crises …

Susan: Fourteen.

Bob: … early in your marriage, right?

Susan: I did, indeed.

Bob: Every other year, about, you were moving?

Susan: About every two to three years.  Bill was in the hospitality industry in the hotel business, and that's part of the corporate game is moving every two to three years.

Bob: Now that probably – when you got married, you probably weren't thinking, "We'll get married, and then we'll move every two years."

Susan: Oh, not at all.  Listen, I'm a Southerner.  My vision of marriage was a white picket fence with my husband coming home every day at 5 and us sitting down to dinner and having family time.  And little did I know that in the hotel business, it's 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.  So it was very hard on our marriage, very, very hard, and we learned a lot.  We learned a lot about God's faithfulness and about each other and about what we would have to do as a couple to hold it together during all of those moves.

Bob: Do you remember the first time he came home and said, "The company wants to move us to" – wherever.  Where was it, do you remember?

Susan: Yes, it was North Carolina.

Bob: And you'd been living in Florida?

Susan: I'd been living in Georgia.

Bob: In Georgia, so he says, "The company wants to move us to North Carolina, and you thought, "Well, that will be fun," right?

Susan: No, I didn't.  Can I be honest?

Bob: Yeah.

Susan: There is somebody listening to us that's saying, "Yes, I understand."  I was so furious with Bill, I wanted to pack him in a box and put him in the garage, because I thought, "How can you do this?  How can you" – in fact, it's so vivid in my mind right now – "How can you do this?  How can you take me away?

Dennis: Did you cry?

Susan: Oh, I cried, I wouldn't speak to him, I thought, you know, "I just don't like you anymore.  You're moving me away from my church, my family, my friends, everything I know, all that's familiar to take me to a place I know nothing about.  All for career."  And it was very, very hard.

You see, a move is something a woman feels and a man does.  And that's the key for men to understand that it is losing that sense of community and that sense of belonging for a woman.

Dennis: There are really two kinds of people – there are those people who resist change, who don't adapt well to change, who take a long time to change, and there is a second group of people who actually thrive on change.  And they love to create change, it's a rush for them, and they usually marry each other.

Susan: That's right.  And you've got those that have their heels always set.  I had my heels in the Georgia clay.  You know, "Don't move me out of Georgia," and Bill was ready to go – adventure, job challenge, climbing the corporate ladder.

Dennis: So he liked the change then?

Susan: Oh, he loved it, and I was just kicking and screaming the whole way.

Bob: Did you ever think about digging in those heels and saying, "You know, if you want to go, fine.  I'll be here."

Dennis: Bob, that's a serious card.  They're just newly married here, Bob.

Bob: I know, but he's moving her to North Carolina.

Dennis: Well, she wants to put him in a box in the garage.  It sounds pretty serious.

Bob: I mean, you could have played the card that said, you know, "Which is more important, your career or me?  Which is more important, moving to North Carolina and company advancement or our family?"  You could have said those things.  Did you?

Susan: That was the choice I made, Bob, because of the biblical principles that I know – the family that I was raised in, because I don't believe in divorce, I don't believe in being separated.  It wasn't all about me, and it wasn't all about Bill, but it was about, at that time, bread and butter on the table.  And I would follow him out of my love and commitment to him to the ends of the earth.  Now, I may go kicking and screaming.

Bob: There was a little pouting and punishing going on, right, yeah.

Susan: Yeah, and he may know that this is certainly not making Susan happy, but I would follow him to the ends of the earth.

Dennis: Okay, let's go back to that incident in your home when he came and first announced that he wanted to move to North Carolina.  What should he have done?

Susan: He should have, instead of walking up behind me in the kitchen and saying, "Guess what!  I've got some exciting news!  We're going to Phoenix," for example.  This is when we were moving to Phoenix.

Dennis: This is the change junkie.  This is the guy who likes to create change.

Susan: Yeah, he was so excited!

Dennis: He's disrupting your life?

Susan: Oh, yes, totally.  And I said, "We're what?"  He said, "Yeah, in six weeks we're going to Phoenix, Arizona."  This was a very traumatic move from Atlanta to Phoenix.

Dennis: So this is another move?

Susan: Oh, yeah, this is another one.  I'm just going, kind of, through the list.  And he was so excited.  There was actually excitement in his voice and joy in his eyes, and I turned around, and my eyes were brimming with tears, and I said, "We're going where?"  I said, "I don't know anything about cowboys and Indians.  Do they shop in Phoenix?"  I mean, I didn't even – I said, "I know all about the Civil War.  I don't know anything about the Southwest."  You know, and, of course, now we love Phoenix.  I mean, I did go kicking and screaming but, you know, Phoenix – Arizona is a part of our heart and our life, but it …

Bob: So he shouldn't have walked up behind you and shocked you.  What should he have done?

Susan: Well, I would have loved it, and I know women listening would have loved to have had the stage set a little better, a little more intimate.

Dennis: Set the table?

Susan: Set the table, exactly.  Sit down with me and say, "You know, we have an opportunity together as a family.  We have an opportunity to move, and I want to know how you feel about it."

Dennis: Let's discuss this.

Susan: Let's discuss it.  Tell me how you feel about it.  We don't always have choices in the corporate world …

Dennis: Do you realize how difficult this is for a man?

Susan: Oh, Bill says today …

Dennis: This is a foreign language for a lot of men.

Susan: Oh, he said that.  He said – when we give our marriage testimony he said, "Guys, if you walk up and just put your arms around your wife, it just does so much better than being totally isolated from them, if you just communicate with them."  And he didn't know how to do that at the time and wasn't equipped.  But that's what every woman would love, is to be in the loop and to be included.  Even though you may not change the decision, you can be part of that and part of the process of that.  It's huge for a woman.

Dennis: So out of your 14, now, tell the truth …

Susan: I will.

Dennis: If we sense – if Bob and I sense that you're shading it here, I'm going to call your husband.

Susan: Okay, and he's ready.  He's sitting by the phone.

Dennis: Is he really?

Susan: He's ready to give you his input on this whole thing.

Dennis: I'll tell you what, you answer this question, and while you're answering the question, let's get him on the phone, and let's just find out what the truth is – of the 14, how many of them did you go kicking and screaming?  Because there's something – there's a common thread here that Bob and I are hearing in these stories.

Susan: Yes, 13.

Dennis: There are a lot of ruts being created throughout the South and all the way to the Southwest.

Susan: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Dennis: So which one – there was one you didn't kick and scream?

Susan: Yeah, and that was when we moved on the other side of Atlanta – we moved from one side to the other side.

Bob: You were okay with that.

Susan: I was okay with that one completely.

Dennis: All right, let's get her husband on the phone, and let's find out the rest of the story.

Bob: All right.

Bill: Hello?

Bob: Bill, hi, it's Bob Lepine at FamilyLife Today.

Bill: Hey, how are you?

Bob: Doing fine, how are you?

Bill: Good, sir.  Are you taking care of my wife there?

Dennis: We are.  This is Dennis.  I just wanted to call you and just verify some facts of the story here.

[Bill laughs]

Not because your wife is untrustworthy, we just want to make sure we're getting the whole …

Bob: We want your side of the story on this, too, Bill.

Bill: Well, it's about time somebody got my side of the story.

Dennis: There we go!

Bob: Bill, here's the question – you moved your wife 14 times in the early years of your marriage, is that correct?

Bill: Yes, that's true.

Bob: And how many of those times would you say your wife lovingly and graciously smiled and said, "Honey, if you think this is the right thing for us, I'm behind you 100 percent?"

Bill: You know, it was every one.

Dennis: [laughing] That's worth one point, Bill.  You just got one point, but you have until sunset to cash in the point.

[laughter]

Bob: She did that every time but only after she had pouted a little bit?

Bill: Well, no, I wouldn't say she pouted.  I think she had real long, deep conversations with our Lord.

Bob: She went to God and poured out her heart to Him?

Bill: That's right, because I didn't understand any of it.  She had to go to God, because He was the only one that moved there with us that she could talk to that understood.

Bob: Bill, when did it dawn on you in the midst of all of this that moving was hard for your wife?

Bill: You know, it wasn't until we came to Arizona, really.

Dennis: Was that the 14th move, Bill?

Bill: Yeah, yeah, I'm a slow learner.

Bob: The 20-plus years of moving from place to place to place, you weren't catching onto the fact that this was a challenge for your wife?

Bill: Isn't that terrible?

Dennis: What ministry are you in there?

[laughter]

You have a ministry at Scottsdale Bible, one of the leading churches in America.  Would you share with our listeners what ministry that is, Bill?

Bill: It's the marriage ministry at Scottsdale Bible Church, which gives you a real glimpse into the sense of humor that God has.

Bob: No, you're just like us.  We just take all the mistakes we've made and share them with others and say, "Now, don't you do this," right?

Bill: That's right.

Dennis: Let me tell you how she answered the question, and I did tell her that we would likely call you, but she said that she went kicking and screaming 13 out of 14 times.  The only move, she said …

Bob: Let's see if he knows.  Can you guess which one was the only one she didn't kick and scream on?

Bill: No.

Dennis: It's when you moved from South Atlanta to North Atlanta.

Bill: Oh, yeah.

[laughter]

Bob: That one was okay with her.

Susan: You're doing so good.

Bill: That was probably it but, you know, she kicked softly and screamed quietly, and so she always knew that that was her role – was to just encourage the family, encourage the kids and encourage me in our transition. And so that is such a wonderful gift that God gave each of us through her.

Bob: Susan, your kicking and screaming was on the inside.

Susan: Oh, absolutely, and that's part of what is in my book that reveals the need women have to unpack emotionally.

Dennis: Bill, I have two things I want to say.  First of all, what you just said is worth another point.  You just showed great wisdom in what you said by complimenting your wife by being a woman who looked to God in the process of going through something that maybe on the inside she was struggling with.

But the second thing I want you to comment on is – would you help women, just for a moment, help them understand how men view moves?  Because they're scratching their heads on this thing, and they're going, "Why does he brings all this disruption on my family?"

Bob: Why is this such a big deal, anyway?  I mean, it's a move, it's an adventure.  It can be fun.  You get to see a new city, you get to try new things, right?

Bill: Yeah, that's true, but there's a lot of fears and some frustrations and some pressures that we feel as we move into the new job in a new location, and we really need the love and support and the encouragement and the approval of our mates during that time.  And it's not that we're not caring, it's just sometimes we are so busy trying to keep our head above water in our new circumstance, that sometimes we take our eyes off of our mate and even sometimes we take our eyes off of our Lord.

Bob: Susan, a move is stressful in different ways on both a husband and a wife, and those stresses can cause a couple to move toward isolation if they don't intentionally move toward one another and get out of their own stuff, their own issues, and really help one another with what's going on in each other's lives, right?

Susan: That's right, that's right.  So many times Bill and I would be living under the same roof but be miles apart.  And, you know, the distance between us at the different seasons of our life when we moved, and the different stresses and pressures and teenagers and young kids and, you know, all of those things that attribute to another change in life, sometimes would be that brick in the wall, or as I tell many women, you know, we lived under the same roof, but we were miles apart. 

And I think the fact that we lose sight of what's important, we lose sight of, you know, "Hey, jobs come and go, but we're here for each other, and we're going to stock together through thick and thin," and I think those are things sometimes, as women, we lose sight of.  We get so tied up in our circumstances.

And, you know, I always tell young couples, "I am not a victim of my circumstances in moving."  There is victory – I claim victory in Jesus Christ, and our marriage is a platform today, through God's grace and mercy.  And the fact that we were committed, and I think today people don't know what that word "commitment" means, but we are committed and, hey, I've been married 42 years and proud of it, and let me tell you something else.  My heart still beats when I hear the garage door go up, and Bill drives in every day from work.

Bob: There was a little twinkle in your eye when he said hello on the phone here just a minute ago.

Bill: Well, isn't that just great to hear?  Thank you, honey.

Dennis: That makes your day.  It brought a grin to my face, just to hear you be honest and I just appreciate you and Susan and your ministry there in Scottsdale.

Bill: Well, thank you so much.

Dennis: We appreciate you joining us.

Bill: Thank you.  Take good care of my wife and send her home.

Bob: We'll do it.  Thanks, Bill.

Bill: Thank you.

Dennis: Bye-bye.

Bill: Bye-bye.

Dennis: You know, he really was a good sport to allow us to interrupt his afternoon.  He didn't have any warning, and I was impressed.  He got two points in one phone call.

Bob: That's right.

Dennis: I can make a phone call and get negative points.

Bob: Well, it may be that there is a husband listening who would like to get some points of his own and to do that all he needs to do is go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and get a copy of Susan's book, "After the Boxes are Unpacked," and then when it shows up, say, "You know, I knew that this move was hard for you.  I thought this book might be helpful.  Maybe we could read through it together, sweetheart."  That's got to give you 2+ points, I would think.

We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  Again, the title of the book is "After the Boxes are Unpacked."  If you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, there is more information about the book available there.  Also information about the book that Susan wrote for children called "But, Mom, I don't Want to Move," that's designed to help a parent help a child through the process of a move, especially if there have been relationships left behind or – it can be hard for kids to make a move.

Again, both of the resources can be found on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, and you can order from us online, if you'd like.  Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we can have someone on our team make arrangements to have either or both of these books sent to you.

By the way, on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, there is a link to the FamilyLife Mom Blog, and on the Mom Blog this week, we have included some of the best moving tips we've received from some of our staff here at FamilyLife and other moms who have joined in.  You may want to add some of your own moving ideas.  So, again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click on the link to the Mom Blog, and you can read through some of the suggestions that have come from FamilyLife staff and from other moms about moving.

You know, our goal here at FamilyLife is to provide you with practical biblical help for all kinds of issues that you face as you raise your children, as you seek to make your marriage all that God intends for it to be, and we are listener-supported, which means that FamilyLife Today depends on contributions from folks like you who tune in to listen to this program each day and who benefit from what you hear on the program.

This month we want to do something special for listeners who are able to help us with a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We'd like to send you a DVD.  It actually includes two different movies.  There is the movie that tells the story of Jesus, the most widely seen movie of all time.  It's called "The Jesus Movie," and then there is also the story of Jesus for children, which is a retelling of the story of the life of Jesus presented through the eyes of children.

Both of these movies are on a single DVD, and we'd love to send it out to you in time for Easter this year so that you and your family could watch it together, especially if you have younger children.  It's a great DVD to get because the story is told realistically, but it is not as violent as some other movies about Jesus have been.  Again, we're making the DVD available this month as a thank you gift for anyone who supports the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.

If you're making the donation online, you just need to type the word "JesusDVD" into the keycode box without any space in between, just "JesusDVD" and that will let us know that you want the DVD sent to you.  Or make your donation over the phone at 1-800-FLTODAY.  Just tell the person on our team who answers the phone that you'd like the Jesus DVD, and we'll make sure it gets sent to you.  Again, thanks for your financial support of this ministry.  We appreciate your partnership with us.

Tomorrow we're going to be back to talk more about how we deal with the stresses that come when we change addresses.  Susan Miller will join us tomorrow.  I hope you can join us 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'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow. 

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