Today’s Featured Couple is Todd and Chris!
Every couple has valuable treasure hidden in their relationship. The Spouse Dates Featured Couple Interview is designed to “mine” some of that treasure in order to share it with you.
As you read Todd and Chris’ story I hope you find a gem, jewel or golden nugget that will be encourage and inspire you in our own marriage!
Todd and Chris have been married since 1998 and reside in South Central, PA. Todd is a computer programmer, serves on the church board, missions committee and plays softball for the church team. Chris works at a Christian conference center, has a ministry for women and serves on the missions committee. They enjoy camping, kayaking, hiking, movies and traveling, but mostly being with family and friends. They are a ‘his, mine and ours’ family. Their oldest daughter and her husband have four children and will be welcoming number five this summer. Their middle child, a daughter, is a worship leader and is settling in her ‘out of the nest’ home this year. Their son is a junior in high school and loves being home-schooled.
How did you first meet?
We first met at church when my father took the job as the pastor at that church and Todd’s father was on the board. We were 12 and 15 years old. We never dated in the four years that my family was serving at that church but our families were great friends.
What was your first date?
Our first date was on my birthday, 14 years after we met. We went to dinner where Todd convinced me, with his life plan, that I and our family would want for nothing we needed if I just said that I would date him and look toward marriage. That was the only date we had before our wedding.
As a couple, what is something you have struggled with or a difficulty you have overcome? How would you encourage other couples that may be facing the same challenge?
We have had a lot of struggles and difficulties. We had to learn to be husband and wife with healthy intimacy after both being involved in sexual relationships before marriage. This marriage was Todd’s second. We had to learn how to blend a family. We moved away from our families and had to adjust to being on our own with a new home, church and environment. These led to some significant issues with little communication that lasted for many years. Our advice for a couple going through this much at the beginning of their marriage is to be real from the beginning. To say what you need to say and get through it together. Don’t create a fake space for the other person. You have to trust that your vows will work! Your spouse isn’t going to leave just because you get into an argument or tell them something they don’t like about themselves or their behavior. Change together right from the beginning. For the intimate struggles, we would say that you need to keep communication open. Being a christian couple doesn’t mean that you can’t satisfy your partner the way you feel you want to or need to, or learned to in the past. It means that you agree, with conviction, on what you will do and how you will do it, keeping it legal, moral and not harmful.
What are some marriage resources that have helped you build a better marriage?
We have always had a mentor couple to talk to who could also moderate our conversations. The most important resource was dropping all of our predetermined ideas of what a Christian marriage is supposed to be and what we are supposed to not do and focus on what we needed from each other instead.
Tell us about an “Aha!” moment that has helped you become a better spouse.
Chris – for me it was knowing what love meant to Todd. To be able to sit and listen to his experiences in relationships and hearing the words in between that led me to how he needs to receive and show love. I don’t recommend this for every woman. I’m not the ‘jealous about his past’ kind and I needed to hear what the interpretation of love for him was in his past relationships, even if they were sexual in nature. I didn’t understand how to make love to my husband until I could understand how he translated my actions.
Todd – for me it was learning how to communicate with my wife. In fact, solving our greatest problems came about by learning to just talk with and to each other. Because of my previous marriage and being left, I had to understand that just because we were arguing didn’t mean that she was leaving.
We have also learned as a couple that there are no “one size fits all” answers. Sometimes people who mean well give advice about how a Christian couple is supposed to act, and they can tell you what worked for them, but those things won’t necessarily work for you. We’ve learned to listen, but also discern. Advice from others must always be taken with prayer and consideration. Sometimes what worked for one couple may actually be detrimental or even harmful to another.
What was your best date ever and what made it so outstanding?
Chris – We went on an anniversary trip and stayed in a bed and breakfast where we ended up being the only guests. The owners gave us the run of the place, made sure we had plenty of food and still came and made us breakfast. We went white water rafting on that trip for the first time. I learned that my husband wants to push me into trying new things but will help me every way possible while accomplishing them.
Todd – I really enjoy our trips and dates where we do things neither of us have ever done before. I love spending time with Chris and watching and listening to her enjoy something that’s new to her. Our trip to NYC was fun, in that way, because we got to see a Broadway show for the first time and enjoy that memory together.
What would you do if you only had an hour free for a date?
If we are out, we’ll stop for a coffee or milkshake and drive. We love being distracted by a good drive and a quick walk, usually around the lake where we live. If we’re in, we’ll stay in and snatch the time to be intimate and not ‘wait for bedtime’.
What has contributed most to your understanding of what a healthy marriage is?
Concentrating on what we believe God wants our marriage to be for each other. How we should make our own model of what our marriage will be and making changes when our lives change.
How do other people describe you as a couple?
The ‘Funny Couple’ and the ‘They’ll Talk About Anything Couple’. We don’t take life too seriously until it calls for it and we believe in sharing what we do, what we like, what we know and we aren’t afraid to tell the truth. It makes for great party fodder!
If you could go back in time and give your newlywed selves one piece of marriage advice, what would that be?
Don’t hold back, thinking that you’re sparing your feelings or your spouse’s feelings. In the end, it will ruin a marriage. We aren’t talking being mean, we’re talking about being truthful.
What are some of the practices in your daily life that best reflect your commitment to each other?
We make sure that each other is satisfied sexually and wouldn’t have a need to question the commitment. We talk about things that we are struggling with in order to feel safe and loved. Our lives are an open book for each other. We can get in each others wallets, phones, calendars, social media sites, email, etc.
What is something you are most proud to have created together?
A joined family, since we were so dis-jointed when we got together, that serves and worships God in each of our own ministries. A family that will show their children and their children’s children how to have a relationship with Him.
What is one of the most inspiring or rewarding experiences you have ever had together?
Watching our children become Godly men and women and being accomplished in their own individual dreams.
When you think about your future together, what are you most excited about?
Being without the children in our home and daily life. We’ve never had the opportunity to be just the two of us, so we’re looking forward to having those times together. We love adventure and learning new things, so having that time where it’s just us will be exciting.
If you found an idea that encouraged or inspired you, be sure to pass it on!
Share it with your spouse, a friend or even in the comments below.