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This episode is going to be a little different—it’s a combined episode with another podcast! Ted Lowe co-hosted today’s episode with the creators of Growing in Marriage podcast, a podcast by Big Rich and DeAnna. You can learn about what they do at Growing in Marriage. We decided to join forces this week—it’s like podcast inception.

Big Rich: Ted, share a little about yourself

Ted: I’ve been married to Nancie Lowe for almost 24 years and we have five kids. We started marriedpeople.org in 2010. I worked for a church here in Atlanta for nine years focusing on marriage. Been pouring into marriage, mostly through the local church.

For the last two to three years we’ve been speaking directly to couples. On our podcast we want to make marriage real, fun and simple. When I met you guys I thought we were cut from the same cloth.

Ted: Tell us a little about yourselves.

DeAnna: We’ve been married for 23 years. We started out as best friends in high school and dated for three and a half years. We have two children and Rich is the marriage pastor at our church. We love serving married couples—we get to be involved in some of the most intimate aspects of couple’s lives. And we get to help them do that in a way that is honoring to God.

Ted: So often couples come to church and think they’re the only ones struggling. When you put them in community it’s so powerful to find that they’re not the only ones struggling.

DeAnna: Especially with social media now too, because you’re representing something that’s really not real. We hide behind the screen and it’s sad that people don’t really know who you are.

Big Rich: I am curious to hear your response to a few questions. Every marriage has a villain and that villain has to be identified in order for it to be defeated. In every single marriage the villain is the same – selfishness. We both have aspects of our lives where we are selfish and learning to die to ourselves. What’s your take on that?

Ted: It’s simple but it’s true. Couples tend to think their issues are special or complicated, but there’s no struggle that is uncommon. When I speak at a retreat, I’ll have couples draw a circle around themself and the only person I’m talking to is the person inside that circle. But nine times out of 10 I still have people say, “yeah but, she always…” or “yeah but, he always…”.

When it comes to communication people tend to think they need to communicate so the other person can meet their needs. But studies are showing that couples are made up of two people who think more highly of their spouse than their spouse thinks of themselves. And the only way we can do that is to be unselfish. We certainly don’t see marriages on TV modeled that way.

Big Rich: If we could successfully root that out it would change not only the marriage but the world. When we sit down with couples it’s so interesting to see how it comes out.

DeAnna: With women, we don’t want to feel like we’re being a doormat so the whole attitude is “what about me?”. But the question is: what is the heart of God?

Big Rich: We’re not saying that the ‘me’ isn’t important. But I think if we can identify where we are truly being selfish, that’s the sweet spot.

Ted: One of the things we bring up is the two different mindsets – the “me mindset” that is always asking if this is working for me. There’s a better question that is the “for us” mindset and is always asking what I am doing to make this marriage work.

Big Rich: I love this quote by you, and you didn’t coin it but I’m going to give credit to you. I hear you say, “serving is a race to the back of the line”. That really kills selfishness on the spot. Talk to us a little about serving and racing to the back of the line.

Ted: I heard it from Andy Stanley but he took it from Ephesians 5:1, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”. We want to be mutually respected.

DeAnna: You’re right, we want to be respected for our mind and don’t want to be a doormat or less than.

Big Rich: There are a lot of situations where there isn’t a compromise. There are going to be times when compromise just doesn’t work.

Ted: And I also don’t like the phrase “pick your battles”. I think this “race to the back of the line” is extraordinary. When you see a couple that’s been married fifty years and they say they just serve and love each other. We used to keep that tally or keep score but now we’re a team. Marriage really can be great and I would wish our marriage on anybody—not because it’s perfect but because we’ve tweaked things and it’s awesome.

Big Rich: Across the board, divorce statistics are down. In today’s culture it would appear that marriage is not a highly regarded institution like it used to be in the past. Would you agree with that assessment?

Ted: I think statistically you can see that divorce is on the decline. I did see a stat that it’s going up in one area: empty nesters. I do think that’s true, I’ve watched that happen. With marriage, stats get a little weird as we’re predicting what will happen. The way they calculate divorce can get a little twisted. We say marriage isn’t a stat, it’s a story. Giving couples a stat can be hard. But I see what happens when you see a group of people who are for marriage support each other. It really is amazing.

DeAnna: If people feel they are being supported and someone is on their side it really encourages them.

Ted: DeAnna, what do you think when you hear women talk about marriage—has that evolved over the years?

DeAnna: I think a lot of times it’s keeping score – my husband did this, what are they doing? That would be the secular world for sure and it bleeds over into the Christian world. It’s helping people realize that they’re a team and your husband isn’t the enemy.

DeAnna: Ted, I have a question. There’s an attitude out there of “what’s the point of marriage”? How would you answer that?

Ted: I think there’s a couple answers to that. Biblically, marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and the church. I tell marriage leaders all the time that marriages in their church are reflecting the church.

If they can say something beautiful and sacrificial, there’s nothing more appealing in this culture. It’s not perfection; it’s this genuine connection of two people who are racing to the back of the line. Millennials’ top two priorities are to have a great marriage and be a great parent. There’s also just something about having that person to do life with forever that’s just extraordinary.

DeAnna: Ted, you and your wife have been married almost 24 years so I’m sure you’ve experienced some tough times in your marriage. When times do get tough, how can couples fight for joy and not get lost in the tough times?

Ted: We have to serve each other during those times and be so full of grace. But then carving out that time for joy. We’ve had some very tough times in our marriage and I find never is there a more important time to carve out time. We get so serious and everything gets so heavy. Let’s be fun even in the midst of the hard. What about you guys?

DeAnna: We truly are best friends. We can be in the thick of it and Rich will do something and make a face and I just start giggling. It’s good because it makes me feel like we’re still on the same page and I really, truly do enjoy being with him. Sometimes, I don’t always want to be next to him but at the end of the day he is my best friend.

Big Rich: I agree with everything you just said. One of the things that works for me (because I am more introverted) is when I’m out and I have to speak, I’m just ‘on’. When I get home I want to be with myself and my family. My best friend is energized by being with a lot of people but that drains me. I get energized by having three to six individuals I can be completely transparent with.

For me, it’s taking a step backwards and being introspective—wrestling it out with my own self and then taking it to the Lord. Then being able to go back to my wife (and sometimes it’s not right away). My love for Jesus is my main way of fighting for joy and working my way back.

Big Rich: Maybe you can be vulnerable and tell us about a time when you and Nancie were in a bad season of marriage and how did you navigate it?

Ted: We were living in California the first five years of marriage and we started talking about having a family and moving back to Georgia. When we got back, she loved it and I didn’t like it. I was missing California, our buddies, our church.

I remember being out mowing our ‘stupid big Georgia lawn’ and started thinking through this whole thing. Philippians 4:8 says, “if anything is praiseworthy, think about such things”. When I would run that situation through Philippians 4:8 and think about what was true (that we decided this together), what was noble (she was wanting to be by our family), I could pause and think about those things.

That’s what shifted everything for me. I had to be so careful how I think about her – how you’re thinking about your spouse is a choice. If you’re a believer, this is not optional and it’s beyond powerful. It revolutionized things for us. What about you guys?

Big Rich: One of our hardest seasons of life really wasn’t a season where there was resentment back and forth but our daughter was super sick when she was four months old. She had RSV, which is a respiratory infection. For most couples it would have been a traumatic event. The doctor had us call our families to come say goodbye because they thought she wasn’t going to make it.

But DeAnna had this pit bull like faith saying we weren’t going to let go but I wasn’t in that place. I was frantic and out of control. During that time it would have been very easy for me to point my finger and say, “You shouldn’t have taken her to Disneyland” or “Why didn’t you have her coat on her”. But it was my wife coming along side of me during that time.

Our little girl was on life support for seven days and we didn’t know if she was going to make it. I don’t know where my wife found the strength to care for both of us but it gave me this renewed sense that, whenever we get in a bad place, we’re on the same team. We have a podcast where we share the story. We got every piece of bad news about her. But today she’s 15 going on 30.

Big Rich: How do you serve a spouse who continues to take and take but doesn’t give? How do you serve that spouse without becoming bitter or angry and still having a good attitude?

Ted: That’s a great question; I don’t know that I have an easy answer for that. I think to ask if it’s true that you’ve been serving and serving. Or have I been nagging and nagging or frustrated and frustrated? I’d start there and then it’s having good conversations. If you keep bumping up against the wall we’re firm believers in counseling.

Big Rich: What’s one piece of marriage advice you would give that has proven to be better than gold in your own marriage?

Ted: I’ll speak for my wife. I interviewed her for our small group study. We laugh that she’s kind of the man in the relationship. I asked her what it takes to have a good marriage and she said, “be kind”. I kept pushing and she said, “We used to be unkind to each other and it was tough. We started be kind and it’s great”. I think it’s how we’re thinking about our spouse. Our thoughts are not our action or attitude but they determine both. What about you guys?

Big Rich: This comes back to something DeAnna said earlier—it’s friendship. We know couples who have been married for thirty something years and they never even considered being friends with each other. I think that if you have a marriage that doesn’t consist of a good friendship, that’s a missed opportunity.

DeAnna: Along with that I would say it’s knowing that you (Rich) are really on my side. At the end of the day we really are on the same team.


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