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Loving Your Spouse in the Midst of Parenthood

Air Date 10/27/2017

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Patrick Schwenk and his wife, Ruth, offer help for maintaining a thriving marriage amidst the demands of parenthood in a discussion based on their book, For Better or For Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse With Kids in the House.

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

Excerpt:

Ruth Schwenk: we’ve tried to help them understand that marriage is really important in our home. And I think we want to be an example to our children, not just to the world. But to our children, they’re going to remember how wemade our marriage a priority in our home.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Ruth Schwenk. And she and her husband Pat join us today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, here at Focus, we are big proponents of marriage and parenting. That’s kind of the bread and butter of what we do in the name of Christ. It’s the very heart of who we are - strengthening families so they can thrive. Sometimes that transition from marriage to parenting can be a little sticky and have some difficulty attached to it. And we tend to forget about our spouse and concentrate on our children. So often, we call that a kid-focused home, right? Rather than a marriage-centric home. It doesn’t have to be that way. And frankly, it’s not healthy to stay in that place. You can love your spouse even with kids in the home. Patrick and Ruth have lived through this. And being the parents of four children, they’ve been put to the test. Tyler, Bella, Noah, Sophia are their kids, and they’re doing it. They are making it happen. And we’re going to hear more from them today about how to be a marriage-centric at home even with children.

John: And, Pat is a pastor, and Ruth blogs about her motherhood adventures. They’ve been married for 19 years and have been in full-time ministry for over 17 of those years. They’ve also written a book calledFor Better Or For Kids, which is... (Laughter)

John: ...A great title.

Jim: It is a good one.

John: And that’s the foundation for our conversation today.

Body:

Jim: Pat and Ruth, welcome to Focus. Ruth, welcome back, actually.

Ruth: Thank you.

Jim: It’s good to have you. Pat, first time.

Patrick Schwenk: Yes, (unintelligible).

Jim: Are you nervous?

Patrick: No, not at all.

(Laughter)

Patrick: Not at all.

Jim: Yeah, most husbands coming in here, I mean, it’s like, wow, OK, what are they going to ask us?

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: But this is a great story. It’s an important one. You’re a pastor.

Patrick: Yes.

Jim: And, uh, I love that perspective that you bring in terms of the Scripture and how it enlightens us. Uh, your expectation of an ideal marriage was kind of dashed the morning of your wedding, right? So what happened?

Ruth: Uh, yeah.

Jim: I mean, I love these wedding stories. I do want to do a book someday just on, you know, wedding stories...

John: Weddings...gone wrong.

Jim: Yeah, and honeymoon stories because it’s rare to have it go perfectly.

Ruth: Well, I don’t know what in me thought it was a good idea to get married really early in the morning, so I wasn’t thinking.

Jim: I thought you were going to end the sentence right there.

Ruth: No.

(Laughter)

John: (Unintelligible) get married.

Jim: Pat, I’m so sorry. Now we’re doing counseling.

Patrick: I just (unintelligible).

(Laughter)

Jim: Continue, please.

Patrick: Now I’m nervous.

Ruth: But it takes so long to get ready and all together. So...

Jim: (Laughter). What time was this?

Ruth: Well, I think it was at 10. Don’t tell...

Jim: Yeah, that’s pretty early.

Ruth: OK. I don’t know if I really remember the exact time. But it was either 10 or 11.

Patrick: I think it was 11. But it was...

Ruth: OK.

Patrick: ...Before noon.

Ruth: Well, I say 10.

Jim: (Laughter).

Patrick: Too early.

Ruth: He says 11.

Jim: Before lunch.

Patrick: Yeah.

Ruth: You know, it’s...

Jim: OK.

Ruth: ...Nineteen years ago. But I got up at, like, 4 o’clock in the morning. And I don’t do so well early in the morning. So...

Jim: (Laughter).

Ruth: ...I kind of forgot about that. And I started to feel sick as I was getting - they were doing my hair. And I wasn’t feeling so well. So we have a picture of me sitting in the back of the car on the way to the wedding ceremony. I have my wedding dress on, my hair’s all done, my makeup, and I have a towel over me and a huge pot in my lap because I thought I was going to get sick.

(Laughter)

Jim: I thought you were going to say you had a pot of coffee.

Ruth: Oh, no.

Jim: (Laughter).

Ruth: No. That is - uh, it didn’t start out, uh, just like I thought it would, but it all worked out.

Jim: Did it get better?

Ruth: It did get better...

Jim: (Laughter).

Ruth: ...Thankfully. Everything was...

Jim: Let’s say, the ceremony, did it go well?

Ruth: Yes, everything went well, but the road leading up to that did not go so well.

Jim: So that was kind of the, uh, kind of the imagery of what marriage was shaping up for you...

Ruth: Yeah, I thought...

Jim: ...And, like, the chaos.

Ruth: ...This is going to be beautiful and wonderful, and then I felt really sick.

Jim: Yeah.

Patrick: I think we stopped by. My groomsmen and I were on the way to the church, and we actually stopped by, uh, her parents’ house and so...

Jim: You’re not supposed to do that.

Patrick: We’re not supposed to do that.

Ruth: (Laughter).

Patrick: And I just remember, uh, in the wee hours of the morning, seeing Ruth darting out of the house carrying this large, you know, cooking pot, like the kind you make loads of chili in. And she was just running from, you know, from the house to the car. And I knew right then and there...

Jim: You’re in trouble (laughter).

Patrick: ...The marriage was - yeah - going to be very different than what I thought.

John: Yeah, it’s...

Jim: I bet.

John: The luster was, uh, erased pretty quickly...

Patrick: Yes.

John: ...Wasn’t it?

Patrick: Absolutely.

Ruth: Right.

Jim: Why do you think marriage is so important to God? I’ve asked this of marriage experts almost always. Why do you think He did it this way?

Patrick: Yeah, that’s a great - a great question. Um, I think, you know,what you see at the very beginning of the Bible is God creating that first man. And throughout Genesis 1, as you guys know, everything He’s creating, He’s declaring to be good. And, uh, then for the first time, we see in Genesis 2 that something that he created, uh, was not good. He looks at that first man and says, this is not good. It’s not good for a man to be alone. And He gifts him with a wife, with a spouse, that the two of them get to do life together. There’s something special about doing life together that reflects who God is.

Jim: Yeah.

Patrick: Yeah, and, of course, we come to the New Testament and read Paul’s words in Ephesians 5 - that there’s something good about marriage not just because of what we get out of it but because of what God is doing, uh, to a watching world, or for a watching world - that in some way our marriage has a greater mission to put God on display to those around us. And, you know, we oftentimes, ask that question of ourselves - is our marriage telling the truth about who God is?

Jim: Wow.

Patrick: And so I think that, for whatever reason, God in His wisdom and His goodness, gives us this beautiful gift of marriage - the sharing of life together, not just for the sake of one another but ultimately, uh, to reflect His glory, His goodness, His love for us to a watching world.

Jim: And I love that picture because it gives us, uh, something to aim for that’s much higher. You know, when that’s the picture you see, it makes you want to relate to your spouse more wisely...

Patrick: Right.

Jim: ...You know, than perhaps we do right now, even in Christian, you know, community.

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: You know, that we’re not always treating each other the way we should. In that regard, now bring the worldly aspect into this - that self-gratification, that me-ism, that selfishness. Um, how do we prevent that, as best as possible, from seeping into our thoughts about our spouse? I mean, when you talk about that beautiful picture of reflecting God’s image in our marriage, that the two shall become one flesh, and that God chose to put His image in us - male and female - and that we come together, and we’re powerful in reflecting what God intended is probably one of the reasons the enemy of our soul hates it so much...

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: ...And wants to destroy marriage. And in many ways, he’s having his way, even in the church right now with the number...

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: ...Of divorces. But how do we - how do we prevent the seepage of...

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: ...The culture,the selfishness? How can we do a better job...

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: ...There?

Patrick: It’s a great - a great question. I think that, you know, it’s - it’s an ongoing battle. There’s, uh - it’s - as you know, as you just stated, I mean, the first attack by the enemy is on a marriage - it’s on the family. And, uh, that attack is nothing new. It’s still, uh, out there. And so I think, you know, that’s an ongoing battle for couples. And I think that that’s why, you know, for the couple that’s listening; our first response should not be just to draw close to one another, but ultimately to draw close to Christ. That as we seek to resist that inward pull, it’s drawing close to Christ, pursuing him, abiding in him, walking in His Spirit that God has given us, in Christ, all of the resources we need in Christ, to love one another faithfully, fully and forever. But, that’s where it starts. Uh, we cannot bear much fruit apart from Christ. And I think that as we walk with Christ, learn from him, continue to root our lives in Him, it allows us, you know, by the work of His Spirit, to continue turning outward...

Jim: Yes.

Patrick: ...And resisting that pull inward.

Jim: Well, and I think that’s what I’ve seen. And, John, you may concur with this just sitting at the microphones here at Focus hearing, uh, marriage experts. My conclusion is that God has done this with a purpose and that is to make us more like Him, which is humble and selfless.

John: Mm-hmm. Yup.

Jim: Because those are two really important ingredients in a successful marriage. If you’re about yourself in your marriage, you’re not going to have a really healthy marriage.In your book,For Better Or For Kids,you mention why we need to look at our spouse as a gift from God. Now, some (laughter) I’m just hearing somebody just go, oh, really? They’re just going, ah, I have to look at him, or I have to look at her, as a gift from God? Well, God just sent the wrong gift. FedEx got this messed up.

(Laughter)

Ruth: Yeah, actually, just this past week on Instagram, I asked my followers to think about their spouse and why they are a gift to them. And it was pretty amazing to see all the responses and how thankful they were...

Jim: In a good way.

Ruth: Yes, in a good way.

Jim: Good.

Ruth: You know, and the...

Jim: That’s encouraging.

Ruth: Well, that they were able to say, this is what Iamthankful for. You know, obviously, there’s things that we don’t agree on, or things that bother us or exasperate us. But really seeing the gift they are to us, I think changes our perspective on that.

Jim: How do we maintain that kind of approach - to think - dwell on those things which are good?

Ruth: Well, I think it’s a constant battle, just like, you know, against self and selfishness. And just being thankful for the ways that, you know, Pat blesses me - he’s an encouragement to me. I know that he’s always there to cheer me on. Those types of things, if I can keep remembering those things - it’s a constant battle - but it’s just being intentional about trying to remember that.

Jim: And, of course, if Pat - you keep remembering to do those things.

Patrick: Absolute - well, yeah. Uh...

Ruth: Or I might remind him.

(Laughter)

Patrick: I get a few reminders.

Jim: That’s sweet.

Patrick: But, no, I think it’s - you know, I think we’ll either use our differences to compete with one another or complement one another. And I think that there’s a reason why God has gifted us with the spouse that we have. And I can either choose to look at those differences and feel superior, feel better, um, be resentful, or I can look at those differences and go, you know what? That - in God’s wisdom, He’s gifted me with Ruth for a reason. And, um, she is meant to complement me. She’s meant to supply my weakness with her strength.

Jim: And I love that approach. I love that concept. And for us, as men, to keep that in mind - well, both men and women, but men particularly - we need to be reminded of that - what God has done for us.

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: And it’s so critically important. We’ve laid a really good foundation for the marriage side and the importance of it in God’s design. So then he says, OK, be humble, be selfless. This is why I brought the - usually an opposite into your heart and into your love. And, then he says, OK, now you’re going to have some kids.

(Laughter)

Jim: This is God’s plan...

John: Now it’s a lot...

Jim: ...For you.

John: ...Harder.

Patrick: Yeah, that’s right.

Jim: And the dynamics begin to change everything in the household. Uh, describe early years of parenting and what’s going on there and the chaos of it.

Ruth: Yeah, it was - my kids are getting a little bit older. So our youngest is 8 now. Um, but it’s still crazy. It’s just a different season. Um, but when they were little, I mean, I felt like I was just trying to get through the day. And then Pat comes home from work, and he wants dinner on the table. And...

(Laughter)

Ruth: ...I can’t even - you know, I’m just really tired. I just need a nap. And so I think, you know, it is a wake-up call during those years that...

Jim: Yes.

Ruth: ...You know, we really have to fight for our marriage.

Jim: Patrick, you were actually, uh, I think into watching a football game, which I could so relate to...

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: ...On one Saturday - I think Michigan. And...

Patrick: Yes, go blue.

Jim: ...I don’t know why...

Patrick: Go blue.

Jim: ...You’d want to waste your time on that. But...

(Laughter)

Jim: But, uh, watching a college football game...

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: ...What took place? How did the Lord get a hold of your heart with that?

Patrick: Well, yeah, it was a scary moment. I was - actually, I was preparing to watch a Michigan game - it was going on.

Jim: It’s always scary to watch a Michigan. - no, I’m teasing. I’m only teasing everybody.

(Laughter)

Jim: I’m just joking.

Patrick: No, we were - Ruth was actually running to the store. I think she was going to run to the grocery store. And I was given the assignment - and I mean that in the kindest way...

Ruth: (Laughter)

Patrick: I was given the assignment, the responsibility, of mowing the yard while she was gone. And at the time, we just had two kids - Tyler and Bella. And I don’t remember how old they were, but they weren’t terribly old. And, uh, so I gave them, you know, very good instructions to stay in their room, gave them Legos to play with. And I gave some dolls for Bella to play with and to, you know, play dress up. And so it was only going to take me about a half hour to do the yard. And so I went out, and I was scurrying to get the yard mowed before Ruth got home, before kickoff.

Jim: (Laughter).

Patrick: And I was...

Jim: Yeah, that’s the real truth.

Ruth: Right.

(Crosstalk)

Jim: Forget Ruth.

(Laughter)

Ruth: Right.

Patrick: And I was almost done. I was on the last leg. And we - just a block away, we had these railroad tracks. And the road came over. And I remember turning to the left. And I could see Ruth, uh, just coming up over the railroad tracks and getting ready to turn right into our street. And as I continued turning left, uh, I also saw Bella, our youngest at the time, walking down the sidewalk carrying a large yellow umbrella. And the problem was is that she was supposed to be inside playing dress up, but she decided to dress down. And I saw her walking down the sidewalk with a big yellow umbrella completely unclothed. And so you can imagine the terror.

(Laughter)

Jim: This is every mother’s fear, you know.

John: Yes.

Jim: You’re...

Ruth: And we...

Patrick: So...

Jim: This is killing us, this dad...

Ruth: Yeah.

Jim: ...Right here.

John: I’m never trusting you to watch the...

Jim: Pat...

John: ...Kids again.

Jim: ...You’re killing us.

Patrick: Yeah (laughter).

Jim: The father’s union wants to talk to you.

Patrick: Yeah, I didn’t know whether I was going to - you know, Ruth was going to kick me out of the house first or I was going to get arrested. But, uh, so that’s, uh, the moment I knew that, as much as we loved being parents and what a gift our kids were, this was hard stuff. Uh, this was a challenge. Kids are unpredictable, and they really do disrupt, in many ways, that marriage relationship - that they do join us in the journey of marriage. And we have to work, to keep them from coming between us, uh, in the journey of marriage.

Jim: Just a little tip, it’s a play pen-- either right side up if they’re young...

(Laughter)

Jim: ...Upside down if they’re older, just telling you, with a rock on it maybe as necessary... So Ruth, as the mom coming home and seeing this - I’m not going to let this story go.

Ruth: Yeah.

Patrick: (Laughter).

Jim: So what was your angelic response to Pat?

Patrick: Yes.

Ruth: I think it was like, what are you doing?

(Laughter)

Ruth: I mean, I can’t even go to the grocery store and...

Patrick: I blocked it out of my memory.

Ruth: ...Everything falls apart.

Jim: Every dad has heard this before, right? So you got through it, though.

Ruth: Can’t you keep it together? Yes, we did. We got through it. But I just - I love that picture of - I feel like that is just a picture of marriage and young kids and how everything can kind of, uh, fall out around you.

Jim: Yeah, it’s so true. Pat and Ruth, uh, you have mentioned a couple of times that it’s getting easier for you. How old’s your oldest?

Patrick: He’s 15.

Jim: So 15 to 8 are the range of the kids. It is getting easier. It does get a little easier at that point - self-sufficient. They can make a sandwich...

Patrick: Yes (laughter).

(Laughter)

Jim: ...Isn’t that happiness? But dial it back just a little bit when that demand was so high, what were some of the practical ways that you protected and guarded your marriage? Maybe, this will even sound uncomfortable at the expense of your kids.

Ruth: Right. Well, I think during that time what was really helpful for me is that Pat didn’t look at me as the mom who had to do everything, but he actually came alongside me and helped me in so many just normal, day to day tasks. That was huge for me during that time. That really helped me get through.

Jim: That was an area I could have done a better job. How about you, John? You’re probably pretty good.

John: I delegated too much (laughter).

Jim: You delegated. I could’ve come home and done better at that, you know. But, Patrick, way to go. You get the A. We get the Fs.

Ruth: A-plus.

Jim: And how about for you, Patrick, what were some practical ways you protected the marriage in those busy years and even today?

Patrick: Sure. You know, I think, for us, we - like Ruth just said - we both went into that understanding that this is us laying down our life for one another. That, you know, Jesus calls the husband to lay down his life for his wife and his family just as he did for the church. And so I think us recognizing that this is something we had to do together, that alone - uh - helped carry some of those heavy burdens early on. But I think one of the things we’ve done over the years is just redeem the time that we do have. I think, oftentimes, we get so caught up in looking at all the time we don’t have in this busy season. And so I think looking at the time that we do have - um - that can go a long way. I mean, I know, you know, even still today, just Ruth and I going and walking the dog together - uh - is time that we do have. That’s something I’ve got to do every single day, multiple times a day, but we can take that ordinary, everyday event and use that - um - as time together. We oftentimes go to the grocery store together. Not super romantic. But again, just the two of us...

Jim: No, we all do - we all do that.

Patrick: ...Going to the grocery store, yeah. Again...

John: But do you walk the aisles together or do you divide the list up and then meet at the end?

Ruth: Divide up.

Patrick: We divide it. It’s divide and conquer.

Jim: Divide and conquer.

Ruth: But we still - we’re in the car on the way there together.

John: There you go.

Patrick: And I think one of the things we’ve done as our kids have gotten older, as kids start getting involved in sports, you know, activities and extracurricular activities, we’ve done our best to live with limits. And I think one of the mistakes that we make as parents is thinking that we have to give our kids the best of everything. And I’m not sure that that’s always the best thing for them in the long-run. And so I think we’ve been very intentional about saying you know what? God - God does love marriage. He loves the family. And this time that we have together is so quick, it’s fleeting. And so we want to keep that a priority. It doesn’t mean that we become greedy with our time. But it does mean that we learn to live with limits. And that means that we need to say no to certain things - that for us, practically, it means that our kids are not involved in four, five different events throughout the year. And there’s things that we have to say no to, that you can be involved in this, but you can’t be involved in that. You’ve got three other siblings in the family. And so I think those kinds of things can go a long ways to cutting down the business and to helping us to live with greater energy for one another.

Jim: Yeah. And Pat, I got to reemphasize that because what you said there is really good, that you don’t want to give your kids the best of everything if it costs you your relationship or your marriage. That is something to walk away with today. That is well said.

Patrick: Thank you.

John: Well, Pat and Ruth Schwenk are our guests today on Focus on the Family and we’re glad to have you listening along. I’m John Fuller, your host is Focus president Jim Daly. The Schwenks have written a book, we’re at kind of a heavy spot in the conversation but it’s a lighter book with some great stories in it-- For Better or For Kids. We’ve got that and a CD of our conversation at focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Jim: You had a little story that was so funny about you guys getting out and getting away to a restaurant, just to kind of, get away from the kids-- this gonna resonate with every parent listening right now-- what happened?

Ruth: Well, we like to take date nights-- now that our kids are a little older, it’s a little bit easier-- and, um, we said-- the kids were asking where we were going and “why are you doing this?” and “why are you leaving right now?” Well, we need to get away. And I think our oldest son, Tyler, is like, what? - you want to get away from us. Well, kind of, right now, we do.

(Laughter)

Jim: You said it. You said it.

John: To be honest...

Patrick: Exactly.

Jim: How did he respond?

Patrick: Well, I think...

Jim: “What???”

Patrick: ...That’s exactly what we said. It was exactly, yes, we are getting away from you.

Jim: Did you have to patch up or wipe his tears away?

Patrick: No, no (laughter).

Ruth: No, I think they understand. You know, we’vetried to help them understand that marriage is really important in our home. And I think we want to be an example to our children, not just to the world. But to our children, they’re going to remember how we, uh, made our marriage a priority in our home.So they were - he - it - he didn’t have to wipe any tears - definitely not.

John: Now, you’re telling us that your child’s not going to remember that Mom and Dad left us because they were tired of us...

(Laughter)

John: ...That they would see it as a positive modeling.

Ruth: Right, exactly.

Patrick: Love covers over a multitude...

Ruth: Well...

Patrick: ...Of sins.

Jim: There you go.

Ruth: Yeah. It was in jest, yes, so...

Jim: Oh, I’m sure it actually taught them a good lesson.

Ruth: Yeah.

Jim: Listen...

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: ...We’re first. You’re second.

Ruth: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Patrick: Yeah.

Ruth: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, our marriage is the core of the family.

John: Yeah.

Patrick: Yeah, and that is something that we, you know, we try to practice, but we also do, you know, talk about. We feel like - that one of the greatest gifts that we can give our kids is a God-honoring marriage and a healthy marriage...

John: Yeah.

Patrick: ...That that will have an impact on them, uh, for years and years to come.

Jim: Now, let me put the pedal to you guys because I think, in fact, the way we act sometimes is the opposite...

Patrick: Sure.

Jim: That our kids are the most important thing. Our marriage is actually second. Because, Honey, we don’t have time to really concentrate on each other. Do you know how (unintelligible)? And it’s justifiable from a rational standpoint. There’s lots of to-do’s and tasks that need to be done. And me loving you right now in the way you need me to love you, may not just - it may not - we - I don’t have time. But that’s not a healthy way to look at it, is it? It’s the inverted, uh, position.

Patrick: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think that’s - you know, one of the things that it is socounter intuitive. You know, as kids come along, you know, there is this shift in attention and affection from your spouse to your kids and rightfully so. I mean, kids demand and deserve a lot of time and energy and attention and affection. And so I think the desire there for us to be great parents is a good thing. I think the dangerous thing is when that desire to be a good parent overshadows the desire to be a good spouse. And so we want to protect that. We want to continue loving one another, uh, serving one another, making time for one another, even when we’re trying to parent together.

Jim: Boy, I hope people are hearing what you’re saying because it is so critically important. You suggest this idea of self-care, also, as a big part of the book. Describe for self-care what you’re getting at - not neglecting who you are.

Ruth: Right, that’s just taking time for yourself to be in God’s Word, first and foremost. I mean, that has to be our priority.

Jim: “But you don’t know my time constraints...”

Ruth: I know.

Jim: “...You know. You just don’t know...”

Ruth: I know, I don’t.

Jim: “...How busy my life is.”

Ruth: Listen, I know. I know.

Jim: “Help me, friend.”

Ruth: Right. And here, we realize how many pockets of time are in our day if we pay attention. You know, we’ve got five minutes here, five minutes there. And God says we can talk to him at any time, so...

Jim: Yeah, just take a moment.

Ruth: Yeah, just taking a moment. And honestly, I think, as a busy, busy, mom, that’s what’s gotten me through - is that I know I don’t have to have an hour every morning to spend with God. I can spend five minutes here and five minutes there. And certainly, there may be a season that I can spend a whole hour.

Jim: Yeah.

Ruth: Um, but it’s just making sure that God is the priority in my life.

Jim: Ruth,let me ask this,as Mom, you can carry a lot of guilt.Um, you know, I think men are much easier at saying, well, it’s the other person’s problem, not mine.

Ruth: Yeah.

Jim: Women tend to own that. What have I not done?

Ruth: Right.

Jim: What am I not doing as a mother? What am I not doing as a wife? And then that guilt just kind of compounds, and you feel bad about yourself. Then your self-care doesn’t happen because it just kind of snowballs. I know women listening are going, yeah, that’s me.

Ruth: Yeah.

Jim: I feel bad about every aspect of my life because I can’t...

Ruth: Yeah.

Jim: ...Do it all perfectly.

Ruth: I feel...

Jim: Speak to that woman who’s there.

Ruth: As my children get older - I didn’t struggle so much with guilt when they were little. But as they get older, I start to think, oh, no, did I totally mess them up in this area? Or did I do this wrong? And something that I’ve just tried to remember over the years is that no matter what I do, the only reason that my children turned out at all is all because of God’s grace, you know. And I didn’t even grow up in a Christian home, and He took care of me, so certainly He’s going to take care of them.

Jim: Well, that’s a good thing to remember that our imperfection’s actually what He perfects (laughter).

Ruth: Yes, absolutely.

Jim: It’s not our perfection that He perfects more.

Ruth: Right. I love that.

Jim: I mean, and that’s dangerous to run that line. You mentioned five commitments that matter in times of trial. And I think this is a good place to end the program. What are those five commitments that we should take away from, uh, your bookFor Better Or For Kids?

Patrick: No, that’s a good - well, number one is this - is that we trust what God says and not just how we feel. Um...

Jim: Boy, that’s good.

Patrick: ...That’s such a critical point for us. We will pray and read God’s Word together regularly. We will keep Christ at the center, remembering that He’s the one that gives us the resources that we need to keep marriage a priority, to parent well. Um, thatwe’llbeselfless lovers, we’ll commit to doing that. And then the final two...

Ruth: Well, the final two are we’ll talk often, we’ll talk openly. And then finally, we’ll not walk through this alone. And I think that’s really fighting for your marriage, even in the midst of all the uncertainties that life brings.

Jim: Yeah, those are so good for married couples to remember. That’s - uh, that’s the place we’re living. It is the kind of spiritual direction that we need, uh, to get us not only through the child-rearing years but also to the finish line...

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: ...Where we’re celebrating 50-60 years of marriage. And your kids and your grandkids...

Patrick: Yes.

Jim: ...Are saying, wow, how did they do that? And you have a testimony. We did it because of our commitment to God...

Patrick: Yeah.

Jim: ...And His love for us.

Patrick: Absolutely.

Jim: I mean, that is beautiful.

Ruth: Yeah.

Jim: Patrick and Ruth Schwenk,For Better Or For Kids. I love the emphasis that you have placed on the family in this way and for marriage and then for children. Uh, this is a great resource. If this has touched your heart, uh, let us have the joy of putting this tool into your hand for you and your husband or you and your wife to explore these great areas so that when you get to the end of parenting, which never truly ends, but at the point of the empty-nest stage, your marriage is intact and healthy, not headed for disintegration. This is a resource for you.

John: It is. And we’ll encourage you to get a copy of the bookFor Better Or For Kidsand a CD or a download of our conversation. And, I’d like to, Jim, post that five commitments...

Jim: Yeah, that would be good...

John: ...That, uh, Pat just mentioned...

Jim: ...With your permission, of course.

Closing:

John: ...Um, online. All of this and more at focusonthefamily.com/radio. Or call us, and we’d be happy to help - 800, the letter A and the word family. And while you’re at our website, be sure to take the Focus on the Family Marriage Assessment, which is a great tool to help you understand what you’re doing well in your marriage and how you might improve. Takes about 5 minutes and several hundred thousand folks have participated in the Focus Marriage Assessment.

And we rely on your generosity to continue producing radio program like this one and making resources like this available, so please, when you get in touch, make a generous donation to Focus on the Family and help us continue reaching families worldwide. In fact, when you make a gift of any amount today, we’ll send a copy of For Better or For Kids to you. It’s our way of putting a great resource in your hands, maybe giving your marriage a good shot in the arm, some encouragement for the days ahead. And, one more time, our phone number 800-232-6459.

Have a great weekend and join us again next time as we hear advice for singles from Gary Thomas about the importance of how they approach marriage.

Teaser:

Gary Thomas: And the singles want to make one wise decision in their life. Next to becoming a Christian, this is the one that has to be thoughtful with their eyes wide open, with counsel, driven by the truth of Scripture.

End of Teaser

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Guest

Patrick and Ruth Schwenk

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Pastor Patrick Schwenk and his wife, Ruth, are the co-founders of The Better Mom (TBM), a contributor website where a community of over 500,000 moms gather every month for learning and sharing life together. Patrick and Ruth are also the co-creators of For the Family, another community-driven website that encourages and equips couples and parents. Patrick and Ruth are the co-authors of For Better or For Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse With Kids in the House. Ruth has also co-authored two books with Karen Ehman, Hoodwinked and Pressing Pause. Patrick and Ruth reside in Michigan and have four children.