FamilyLife Today®

Marriage as a Living Painting

with Aaron Ivey, Jamie Ivey | May 4, 2021
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What does God's love look like? Authors Aaron and Jamie Ivey share that just as two different colors can add depth and beauty to a canvas, a marriage of two people is a painting that can speak the truth about God to those who experience it.

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What does God’s love look like? Authors Aaron and Jamie Ivey share that just as two different colors can add depth and beauty to a canvas, a marriage of two people is a painting that can speak the truth about God to those who experience it.

Marriage as a Living Painting

With Aaron Ivey, Jamie Ivey
May 04, 2021
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Bob: Are there things about your spouse that you wish would change, and have you found that your coaching—that’s another word for nagging—have you found your coaching just isn’t working? Aaron Ivey says it’s time to rethink your strategy.

Aaron: There’s something incredibly compelling and powerful about a spouse that is kind, and is gracious, and is patient. There’s something so compelling about that.

If you would, as a believer, choose that posture right now—not to preach at, not to condemn, not to keep pointing fingers or be frustrated—but just to lovingly serve them and to keep demonstrating the gospel—not just preaching it to them—there’s something very compelling about that.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, May 4th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at When you think about change that you’d like to see happen in your marriage, there’s a way to go about that that may feel right to you; and then there’s the Jesus way. Let’s talk about how we can help one another grow in grace today. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Do you think we, as couples in marriage, do you think we know how to love one another well when we get married? I mean, I didn’t.

Ann: We think we know.

Bob: Right.

Ann: But we don’t; I don’t think we do.

Dave: I would say we think we’re in love; we have no idea what love is.

Bob: Yes.

Dave: We discover what love is—it’s work/it’s really hard work, and it’s awesome—but it’s not as easy as we think.

Bob: I was thinking about this because of the conversation that the two of you had recently with Aaron and Jamie Ivey. They’ve just written a new book called Complement—actually, it’s two books; there’s a book for him and a book for her—and the chapters in these books are the same chapters in both books. It’s just Aaron talking to guys about, “This is how I live this out”; Jamie talking to the women about this.

For listeners who don’t know Aaron and Jamie, Jamie has a daily podcast that’s very popular called The Happy Hour. Aaron is a songwriter; he’s a worship leader at Austin Stone Church in Austin, Texas. In fact, when you sat down with them, I thought, “Are you really going to do this?” You’re here with a songwriter and a worship leader; and you said, “I want to get the guitar and play a song I wrote for you.”

Ann: Bob, this is why I love Dave. [Laughter] He’s so secure in himself; he’s like, “This is going to be fun!” He doesn’t think, “Oh, this is going to be terrible,” or “What will they think?” He’s just confident, and I love it.

Dave: Yes, I was overly—I have to be honest, though—as I was getting ready to set this up, my heart rate started racing; and I started having second thoughts. [Laughter] I’m looking over at Aaron and thinking, “This guy’s a pro; what am I doing? Oh, well, let’s go for it.”

Ann: Well, and I mentioned that you’re not  a singer/a professional singer. [Laughter]

Dave: Yes, you’ll hear that. She puts that in there to make sure everybody knows.

Bob: You had written a song about your love for Aaron and Jamie after reading their book, and you decided to debut it for them; so here we go. [Laughter]

Dave: Here we go!

[Previous Interview]

Dave: Last night, sort of late, thinking about our interview today, I decided to write a song about the Iveys.

Aaron: No you did not!

Dave: Yes, I did.

Ann: I told him, “Don’t play it for me until we’re in studio; I don’t want to hear it.

Dave: I tried to play it for her and she’s—

Ann: I had my headphones on last night.

Dave: She was over there—

Aaron: Is this a song, or is this like a jingle?

Dave: You tell me; you’re the professional.

Aaron: Okay, because I made a lot of money in college writing jingles. I paid for college by writing lame, cheesy jingles.

Ann: Whoa!

Dave: Really?

Aaron: So you could make some cash off this. I like the groove so far.

Dave: This is sort of a cheesy—

Ann: Dave would say he’s not a singer.

Dave: I’m not a singer. I play; everybody else sings. [Laughter]

Aaron: This is great already.

Dave: I have to look at the words, because I just wrote it last night; you know?

Aaron: Nobody’s ever written a song for us, guys! This is the first!

Ann: Really?

Dave: Well, this may be the last; we’ll see. [Laughter]


Happy hour in Austin Stone,

We love the way your laugh lights up a room.

Texas football and tattoos;

Four kids make the house feel like a zoo.

I heard that Jamie don’t cook,

And Aaron throws down in the kitchen.

That’s a marriage with quirks,

A complement that works!

We love the Iveys;

We sure love your red beard.

We love the Iveys;

Jamie’s crazy and a bit weird.

God’s got big plans

For the Iveys.

Their kids are going to do great things

For the kingdom.

Yeah, yeah, yeah—

Yes, I’m a Beatles guy.

And we will party in heaven

With vegan queso.


Aaron: Yes!

Jamie: This is the best!—yes!

Dave: [Singing] We love the Iveys—

I hope the listeners are singing.

Aaron: Oh, I know they are.

Dave: [Singing]

We sure do love your red beard.

We love the Iveys;

Jamie’s crazy and weird.

And we know God’s got big plans

For the Iveys.

The best is yet to come

For the Iveys.

He’s got something greater—

Isn’t that your song?

Aaron: Yes!

Dave: [Singing] For the I-I-I-veys. [Cheering]

Jamie: That was the best thing ever!

Aaron: That was amazing!

Ann: He worked on that—he didn’t read your book hardly at all—but he wrote that song!

Dave: Oh, whatever.

Ann: He did both.

Aaron: But you knew us! Our stuff was in there: vegan queso,—

Dave: I told you—

Aaron: —something greater.

Dave: —I looked at your websites—I missed a lot; but I was like, “I could throw a little bit I know about you.”

Jamie: That was so good.

Aaron: That was incredible.

Dave: Well, I mean, the chorus came easy, because we love the Iveys!

Ann: Everybody loves the Iveys.

Aaron: Ah, well, that’s a wrap! Guys, thanks for hanging out with us today; we appreciate you tuning in; thank you. [Laughter]

Ann: Now, we’re going to make you sing a song at the end.

Dave: Yes, a real song! I did listen to Something Greater.

Aaron: You did?

Jamie: Oh, it’s so good/so good.

Aaron: Oh, dude, you’re gifted. Man, thank you.

Jamie: God has given you such a gift.

Aaron: That’s powerful. I mean, worship is my language; and man, I appreciate that.

Ann: I love how you guys complement each other, where you’re both so gifted, and in different areas, too.

Jamie: Yes.

Ann: But you’re both drawing people closer to the kingdom. You know, it’s pretty cool.

Jamie: We talk about that a lot, because people do ask us often—they look at our life and say, “You guys are so different. Jamie’s a podcaster, and speaker, and making media; and Aaron’s a songwriter and a pastor. How do you guys do it?”—that’s what they’re wondering.

One of the things that we write about, that we think is so important in marriages—and I know you guys do as well—is this common mission that we have. I think that so many people go into a marriage, thinking that they can just kind of figure it out along the way and not have a goal.

Aaron: Right.

Jamie: I like sports, so I think sometimes in sports. If you have a team on the field, they’re all playing different positions; they all have the same goal.

Ann: Yes.

Jamie: They all want to win the game. Even if you have a coaching staff, they’re all coaching different things; they all want to win the game.

I think, even with Aaron and I/we think our mission is: “In everything we do in our life, we want people to know Jesus.” We love hospitality; we love having people in our home—it’s not just because we like to be around people—it’s because we want people to know Jesus.

Aaron: Yes, yes.

Jamie: That common mission is so important. We want unity within our marriages, and common goals bring unity.

Ann: Well, it’s good; because a lot of people never have that discussion—you know, they’re like, “Oh yes, we’re happy; and we’re just going to raise our kids,”—but to have that common mission and even have that conversation: “What is our mission? What do we want to do?”

Dave: Let’s talk about that. I know it’s at the end of your book, and we were going to save it; but you brought it up, so let’s talk about it. Like Ann said, we didn’t really even know. We went to a conference two weeks before our marriage—that was our premarital deal—it was the FamilyLife®Weekend to Remember®, that we now speak for—

Ann: —which was wonderful.

Aaron: Wow!

Dave: —they did talk about mission; but we’re sitting there, thinking, “Who cares? We love each other.”

I want to have you comment, Aaron, on your comment on mission. You mentioned it earlier [in the book]; you said, “Marriage has the uncanny and unique ability to be a living painting that the world gets to look at with delight,” and “When people look at it, they are meant to see just how good God is.”

Aaron: I wrote that? [Laughter]

Dave: It’s in your book, man.

Ann: You’re good, Aaron! [Laughter]

Dave: I mean, that is so well-said of the bigger vision.

Aaron: Thank you.

Dave: God’s saying, “Okay, this is what marriage is really about.” Talk about that.

Aaron: We talk about this a lot with couples that we might be counseling who are about to get married. One of the things we say is: “Starting your marriage: it’s super important to have a mission/an end that’s in mind before you even start it.”

Too many times, even in a dating relationship, the relationship almost just seems to implode on itself. You kind of neglect all your other friends, and you just become about each other. You just live in isolation, and you’re just all about yourself. If you’re not careful, that’ll play out into marriage, too, where you start thinking, “This marriage is about you making me happy and me making you happy.” Then there’s conflict when the other person can’t do that, because nobody can do that for the other person.

But if you start out with: “Hey, our mission is this…”—no matter what your career is or my career is, no matter how you’re wired, or your Enneagram number, your personality—“Our common mission is this.” From day one, Jamie and I have really wrestled to the ground: “This is what we feel like we were put on the planet to do, and that is to know Jesus and to help other people know Him.” It’s that simple. There’s so much liberty that comes with that, because it doesn’t matter what Jamie’s job is; I can cheer her on in that, because we have the same mission.

Jamie: Yes.

Aaron: Like Jamie mentioned, a lot of times, people will/what they’re asking is: “Is there competition between your two jobs? Because they seem so different, and you’re both out front in different areas.” At the end of the day, genuinely, there is not competition; because we have the same mission behind what our two different jobs are.

If your marriage started out that way, great. If you’re in marriage, and it didn’t start out that way, it doesn’t mean that it’s hopeless. You can always go back and go, “Okay, maybe we didn’t start out with a common mission; but we’ve been put on this planet for something.” Spending time to pray, discern, gather your community—“What do you see in us?” “How is God using us already as a married couple?” “How do we want Him to use us?”—and then align yourself with that mission, and just go for it; because we have this really short amount of time on this planet to live.

God wants to use your marriage for more than just yourself—but for your community/for the people around you—to, like I wrote, see a painting and go, “Oh my goodness; they love each other like that? They serve each other like that? And they love God; there’s something really compelling about God.”

Ann: That’s really good.

Jamie: I think that infiltrates into everything that might come into your marriage. When Aaron and I think through that—you know, I like to think of it as we have eternity on our minds; that’s what we’re looking forward to—then that changes the vacations we take. I don’t mean that in a weird way, like, “Are we going to Costa Rica or Florida?” I mean like, “Who are we willing to spend our time with?”—“Oh, we’re going to go on our trip with a couple or with another family.” We always think to ourselves: “Does this have kingdom value?”—that seems so weird—or: “Where are we going to spend our money?” or “Who are we going to invest in, going on double dates with?” “Who are we going to have around our table?”

All of those decisions are not ones you think about when you first get married; but as you add—we have four children; they all play/have activities—our calendar is so full; it’s unbelievable how full it is. When we think through: “Are we saying ‘Yes,’ to this?” or “…’No,’ to this?”—it really comes down to—“Does this further the mission that we have?”

Ann: What if only one spouse even wants to pursue Jesus or have a mission?

Aaron: Well, I have a couple of friends, who are in that exact same scenario. This isn’t just an idealistic sort of thing; this is something I’m walking through a couple of friends with. It’s incredibly hard/incredibly hard. First, I would say I just want to recognize how difficult that is and what a long process that is.

Second, the conversation I had with my friend was, “I want you to imagine your very best friend in life is not a believer; but you came to faith a couple years ago, so you all weren’t synced up with the same timeline of coming to know Jesus. But now you know Jesus, and you’ve fallen in love with Him; but that very best friend of yours/he hasn’t yet. How would you react to him?” He’s like, “Man, I would never give up on him; because I found Jesus, and I want him to find Jesus, too; so I would never, ever give up.” I think, so many times in marriage, it’s easier to give up on your spouse than even it is to give up on your very best friend in life.

Salvation is sometimes much slower than we want it to be. I think about my life. I did not come to meet Jesus until I was 21 years old. In some people’s stories, that seems like early on: “I’m so glad you met Jesus as a 20-year-old.” But in other stories, with friends of mine, that met Jesus when they were five, or eight, or ten, that seems like later in life. I know that God works in a very mysterious and, sometimes, slow-paced way.

I wonder what it would look like to be a believing spouse, and to plead with the Lord, and then to also show an incredible amount of patience, and kindness, and grace to your spouse, just like you would a best friend, where you’re longing for them to know Jesus. There’s something incredibly compelling and powerful about a spouse that is kind, and is gracious, and is patient. There’s something so compelling about that.

If you would, as a believer, choose that posture right now—not to preach at, not to condemn, not to keep pointing fingers or be frustrated—but just to lovingly serve them and to keep demonstrating the gospel—not just preaching it to them—there’s something very compelling about that.

Dave: I don’t know where I read it in your book—I’m looking right now, like, “I think I read it somewhere in your book,”—you tell me if you wrote this; I’m sure it is—but this idea, obviously, in the mission was that my neighbors, non-Christians, unchurched people—anybody—looking at a godly marriage, they get an image from your—almost like you’re painting an idea of what God looks like; right?

Aaron: Right.

Dave: That’s sort of the mission, —

Jamie: Yes.

Dave: —which, in some ways, is scary, like, “Whoa! That’s a heavy responsibility to carry! My neighbors are going to look over at our house: the way we raise our kids and the way I treat my spouse?”

At the same time, I remember watching a talk show; and the host had on, as a guest, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson; right?

Aaron: Yes!

Dave: I remember sitting there; I’m all by myself, watching this thing. I remember thinking to myself, “That dude’s body is perfect!” [Laughter] Actually, the interview was about his workout thing; and he [host] asks, “Do you ever cheat?” I’ll never forget; he [Dwayne] goes, “Yes, I cheat.”

I go, “Really?—like what?”

Ann: —cheat with food, you mean.

Dave: Yes, with food; yes—[Laughter]—good clarification. “Do you ever cheat with food?—because you’re perfect.” It’s his life; it’s how he makes his money.

He says, “Oh, yes; once every six months, I have a pizza.”

Ann: Wow.

Aaron: Oh my goodness.

Dave: We’re like, “That’s what you…”

Anyway, he went into this whole thing—but anyway, here’s my thought, when I was sitting there—I was like, “I had no idea a body could look that good.” Then it hit me: “That’s what marriage can be to somebody: ‘I had no idea God looked like that. I had no idea God was that good,’—

Aaron: Yes, yes.

Dave: —“by looking at a husband and wife,”— the way/that’s sort of the mission; right? Talk about that; because that’s scary and, at the same time, awesome.

Aaron: Yes, I think it can in every scenario. It’s not just because Jamie and I are going through a good season that people can see what God is like. Hopefully, in the good season, you can see: “This is what God is like. Aaron loves Jamie generously, and he serves and lays down his life for her. And Jamie loves Aaron unconditionally; and she serves and lays down her life for him, too.” You could say, “Well, that’s how you do it.”

But also, in the example I just gave—where maybe there’s an unbelieving spouse—there is such an opportunity for the believing spouse in that relationship to be such a profound demonstration of what God is like. It doesn’t have to be the perfect marriage, because you can show what God is like by having an imperfect marriage that’s covered in grace and covered in forgiveness. It might have moral failure; it might have really terrible mistakes in it; you can demonstrate the gospel, even in that, by showing what the forgiveness of God looks like or what the patience of God looks like.

It really is just having a shift in your mind/of going, “Hey, how do we put Jesus at the center of everything?” I just admitted that I did something terrible: “Man, isn’t it amazing that God loves us, even when we admit we do something terrible?” It’s just putting Him in the front and center and not expecting our marriages to all be perfect, because that’ll set us up for failure; and then we’ll never try to demonstrate the gospel.

Ann: Right.

Dave: One of my best friends, John, in my men’s group for 20-plus years—every man should have men in their group; every woman should have women—and we had couples that we did [meet together]. We did life with John and Betsy, his wife; they’ve given us permission to tell this story.

He calls me one night, out of nowhere—11 p.m.— says, “Get over here now.” [I’m] like, “Dude, you know I’m watching the…” “Get here now; I need you.” They lived a couple blocks away. I rush over there; he thinks his wife’s having an affair. I’m like, “Dude, there is no way Betsy’s having an affair. She’s in Ann’s group…”; she was! The next day, after she was caught—literally, got caught—we go over to their house to start: “Can we help?”

Long story short, we get in the car to drive home. I should have never said these words; I literally turned to Ann; I say, “Even God can’t save that marriage,” which is blasphemy.

Aaron: Yes.

Dave: God can do the impossible. But there I am, just watching those several hours: she’s not repenting; he’s so angry. They have five boys—it’s the worst ever—“God, it’s done.” Long story short, He saved that marriage.

Jamie: I love that.

Dave: She broke and repented and John—it’s beautiful.

Ann: It’s really beautiful.

Aaron: That is amazing.

Dave: Let me say, it was really hard.

Jamie: Oh, yes.

Dave: They were separated for a time. You thought, even months later, “It’s never going to…” Now you look at it and they’re—obviously, we’re telling the story because they’re like, “We want the world to know.”

When you were talking about that painting—you look at their marriage that’s imperfect/as you said, very imperfect—they would have never chosen the path they’ve taken; but now, they’re like, “God is revealing Himself to the world through a husband and wife, who stayed true to their vows.” It’s a beautiful—cracked but beautiful—resurrected picture. That’s the mission of marriage.

Aaron: That is beautiful.

Jamie: I love it.


Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to a recent conversation that Dave and Ann Wilson had with Aaron and Jamie Ivey, the authors of a book called Complement, a book for husbands and a book for wives—two separate books—same title/same chapters. I think the message of the book and the message of your conversation today is: “No matter where you are, no matter how hard things have gotten, or how hopeless you feel about where things are, there are people who can help you; there’s a path out. Don’t just get frustrated and quit before you get to that place, where the picture—like you were saying, Dave—can be restored and be more glorious than it was before.”

Dave: It’s always easier to bail. You know, in any area of your life, when it gets hard, there’s a part of us, and a part of our flesh, that says, “It’s not going to work out. I’m not going to put in the time to really, really know Christ.” But that’s where God shows up; you know? You hang on; and you get to know Him in a way you’ve never, ever, known Him.

Bob: Here’s what I’ve told couples in that situation; I’ve said: “Pretend your marriage is your arm,” and “Your arm is just aching, and you want the pain to stop. Somebody comes along and says, ‘Well, just amputate.’ You can do that, and maybe the pain will stop; but you will be missing something for the rest of your life. Now, there may be a way to fix the arm that is going to be painful and going to take time; and there’s rehab involved, but you’ll have your arm for the rest of your life, once it’s healed over.”

I think so many people just say, “Well, just amputate,” and then, later on, often look back and go, “I wish I’d thought it through.” We can’t make it universal—because there are people, who are in situations that are abusive; they’re in situations where they’ve tried for decades to fix things—but I see a lot of couples today, where they get sideways; they get like you guys got in the first six months of your marriage; and they say, “We just married the wrong person; we’re going to fix this,” and it doesn’t fix it.

Ann: I think people are weary; and they think, “It’s just too late. It’s just too late; there’s too much work to be done.” I think we’re all agreeing that it’s never too late.

Bob: Yes.

Ann: “With God all things are possible.”

Bob: That’s why we’d say: “Get to a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway if you’re in that situation,” “Get some help for your marriage: see a counselor, go to your pastor, start reading books or listening to podcasts about marriage that can help give you insights that maybe you’ve been lacking.”

We’re making Aaron and Jamie’s books, Complement, available this month for any FamilyLife Today listener who would like to get a copy. If you can help us with a donation to help support this ministry—a donation of any amount to help advance the work of the ministry—we’ll send you a copy of both Aaron and Jamie’s books, Complement; that’s our gift to you.

In addition to receiving the books, your donation this month is going to be matched, dollar for dollar, with money from a matching-gift fund that has been established for us from some friends of the ministry.

Ann: Well, it’s pretty wonderful, too, because these friends are saying, “We want to help. What can we do?” They’re coming in to match whatever’s given; that’s pretty remarkable.

Bob: They want you to help, too, so they’re not just giving the donation themselves; they’re saying, “You be a part of this.”

Ann: Yes.

Dave: “You’ll be in a complement.” [Laughter]

Bob: Exactly!

Ann: There you go.

Dave: That’s what they’re doing.

Bob: They’ve agreed to match every donation up to a total of $250,000. We want to take full advantage of that matching gift. If you’ve been listening for awhile to FamilyLife Today—maybe you’ve never made a donation, or maybe you’ve donated in the past but it’s been awhile—call us or go online today. is the website; the number is 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make as generous a donation as you can; your donation will be matched, dollar for dollar. We’ll send you, as a thank-you gift, the books from the Iveys.

We also have a flash drive we’re going to send you that has our reflection on some of the top things I’ve learned in 28-plus years of co-hosting FamilyLife Today

Ann: —which is really good, Bob. It’s like gold;  you know?

Bob: It’s stuff that I keep telling people when they say: “What was your favorite interview?” or “What have you learned?” It’s just the stuff that’s stuck with me and helped shape my life and my marriage.

You’ll get all of that when you make a donation today. Go to to donate or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Help us take advantage of this matching gift. Let me just say, “Thank you,” in advance, for your ongoing support of this ministry. It means so much to us.

Now, tomorrow, we’re going to continue to hear the conversation you guys had recently with Aaron and Jamie Ivey, this time talking about the importance of being cheerleaders for one another in marriage. In fact, I think Aaron in the conversation said, “I’m not going to let anybody out-cheer me when it comes to my wife.” We’ll hear that tomorrow. I hope you can tune in for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Bruce Goff, and 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.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.


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Episodes in this Series

FLT Podcast Cover
Cheerleading Your Spouse
with Aaron Ivey, Jamie Ivey May 5, 2021
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.
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FLT Podcast Cover
Choosing Together
with Aaron Ivey, Jamie Ivey May 3, 2021
Whether you really like your spouse or you aren't feeling anything, Aaron and Jamie Ivey assert that "choosing together" in marriage is surprisingly beautiful. Listen as they share about complementing one another with purpose.
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