FamilyLife Today® Podcast

How Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman Met

with | October 18, 2012
Play Pause

Before he was a Grammy and Dove Award winning singer-songwriter, Steven Curtis Chapman was just another struggling Nashville artist, until he met a young woman named Mary Beth. Hear how a storybook romance blossomed into a marriage that honors God through the hard times as well as the good.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Before he was a Grammy and Dove Award winning singer-songwriter, Steven Curtis Chapman was just another struggling Nashville artist, until he met a young woman named Mary Beth. Hear how a storybook romance blossomed into a marriage that honors God through the hard times as well as the good.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Before he was an award winning singer-songwriter, Steven Curtis Chapman was just another struggling artist.

MP3 Download Transcript

How Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman Met

October 18, 2012
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob:   More than being a successful performer, a Grammy award-winning artist and songwriter, Steven Curtis Chapman says, more than anything, he wants to be a husband who glorifies God.

Steven:  I want to meet the needs of my wife.  I've cried out to God; and I even wrote a song, How Do I Love Her?  [Singing about crying for wisdom]   “This is the greatest calling that I have, short of loving You, Lord, well—to love my wife well.”  [Singing about the mystery of a man knowing how to love a woman—asking God about it]  “What is the cost of that?  If it's to leave this career aside—whatever that is—show me what it means to really love my wife and care for her.”

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, October 18th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.   Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, join us today.  We’ll hear from Steven how he has learned a thing or two about being a godly husband, along their journey.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.


Dennis:  Bob, excuse me for a second.  We have with us, in the studio, Steven Curtis Chapman, the best-selling songwriter/singer, along with his bride, Mary Beth.  Welcome to FamilyLife Today.

Steven:  Thank you.

Mary Beth:  Thank you.

Dennis:  I just have a quick quiz for Steven Curtis, as he has performed all across the country.  Who, out of all of the other artists you have performed with—in terms of being a part of your band, when you've sung, and you've gone on stage—who is your favorite?  Now, think carefully about this question.

Bob:  This would include, like background singers—

Dennis:  —background singers—

Steven:  Oh, yes; boy, yes, you've broadened it there to that.  Well, that's—if you broaden it to that—hands down, it's just—

Dennis:  Well, give us a few of the names—the big names you've sung with.

Steven:  Well, I've performed with Amy Grant.  Michael W. and I have done some things together—

Bob:  You and Geoff Moore—

Steven:  Geoff Moore and I are great friends and buddies—

Bob: —probably be one of them; wouldn't it?

Steven:  I’ve done—you know—lots of different—I've worked with a lot of different artists.

Dennis:  You didn't work with Elvis?

Steven:  I did not have the opportunity to work with Elvis, no; but it was—probably as close to Elvis as I've ever been—

Dennis:  Well, you don't realize how close; but go ahead.

Steven:  Okay, was actually, there was this one opportunity that I had to call on the stage a phenomenal talent—really, just in a class—all, his own—[Laughter]

Bob: —in his own right; in his own right, yes.

Steven:  A legend, really, in his own mind.  I got to have Bob Lepine come and sing backup vocals—[Laughter]

Bob: [Singing]   Well, it’s my

Steven:  —and sing background vocals for My Turn Now, and it was truly amazing.

Bob: Let's recreate that moment.

Dennis:  Bob, I was thinking the same thing.  Get your guitar—you've got your guitar there—

Steven:  This is a moment that needs to be heard again.  We’re going to recreate this moment for all of us.  [Singing]  Well, it's my turn now

Bob: [Singing]    Well, it's my turn now

Steven:   [Singing]   My turn now

Bob:  [Singing]   Well, it’s my turn

Steven:  [Singing]   My turn to give my life away

Bob: [Elvis imitation] Thank you very much. 

Steven:  Yes, thank you.  Elvis has left the building.  What do you think; huh?

Dennis:  I think this has set Christian radio back at least ten years and may have hurt his career.  [Laughter]

Bob:  It could be the end of it.

Steven:  I have singlehandedly brought it down, just in a ball of flames right there; but it sure was fun while it lasted; wasn't it, Bob?

Bob: It was fun!

Steven:  Have you got a spot, here, at FamilyLife Today—maybe, on staff somewhere, you could—

Bob: As a matter of fact, we do have a place for you.  We ought to let our listeners know that Steven is going to be joining us in February on the Love Like You Mean It™ marriage cruise.  Valentine’s week we’re going to be heading out to Key West and then Cozumel from Miami.  This is February 11th through the 15th.  Kari Jobe is going to be there to lead worship—Voddie Baucham, Dr. Eric Mason are going to join us, Priscilla Shirer—we have a great lineup for the cruise. 

We only have—I was talking to the team.  We just have a handful of cabins still available.  If folks would like to join us—Valentine’s week, February 11th through the 15th—hear Steven Curtis Chapman and the whole lineup—go to our website,, and find out more about the upcoming Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  Plan to be a part of it with us, coming up in February. 

Dennis:   Take us back to when you all met.  You met in Anderson, Indiana; right?

Steven:  That’s right.

Mary Beth: Correct.

Steven:  We actually—you want to?  You can tell this.  I’ve told this story many times.  You tell it.  I want to hear your—

Dennis:  Well, whoever tells it the juiciest—

Mary Beth:  Well—or the funniest.  I attended Anderson University—now.  It was Anderson College, at the time—and went—reported for duty a few weeks early.  All the incoming freshmen had to be there early for freshmen orientation, et cetera, et cetera.  Steven was there.  He was not a freshman, but he was there with a band that he had called Chapman Anderson.  It was like a promo band for the school, and they were doing some of the incoming orientation stuff. 

My roommate and I went to this concert that these guys were having—to kind of welcome all the incoming freshmen to college.  We sat in the back and just made hilarious fun of these hillbillies from Kentucky, up there singing.  Steve had—I said, earlier at the chapel, that he had a mullet, a green guitar, and cowboy boots.  I'm from Ohio, and that was just funny.

Steven:  There was no such thing at the time as a mullet.  It was a really cool hairdo.

Mary Beth:  You defined mullet.  He defined mullet.

Dennis:  Explain what a mullet is.

Steven:  Well, at the time, this was one of the more stylish hairdos that—coiffure—however you say it.  It was long hair in the back and then shorter on the sides and the top.  Billy Ray Cyrus has kind of perfected that—

Dennis:  A little ponytail, back there, maybe?

Steven:  If I was, you know—[Crosstalk]  

Bob:  It was always a bad choice.  [Laughter]  It may have been stylish, but it was always a bad choice. 

Steven:  Look, there was 15 minutes in about 1983 that it was really cool; okay?  I just stretched the 15 minutes out to five or six years.  Geoff Moore and me—a lot of us did.

Mary Beth:  Emily, for his birthday, found this hardback book called The Mullet, and it’s just a whole hardback book of everybody that’s ever—

Steven:  Yes, it’s a celebration of that particular hairdo.

Mary Beth:  A celebration of that hairdo.

Stephen:  So yes, I had that hair.

Mary Beth:  Anyways, we just enjoyed kind of picking at this band.  In the days that ensued, I kept getting this mail, in my mailbox, to a Steve Chapman.  It was usually addressed "Steve Chapman" from the Department of Music.  I never made the connection that that Steve Chapman was the Steve Chapman that I was kind of poking fun at onstage; but as weeks went on, realized that he and I were sharing a mailbox because I was Mary Beth Chapman—my maiden name was Chapman.  We were put in the same mailbox together.

So, we met and thought, "Well, wouldn't it be funny if we ended up getting married.  We should at least go out on a date.”  He thought I was cute.

Dennis:  It wasn't long after that, though, you decided to ask her out.

Steven:  Yes, I did.  I saw her, actually, the first time—she was coming from the cafeteria, and I passed her.  I had a buddy, who was with me.  We were coming into the cafeteria.  She came out; and she said, “Hi,” to my buddy.  He knew her and had met her at some freshman orientation-thing.  He was going and kind of checking out the incoming freshman—which, I had no part of.  I would have no part of that.  I was just—

Bob:  No, much too spiritual for that; weren't you?

Steven:  That's right; that’s right.  I was having Quiet Time when they were doing that. 

Bob:  Right.

Steven:  I said, "Well, who is that?"  He said, "Her name is Mary Beth Chapman."  "I share a mailbox with her."  She's cute, and she had on a denim jacket.  She had these buttons on her denim jacket and, at that time, that was kind of cool.  You wore your denim jacket, and you put the buttons from, like, rock-and-roll concerts.  It was kind of a little rebellious sort-of-thing.  I thought, "Boy, she's pushing it there.”

Bob:  She’s edgy.

Steven:  “She’s a biker chick," you know—

Bob:  She’s a biker chick.

Steven:  Yes.

Dennis:  You had a mullet, and you said she was rebellious?

Steven: Right, yes.  Well, see at that time, again, the mullet was—there was nothing rebellious about it—but I realized that she—actually, the buttons were the Precious Moments®’ little figurines on the buttons.  It was not, like, AC/DC or anything.

Bob: That's pretty rebellious biker stuff.

Mary Beth:  "Honk if you love Jesus."

Steven:  Yes, a little button that had a goose that said, "Honk if you love Jesus," and "Please be patient. God isn't finished with me yet," you know, and all this kind of stuff on her denim jacket.  So it was kind of that, sort of, redeemed rebel sort-of-idea going.

Bob: When you saw her, the first time, with the denim jacket—then, the kind of edgy look—you probably thought, "She's different than any girl I've ever known."

Steven:  Well, yes—not necessarily that I've ever known—but any girl that I'd ever sort of been interested in or attracted to.  I just remember that little moment of passing her, thinking, "Something unique about this girl."  If I'd only known how unique, and how wonderfully different, and yet perfectly matched—you know—one of those moments that, looking back now—if I'd known, then, what I know now—I probably would have—you know—we both would have run the other way, and wanted to kiss each other, and slap each other—all at the same time—run the opposite direction. 

Bob: How did you go from sitting in the back of the auditorium, making fun of the mullet boy with the green guitar, to saying, “Yes,” to “I'll go out on a date to Red Lobster® with you."

Mary Beth:  He was just very sweet and very kind.  It was kind of interesting that our names were the same.  I actually met his brother first, and his brother is a real trip.  He thought we would have a lot in common.  At the same time, we're very wondrously different.  It didn't take long.

I mean, well, he was two hours late for our first date.  I was a little, you know, kind of off to a bad start; but once we really spent time together, those first couple of days, we ended up being—we pretty much were together all the time.  I went to college with, "I'm not going to date anybody seriously.  I'm going to just kind of play the field—just kind of take it easy."  I met him, you know, the first week I was there; and three weeks later, we were pretty much inseparable.

Dennis:  You know, we have a number of single people who listen to our broadcast, Bob.  As I'm listening to this love story begin to unfold here, I'm reminded when Adam saw Eve for the first time.  He thought he was 100 percent compatible with her, too.  He said, "This is now bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.  She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man."  He didn't realize how different she was than him.  You know, it really takes a lifetime to begin to, not only recognize the differences, but to receive the gift and the differences together and to embrace them.

For years, we have taught at our Weekend to Remember ®—in fact, we call it the "Cornerstone Principle" of building a great marriage—that we are called to receive our spouse as God's perfect gift for us.  Even in the midst of their imperfections, weaknesses, bad habits, ups and downs, we should receive our spouse—why?  Because of who God is. 

When Eve came walking up, she came walking up with the Creator.  Adam knew Him.  He didn't know Eve, but he knew the Creator could be trusted.  That really provides the basis on which two imperfect people today—now, we know that since then, man has sinned, and the story is a bit different today; but I think, in many regards, the story is the same—God does bring Adams and Eves together as man and wife.  He completes two people who, by themselves, are not all that He created them to be.

That really is the story of your marriage.  You've sung about this, you've talked a lot about this in your concerts—God really completed you, as a man, in Mary Beth.

Steven:  Absolutely.  It really is—the mystery that God brings two people together and does something in bringing them together that would never have happened in their lives apart from each other.  It is a completing; and yet, it's such a different concept of completing than what we think, going into it.  

I mean, thinking, when I first met Mary Beth, she—you know, "I need you because you complete me.  There is this being with you—the experience—the emotion of that...” —had no clue, had no understanding of really how true that was—how much deeper God was going to reveal that, over the years.  I know we're going to even see and know more of that, you know, if the Lord gives us another 20 or 30 years on this earth.  We'll look back and go, "It's an amazing—it's a mysterious thing.  It's only something that God could imagine and create."

Bob: You didn't realize that completing meant that you were like an unfinished song that needed some work done to it.  He brought her along to make you more like Jesus.  Those differences kind of grind away at some of your rough edges—expose them and grind away at them; don't they?

Steven:  Yes, well, exposure is the thing because it really does—I mean, I jokingly have said many times that I'm one of those guys—especially, being from the South—I could have gotten through life thinking, "I'm really a pretty good guy, you know.  I can fool most folks.  The Lord and I know the truth, but it doesn't have to get out; does it?" —that I really need a Savior, and I really need change from the inside out—I need heart surgery.

The differences—the things that bring that to the surface in mine and Mary Beth's relationship—and it was real clear, right off the bat.  I mean, we—you know, people talk about the six-month honeymoon period or the whatever—ours was—we timed it—about six minutes, I think, before we were looking at each other going, "Wow!  We are different.” 

Mary Beth:  I was going to say hours, but—really different.

Steven:  I mean, we are different, and this is going to really be...."  You know, as I desire to know Christ and to make Him known—to know more of God's grace and to grow deeper and deeper in the understanding of that—the one place that I see most profoundly my need of His grace and His sufficiency is in my relationships—and especially, in my relationship with Mary Beth. 

I believe it's the greatest gift that God has given us, as human beings—our relationships.  You mentioned Adam and Eve.  Right from the beginning, we see God saying, “It’s not good for man to be alone,” and put him in relationship.  Ultimately, we were created for our relationship with God; and then, all of our other relationships are to draw us to that.  They are those God-ward arrows that point us back to Him.

I've said that—I've written songs—I Will Be Here—I've talked about it.  It has probably been the one thing that, from the very beginning, I’ve continued to go back to and realize this is a big part of why God has put me on this platform—for whatever other reasons, for however long it is—it is to try and encourage others to honor, to love well those that God has placed in your life because Jesus said, “That's My greatest command for you.”  That's kind of it.  It's, “How are you loving the people in your life?” and, “That's how you really respond to My love for you—is by loving one another.”

[Singing I Will Be Here]

So, any opportunities we've had to encourage others—we've wanted to do through the years and, as we've said, we know more about what not to do and the mistakes to avoid because we feel like we've made them all and are still in that process—but we are very excited to get to partner with the wonderful work that you guys have been doing for so many years to encourage families, to encourage marriages—to recognize what an incredible, profound picture of the love and the grace of God for us—our marriages are and our relationships are. 

Bob: I remember running into you, one time, in Nashville.  I had heard, kind of through the grapevine, that, “Steven and Mary Beth are going to counseling for their marriage.”  You know, when you hear that about folks, we shouldn't think that their marriage is a mess, necessarily, because we can all use the accountability—the iron sharpening of sitting down across from somebody who can show us things we can't see ourselves; right?

Steven:  Right.

Bob:  But I thought, “Oh, man,” because we hear—all through Christian music, and churches, and everything—we hear about people whose marriages go the wrong direction.  I remember bumping into you.  I looked at you and I said, "You guys doing okay?"  You said, "Yes, we are.  We're going through some tough times, but we are."  I said, "If I ever hear anything different, I'm coming to get you!"

Steven:  I remember that; I remember that.

Bob: "I'm coming to get you."  We've got to be that way with one another; don't we?

Steven:  Absolutely.

Bob: We have got to be in each other's face and say, "I'm not going to let you make a mistake here."

Steven:  Well, that has been, for Mary Beth and me, probably one of the greatest gifts.  We have had to continue to surround ourselves with those people.  Even, sometimes, I’ve worried that maybe I’ve been too honest; or I don’t want people to ever think, "Is this guy just airing his dirty laundry—just wearing his heart out on his sleeve?  He's always talking about his wife.  He’s always talking about his family—even the struggles.”

I can remember nights I've gotten up and said, "You know, tonight I am having a hard time singing some of these songs because the reality of them are hitting me so strongly."  Even, I remember a night that I said, “You know, my voice is a little raspy tonight; and I’m having a hard time.”  It was right before I sang, I Will Be Here.  I said, “You guys have been faithful friends of mine to pray for us.  Part of the reason my voice is raspy is I’ve been screaming.  I’ve just been yelling and screaming—”

Bob:  Shouting at my wife?

Steven:  “—shouting at my wife.”

Bob:  At your wife?

Steven:  Yes, and a lot of just screaming to God, “I need You to give me wisdom and lead us through this because we don’t know where to take the next step, but we know we’re taking it together.”  And that has always been completely honest—when I've been able to stand in front of people and say—there's not any trip we've made to counselors—and we made a bunch of them—has always been to say, "You know what?  We're finishing this race together. We’re going to do it.  Help us not kill each other in the process because we're not going anywhere; but right now, we don't know how to get to this next step." 

Bob:  “We're locked up, and don't know how to get unlocked.”

Mary Beth:  We call it our preventative maintenance program.

Dennis:  I just want to thank you for being on FamilyLife Today because you’ve answered a question I’ve been wondering about for ten years.  That question is, “Why is Bob’s voice so low?”

Bob:  Yes; yes.  [Singing]  Well it’s my—that was my part.

Dennis:  No, no, no.  It’s because—it’s gotten lower—you screaming at Mary Ann all the time.

Steven:  Yelling and screaming all the time.  That’s it. That’s right!

Dennis:  All kidding aside, I just want to take something that Bob said, though; and I want to drive a nail firmly home.  Bob, you mentioned that you heard Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman were receiving counseling—were in the midst of that.  I think your response is the way most of us respond when we hear of someone needing to get help and encouragement for their marriages, but I just want to go on record—

Bob:  We think something must be seriously wrong and they’re headed toward divorce.

Dennis:  Yes, and there’s shame in that.  I just want you to know there is zero shame in getting counsel.  I have received counsel, Barbara has received counsel—together, as a couple, we have received counsel.  God made us, as individuals, to need another person.  He made us, as couples, to need other people.  We live in community.  Hear me—it's a part of why this broadcast is so important in people's lives—they receive counsel for their marriages and their families. 

Bob:  Well, think about people who join with us at a Weekend to Remember, or who have gone through The Art of Marriage®,or the people who are going to be with us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  I remember, when we first went on the marriage cruise, a couple of years ago, I remember thinking, “There would not be couples who are in a hard spot in their marriage onboard a cruise ship.”  I mean, you wouldn’t go on a cruise together if your marriage was—there was a lot of friction there. 

But there were some couples there—I remember talking to one couple.  They were at a difficult place in their marriage—and God used the speakers who were onboard the cruise with us, the musicians, the artists who joined us—to press home some biblical truth and to help this couple begin to think rightly again about their marriage relationship.

Steven Curtis Chapman is going to be joining us, this year, on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  We just had Steven sign up to be a part of that.  Kari Jobe is going to be onboard, helping to lead worship.  We have Voddie Baucham, who is going to be speaking; we’ve got Dr. Eric Mason, who is going to be joining us.  Priscilla Shirer is going to be onboard; Ron Deal is going to be joining us.  We have a lot happening onboard this year’s cruise.

It is Valentine’s week, February 11th through 15th, 2013.  I checked with the team—there are just a handful of cabins still available.  They told me that, over the next seven days, they were hoping to fill things up.  They are offering $400 off the cost of a cabin for anybody who will sign up for the cruise between now and the 26th of October.  You have to use my name.  Use “BOB” as a promo code online; or when you call, just tell them that you heard about this on the radio—that Bob sent you.  You’ll also receive a copy of Steven’s latest CD, which is called Re-Creation

To take advantage of this offer, you need to go to and click on the Love Like You Mean It link.  Use “BOB” as a promo code online, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY for more information about how to get registered for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  Again, the special offer is available just for the next seven days.  Let us hear from you if you’d like to join Steven, and Dennis, and me, and the rest of the guests on this year’s Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  We’d love to have you.

Now, we want to encourage you to join us back here again tomorrow.  Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman are going to be back again, and we’re going to hear about some of the stories that folks don’t often get a chance to hear—stories of challenges you guys have faced, as a married couple, because we all have conflict.  You guys are no different.  So, tomorrow, we’ll talk about that with Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman.  I hope you can join us.

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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Help for today.  Hope for tomorrow.

 ©Title:     How Do I Love Her?                          

Artist:      Steven Curtis Chapman                             

Album:    All About Love ℗ 2003 Sparrow

©Title:       How Do I Love Her? (Karaoke version with Background Vocals)

 Artist:      Various

 Album:    Sing Like Steven Curtis Chapman, Vol. 2 ℗ 2003 ProSound Music

 ©Title:       I Will Be Here

 Artist:       Steven Curtis Chapman

 Album:     All About Love ℗ 2003 Sparrow

We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you.  However, there is a cost to produce them for our website.  If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs? 

Copyright © 2012 FamilyLife.  All rights reserved.