The Importance of Communication
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Join us as we celebrate the first anniversary of Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth. The Wolgemuths take a realistic look at their courtship and their first year together as husband and wife.
Bob: Every newlywed couple in their first year of marriage—even if it’s a mature godly newlywed couple, like Robert Wolgemuth and his bride, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth—every couple is going to experience moments when we displease one another or when we hurt one another. Here is Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.
Nancy: In those moments, you have to go back to what you know is true. You counsel your heart according to truth. You don’t let the deception, and the lies, and the bombardment of your emotions when you're tired, and the enemy—you say, "I'm not going to believe that." You go back to your vows / you go back to your covenant. You go back to the covenant-keeping love of God. You go back to reminding yourself to what it was that endeared yourself to this person.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, November 10th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We're going to hear from Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth today about what Year One of their marriage has been like.
Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. Do you remember your first year of marriage?
Dennis: Oh, yes—rookie / rookie season.
Bob: So you’re pitching record was not very good at the end of that first year?
Dennis: I'm glad for this—that you don't have to repeat your first year. [Laughter] Now, some go ahead and do finish their rookie season and then decide to have ten more rookie seasons. That's not a good idea.
Dennis: It’s not. But we have a couple with us who are completing their rookie season.
Bob: —about to celebrate. As The Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™—
Dennis: —we are celebrating the first anniversary of Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth. How'd I do on that last name?
Robert: Very well.
Dennis: Huh? Congratulations!
Nancy: It took me a little well to get it. [Laughter]
Dennis: Congratulations on your first year. I'm going to cut through to the chase.
Dennis: On a one-to-ten point scale, ten being just “Out of the park home run.
Bob: No speed bumps anywhere—just smooth sailing. [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes; yes—and it’s almost like flawless.
Bob: She already laughed—so we know it's not ten. [Laughter]
Dennis: And one being “I don't want to repeat that ever again,”—you got your number, Robert?
Robert: I got it.
Nancy: It’s hard for a woman to pick one number, because this—it can change from day to day. [Laughter]
Dennis: That’s bad news, Robert!
Robert: I'm going with ten. I'll tell you—this will make a very short broadcast here, but I'm going with the ten—
Nancy: No speed bumps.
Robert: —because I know what my expectations were.
Robert: This has been an amazing year.
Nancy: It has.
Dennis: And Nancy—yours?
Robert: That's okay; Honey—no pressure.
Nancy: When you say no speed bumps—of course, you have speed bumps—but I was going to say, “Eight.” It is incredible and amazing; but you have to say there were some speed bumps, Honey.
Robert: Little ones. I didn't slow down—I just went right over them. [Laughter]
Nancy: That's true.
Robert: It's like driving a rental car—right over them.
Bob: We need to make sure our listeners understand the dynamic here, because not everybody does.
Bob: You guys got married a year ago. Nancy, you were 57 years old; right?
Nancy: Never married.
Dennis: Never kissed a guy; right?
Bob: Robert, you were 67.
Robert: I'm almost ten years older than Nancy.
Bob: You had been married for how many years?
Bob: Your wife had passed away
Bob: And so for the two of you, at this stage of life—never been married / been married for 44 years—those are pretty good numbers, because there are some unusual dynamics in your situation that could have led to a lot more strife and conflict than it appears you've experienced.
Robert: Well, because we've talked about it—it sounds like a really elementary basic thing—but we talk a lot / we take time to talk. Now, we don't have the little children running around; so we have focused attention on each other. But after a meal, we'll sit—
—I'll turn my chair / pull next to her, and Nancy and I will talk for an hour. During our dating months, we talked a lot. There was lot to learn about each other—we'd lived full lives, really not knowing each other at all. It’s an amazing thing how speaking about something releases the pressure.
I believe that marriages and relationships that fail—fail because of things that are not said / not things that are said. So you keep talking about it, and you keep talking, and you look into each other’s face. I think hearing-impaired people have taught us about listening—you listen with your eyes, not with your ears. We're watching each other while we're talking, and we love each other in that; right? I am an optimist, but I'm not an idealist; and so I knew that there were going to be challenges.
Nancy had never had a man living in her house; right? I knew that she would have a certain way of doing everything, and I had a certain way of doing everything.
We were going to have to blend this with each other. She had friends and very close ministry friends. Even though Nancy doesn't have biological children, I guarantee you that she's got children—
Robert: —who are watching carefully who this guy was and what he was going to do. I have biological children, and they love Nancy. They told Nancy, early on: “We love Bobbie / we miss Bobbie. And we love you.”
Bob: Bobbie was your first wife
Robert: That’s right. Here's another thing—and I don't know, Bob and Dennis, if your listeners are going to understand this—but I married a grownup, which means you take everything in stride / you don't get frantic about stuff, you listen carefully, you problem solve. This is a very bright woman, who walks with Christ. And so how many times, Honey, in the last year have we said, “Dear Lord, we need Your presence right now”?
Robert: “We're sort of up against it and not quite sure what to do now,”—
—and not just in a relation to each other—but things that are happening to friends, or in the ministry, or in my business, or whatever: “Lord, we need Your presence right now. Would you just give us wisdom? We don't know what to do. We're not smart enough for this,”—a thousand times.
Robert: So, if newlywed couples are listening right now, I would say: “Do that first. Invite the presence of the Holy Spirit. He's there, but invite Him and be aware of His presence when you’re talking to each other. Keep your voices gentle. Be kind one to another—Ephesians 4:32.”
What a basic thing; right? But just take a deep breath, look into each other’s eyes, say: "I don't understand what you just said,” or “I don't agree with what you just said,” or “I don't like what you just said,”—but you talk about it, and you talk about it like friends.
Bob: The four of us had dinner together—in April, I think it was—while you were two months into your courtship.
I remember the conversation that we had. One of the things we talked about was this blending that was going to have to happen after years of you living, Robert, with another person / Nancy, you living, making your own calls. Nancy, I remember you saying, "I just have to believe, if two people are mature and submitted to Christ, they'll figure out how to make this work.”
Bob: Now, when you're engaged, you say that kind of stuff and you think, "Sure, that's how it should be.” Then you get married, and its gets to be real life. Has that been how it’s been?
Nancy: Well, I had the advantage, over the years, of ministering to a lot of women in a lot of difficult and struggling marriages and seeing the kinds of things that undermined and made their relationships difficult. Marriage is a relationship. It's a different kind of relationship than any other kind; but if you learn how to walk humbly, and kindly, and consider other people before yourself, when you are a single person, then you’re going to have a better chance of doing that when you get married.
The talking thing—I give Robert credit for that. That was not my MO [method of operation]. I would have tended to maybe stuff things a little bit more, but Robert wouldn't let us do that. He'd say, "We need to talk about this,"—and he'd be gentle / he'd be kind—but he'd say: "We're not going anywhere. We're going to talk about this." And then he would be quick to lead us to the throne and just say: "Lord, we need You. Help us."
I gave Robert, on our wedding night—and we used them on our wedding night—two kneeling pads, both of which say, "Pray without ceasing." We started our wedding on our knees—
Nancy: —seeking the Lord. We've almost every morning / every night—first thing in the morning / last thing at night—it’s not long, it's not heavy-handed, it’s not real time- consuming—
—but Robert leads us and he says, "Lord, we need You."
Dennis: We're talking about something that is an underlying assumption here that I just want to underscore, and I want you both to comment on. Robert, you said, she's a grownup. You implied by that, which I think is mostly accurate, that you are one too—[Laughter]—but you are. You know, you both walked with Christ for a long time.
In Matthew 7, Jesus uses an illustration of two different kinds of homes: The builder, who built his house on sand / who heard what Christ said and didn't do it: “When”—not if—“when the floods, and the rain, and the wind blew and beat on that house, it fell; and great was its fall.” The other man built his house on the rock—he heard the words of Christ, and did them—and still had storms / still had circumstances that were difficult—but the house stood.
Now, both of you have been walking with Christ for a number of years. Our listeners are peering into something that, frankly, could be terribly confusing to them, going: “How do they do that?—because I don't have that maturity in Christ to instantly think about praying about something. No; I've got a short fuse. You know, we react to each other.” Just comment on the importance of beginning that daily walk with Jesus Christ and obeying Him throughout the entire day.
Robert: Well, every life change begins with a decision. So I'm going to go to the grocery store, and I’m going to go a certain way. I’m going to go down this street instead of this street. Everything you and I do begins with a decision. This is Romans 12—it's the renewing of our minds. Our emotions follow those decisions. So that is what you do—you say, “This is what I'm going to do.”
I have the joy—this is not bragging—this is just the truth—I have the joy, of every morning, of going to the throne
Nancy: —long before his wife is awake.
Robert: But I do that; because I know my own sinfulness, and I know that if I don't start my day like that—completely centered on Christ, listening to His voice through His Word, praying on my knees—I’m going to be in trouble for that day. Would I rather stay in bed? Absolutely! Did I get to bed early?—maybe not. But it’s non-negotiable, and it’s interesting that kind of thing is its own reward.
It’s like the joy of giving. When you give, the Scripture makes it clear, it is better to give than to receive. So you do it again, because there was such joy in doing that. A decision that I made was: “The day isn't going to get going without that.”
One of the great joys of this—I never met Art DeMoss. Of course, he died the weekend of Nancy's 21st birthday.
I knew about him just because my daddy was in ministry and also because I worked with Mark DeMoss, Nancy's brother, in The Little Red Book of Wisdom. He honors his daddy in that. I got to marry the oldest daughter of this amazing man, and that’s the way he started his day. I want to be humble enough to look at examples of other people—the way they live—and say: “You know what? I'm going to do that. I'm going to make a decision. I'm going to begin doing that.”
Once you establish a habit, it’s almost harder to not do it that it is to do it; because you fall into this wonderful daily habit. It is Galatians 5:22—I'm not doing this—this is the fruit of the Spirit manifest thorough my life. I made a decision, even if I didn't feel like it, to follow Him.
Dennis: It's not something you start your day with and then, when you leave the house, live another way. You're talking about experiencing God throughout your entire day and thinking about life through His eyes and through the Scriptures.
Robert: Yes. I don't know that you could do that [live another way]—I mean, I guess you could; but if you are that grounded—and again, please, I am a sinful man / there isn't anything I couldn’t do or rationalize that I could do—so this is a huge challenge; but I'm saying, if that’s the way you start your day, and you’re very aware of the Lord's presence, then it changes your day.
When you have a thought— and you will / when you have a word come to your mouth—and it will—you double check yourself. You've got shotgun—He's sitting right there. And if you say—you apologize, saying: “Lord, I had no business saying that or even thinking that. Would You forgive me?” It’s just—it’s just this wonderful thing / this back and forth thing—but for me, you start your day very aware of His presence, listening to His voice, praying on your knees, confessing your sin, racing to the cross—
—that is one of our favorite expressions. When we're struggling with something, we say: “Let’s—I’m going to beat you to the cross. I'm going to get there first. Let's go!”
Dennis: Nancy, I'm assuming you start your day—because I've talked to you before—in a similar fashion. Talk about how you carry that with you throughout the day.
Nancy: Well, it’s a moment-by-moment thing. It's bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. I'll tell you that, early on, in our marriage, not every moment has been an eight or a ten. There were huge adjustments for me and just blending two lives together; but we knew, when we were struggling with ourselves or with each other, how to get to the grace of God, and realizing that we are two sinful people who can't do this marriage without God's grace. It wasn't very many weeks into our marriage before we had a series of events / a catastrophe that I caused in our home that resulted in our—
Dennis: You literally had a flood; didn't you?
Nancy: We had a flood.
Dennis: Didn't have the rain and the wind that was in Matthew 7.
Nancy: We had a flood, and I caused it. Did I say that? We were what?—married three weeks / something like that. We ended up having to have the first floor of our house torn up and replaced. For three weeks—we work out of our home—so we were in a little room, knee to knee, with just a small ottoman between us. I'm sleep deprived, seriously, at this point; because it was a huge adjustment to me to sleep with someone else in the room.
Robert: —who sometimes snores
Nancy: I understand that I snore, too; but I don't hear it when I snore—I heard it when he snored. [Laughter] I remember lying there one night, just thinking, “What in the world have I done?” and feeling like this precious, amazing, kind, loving man, lying in the bed next to me, was a total stranger and thinking, “How can I do this?”
It wasn't that he had done anything or that there was any huge thing between us; but it was just: “This is really hard. This is a huge adjustment,” and thinking, “I don't know—he’s experienced at this; I'm not.”
Dennis: You're not speaking of the flooded floor that you ruined—you’re talking about getting married.
Nancy: Getting married, but all the things, that are life, that happened in the course—
Bob: All the pressure; yes
Nancy: —of the day. So, what do you do when you have these thoughts that “We have just entered like the crazy zone here”?
Dennis: Here's what I want to say to people—this is where Christianity can sometimes become very plastic and a veneer—to act like everything is perfect when it isn't. It—honestly, Nancy, if you hadn't had a moment and a thought like that, at some point, after being single for 57 years, I would question whether you got a real relationship; because real human beings disappoint each other. There are circumstances that, at times—as mature as we are or as immature as we may be—
—get the best of us.
Nancy: And I want to say—cards on the table here—it wasn't just one moment. That was a rocky—not rocky between us / we weren't yelling at each other; we were talking about things / we were praying—but for me, it was having thoughts of, “I don't know how to do this marriage thing,” and realizing what I knew, going into marriage—that there were going to be huge changes in the way I did life—and thinking, “Do I even want to do this?”
Bob: And in some ways, probably thinking the old way seems attractive: “I liked it better when I was by myself at some of these times.”
Nancy: I loved being single.
Nancy: So, you know, I had not asked God for a husband / I had not prayed for marriage. God brought our hearts together—we believed it was His will. But here is what you have to do—in those moments, you have to go back to what you know is true.
Robert: That's right.
Nancy: You counsel your heart according to truth. You don’t let the deception, and the lies, and the bombardment of your emotions, when you’re tired and the enemy—
—you say, “I’m not going to believe that.” You go back to your vows. You go back to your covenant. You go back to the covenant-keeping love of God. You go back to reminding yourself to what it was that endeared you to this person: “What were the qualities that you saw that you admired?” You focus on the things that are good, and true, gracious; and you verbalize those things.
And then, when you blow it—when you let your, you know, those lies cascade in and that comes across in your spirit to your mate—you humble yourself—you say, “Would you forgive me?” And Robert is—he's quick to do this, and I’m learning to be quick to do it. To say—you know, it’s not that we're perfect partners—we're so far from it; but we know how to ask forgiveness from Christ—how to get His grace to be infused into this marriage. That's what makes it, day after day, really a joy.
Dennis: And I just want to say to the person, who just identified with what you just described there—exasperated: “How do I do this thing called marriage?”—I have to believe that a lot of those prayers or feelings uttered in marriages across the country. It’s why we created the Weekend to Remember®. We created the conference to train you and help you think, biblically, which is the way you two are trying to think in your marriage. I'd say to that person, who feels hopeless, “Come, and sit, and soak—
Dennis: —“under the teaching of Scripture and hear about how marriage is a reflection of who God is. It's a spiritual union—it's not just body to body—it is body, soul, and spirit. As a result, it needs coaching, it needs training, it needs discipleship from the Bible—that's what folks get when they come to the Weekend to Remember.” I just have to say that because I know that there is someone listening, right now, who is going:
“That's me,”—they're raising their hand—“I don't know how to do this thing!”
Nancy: And we've gotten good counsel in our lives. In fact, FamilyLife recommended a counselor, who specializes in blended families. We met with this gentleman for two days before we got married. We met with him several months in and spent a few hours and said, “Ask us questions.” He did. He asked us hard questions. And then other conversations resulted from that. So, we don't have it made. We need wisdom—and that's the posture of humility—to say: “We can't do this on our own. We need help from godly people and people can speak into our marriage.”
Bob: We have our friend, Dave Wilson, who speaks at our Weekend to Remember getaways. Robert, you know Dave. One of the things he likes to say is: “If you want to get your horizontal relationship—your husband/wife relationship—right, you've got to make sure your vertical relationship—your relationship with God—is right. Oftentimes, if there are problems between husbands and wives, all that is—is a symptom of a problem in the spiritual relationship. Dennis, its back to what you were saying—
—we're trying to help couples recognize the spiritual nature of marriage—see it as a spiritual institution and start to think differently about why you’re married and what the purpose for marriage ought to be.
I'm thinking about the video series we put together called The Art of Marriage® and about our Weekend to Remember getaways. One of the key things we are trying to communicate in both our live events and in the video series is that: “Until you understand marriage is a spiritual institution, you're not going to get it right.”
I'd just encourage our listeners—if you've never been to a Weekend to Remember getaway, you ought to take a weekend—get away—spend it / the two of you learning more about God's design for marriage. Or if you have not been through The Art of Marriage—hosted an event in your church or invited couples in and gone through the small group material—go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and find out more about The Art of Marriage and how you can host an event or just invite folks into your home and go through the small group content together.
Our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. If you have any questions about the Weekend to Remember or about The Art of Marriage, you can call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And by the way, if you don't know the story of Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth’s courtship and engagement, we've got a link to a video on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can hear them share their story and talk about how they got engaged and ultimately decided to become husband and wife. Again, go to the website, FamilyLifeToday.com
While we're on the subject of anniversaries today, Jemaine and Erika Mendez, who live in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, are celebrating an anniversary today. It's their fifth wedding anniversary. “Congratulations!” to the Mendezes.
Glad to have you tuned in, and listening, and a part of all that is happening, here at FamilyLife.
Our goal, in part, is to help more couples celebrate more anniversaries. We are The Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™. Here, at FamilyLife, we want to provide practical biblical help and hope for marriages and families so that we can effectively develop godly marriages and families—the kind of marriages and families that change the world one home at a time.
We're grateful for those of you who join us in this endeavor, those of you who are partners and investors in this ministry. You’re really investing in the lives of so many couples and so many families all around the world. We appreciate you being a part of what God is doing through this ministry.
If you'd like to make a donation today, we'd love to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a resource that we've developed to help you with your preschool or school-aged children learn more about who Jesus is at Christmastime.
It's a set of 12 ornaments called “The Twelve Names of Christmas.” It is our thank-you gift when you make a donation today, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY; or when you mail you donation to FamilyLifeToday at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
Tomorrow, we'll hear more from Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth about Year One of their marriage. I hope you can be with us for that.
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. See you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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