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Making Your Kitchen the Heart of Your New Marriage

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Making Your Kitchen the Heart of Your New Marriage

On this lighthearted broadcast, authors Laura Schupp and Erin Smalley offer helpful suggestions to brides for establishing their new home in a discussion based on Laura's book, Our Newlywed Kitchen: The Art of Cooking, Gathering and Creating Traditions

Our Newlywed Kitchen

Receive Laura Schupp's book Our Newlywed Kitchen for your donation of any amount!


Today's Guests

Our Newlywed Kitchen

Receive Laura Schupp's book Our Newlywed Kitchen for your donation of any amount!


Episode Summary

On this lighthearted broadcast, authors Laura Schupp and Erin Smalley offer helpful suggestions to brides for establishing their new home in a discussion based on Laura's book, Our Newlywed Kitchen: The Art of Cooking, Gathering and Creating Traditions

Episode Transcript



Wife: It’s finally ready. I never expected our first meal together to make me so nervous. I hope you like it.

Husband: (sniffing) Smells delicious. I have always loved lasagna.

Wife: Well…?

Husband: (through mouthful) Uhh… it’s very different. Uh… unusual. Less pasta than I was expecting…

Wife: Oh, well that’s because my mom always substituted eggplant for the noodles.

Husband: (choking) …Eggplant? That’s not exactly my mom’s recipe, is it?

Wife: (annoyed) Oh really?

Husband: (ahem)

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Well, I wonder if you’ve, uh, had a moment like that in your early years of marriage where it’s just hard. Maybe it was a landmine kind of thing. Today on Focus on the Family, we’re going to talk more about marriage and preparing for marriage and about food, too. Believe it or not, your kitchen can have a really profound effect on the health of your relationship. You’ll hear about that today. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, those early days of marriage are often full of surprises. Surprises today might be husbands doing more cooking. That’s one of the things going on today. So good for the boys that are stepping in and doing that kind of thing.

But you know what? When you first get married, you’re suddenly 24/7 with each other – maybe – hopefully for the first time as a newly married couple. And you’re going, wow, I didn’t know that person possessed these very interesting skill sets, like not putting the toothpaste cap back on or whatever it might be.

John: Or using eggplant instead of noodles.

Jim: Or using eggplant. That just doesn’t sound good. For my vegetarian wife, Jean, that, I think, would make the day.

John: You know, if she’s listening (Laughter), you better brace yourself!

Jim: No, she’s a great cook. And all of these things kind of collide together shortly after the honeymoon or certainly within the first couple of years. And it makes people start saying, who did I marry? Uh, the good news is this happens to, I think, just about everybody at some point in time. And trust me, I think we’ve all gone through it. But the bad news is that many newlyweds can overreact in that moment and worry about the future of their marriage, especially if they have a big fight over something as mundane as an unpopular meal, like eggplant, or an unfortunate reference to the in-laws. That becomes a little more serious, doesn’t it?

So today, we’re going to talk to moms and dads who know what’s coming and empower you, uh, the listener, to help your young adults build a more solid and stable foundation for marriage.

And specifically, we have a resource for moms who want to bless and encourage their daughters who are engaged or close to getting married. That sweet spot, uh, that we’re going to discuss today – uh, that newlywed phase.

John: That’s right, Jim. And, uh, there’s a new gift book that Focus on the Family has published called Our Newlywed Kitchen: The Art of Cooking, Gathering, And Creating Traditions. And the author is Laura Schupp, and she joins us today. She has a passion for encouraging young couples to learn how to create meaningful traditions around food and fellowship and hospitality. And, uh, because establishing new marriages with a godly foundation is such a key element of what we do here at Focus on the Family, we also have our colleague Erin Smalley with us. Uh, she and her husband, Dr. Greg Smalley, head up our marriage ministry team.


Jim: Laura and Erin, welcome to Focus.

Laura Schupp: Thank you.

Erin Smalley: Thanks for having me.

Jim: (Laughing) What a great topic – food and fellowship. I love it (laughter). One other qualification we didn’t mention is that both of you ladies have married daughters, so that gives you the, uh, the best of all qualifications. You’ve done it. (Laughs) What were your daughters doing, uh, to help prepare for their marriages? What were you doing to help your daughters?

Laura: Well, first of all, I wanted her to know that marriage is lasting. And it’s for the long haul. And so, I wanted to tell her – explain to her that it’s important to keep your marriage fun and festive and happy and – um, throughout all of those years. And the way that we always did that in our marriage – um, a little bit of a roadmap – was to keep the celebrations, to celebrate an ordinary time. Celebrate life. Celebrate a Tuesday night. Um, if there’s an event going on or, you know, you just – if it’s beautiful, take dinner outside. Clean up together. Have time to go for a walk. And if, when you do that together, then you’re fostering that communication and community. But really, just celebrating every day in ordinary times.

Jim: Sure. That sounds like a good idea. Erin, how’s your daughter doing in her early years?

Erin: Well, she’s been – she’s been married a year and one month. (Laughter) And I was on the phone with her last night. And I was actually reading through Our Newlywed Kitchen. And she was getting ready – she’s a nurse – and she was getting ready to go on a nightshift, um, 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. And she said, well, I just finished dinner, and I’m running out the door to go to the hospital. And I was like, you made dinner before you went to work. Apparently, I did something right. I don’t know. (Laughter)

Jim: But the fact you were shocked suggests maybe that didn’t happen for you in the first year of marriage.

Erin: Definitely not. (Laughter) The first year of my marriage – I came from a mom who was a tremendous cook. Like, any cuisine my mom would conquer. And that was, of course, before, you know, all – you know,, I mean, Google and all of that. And so, it was – she just learned how to do it. It was a – a very high standard.

Jim: Talk about that pressure of the daughter and feeling like I don’t measure up to Mom. Of course, you’re talking about years of experience. And how do you, as the mom, how do you eliminate that need for perfection in your daughter, who’s really trying to learn, and maybe put too much salt in the recipe or whatever it might be?

Laura: Right. Well, I don’t think it’s about perfection at all, and I say that in the book. I mean, it’s really about gathering and doing your best. And it’s an ongoing, um, process that you keep learning in the kitchen. But it’s – it’s really – I try to take that intimidation away as much as possible.

Erin: And I know, for me, when I first got married, I was a nervous wreck to go to the grocery store because I didn’t necessarily ever learn from my mom how to go to the grocery store. She was a coupon queen. And so, she did the grocery store very differently than I would do the grocery store.

Jim: OK, hang on. John, are you…

Laura: Yeah.

Jim: …Puzzled by that? What does it mean to do the grocery store right? (Laughter) I mean, you just go, and you throw stuff in the basket.

Laura: I’m not sure, but it…

Erin: I don’t know.

Laura: It can be overwhelming…

Erin: It was…

Laura: …To go the grocery store.

Erin: It was overwhelming.

Laura: Yeah.

Jim: Really?

Laura: Sure.

Jim: See, this is revelation.

John: Well, is that because of what we heard in that clip – that, um, she cooks a certain way, and she wants to please him? I mean, what’s going on? Why is it such a dramatic thing?

Laura: Well, I mean, it just depends on from what standpoint you’re looking. So, if you’re trying to be on a budget, it can be overwhelming to go to the grocery store and try to not go down the aisles. It can be overwhelming if you’re hungry. (Laughter) You’re choosing the wrong things.

Jim: I think that’s the best time to shop.

Erin: That probably would’ve been me.

Laura: It – you know, it… (LAUGHTER)

Jim: Just throw it all in!

Laura: Yeah, no. (Laughing) If you’re…

Jim: Go twice down the cookie aisle!

Laura: Yeah. If you’re trying to stay on a budget – for example, my husband used to – one of the things that, uh, brought angst to our marriage was he would go off-list. So, he’s very creative. And he…

John: Off-List. Jim?

Laura: Off-List, yeah. (LAUGHTER)

Jim: I’m learning for the first time that there’s such a term.

Laura: He would bring home, uh – is it – pickled herring. And really, how do you use that in a recipe? And so, I would have this…

Jim: That’s a very good question.

Laura: …So you know, that would frustrate me and…

John: We’ll hear it from somebody.

Laura: But – but we learned trust when I explained to him how, you know, we’re trying to stay on this budget. And if you will stick to it, then we can stay on it. But I can’t do anything with pickled herring. And so, you know…

Jim: I’ve never eaten it, I don’t think.

John: What’d he do with the pickled herring?

Jim: Was it, like, snack food?

Laura: He probably liked the packaging, but he would try it. (Laughter) He’s very…

Erin: Yeah.

Laura: …Adventurous.

Jim: Is he?

Laura: Yes.

Erin: I actually know what pickled herring…

Laura: You do?

Erin: …Is. We would eat it as, like, an appetizer.

Laura: OK. (LAUGHTER) I had never heard of it.

John: …On a Triscuit.

Jim: Yeah, I would have to wrap it…

Erin: Yeah.

Jim: …Like, in a burrito shell or… (Laughter)

Erin: You’d probably like it.

Jim: But see, there in there’s room for growth, too, in your…

John: Yeah.

Laura: …Marriage in the kitchen because you’re – you know, you’ve heard of it. I hadn’t. So maybe I should have opened my mind a little bit to it, but I was very concerned about the budget at that time, so…

Jim: Well, it kind of comes to the core question, which is so important – that is help us understand why you emphasize the kitchen as the center of the home and how that wasn’t always the case, and why you think that trend is changing in the world today…

Laura: Yeah.

Jim: …Or at least in this country.

Laura: Yes. I think it’s …

Laura: I think we moved away from the kitchen. And it was sad to me, in my child-rearing years, that I saw that because I was raised by some wonderful mentors that made it so central in our life. And – and so, um, I have seen a trend of, you know, the farm to table and this millennial audience seems to be more concerned about their health. Um, and there’s new businesses popping up, the prepackaged dinners that are out there, available now. That is a wonderful resource if you don’t know how to teach. It’s not overly economical, but it’s a great way. So, there are – I’m looking out, and I’m seeing the culture, and I’m seeing that they’re coming back to the kitchen.

Jim: What’s the… why do you think the beauty of eating together and fellowship and together, why is it so critical? It’s scriptural. It’s in the…

Laura: Right.

Jim: …Scripture a lot. Food is a big part of relationship.

Laura: Oh, it is. And when – well, I think it – first, you know, it was something that I was raised with, so I naturally did that, and it fell into our family.

When our daughter left for college, I think the thing that I – of course, I missed her – but the thing I missed the most was that empty seat at the dinner table. And I realized then how impactful it had been. And then when you get to, you know, just celebrate a birthday, and you get to this point in your life where you realize that you have a chance to share this message of what the family and the dinner table had meant to our family – gathering around it, communicating, sharing ideas, making it fun.

Jim: Yeah.

Laura: We always made it fun. Maybe we’d bring up a topic of, you know, um, where do we want to go on vacation this year? But it was always fun…

Jim: It’s true.

Laura: …Things to talk about.

Jim: I feel like our own experience in our household…

Laura: Yeah.

Jim: …That’s always the best time of the day…

Laura: Right.

Jim: …If we’re, you know, in a moment where we can all be in the kitchen together, some of us sitting at the island and, you know, Jean or maybe…

Laura: Right.

Jim: …Me putting something together – it’s typically Jean. (Laughs)

Laura: Right.

Jim: And the boys are blessed by that, let me tell you.

Laura: Well, and the way that they’re building homes now…

Jim: But it’s…

Laura: …It’s – you mentioned island, yeah.

Jim: Yeah, but it’s just really a fun experience. We laugh a lot…

Laura: Yeah.

Jim: …In that moment. We talk about plans. We talk about failure.

Laura: Yeah, I…

Jim: But it’s really important.

Erin: I came down this morning in our 20-year-old daughter is home on spring break, and she was making an omelet because she eats very healthy. And so, she definitely is returning to the kitchen.

Laura: Right.

Erin: And I looked at her last night. I’m like, how do you know how to do all this? She goes, well, I watched you.

Laura: Oh…

Erin: And she’s just…

Laura: …Isn’t that…

Erin: …Figured it out because she knows what she likes.

Jim: Now, that would have crushed you if she said I talked to grandma. (Laughter)

Erin: Yeah, that would’ve been bad.

Jim: That would not have been a good answer.

Erin: That would not have been good.

Jim: But …let me mention this. We came across something, which was insightful – a little research, I think, done by But that research said that 88 percent of respondents agree that cooking together as a couple improves communication. Does that shock you?

Laura: No, I agree 100 percent. (Laughs)

Jim: What is happening in the – yeah, I could see some couples not doing so well in that environment.

John: We no doubt have…

Jim: You put too much salt in that.

John: Yeah, I can hear some couples saying not in a million years would I try to cook in the same kitchen with my spouse. I don’t know why.

Jim: But those may be the exceptions.

John: Yeah.

Jim: Why do 88 percent of people…

John: Overwhelmingly.

Jim: …Think that’s the right thing to do? What elements are there, do you think?

Laura: There’s – there’s elements of, uh, trust. And you’re building skill sets together. Um…

Jim: You’re communicating.

Laura: Honestly, you’re communicating. There’s – there’s – you know, maybe someone takes the lead because they’re better at this, they’re better at – you know, in our kitchen, I take the lead as far as the cooking, but I couldn’t get it all together quickly without my husband who’s, you know, doing the chopping and – and cleaning up around me usually. And so, it’s definitely a team effort, and it builds communication and all those different skills.

Jim: Communication. Also, can build, um, emotional intimacy…

Laura: Sure.

Jim: …I’m sure. Uh, and you feel bonded. Is that…

Laura: Exactly.

Jim: …What’s happening?

Erin: Well, and you end up creating something together…

Laura: Right.

Erin: …Which brings…

Jim: Yes.

Erin: …Unity…

Jim: Right.

Erin: And then you enjoy it together.

Jim: Erin, with you and Greg, I’ve got to imagine something was thrown in the kitchen. I mean, there’s been other stories that many of us are aware of. (Laughter)

Erin: Many other stories…

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: …But not in the kitchen, Jim.

Jim: A bell pepper?

Erin: No.

Jim: Not even a bell pepper? (Laughter)

Erin: Not in the kitchen.

John: A pepper! (LAUGHTER)

Erin: We actually do really well as teammates in the kitchen. Typically, what I’ll do is…

Jim: OK, so…

Erin: …Take the lead.

Jim: …The research has worked in your case?

Erin: It actually has. We work very well together. Um, I usually take the lead, and Greg will be my chopper. And he’s cleaning up (Laughter) and, you know, he takes on…

Jim: Your lover Greg.

Erin: That’s right. Yes. And he grills. And he does the dishwasher. I mean, so we work very well…

Jim: That’s good.

Erin: …Together in the kitchen. We enjoy it.

Jim: Does that make you – as a woman, does that make you feel closer to Greg that he’s spending the time with you? I mean, that’s important to understand.

Erin: I love when he comes into the kitchen with me. I really, really do. Cause it takes the pressure off of me, and I know that he’s joining in, as my teammate, to help provide for our family. And it’s – you know, for me, it is so much that I want to take care of my family. I want to create a space that we can sit down at the family dinner table…

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: …Together.

John: Well, Erin Smalley and Laura Schupp are our guests today on Focus on the Family. And they’re talking about Laura’s book, Our Newlywed Kitchen: The Art of Cooking, Gathering, and Creating Traditions. And it’s a $35 gift book, and it’s a great resource. It’s applicable, really, for all couples, not just newlyweds. Today, of course, we’re primarily thinking about those couples who either are soon to be married or have recently tied the knot. And you can request your copy of Our Newlywed Kitchen at Or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Let me express this question to you, cause I think this is a big one. Talk about boundaries for a mom and her adult married daughter. You both have had the experience – you have daughters that have married.

Erin: Um-hm.

Jim: How can a mom influence her daughter’s marriage in positive and healthy ways, and what are some of the negative things, the taboos, that they should avoid. This is the question of the program.

Laura: Ok!

Jim: Either of you want to jump in?

Laura: I can take that one…

Erin: Yeah…

Laura: …I guess.

Jim: OK.

Laura: Um, I think it’s really important, I guess, from when – I’m assuming you mean when they’re going to get married. They’re engaged. And they’re going – the first one I would tackle is, um, let the – the registry experience be about them – about, um, the newlywed couple. And maybe…

Jim: How does a mom blow it? I’m not even sure I understand…

Laura: Well, maybe getting…

Jim: …How they…

Laura: Going and doing the registry with her. I would recommend that the daughter and her fiancé go and do that alone. And, you know, I’ve seen before…

Jim: Because it’s one of the first steps of…

Laura: It is. It’s the…

Jim: …Being…

Laura: …First step to…

Jim: …Separated.

Laura: …Setting up a home together. And it’s something that they need to tackle together because they’re learning about each other and the home they’re going to create. They’re learning likes and dislikes.

And there’s possibly even a sweet story that could pop up between the two of them that he might figure out – with my own daughter, it was, I really want a toaster oven. And she never grew up with a toaster oven. So, he’s figuring – she’s figuring out, OK, why is a toaster oven important? And then, you know, a story’ll pop up. And they’re growing together as a couple. They’re learning each other.

Jim: So how… ?

Laura: And so, she needs to kind of stay – a mom needs to stay back. Now, the daughter can share that with her later after they’ve selected.

Jim: Sure. But I’m thinking of how mindful a mom has to be in terms of is this intruding? Or is this appropriate?

Laura: Right.

Jim: How many times do you ask that kind of question to yourselves, and when should you?

Erin: Well, and that has been a big question for Greg and I both. And here we are, we know a lot about marriage. And…

Jim: Right.

Erin: …You know, we look at each other and like, do we say something – how they’re communicating, how their conflict is going? Where did they learn that from?

And, you know, we have really tried to stay back. And if they come to us and ask for advice, we are more than willing to offer it. Uh, we pray for them. We pray that there’s others that will step into their life. Um, Taylor is different than me, and she has different likes and dislikes. And the way she keeps her home is different than me. So, when I go to her house, I have to be very intentional about not trying to change it to my likes.

Jim: Right.

Erin: It’s how she likes it.

Jim: Now, how – does that come in the form of just biting your tongue – that you just say, OK, don’t say anything?

Erin: Well, a lot of times, it’s just allowing her to be her…

Jim: Right.

Erin: …And, you know, recognizing she is her own person. This is her home, and it doesn’t have to be like mine.

Jim: OK, now, just for us to learn, have you messed up in the last year and a half, or year and two months? Has there been a time when you let it fly, and you went, oops, I shouldn’t have done that?

Erin: I’m sure I have. (Laughter) And I think the only thing I can – I can picture is Taylor’s face looking at me.

Jim: Ahh.

Erin: And she wants my approval so much. And I just – there’s times I’ll make comments and just think, oh, I shouldn’t have said that. I didn’t mean it like that. And I can just see her face, just full of disappointment. And that is not the relationship I want to have with my daughter.

Jim: I can only imagine one of the big concerns today for newlywed or almost, uh, married couples is the whole digital arena – social media, Pinterest, specifically. I mean, everything’s perfect, right? And if that’s…

Laura: A lot of pressure.

Jim: …not you, if, you know, you struggle getting that organized, or whatever that obstacle might be, how does a young lady particularly overcome that perfect moment with, OK, it’s good enough? What suggestions do you have for her?

Laura: I think you concentrate and focus on the fact that it’s not about the perfection and what’s on the table but who’s around the table. And think about the people that you are nurturing, the hospitality. And it…

Jim: That’s good.

Laura: It’s just bringing it back to the people. And the people that you’re serving and inviting over love you, and they’re not expecting perfection. And just give the best you have to give where you are in your life, where you are in your home, where you are in your budget, what you have to serve. That’s all anybody can ask.

Jim: So, what you’re saying is really be people-focused… ?

Laura: Right, exactly.

Jim: …Which is better than…

Laura: Which is…

Jim: …Material-focused.

Laura: Right.

Erin: Yeah, it’s much more about the relationships for me. I am not a super detailed person.

Laura: Right.

Erin: So, the idea of having – I’ve always wanted to have a calendar, uh, menu for the month, and I am yet – 25 years later, I have never done that. I’ve wanted to. And…

Jim: (Laughter). The desire.

Erin: But for me, it’s the relationships. And I’m very spontaneous. And so, I have – I go to the grocery store. I have stuff on hand. I kind of have ideas of what I’m gonna do. But it’s much more spontaneous, and it looks probably a whole lot different than your kitchen or how you plan your meals. I – I…

Laura: But that’s…

Erin: …Admire that so much.

Laura: But that’s the point.

Erin: Yeah.

Laura: It can be done many different ways. That’s just an offering if that’s you. But it’s a conversation. Yeah.

Erin: Absolutely.

Jim: How much of a load is that to carry – I mean, to be thinking about, OK, what are we going to have for dinner tonight every night – or many nights? I think husbands miss that. Especially…

Erin: Yeah.

Jim: …Again, we’re talking traditional roles. And I realize that sometimes it’s, uh, swapped nowadays – that more dads are doing the cooking.

Laura: Yeah.

Jim: Mom’s at work. That happens.

Laura: There’s a part in the book that I start out and I say, dinner surprises me nightly. And it came up as a Facebook post when I was looking at my phone around 4:30.

And it just struck me as such a clever way to say that because dinner does surprise many people nightly. And so, the reason for that part in the book was just to have a plan so it doesn’t surprise you nightly because I know, when I get hungry, I just kind of want to know what I’m pulling out and what’s ready in there. But that’s my way, and it doesn’t have to be everybody’s way. So, it’s offered but, you know, it’s not intended to be pressure.

Erin: Yeah, but I love that.

Laura: Yeah. Yeah.

Erin: It is a surprise. And for me, being a creative person, that dinner is, in essence, kind of a creativity process for me.

Laura: Right.

Erin: And – but ultimately, it’s to bring the family together for the relational aspect of it.

Laura: Exactly.

Erin: I think each personality’s gonna be different.

Jim: That’s happening today. A lot of women are saying, I just can’t do it. I don’t – I didn’t learn from my mom. And…

Laura: Right.

Jim: …Actually, my husband’s a better cook, and he’s doing more of the cooking than I do. And…

Laura: And right now – now, we’ve done a little bit of a, um, a flip in our role. So, um, I’ve worked from home or stayed at home many years, and my husband was out of the house. And now he’s home, working from home, and I’m out of the house. And sometimes – I mean, it’s what works. I’ll call him and say can you start this?

Jim: OK, but I got to ask you, a scale of 1 to 10, how’s he doing?

Laura: He does fantastic. (LAUGHTER)

Jim: Is that a seven or an eight? I don’t know.

Laura: Nine, 10.

Jim: Wow.

John: Wow.

Laura: Yeah.

Jim: Way to go.

Erin: That’s awesome. Way to go!

Laura: Yeah. So, there are some meals that – he – I mean, I have been in a very busy work season lately. And, you know, I just kind of pulled something out and said figure this one out.

Jim: Yeah.

Laura: And he did it.

Jim: Erin…

Laura: Grocery shopping and everything.

Jim: …Let me ask you this – away from cooking, you and Greg specifically have been helping your daughter, Taylor, focus more on the future of her marriage rather than that wedding ceremony itself. I mean, I know she’s married now. But you – before that, you tried to help her with perspective. Describe what you meant by that and how you carried that out.

Erin: You know, it’s – we encourage couples, and even our daughter, to prepare not just for the day or just for a certain aspect of their future marriage but for the longevity of a relationship. And so premarital counseling and, you know, thinking things through, planning your home, planning your marriage. And specifically seeing this relationship as a life-long commitment. And that’s something we seed with our kids throughout their lifetime of being in our home – that this commitment is for a lifetime.

John: Hm.

Jim: Yeah. It’s so encouraging for, I would think, a young woman to hear that.

Erin: Sure, sure.

Jim: Laura, there’s a great part in your book where you encourage family and friends to be able to speak into the newlyweds’ life.

Laura: Right.

Jim: Uh, I think for most men – I don’t know – we would probably – ah, you know, you’ll find out, you’ll learn all about it, we don’t need to tell you anything. Moms are probably a little more like, no, I think we can lay some runway lights down. I think that’s important. Speak to the – the distinction there about a father and a mother and how – and family…

Laura: Sure.

Jim: …Members – but the importance of mentoring a young couple.

Laura: Well, years ago, when I got married I attended a bridal shower for my cousin. And, um, the women of the church, um, that were the friends of the mother of the bride gathered around. And I guess they offered Scripture or advice. And so, when my daughter got married, the – a shower was offered to her. We call it a blessing shower. And, uh, women that are seasoned in marriage – my age, I guess – the mother of the bride – they would, um, offer some advice. And so, it’s usually a little card or a note slipped in with a gift. And so that idea came to the book, like, let’s do this in the book. So, uh, a group could give the book or, uh, family members. And you just write something in there that’s – maybe it’s a recipe. Maybe it’s, um – maybe the mother-in-law-to-be is giving it, and she’s putting some of his favorite recipes in there or…

Jim: Oh, that’s a – that’s a great idea.

Laura: Exactly – or Scripture or…

John: Yeah.

Laura: …Something that meant something to them that – that really got them through.

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: And I love that because it is so true that generationally, there’s an influence that’s handed down, and it’s a powerful one. You know, we – I realized when I went home to my mom’s house that my kitchen on the other side of the country was set up just the way my mom’s was with many of the same items, and I didn’t even realize it. But yet, I learned that there was so much that she had taught me just from me watching…

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: …And maybe not even intentionally training me, but she was. Just by doing what she did, I learned so much from her.

Jim: Boy, that is so good. And I think I – this is a great gift book idea just to help a young couple, you know, move in the right direction, a positive direction. But before you get away, I have one last question for both of you, really. And this is it – what was the best advice you were given before you got married? What helped you, looking back?

Laura: Well, we attended premarital counseling. And our pastor told us – um, he actually drew out a triangle, if you can imagine. And so, um, at the top of the triangle, he drew a cross. And at the bottom, he drew my name – he wrote my name, and my husband Tom’s name. And he said the closer you get to Christ, the closer you get to each other.

Jim: Oh, that’s interesting.

Laura: And I’ve never forgotten that. And I just – I – I have kept it with me throughout…

Jim: Yeah.

Laura: …Our 30-year marriage.

Jim: That’s probably the best advice you can get…

Laura: It really was.

Jim: …In life.

Laura: Yeah.

Jim: How about you, Erin?

Erin: And you know – as you know our story, we didn’t do a whole lot of premarital counseling, which is funny because now we are, like – we are headstrong on you have to do premarital counseling because we lived through our first couple years that were really tough.

But I will never forget someone – this older gentleman told Greg and I before we got married, don’t ever bad-mouth, don’t ever speak poorly of your spouse in front of them or when they’re not there, when they’re not there to – to defend themselves. And I just – I – it – what it has done is it has built an environment of safety to know that Greg has my back. I have his. We’re a team. And we’re going to work through whatever challenges come together. And I’m so thankful for that.

Jim: Laura and Erin, this has been great, uh, covering this topic. I – it’s not normally a topic that we do cover.

John: We don’t talk a lot about cooking or (Laughter) the importance of food, although we do observe eating together a lot. That’s a good thing.

Jim: I believe in the importance of food…

John: Yeah.

Jim: …That’s for sure. But, uh, it’s wonderful to see the connection of relationship and food and the kitchen and the importance that it has – so much in the Bible about banquets and feasts and eating together. Even the last supper with the Lord, that whole theme of him giving his body and his blood to us for salvation is built around a meal.

And I think there’s something really unique with God in that respect. So, you’ve done a wonderful job, Laura, pulling that together in your book Our Newlywed Kitchen. Wonderful advice for young couples to do it well, uh, probably not perfectly, because I just don’t think that’s achievable.

Laura: Uh-hm.

Jim: If you have a grown daughter who’s thinking about marriage, or engaged, or maybe newly married, we want to recommend you get this beautiful gift book. In fact, we can make this $35 resource available to you for a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today. Now, that’s our way of saying thanks for helping us support and strengthen marriages.

John: You can donate when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or stop by to, uh, get a copy of the book, a CD or download of our conversation.

And we have a free download of a broadcast we did with Pastor Ted Cunningham, uh, that relates to this topic about leaving and cleaving. All of these, uh, resources, again, at

Jim: Laura and Erin, this has been great. Uh, thank you so much for sharing your family’s stories and your insights with us. I’m glad you didn’t throw anything today, Erin.

Erin: I’m glad, too. (LAUGHTER)

Jim: And, Laura, I love your book Our Newlywed Kitchen. Uh, this is a wonderful resource to help newlywed couples get their marriages, uh, started off in the right direction. Thank you both for being with us today.

Erin: It’s been my pleasure.

Laura: My pleasure. Thank you. Honored to be here.


John: And thank you for joining us today as a listener. Well, have a great weekend with your family and uh, your church community, and then come back on Monday for an insightful conversation about fatherhood. We’ll have Rob Stennett here describing that first-time dad feeling, perfectly.


Rob Stennett: …And these two things kind of hit simultaneously. But the first one is fear. Like, it’s just this overwhelming, like, oh, my gosh, I have this “wow” sense of responsibility all of a sudden. I have to provide. I have to take care of someone. I have, like, such a thing there. And it’s also joy…

End of Teaser

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