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Each marriage holds special memories. Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth (formerly Nancy Leigh DeMoss) share some sweet moments they’ve enjoyed in their first year together.
Bob: After more than five-and-a-half decades as a single woman, Nancy Leigh DeMoss got married and had to learn how to adjust to having someone in her home with her, day in and day out. For the most part, she says that adjustment has been a blessing.
Nancy: One of the sweet things, after years of ministering as a single woman, is to now come home from a conference, or a day of recording, or a long, hard meeting, and to have someone there who wants to hear about my day and how it’s gone, and somebody to process things with, and who loves me like crazy.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, November 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and her husband Robert celebrate one year of marriage together this weekend. We’re going to look back on their first year today and see what they’ve learned along the way.
Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I don’t think this has ever happened—where we’ve had a couple in the studio, who we should identify as newlyweds / they’re just about to celebrate their first anniversary—and as soon as they sat down, they pulled out a bottle of Tabasco sauce and put it between them. I’m not exactly sure what that means. Maybe you can get them to explain that.
Dennis: I’m looking over at it. It’s a little, bitty bottle of Tabasco—bottle of Tabasco sauce. I know we’ve been instructed, Bob, to ask the husband of the two—
Bob: —to explain this to us?
Dennis: Why don’t you introduce them to our listeners, and then we’ll go hear the story about the Tabasco sauce.
Bob: Well, our listeners will recognize—because both of these individuals have been on FamilyLife Today before—
Robert Wolgemuth joins us, along with his wife, Nancy. Robert, you’ve been here many times—
Robert: I have.
Bob: —when you were married to your wife, Bobbie.
Bob: You were married to her for 44 years before she went to be with the Lord.
Bob: Nancy, you’ve been with us several times. In fact, I think the first time we ever recorded with you, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, we were talking about singleness and did a series called Singled out for Him; because that was the call of God on your life. You thought that was going to be the call of God on your life for a lifetime.
Nancy: I did.
Dennis: And I asked Nancy one of the greatest questions I’ve ever asked anyone, here on FamilyLife Today.
Bob: You did.
Dennis: I said, “Nancy, do you flirt?”
Bob: And you flinched a little bit when he asked. You were not exactly sure—
Dennis: She squirmed / she squirmed; but she said: “Nope. Don’t flirt.”
So, before we get to the Tabasco sauce, I want to know: “Did you end up flirting with Robert as you dated?”
Robert: What a question!
Nancy: It depends what you mean by flirt. [Laughter]
Dennis: Oh, yes! It depends on what the word means! [Laughter]
Nancy: You know what? What we did was—we were serious about not toying with each other’s emotions and about not creating desires that could not be rightly fulfilled at that point. So we didn’t go further in the relationship than what we knew was appropriate for the relationship. I didn’t tell him that I loved him until the day we got engaged. I said, “I don’t want to say that until I’m ready to say, ‘Yes; I’ll marry you.’”
So, we had fun—we enjoyed each other / we opened our hearts to each other. Now, here’s the woman / a single woman—I had had mile-high hedges in my life between me and married men forever. It was a little bit of a challenge letting those come down gradually. We didn’t want to say or do anything in our relationship that, if the Lord didn’t lead us to marriage, we could have any regrets about.
Bob: The first time you and Robert spent time together, while you were dating—this was after you had said to her, “Could we be friends?”—you [Nancy] went and spent a week in the city where you were living, Robert. You spent time together during the day / during the evening. You got some coaching, ahead of time, from some of your girlfriends about: “What do I do if he wants to hold hands? What do I do if he wants to hug?” right? Do you remember that?
Nancy: That sounds pretty silly, probably, by modern standards; but we wanted to be appropriate and careful. There are a lot of women who read what I write and follow what I say, and I wanted to live with integrity the message that we’re challenging women to have about purity. Again, I didn’t want to lead him on—I didn’t want to communicate that I was further down the road than what we were at that point.
Dennis: You know, some may hear this as extreme; but I think this culture needs some who have built some hedges.
Nancy: Let me tell you what—when you do it that way, once you get to the altar, it’s amazing.
Dennis: Yes; there are no regrets—no regrets.
Nancy: Not only no regrets, but there is incredible freedom and joy. That’s what we experienced.
Dennis: Yes. Alright; I want to—
Bob: Which brings us to the Tabasco sauce; right?
Dennis: I want to get to the Tabasco sauce. [Laughter] So, Robert, what’s with the bottle of Tabasco?
Robert: This is a little, tiny bottle—I don’t know—this is probably an inch-and-a-half tall. We were somewhere, Honey; and we got room service—breakfast.
Nancy: —after we were married.
Robert: —after we married. [Laughter]
Dennis: Does anybody think, after what she just said, the other—I mean, seriously! [Laughter]
Robert: We were married, and we got room service for breakfast. I think Nancy ordered scrambled eggs or something. They brought this little, tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce. You can picture this—it has a green top and red at the bottom. We actually had breakfast a few mornings in a row; so we collected some of these little guys.
I don’t remember exactly who went first—but one of us maybe put it on our pillow / on the other person’s pillow—and said, “You are really hot!” I mean—
Dennis: Okay; hold on. Who did it first? Now, come on, Robert!
Robert: I don’t remember.
Nancy: I don’t remember. [Laughter]
Robert: That’s the truth.
Nancy: But we’ve both done it a lot.
Dennis: Okay; alright.
Robert: So, when I leave on a business trip, and I unpack my suitcase in the hotel room, I pull out a pair of shoes out; and there’s something rattling in it. In the toe is a little bottle of Tabasco sauce. This is part of the joy—the play, back and forth—of loving each other well and making sure that we’re laughing. In fact, these good friends you just mentioned—when I had my first interview with them—this is eight women that Nancy’s very close to—I was on a Skype call. We talked for almost two hours.
Dennis: This is like a gauntlet.
Robert: It is a gauntlet. Man, it is not asking her daddy—it’s asking a convention if it’s okay. [Laughter] I said to them: “If Nancy and I would get married, I would want to bring her joy. That would be one of the happiest things I could possibly do—is bring her joy.” So we laugh. I love her laugh; every time she laughs, I say, “I love your laugh.”
This is part of the fun / this is part of the joy—this little, tiny Tabasco—in fact, Nancy pulled this out and put it on the table, right here.
Robert: I didn’t know that she was going to do that. It’s part of the fun and just the interplay between husband and wife—who know each other intimately, in every way imaginable. You say: “You know what?—bottom line is, ‘You are really hot!’”
Dennis: So, where are you going to go on your first anniversary, Robert?
Nancy: We’re not telling!
Robert: No; no. This is our secret. It’s none of your business. [Laughter]
Dennis: You know how many years I’ve been doing this? We’ve done over 5,000 broadcasts. You know how many guests have said that to me?
Robert: I hope none. [Laughter]
Bob: You like to be the first!
Robert: I’m happy to be the first.
Dennis: You are the first.
Robert: That’s right.
Dennis: Well then, take us into the past year—over the past 12 months—and give us one of your favorite moments. Nancy, I’m coming to you next. It can be simple—doesn’t have to be a high-flying moment.
It can be something where you just had that joy of two people who are following Christ.
Robert: I know what it is. Nancy loves the sunset. Nancy has a deck on the back of her house that faces west, so we watch the sunset. The first time I visited this house, I think Nancy said something about the fact that it sure would be nice if it [the deck] were bigger. So—I’m a hopeless builder—I love a miter saw, chop saw, drills. I have expanded that deck about twice its size. The first night it was finished, we sat out on the deck and watched the sun go down, holding each other—beautiful.
Nancy: One of the sweet things, after years of ministering as a single woman, is to now come home from a conference, or a day of recording, or a long, hard meeting, and to have someone there who loves me like crazy and wants to hear about my day, and how it’s gone, and somebody to process things with. That has been very sweet.
But if I could say a moment—I said that Robert gets up earlier—way earlier—than I do. The first time that I came downstairs and saw him still in his time at the throne, as he calls it—on his knees at an ottoman, praying—there was something in my heart that just went: “Wow. This is really special.” Now, I knew he did that; but I had never just happened onto seeing him that way. I can tell you—for a woman, when you know that your husband knows he needs God and when you know he’s seeking God, there’s something that inspires confidence, and security, trust, in knowing, “I can trust this man to lead our relationship and our marriage, because I know he doesn’t think he can do it without God.”
Dennis: I want you both—and I realize the question I’m about to ask is a bit of a vulnerable question, because the witnesses are all alive on this one—but it took me 35 years in this space, of ministering to marriages and families, to finally realize we had overlooked / substantially overlooked blended families. Now, out of all marriages being formed, 40 percent are forming a blended family.
I just want to know the most important lesson both of you have learned as you have established a blended family.
Robert: The newness for everybody else. When I first visited Nancy in southwest Michigan, her ministry people were very gracious to me. I could tell that they were somewhat resistant, not because they didn’t know me or trust me, but this was so new to them.
I did my best to be humble in that situation and to wait / to be patient.
The contractor—the man who had built her house—and I were standing on the driveway. We were talking about some construction things. He got really close to me. He put his index finger on my chest and he tapped me, not too gently, and he said, “Don’t you dare break her heart!”
Nancy: And he just said, out loud, what a lot of other people were thinking.
Robert: Yes; yes—that’s right. I can never lose sight of the fact that these people know Nancy better than I do—they’ve loved her longer than I have.
Dennis: Now, you’re speaking of a group of people almost as though they are family.
Robert: They are.
Nancy: Well, in the same ministry for 36 years—they are family. So, it’s blending his biological family and my ministry family.
Robert: Here’s the ideal—I’m not sure that the Lord would have directed us together if my biological family and her ministry family hadn’t been supportive, at some level; because that’s a battle that’s going to get worse, not better, after you get married; because you’re going to spend less time with them than you did before. We prayed about that, earnestly, “Lord Jesus, would You please help us to understand what our future looks like by way of speaking to these people, who love me and love Nancy, and see things we don’t see.”
Robert: By God’s grace, those doors opened—not automatically / not quickly. My patience / my humility with Nancy’s family and ministry team—and Nancy’s patience with my biological family, and her willingness to wait, her willingness to not force herself onto them, to stay in touch with them on a regular basis, to be interested in what they’re interested in, to be open about her love for them.
For me, when we were first exposed to the blended family ministry of FamilyLife, the first thing I thought of was: “This is a smack on the forehead: ‘What in the world?
Robert: “’Why isn’t this kind of thing everywhere?’” because the struggles that you face in a blended family are so different than when you get married in your early 20s. It’s unbelievable. It’s like the difference between playing before a stadium of a game or something. You have all these people watching versus just something you do—
Dennis: —playing in the back yard.
Robert: That’s right; exactly right. So that was a very important part. We will tell everybody, who has ears to hear, how critical that was in our early relationship, when we realized this could be a husband-and-wife kind of deal.
Dennis: And to those who’ve already tied the knot, and didn’t do that, the same prayer you guys had, in advance, of that decision for your blended family and Nancy’s ministry family, those same prayers God hears.
Dennis: I’d begin to pray God would cement hearts, melt hearts, bring hearts together so that it’s not an ongoing battle, for a lifetime, for a couple.
Nancy: We still pray those prayers.
Nancy: And it’s not because things are awful, but it’s that you have human beings here. There’s change for everyone involved and expectations that you have to get to the surface and deal with. If you can get to where you’re not just concerned about yourself; but you can listen to the hearts of others and hear: “What are their concerns? What are they experiencing, and how can we be sensitive to that? How can we care about that?”
If you just tighten up and say, “It’s all about us,” and forget what they think, then you’re going to have a lifetime of conflict. But if you walk the way—you can never go wrong on the pathway of humility, and patience, and love—and realize that the way it is right now is not the way it will always be / that if you give it time, and tenderness, and cultivating the soil of those relationships, that they will grow.
Robert: When I was a little boy, I made Revell kits—remember those?
Dennis: Little models.
Robert: Plastic kits—models with the glue and stuff.
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Robert: Mine was on the kitchen table—always on the kitchen table with newspaper spread out. My daddy walked through the kitchen / walked up behind me, and he saw me taking two pieces and trying to make them work. He saw my hands tremble, because I was pushing them together. He leaned over my shoulder and he said: “Robert. Don’t force it.”
That’s the message here: “Give people time. It’s going to take time! Don’t force it. Wait, be patient, pray for them, pray with them. Talk to each other—your spouse / your mate—talk about the struggles that you’re facing in your own family, in facing all this. Don’t let stuff simmer, but don’t force it.”
Bob: I have to ask both of you an anniversary question. This is a big question for husbands and wives to ask each other on their anniversary: “What’s one thing you want to do differently in Year Two of your marriage than you did in Year One?”
Dennis talks about not repeating rookie mistakes in the second year. As you go into the next year of your marriage, what’s something you’d like to do better, differently, make an adjustment?—some way you’d like to love one another better than you did in the first year.
Robert: We’re both really busy. We have full, full schedules. In this first year, we have spent very little time doing nothing together. We’ve had days—maybe a weekend here or there—Sunday / almost all Sundays are pretty sacred to us. But I mean, get away and just rest. Now, we may tell everybody that we’re going away and stay home. [Laughter]
Nancy: And we’re both home-bodies; so we enjoy that.
Robert: We are; yes. Suitcases really aren’t a big deal for us—we’re not fans of that. But that’s what I would say, looking back on that. We knew this, going in—Nancy said to me, early in our dating relationship, “I want you to know I’m a very complex person.” [Laughter]
Nancy: Was I right; Honey?
Robert: Yes; you were, Honey. [Laughter] I am too; but you are—you’re more so.
That’s what I want—I want a little bit more time / a little bit more margin. This is the woman, who’s the CEO of a growing ministry, who writes books, who does a daily radio broadcast, and has these huge conferences with women. All these things take a lot of time. I’m eager for that—I think she is too; aren’t you?
Nancy: And I want to say how grateful I am that you have embraced that ministry. You love it, and we’re in similar kinds of work—so we enjoy each other’s work. It’s not like our careers don’t intersect at all; they do.
But really, the same thing crossed my mind when Bob asked that question—is, “How could we structure our days and our work life”—and we’re working on this consistently/ it’s a bit of a moving target—“to be able to have more margin to cultivate our relationship?”
It’s not like we don’t have time together; we do. Again, because we’re in a season where there aren’t children involved, that helps. For families that have children come quickly, I think that’s really a great challenge—but I would share that desire.
Dennis: It’s been fun to talk to you all. I just was thinking, “You know, what you two are demonstrating is found in the book of Romans, Chapter 12, verses 1-3.” Anybody who knows that chapter knows that verses 1 and 2 kind of talks about settling the matter with God—we’re to be a living sacrifice / we are to not be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
What follows verses 1 and 2 of Romans 12 talks about each person should think rightly about himself or herself.
Once you’ve settled the issue of ownership—that you are a bondslave of Jesus, you are surrendered to Him, and that you’re laying there on the altar, having given yourself to Him—the next assignment is to daily decide you’re going to think about your own life / your own rights as God would have you in light of who He is. You know, when you think of who God is, it’s not difficult to rightly evaluate who you are.
You guys do that. I think the success of your early months of your marriage, over the past 12 months, I think is because you had a lifetime—both of you—of having done that prior to getting married.
Nancy: And if I could just say one more thing along that line—is that we’re older, and we realize that we’re not going to have 50 years to be married to each other. We don’t want to waste days, or hours, or time being angry at each / being hostile toward each other. And our marriage, more than being about us, is about telling the story of Jesus’ love for His church and the church’s love for Christ and her respect and reverence for Him.
We’re saying: “Look; this isn’t just about us having a happy marriage. It’s about ‘How well are we telling that story to a world that desperately needs to see the gospel lived out?’” That helps us deal with these things that could otherwise really pull us down.
Dennis: Well, let’s do this again on another anniversary.
Robert: Okay; alright.
Dennis: Shall we?
Dennis: Let’s try it again.
Dennis: Thank you guys for coming down here and being with us—also, for back last July, when FamilyLife celebrated its 40th anniversary. Robert/Nancy—you both have been great cheerleaders and partners in ministry over the years. We just appreciate you both so much. Indeed, the older you get, the more you value those friendships that have lasted a lifetime.
Bob: And I hope, after this anniversary weekend is over, you’ll tell us what you did. I mean, you’re not going to tell us now; but we’d like to hear a little bit of the details after it’s all over.
Robert: We may or may not. [Laughter]
Bob: I want to encourage our listeners—if they’ve not seen the video that you guys did, where you shared the story of your engagement, they can go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. It is fun to go back and watch it a year after the wedding. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com to watch the video.
Then let me also encourage you to pray for the couples who are going to be spending this weekend at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. There are couples joining us in Chattanooga; in Dallas; Dayton, Ohio; Estes Park, Colorado—second weekend there; Pittsburgh; Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We have several thousand couples who are going to be part of the Weekend to Remember this weekend. I just encourage you to pray for those couples, that they will grow to understand more about God’s design for their marriage as they spend this weekend getting away as a couple.
If you’ve never been to a Weekend to Remember getaway, we have a few more left this fall, and then we have more than 40 events happening in the spring. Go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com and get more information about what is the best weekend getaway for a married couple available—the Weekend to Remember getaway. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY for more information.
Now, there’s one other anniversary I want to draw your attention to today. Jerry and Gina McLane, who live in Laguna Niguel, California, are celebrating 12 years as husband and wife today. “Congratulations!” to the McLanes. They are supporters of the ministry of FamilyLife—Legacy Partners. We appreciate the McLanes for their partnership with us in this ministry. We hope that you guys have a great anniversary celebration. Our goal, here at FamilyLife, is to help more couples, like you, celebrate more anniversaries for years to come. We want them to be really celebrated, because we think anniversaries matter.
We appreciate those of you who partner with us to make this ministry possible. You are the ones who are taking the practical biblical help and hope we provide here and making it possible for hundreds of thousands of people all around the world, who are listening to this program, visiting our website, attending our events, utilizing our resources. We’re grateful for our partnership together in advancing the gospel and in building strong marriages.
If you can make a donation today to help support the ministry of FamilyLife, we’d love to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a resource you can use with your preschool or early-elementary kids at Christmastime. It’s called “The Twelve Names of Christmas.” It helps your kids understand more about who Jesus is, using ornaments that they can hang on the tree, designed just for them. It’s our thank-you gift when you make a donation today in support of FamilyLife. You can do that at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
Now, we hope you have a great weekend this weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend. And I hope you can join us on Monday when Barbara Rainey is going to be here to talk about what a wife can do to help her husband thrive in his role in the marriage. That comes up Monday—hope you can be here.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with 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.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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