FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Marriage: What I Wish I Would Have Known: David & Meg Robbins

with David and Meg Robbins | March 7, 2024
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Crave that forever love? David & Meg Robbins are here to support you with tips on tackling relationship hurdles and blending families. They've got some awesome Christian marriage resources to guide you through the twists and turns, helping you rediscover those sweet little things about your future spouse from the time you met.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • 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.

Crave that forever love? David & Meg Robbins guide you through the twists and turns that marriage will bring. Rediscover the sweet moments from when you first met!

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Marriage: What I Wish I Would Have Known: David & Meg Robbins

With David and Meg Robbins
March 07, 2024
| Download Transcript PDF

Shelby: Hey, before we get started with today’s program, I’m Shelby Abbott. We are rapidly approaching Easter. One of the things I have done with my family is go through FamilyLife’s “Resurrection Eggs®” with them. If you’re wondering what that is—“I have no idea what that means,”—it’s a carton of 12 plastic eggs; each one has a little item that is different inside for every single day for the kids to open. There are little notes that help you understand what the significance of that item is. There’s a book to guide you through the process to help your kids have fun but also focus on the real meaning of what we’re celebrating when it comes to Easter.

We want to send you a carton of them this week as our thanks to you when you become a monthly financial partner to help support and make the ministry of FamilyLife® possible. You can go online to; you find the “Donate Now” button at the top of the page. Or you can feel free to give us a call at 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” You can also send your donation by mail to FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, FL 32832. It's going to be a blast if you go through this with your family, and happy Easter!

David: I’m so quick to try to solve it and figure it out—and figure it out quickly—“Alright, let’s get right back on track right now!” Another way that I feel like we’ve had to learn is: “How do we actually just get more fully known? What is going on that’s driving me this much to live it out over here but not at home?” There’s a reason there. It’s one thing just to say, “Let me shift my focus,”—which needs to happen—

Dave: Right.

David: —there’s another thing to dig into “Why?!”

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at

Ann: This is FamilyLife

Dave: Today.

Ann: Okay, this could be kind of awkward; but “What—

Dave: Awkward?

Ann: Yes.

Dave: We’re going to start off with awkward.

Ann: It feels like—yes, it’s all about me right now—but “What was your favorite thing about me when we got married?”

Dave: [Laughter] How honest do you want me to be? It’s still one of my favorite things about you: positivity, joy-bringer.

Ann: Oh, I didn’t think you were going to say that.

Dave: What did you think I was going to say?

Ann: —my drivenness. [Laughter] Maybe, that was my favorite thing about myself. [Laughter]

I loved about you: I loved how laid back you were.

Dave: Yes, well, I know why you’re bringing that up; because those are the two things that drive us crazy now—her drivenness and my laid back-ness, which—is that why you’re bringing it up?

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Yes. [Laughter] Yes, things you didn’t know before you got married; but now, you’re married, and you’re like, “Oh, boy; that’s a lot harder than I thought.”

We’re here talking again with David and Meg Robbins, the president of FamilyLife, back in the studio. We’re going to continue a conversation, so welcome back.

David: You guys are so fun; we love conversations with you.

Meg: I was just getting ready to say that! [Laughter] It’s so fun to sit here and chat.

Dave: I was going to say, “Are you sad that you got to do it—I mean, we’ve talked about so much—and we haven’t even gotten to what we hoped we started with. We have this new resource out—Preparing for Marriage—which helps couples before they get married. By the way, we haven’t even mentioned this: we actually have a new resource for blended families that are getting married, which is awesome! Because they have to prepare in a much different way, but we have a resource for them as well; right?

David: That’s right: Preparing to Blend; Ron Deal is the one who helped author it. He truly is just an incredible expert around blending families.

Ann: And it’s different than if it’s a first-time marriage.

David: It is different.

Ann: We’ve never really addressed that in a book before, but this one really helps couples.

David: Yes; so these things are both great resources—whether you’re a mentor who wants to invest in other families and young couples, or couples who are getting married and are blending their families; whether you’re an engaged couple yourself or about to be engaged; whether you’re involved in a church—there are so many ways the resources are needed and can be used.

Dave: And so we started a conversation with you guys a couple of days ago—you’ve been married 20 years; we’ve been married double that; you’ve got kids in the home; we’ve got no kids in the home, just grandkids coming over—so two different lives; but we started a conversation talking about: “What were a couple of things we wish we would have known before we got married?” We had the wives’ edition Day 1; we had the husbands’ edition Day 2; and we thought we were done! But we didn’t cover enough; you had more things to say. You said a lot, but we’re going to give you another shot.

Meg: I think, for me, I really wish I’d known that the things that I loved most about David would certainly grow bigger and I would love those things all the more in a lot of ways; but those exact same things could also be things that could cause me to feel resentment or drive me crazy at times. Sometimes, super light-hearted things—like David loves kids—I can remember when we were in college and involved with Cru®. The director had young children at the time. Whenever we’d be over at their house, David would be throwing them up in the air, and playing with them, and on the ground. I was thinking, “This is awesome! He is so fun with kids; he’s going to be a great dad! [Laughter]  Hold onto this one.”

And now, he is just like that; he is so fun-loving. If we’re doing family photos, he’s the person running behind me, acting silly, making everybody laugh while I’m trying to snap the pictures. But we joke that he’s kind of like Disney® dad—he’s so fun—and there are times when, if I’m out of town, he does all the fun things with them. [Laughter] He takes them to Chuck-E-Cheese® or he takes them to Universal®, if we have passes at that time; or whatever. When he’s out of town, I’m like in survival mode. Now, he travels a lot more than I do so it doesn't come around as often that—

David: Please don’t talk about the meal budget that I just choose to do whenever you’re out of town.

Meg: I’m trying to cook; I do kids food for them while he’s out of town.

Ann: He’s like, “Mom’s gone! Out to eat!”

Meg: Exactly! He’s like, “We’re going to all these fun places,” “…and having the best milkshakes in Orlando,” or whatever. [Laughter]

Those are the silly things, but I think it also plays out in things that really attracted me to him: things that were his giftings as a leader in ways that he is a shepherd and cares for people so well. He wants to make sure that people are thriving and doing well in the roles that they have—which I love that about him—but there are times when that might cost our family when he’s putting more time into making sure that other people are thriving and doing well. It’s like, “Okay, I feel like we’re missing out on you; because you’re—

David: It crosses the threshold when it begins to stack day after day or week after week. You can start/I can start making excuses: “Well, this is just a season.” We all know the next wave comes, you know? [Laughter] Certainly, there are times where you have to put in extra; but yet, if the withdrawals come out, what deposits am I putting back in the family? I have a hard time with that.

Ann: Dave used to say that, David: “This is just a season,” [Laughter] all of the time. And then I would ask, “How—

Dave: Can you feel her angst? [Laughter]

Ann: —“How long is this season again?” [Laughter] I think that’s really true.

Dave: “We’re going to the playhouse…” “We’re going to the Super Bowl; it’s going to be 16 more weeks.”

Meg, when you say that, did that cause—because I know there’s some of that—

Meg: —a boiling point in our marriage? [Laughter]

Dave: Yes, exactly. Did it cause you to be resentful, because we’ve had a bit of that; and Ann has felt that. I wonder if that caused that in your own soul?

Meg: Oh, for sure! For one, if I’m honest, it takes—even still—a lot of times, it takes time for me to realize that I’m getting resentful if I’m not keeping short accounts and communicating along the way. All of a sudden—for me, typically—I realize, “This is really driving me crazy,” which means I probably haven’t communicated well; and I’m not being honest.

Ann: I think a good way to determine that is: “What [are] you thinking about?”

Meg: Yes, in the silence of my own head;—

Ann: Exactly!

Meg: — not what I’m saying, necessarily.

Ann: Because I’ve realized, when I get to that point, I’m complaining in my head, “Where is he?” “Why aren’t we more important?” That dialog that’s going on internally is something to really gauge.

Meg: Right; right. I remember one time, years ago, we were living in Atlanta. You were helping somebody who was struggling in their marriage. We had three little kids—our youngest was probably 10 months old—three [kids] three and under. I was in the fog of motherhood, in the trenches. I think we had kind of gotten in survival mode, even in our marriage,—

David: For sure.

Meg: —pouring into the kids; you were giving in the role you were in, leading—and helping a particular couple in their marriage, who were really struggling. We were talking about them, and you were giving me an update because we had talked to them together a lot. You just looked over and said—

David: I said, “So does us talking about their marriage right now make you wonder about ours?” [Laughter] And then, you can say—I remember a certain way that your response happened [Laughter]—what was your response?

Meg: I think I probably was like, “Hah!”—you know, kind of gave him the “Hah!” [Laughter]

David: I remember it much louder and deeper.

Meg: It was probably pretty ugly.

David: I just remember saying, “Oh; oh! Okay, we’ll/let’s talk about that.” It was one of those—I needed the wake-up—“Splash water on my face.” Yes, you could have communicated earlier and whatnot; but yet,—

Meg: I definitely should have.

David: —it led to real growth. I think that’s—we avoid it because we want to avoid the argument; we want to suppress it—it’s hard to face what’s really happening and the ways you’re drifting apart.

But I think back to that time, and I think, that moment of you being honest—me asking an honest question and you being honest—led to a follow-up and then led us—I mean, honestly, we were just three kids, three and under. It led us to [think through]: “First of all, let’s just get rhythms that are right again. Let’s get the kids in the church childcare, and let’s go to a class. Let’s go to marriage class; we haven’t done that in a long time. We’ve been in a small group; we haven’t invested in our marriage. Let’s do that.” That simple rhythm was a bit of a game changer because, all of a sudden, we had carved out space to actually talk about that conversation.

Meg: Right. I think, in that moment—even though I gave up a loud non-verbal I guess—there was more conversation that needed to happen. We did talk it out a little bit then. But I think it set us up for more time, together, to dig in; and for you to have the opportunity to see, “Okay, I do want to also shepherd and invest in our family and in our marriage, even though I’m pouring out into others,”—this gifting that I was attracted to about him. It just took more intentionality to make that happen.

David: I reflect on that time, and I think, “What was great about what happened”—and what keeps happening, because the same side of the coin still exists; and we have to keep having this conversation in new seasons—becoming the president of FamilyLife didn’t affect us at all. Even in this area, there were no pressures in there. [Laughter] We’re totally in it again and have been in it.

For me, I know I’m missing it again. I can go to shame; or I can go to the reality of the gospel and say, “I know what’s true about God and my ability to encounter Him and know more about Him;”—I know these things in my head—"yet, this is an opportunity for me to know more about my brokenness, about my depravity.” The beautiful thing is—if I go deeper into my brokenness, I’m not stuck there—I actually get to experience Jesus filling it up. If I’m willing to go, honestly, into those places that are hard, then, what I know about God in my head becomes an experience. His grace floods in and allows me to, not just sit there in shame, but to sit there, and go, “Okay, my identity is out of whack. I’m living out of the Jeremiah passage [Jeremiah 2:13] about broken cisterns. This is a cracked cistern; it’s going to beg for more. There is living water to drink deeply of.”

It can be hard, but it’s always worth it. And the intimacy you can experience, together, certainly deepens your relationship and sends you on your way to even more purpose together.

Dave: I know I’m sitting here—I haven’t even looked over at Ann, because I know this is so similar—are you thinking that?—to what I did in a really bad way. I’m guessing it was something you were drawn to before we were married.

Ann: One of the reasons I wanted to marry you was because I thought, “This guy is running so fast and hard after Jesus; he’s going to change the world. I want to be a part of that.” I didn’t realize later how that would affect our family, because you’re running fast.

Dave: But what I think I found out, and I didn’t see—and I think Ann told me over and over, and I couldn’t see it—I was much more—what would the word be?—energetic/engaged outside the home; and often, would come into the home and just be passive. I think I was worn out—I felt like, “This is God’s call; I’m doing what He’s called me to do,”—and home was a resting place. It didn’t hit me—until much too long that I did that—that I was making disciples out there, and the most important disciples to be made were sitting at the kitchen table.

Ann: I think a lot of women will relate to that; because I’ve heard a lot of my friends say, “My husband’s amazing; but when he gets home, I feel like I get the leftovers. I feel like he’s tired, and he’s not energetic.” Of course, he should be; he’s been working really hard, as many of the wives are as well. Many wives have the capacity to still pour into our kids, like, “This is my job, and I have to,”—I feel that; I don’t know if everyone does.

But you would come home; and I found myself getting resentful of that because I thought, “Why does everybody else get your best?” And these guys, our boys, are just like: “Dad’s amazing,” “Dad’s home.” I’m like, “Come on!”

Dave: Yes, she was frustrated. I had to make a shift—it’s what, David, you said—God had to really heal that. Again, I’m not acting like I’m there. But it’s like I’m making a drop-off point on the drive home: “I’m dropping off work,”—not that you’re not going to work in that evening at all—but it’s like the energy: “I’m putting in this mailbox.” Literally, it was a mailbox—where I visually/mentally, in my mind, opened it up—I’m putting in the work; I’m picking up the husband/dad [mindset], and I’m walking in the door.

Because I would walk in the door—and when Ann would be like, “Here’s the kids. My goodness; you were supposed to be home at 6; now, it’s…”—I would be like, “What are you…”; and she was exhausted

Ann: —and so were you.

Dave: —and I was resentful.

Ann: You were, too.

Dave: I was like, “Do you understand…”; and you play that game [whining]: “My day was harder than your day,” type deal. [Laughter] And [I] say one thing, like, “Well, I had lunch with So-and-so today”; and the wife is like, “You had lunch?”

Ann: “You sat

Dave: —“with an adult?”

Meg: —"with someone in a restaurant?” [Laughter]

Dave: Exactly!

Meg: “I ate peanut butter and jelly.”

Dave: “And you’re telling me your days are harder than mine.” I mean, that’s what we were living.

All I know is I was not fulfilling God’s call on my life, as a husband and a dad, and as a man of God, really. The irony is I would stand on stages and preach and tell men to do it. I can’t imagine what my sons were thinking: “Aww; you’re energetic right now. When you walk in the door in a few hours, you’re not going to have that kind of energy.”

That was like, “Man, they deserve that [energy].” Part of me is saying, “Wow, God changed that in me, I hope.”

Ann: Yes, I think you—

Dave: I’m looking at Ann, like, “Did He?!”

The other side of me is thinking, “If there’s a man listening right now, that that’s you, I think God’s saying to you, ‘Step up!’”

David: I think, as a performance-oriented person—we’ve talked about my depravity side—you know, stepping up is a great principle; but I think one thing that helped me—because, all of a sudden, I’m just performing to the next level—it’s not my heart engaged; it’s just, “I’m going to do it right…”

Dave: Sure.

Ann: —grinding it out.

David: Another way that God’s invited me—it’s the same principle—“Take My hand; I have a better way. Come on this path. You’re running the right direction; you’re doing it. You’ve gotten into the other person’s lane a little bit; you’re doing it in your own strength. You’ve lost sight of which race you’re in—you’re not running the 400—you’re running the marathon. Take My hand; I got you over here. Come on, let’s get back in this lane and this race.”

Because, in my drivenness, I go into this hyperdrive mode in the grind. There’s this invitation to, indeed, step into who God’s truly created us to be, as a husband, as a father, as a faithful ambassador of Him in whatever work He has called you to. In all of those areas, it’s: “Come to Me, and I’m going to show you a better way; and your identity is going to be rooted in Me, and it’s going to bring life into those areas.”

Dave: Yes, that’s a good word. When you said that, my first thought was John 15:5: “Abide in Me and you will bear much fruit.” And you will bear fruit in the areas that really, really matter. That’s really what has to happen: you sort of have to stop and sit with the Lord, and go, “Okay, I need to buy it; I need to rest in You. I need to be fully connected to You. What do You want to say to me right now?”

It's probably going to be these areas that your wife,—[Laughter]

Ann: —or husband.

Dave: —or your husband, has been pointing out; it’s like, “Yes, I’ve been saying this; you just haven’t been/didn’t realize that it was Me trying to call you to take My hand.”

Ann: How can a spouse speak into this in a way that would be helpful and not like complaining or “Hah!” [Laughter]

Meg: I think that’s such a great question because it reminds me of what you said on the first day: “We can speak so much life to our spouse.” We are in a place of close intimate connection—and we can either complain and say, “You’re so not doing this. You said that you wanted to do this, but you’re not,”—and how do we speak life? I’m assuming you’re kind of asking them; I’d love to know from the guys:—

Ann: Yes.

Meg: —“How can we do that?”

David: You guys have had to practice it a lot, and you’ve done it well. I think it is right for you to respond more than us.

Dave: Part of me thinks: Meg, the way you called something great out of David to be the dad that you know he wanted to be with your kids—I was sitting over here, like, “That was a model”;—

Ann: Yes, it’s masterful.

Dave: —it can be a wife to husband; it can be both ways. There’s something great you’ve seen in there—it’s in there—and you call it forth. It’s like, “Man, I believe in you.”

Of course, as a man, we long to be believed in and trusted. It’s part of our DNA of wanting to be respected. When Ann would speak life into me—"You are a good man,” “You are a good husband,”—often, I’m thinking/it’s in my brain: “No, I’m not,” “Am I?” It’s almost like I need her, like you’re a little boy, like, “Really, Mom?” [Laughter] “Watch me,” “Are you watching me?” There’s a sense—that she said it: “You have this influence/this power,”—when she does that, it reminds me of my greatness. I’m not talking about pride and arrogance greatness but greatness in Christ; and then, call something out of that, I’m prone to respond, like, “Yes! I want that, too; thanks for reminding me. How am I missing it?” and “How can we get there?”

When she does it the opposite: “Come on, dude; step up! You said you were going to do this; why are you…” It’s like [tentatively], “Okay.” [Laughter]

Ann: Even me saying to you, “Look at the power you have over our kids; they cling to every single word. I’m so jealous,”—that’s all I said.

Dave: She, literally, said those words one night.

David: I’m so quick to try to solve it and figure it out—and figure it out quickly—“Alright, let’s get right back on track right now!” Another way that I feel like we’ve had to learn is: “How do we actually just get more fully known? What is going on that’s driving me this much to live it out over here but not at home?” There’s a reason there. It’s one thing just to say, “Let me shift my focus,”—which needs to happen—

Dave: Right.

David: —there’s another thing to dig into “Why?!”

Ann: David, that’s so true; because Dave went to counseling this past year. The counselor said, “I look at your schedule; and I’m thinking, ‘What are you running from?’ Because you’re so busy.” That’s what you’re talking about: going deeper.

David: That’s right. I think if spouses can hold that: “Why do we think we are here?”—and you’re not going to solve it; you may need to get the help of a counselor, or another couple, or pastor—yet, to be able to be just more known actually communicates a lot and sets you on a course.

I think about where this started with this new resource of Preparing for Marriage that we started: “You’re not going to figure it all out; you’re not going to solve it as you prepare for marriage; yet, you can get more fully known.” That’s why this resource exits: to give you wisdom but also get you talking to one another and become more fully known to lay an awesome foundation for a marriage that can keep growing.

Shelby: When I was an engaged guy, and I had put the ring on my, then, fiancée’s finger, I wondered, “Oh, my goodness; what am I going to do now? I have to get ready; I have to be intentional about making decisions—because it’s not just me anymore—it’s me and her. We’re going to be setting up a foundation that will lead to a future that involves both of us; and perhaps, Lord willing, kids in the future. We need to make important decisions, right now, that set us up well for the future.”

That’s why I’m so thankful for resources like David and Meg were talking about today with Preparing for Marriage. I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with the president of FamilyLife, David and Meg Robbins, on FamilyLife Today. Many couples don’t know how to prepare well for marriage. They don’t know how to have important conversations around finances, and their relationship with God, and sex, and family dynamics, and the future. They just simply lack the opportunities, or the ideas, of how to have healthy conversations that involve things like that.

The good news is that we have been intentional about working on one of our best-selling resources. We’ve revamped it and refreshed it for a new generation of young couples. It’s called Preparing for Marriage. Two of the main contributors with that have been David and Meg Robbins, whom you got to hear from today. It is a really helpful resource that is a study packed with a lot of funny things [and] a lot of good romantic things, offering valuable insights for growth that needs to happen, right now, before you even get close to putting on the ring yourself and saying, “I do.”

We really encourage you to check out the all-new Preparing for Marriage by David and Meg Robbins. You can head over to and look for the Preparing for Marriage banner on the page there in order to find your copy. If you know an engaged couple, or if you’re friends with people who have kids who are engaged, this would be the perfect gift to give to them.

Now, if you’re a family that’s preparing to blend; meaning you’re about to become a stepfamily, like I experienced when I was growing up as a young kid, we really encourage you to check out Ron Deal’s book called Preparing to Blend. It’s a couple’s guide to becoming a smart stepfamily. You can find Ron’s book about becoming a stepfamily, and preparing to blend, in the Show Notes in today’s episode.

The really cool thing is: we don’t want you to learn just a little bit about it by trying to find the book; the cool thing is that Ron Deal is going to be here tomorrow with Dave and Ann Wilson to talk about Preparing to Blend. Ron interviewed two different step-couples about what they did during their pre-married season that really helped them to prepare to blend their families and become one big stepfamily. He’s going to be here tomorrow to talk about that and so much more. We hope you can join us.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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