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First Fruits and Fumes


Mandy [00:00:01] Welcome to another Art of Relationships podcast. We are grateful for listeners like you. Let's get right into it.


Chris [00:00:11] Well, welcome to another Art of Relationships podcast, Lisa. It's so cool to be with you and have this fun opportunity just to talk about all things relationships.

Alisa [00:00:22] I love it. I love when we get to come together, and we want to make sure that everybody knows that. This podcast is a production of the Center for Marriage and Relationships at Biola University. So big shout out to the center for making this possible. We're so grateful. But we have been really busy, Chris just running all over this country doing marriage conferences, healthy relationship conferences. And when we are at these conferences, we get a lot of questions, don't we?


Chris [00:00:54] We do, it seems like, and they run the gamut. They're each in many ways unique. But after doing this for so many years, what we find, too, I think, is that the questions all kind of come around a similar theme, don't they?


Alisa [00:01:09] They're the same no matter who you talk to.


Chris [00:01:11] Yeah. And so each of us most likely will find ourselves in some of these situations. And I know, Lisa, you and I, we have to really, be careful with our time and prioritize for our marriage and our relationship and continue to feed into it, because even just talking about it is is wonderful, but you still have to go and do it, right. Yeah. And so that's important. Well, one of the things we get our questions, like you said, at each of these places and I, I love doing that because, you know, you hear questions all over the map. Some are really, you know, heartbreaking. And couples that are struggling and they just don't know where to go. Others, you know, can be encouraging. And yet they still have, you know, these issues to work out. So at least let's let's do this. Let's dive in. Let's share some of the things that, I do to irritate you on a regular basis.


Alisa [00:02:12] How long have you got?


Chris [00:02:16] Well, what's the most common irritation that you find in it? No. And then I'll share. You know, how kind and loving you are toward me. And then I think that'll start to balance out some of the issues we have now. We really do. We? We have our own.


Alisa [00:02:32] Actually pretty easy to live with. , I have to admit, you are.


Chris [00:02:36] Yeah. And I well, thank you, and I, I, I think that's why we were so in common at the very beginning. One of the things I think, Lisa, that's helped us whenever we face hiccups or things that, you know, don't go well, our little pet peeves, you know, that drive you crazy? I think one characteristic that I've admired in you and, in our relationship has been in the area of playfulness. I think that's been so fun because we laugh at a lot of the same things, and.


Alisa [00:03:09] We laugh a lot.


Chris [00:03:10] And we do, you know, and, and so these, you know, they're they're hard conversations sometimes we have to have and you know, we both learn to, you know, learn how to apologize. You know, that took some time. But I think I think overall, if I had to say what was really good for us and our relationship has been just a level of playfulness that comes in and treating each other the way we want to be treated. And that's been great and fun. So that, you know, and I do, you know, that's silly things that we do. I guess what ends up happening, Lisa, is we have learned to navigate some of the more hard, difficult conflict times with good deep talking, but also keeping up the fun side. And I think a lot of couples really have to learn how to maintain and keep that fun, playful side going. Well, you.


Alisa [00:04:02] Know, it makes me think of the Bible verse that love covers a multitude of sins. And I think we we not to add to God's Word, not to presume that that another way of looking at that two is humor can cover a multitude of sin, say, to ignore them, but it does help ease the repair attempt when we can not take ourselves quite so seriously or find humor in it.


Chris [00:04:26] Yeah, that's really good. And we're talking about that. There are times in which somebody meets or conflict with humor or a joke or sarcasm and we all know the dangers of that. You could take it way too far. And, and so I think one of the things we've learned is during times, of stress is to take a time out, rework on things. And here's a question, maybe from a couple that, is asking, what are some steps you would take? Lisa, this couple wrote and asked us. They want to know how do we prioritize our marriage if we're running on fumes due to parenting our kids. And I would assume that means parenting and. Going to work and, you know, just everyday life and.


Alisa [00:05:13] All the activities. You mean if you have even if you have only one kid, you are running on fumes, especially if you're both working. You have multiple kids, multiple activities they're involved in. Maybe you have some volunteer things that you're doing, some interests and hobbies, maybe extended family, you know, priorities or or or pressures on you that you have to fill. It's just a multitude of things.


Chris [00:05:42] Yeah. I think we were really kind of set up for disappointment when we had our first kid. And I'll explain that we are first kid and we're busy, to begin with. Then the first kid comes, you know, actually, of all things, you know, we happen to be in Russia at the time, the Soviet Union, when we were you were pregnant and so we get back it's a very busy season or debriefing from that. You know, you're sick, but we happen to have the almost perfect child for a first kid. I mean, he.


Alisa [00:06:16] Was pretty easy. You are his baby girl.


Chris [00:06:18] Oh, now that we've been around a bunch of babies and raised a bunch, it's like this kid was came out of the womb like this. Calm, easygoing, you know, non problematic kid. And I thought, well, first of all, that's genetic. You know, it comes from you. And because but but it was a great, opportunity to start slow and learn what it means. We could take.


Alisa [00:06:43] We were thinking, what's the big deal? We took him the movies with us. Like, seriously, he was. He would sit there and watch movies with us in the theater. We'd take him to dinner. We're thinking, what's the big deal with all these parents whining about how life stops when they have babies? And then we had.


Chris [00:07:01] We had number two.

Alisa [00:07:02] Natalie, if you're listening, we love you dearly.

Chris [00:07:05] Yeah, but you are a very, very tough child. I'm going to say Amen. I there was something wrong with that kid. He she came out screaming and I never heard such loud noises. And I thought, put her back. She's not done pooping. She needs a little bit more time in the womb to get something figured out in her brain. But she was. She began the challenge that we can relate to running on fumes. We had to chase this kid everywhere. Her nickname was Bulldog. We could never stop her from if she put her mind to something, you know, she's.


Alisa [00:07:39] The first one to take a ballpoint pen down the the the hole. 

Chris [00:07:44] Oh, yeah. And rode everywhere.


Alisa [00:07:46] Yeah. With a with a pen all the way down the wall. And then the first one that was so easy, he decided it was a great idea to take the crayons to the closet door. But she instigated.


Chris [00:07:58] Yeah, she she taught him all kinds of bad things.

Alisa [00:08:01] But but and she's a director of women's ministries today. So, parents, there is hope. Hang in there.


Chris [00:08:07] There's hope. Yeah. And Jesus she does. And you know, we we do rank our kids to who we like more. But but but now you know, there's been some changes, Lisa. And you know, this idea of running on fumes due to parenting. We felt extreme pressure with work and money and and then time. I spent a little bit of time being able to be with the kids, because I had a little bit of a flexible schedule. As a professor, you had to work. We were just on fumes. So what do you tell these parents that are facing this new, you know, situation? And they're just going, I don't have anything left to give to my marriage?


Alisa [00:08:51] Well, yeah. It's a tough and very realistic place to be. And I don't want this to sound cliche at all, but it really starts with your own personal relationship with Jesus and putting that first, because you can't give out of an emptiness what you do when you meet with the Lord in the morning, in the evening, whenever you do. But that fills your tank. It fills your tank spiritually, emotionally, physically. You're encouraged. You're reminded of the greatness and the bitterness of God, his grace that's available. And it what it does is it fills up the empty places so that those can overflow out of you and on to the most important people around you your husband, your wife first, then your kids. So God's got to come first in terms of those priorities, so that you have a well from which to draw from. And then second, I think, is that you've got to put your spouse as your second priority, not your children. And I think one of the really practical ways that you can convey that your spouse is your priority is when they come home at the end of the day. And I tell you what's very telling is when you walk in the door, let's say you're the one coming home and everybody else is home. Who do you say hello to first when you come in the door? Is it the kids? Is it the dog who's jumping up and down and demanding your attention as well as the children? Or is it your spouse? And so what? That tells your spouse. If you say hello to the dog and the children's first, that tells your spouse inadvertently, you're not first. These other things come first. And so what I would recommend is one thing that we did when our kids were little, whenever, let's say Chris came home, if I was already home with the kids, I, we made it a joke. And like a race to get to the front door to see who could greet daddy first. And that communicated to the kids. First of all, hey, daddy's a big deal when he comes home. We are excited about it. We're word that's a big deal is pay attention. Set aside everything else you're doing and run to the door to greet them. And then what Chris would do is he came in. The door is the very first thing he would do. He would say, hello, everybody. But he would immediately turn to me first, hug and kiss me, look me right in the eyes and say hello. I missed you hug, hug, kiss kiss. Then he would say hello to the kids in the dark. And so it's a very small thing. But John Gottman, the leading marital researcher, says, don't overlook the small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness, every day, because it's those small things that make a difference. So, number one, make God your first priority. Fill up your tank. Number two, greet your spouse first before the dog, before the kids when you come home or when they're coming home first. Chris, what do you think? What's sitting at.


Chris [00:12:03] Home? Oh, yeah. No. It was really fun to to come home and and feel, you know, excited, because I saw these excited face and the kids took it as moms beating us again and or, you know, and they took it as this fun, almost game. And then I, of course, be able to tell, you know, love on the kids. But, Lisa, I love what you're saying. It reminds me of Proverbs three nine and ten where it talks about honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops. Well, what is your wealth? I think we can extend that a little bit and say, what do we have that we want to honor the Lord with? And I think, Lisa, you identified it. It's your time. And you do that to the highest priority to honor the Lord. And and that, to me, is the very beginning of how we do that. And then wealth in, in, in my opinion, as a husband in this situation was a lot of what the kids needed. And, and I felt like you and our marriage needed was attention and and being with and and so to honor the Lord for my wealth, which was giving him my attention first, but then not wasting my the first fruits on work or on activities or on friends who would grab my attention. So I think some people, some couples struggle because another little thing is they're giving the first fruits to work, and then they come home depleted and tired. They give their first fruits to planning that great sermon, serving in this great place, participating in this event with their friends and doing whatever. And then they come home and their family gets the second. And so we honor the Lord with our with our wealth and the first fruits. And I remember we I, a farmer came up and, and we were talking about this verse and he said, you know, first fruits, let me show you the picture of a, a cake that was baked using wheat flour from the first fruits. The first time we did crop verses the last fruits and look at the difference in the. And it was so amazing. And so this farmer showed me these pictures and the first cake had this fluffy, you know, amazing texture from the first fruits and the second and picture from the later on. Harvest of Wheat showed this very, almost, anemic looking cake. And, and to me, what he said was we have to really think through this verse because if we give up the first, that means we get up earlier or we do that first thing and it's. And Lisa, tell me about your priority level. It's honor of the Lord. First you said this. In your spouse and then your kids. But they're going to be demanding long and they're loud and they want this. So it's not easy to put this into practice.


Alisa [00:15:20] Yeah. So let's give let's give everybody a couple of small but really practical everyday things they can do to prioritize their spouse and to show each other that you are important to me. I see you and I care about you.


Chris [00:15:34] Yeah. So you did the first one, right? Coming home. So first one is small enough. Make the spouse greet them like you miss them and be the first. So that's the number one. What do you have? Do you have a second one for us?


Alisa [00:15:47] I think the second thing is every morning before you walk out the door, take five minutes together with your spouse and you ask them this question, what can I do to help you today? So, hey, Chris, what's on your docket today? What can I do to help you? Because when you ask that question and then you actually pitch in and you help accomplish a need for them, what it tells them is, hey, you are important to me. We're a team and I've got your back. And nothing feels better than to know I'm walking out the door at the beginning of a really busy day, knowing that I'm not alone and we're doing it together. You know, that's good.


Chris [00:16:29] I, I remember, you know, you asking me that question early on and I remember thinking, oh, man, Liz, I'll tell you what I know. What would really help is if I could plan on having, you know, one hour, you know, between 6 and 7 tonight, you know, to do this one thing that I need to do, and then I'll be free, you know, after that, to give the kids full attention and help with the baths, whatever. And I think, just simply being asked that question is awesome. Maybe even a tag on to that is, what can I do? And what can I be praying for you today? What's on your heart? Where are you in life and what can I do? And even if you said five minutes. Gosh, even if it's one minute, right. Five minutes, we may not have, you know, as far as cooking and getting the kids ready at bathing, whatever we're doing, dressing. So even. That's good. So that's a great suggestion. You got another one for us.


Alisa [00:17:28] Yeah. And just I think just to tag on to that, like you said, it could be something as easy as hey, could. I remember running in the room the other day and we were getting ready to head out, and you said, hey, do you need anything today? And I said, yeah, hey, could you shoot that email to the teaching team and remind them to, you know, bring their media waivers that everybody needs? But the fact that you thought about me and that you said, hey, what can I do to help you? And I said, oh, yeah, I've got to get that email out. Do you mind sending it out? Do you have time? And you said, done. I've got it. That just I mean, not only did it take it off my plate, but it just made me feel like, again, like we're in this together. You've got my back. I've got yours. We're a team. We're good to go. Okay, so I think another thing. I think we underestimate the power. And that's truly a weekly date night. Just having a weekly date night. And whether going out of the house or whether you're sitting at home, and just putting the kids to bed early and you're having, you know, you turn off your screens, turn off your cell phone, and you just give each other that undivided attention. And you don't, especially on a date night. You're not talking about the kids. You're not talking about functional things like, oh, how much was the the estimate for the new Hvac system that we have to get, you know, you're not doing that, but you're actually just focusing on each other. How are you doing on a scale of 1 to 10? One is you want to curl up in a ball and cry. Ten is you're on top of the world. Where are you in why? And you just debrief and you laugh and you enjoy each other. So you need that time to reconnect every week.


Chris [00:19:15] Yeah. So let's unpack that one real quickly. You know, if you do it once a week, you know, you're going to have to have somebody that can help with the kids. You know, hope oh yeah, you can do that. You can set them up to bed early. Hopefully you have somebody, you know, that you can count on to if you, you know, if you wanted to get out of the house, you know, a family member and you just asked them or you put money aside every week to, to find that babysitter, you know, that neighbor or somebody or you trade off with other friends that have young kids and say, hey, we'll keep your kids Friday afternoon or evening. You keep our Saturday afternoon, evening, whatever.


Alisa [00:19:54] It could also be a lunch date, maybe while the kids are at school. If you're able to go meet each other for lunch. We we used to take our lunch and meet up at the park, when we were both working full time, and that was our time to connect. But you just have to be. Creative. Yeah. Just don't said don't avoid that. Don't. Don't underestimate the power that we don't know.


Chris [00:20:16] Yeah. And I think just unpacking it further. One last thing. It's also don't let the word date freak you out as far as. Oh, it has to be, you know, this all encompassing, like you said, at least it could just be lunch during the workday. It could be if you're not in the same area, you know, it could be something just, you know, cheap, you know, and walking around. I do think to be able to do that. Another add that I would say is you do have to have those times in which there's functional, you know, practical conversations about the things that are going on. And so you, you what you just I think perfectly said was save that for a different conversation at a different time. Maybe when the kids go down, maybe, you know, when, you know, you decide to put the kids up for adoption because it's just too crazy. No. And I'm teasing. Maybe we should not include that, but, but but mostly, if the kids are driving you so crazy that you don't want to come home and you're like, we got to get home and say, no, let's just pay the babysitter a little bit more to stay out longer. But it's at that point when you realize we really missed this time and we really need it.


Alisa [00:21:29] So didn't we look forward to it too? I mean, during the week when it's so busy and you're being pulled in 20,000 different directions and you've got a diorama do and you got to wash somebody's uniform for practice the next day. It was just something fun that we had to look forward to in the anticipation of it.


Chris [00:21:49] I forgot about dioramas. I don't know if they still do those, but. Alisa [00:21:52] This was the diorama, dad, because he rocked the diorama.


Chris [00:21:57] And now I'm. Oh yeah, now I'm the diarrhea grandpa. And so it's it's just kind of moving from one to the next. No. You know, but I still hope that they do. You know, the dioramas. Those were always fun. So, Lisa, go ahead. What's another one?


Alisa [00:22:13] Another one that I think is really important is to compliment your spouse in front of other people. So you do it in public and especially where they can hear it, and especially in front of your kids, too. So important to compliment them in front of the kids, and in front of other people. And it just builds their, it builds them up. It tells other people, wow, I value that person sitting across the table from me. And here is why you should too. Because they're awesome. And then, those were it may not necessarily be the words of affirmation, but just the fact that you do it and you do it in public where other people can hear it, builds up the other person. I love that, and it communicates they're a priority.


Chris [00:23:00] Oh, I love that one, Lisa, let me add another one then. I don't know what number we're on, but kind of related to that, I think one of for couples that are really in this position running on fumes, find out and make sure you continue to talk with each other about that which does provide you rest, that which provides you a getaway, and then try to see if you can make that happen. So, you know, if I'm busy with the kids all day and my need at that point might very well be just to go take a nap. And I love that. And I would if I could just wave a magic wand, I would have a dark room and cool air and loud noise from a, you know, noise blocker, and I would just take a nap and that would be awesome. I think for you, Liz, it may not be making time for a nap so much as just letting you have alone time a little bit to to just sit there, you know, go through maybe your texts and read and knowing the other person's point of being fed into maybe it's just rest, which leads to just something similar. And that's the power of sleep. Sleep is so important, and maybe one of the best things you can do for your date and date night is say, I'll tell you what you know, let's just go for a quick walk. But I think it'd be good if you went home and took a nap. Or let me take the kid to night, man. And you sleep as long as you can, because you're a whole lot better. Because I know I'm a whole lot better after I've slept a little bit.


Alisa [00:24:32] So I love that. And that's just so practical. You're absolutely right. So maybe, two, two more. Okay, two more points. And then, I think this will wrap up this particular podcast. But first of all, I think it's share chores and do your chores together instead of dividing and conquering. Right? I think we we give too much credence to being efficient and not enough to being wise with our time. And maybe it's just doing chores together. If you've got to go out and mow the lawn, hey, I'll go with you. I'll do the edging. We'll talk while we're building a solarium out on the side of the house. I don't know, we're talking, we're building. We're solving the world's problems while we, you know, run the. I don't know what kind of size that whatever.


Chris [00:25:20] Yeah, just a saw. Let's just say I don't know what you're talking about, but.


Alisa [00:25:24] So to join each other and actually do your chores and just talk and have fun, why do you do them together? That's a great way to connect.


Chris [00:25:33] So. So at least let's say we do that. You have young kids running around. It oftentimes means involving them too, doesn't it? Like, hey, let's get out there and pick up the poop and let's go do this together and let's go. And so it's sometimes maybe not. I loved what you said. It's not as efficient. Maybe, but it is wiser. It may take longer to vacuum, but how fun to have the kid pushing the little thing behind you and and and sitting on the vacuum as you push it while your spouse, you know, entertains the other kid, you know, playing that like, you know, whatever it is, make it a game and do it together.


Alisa [00:26:09] It's just a time to connect. And that's the point, okay? And at least the final one that I have, I don't know if you have another one, Chris, but okay, final one that I have is if necessary, you might really need to consider curtailing your outside activities, especially for the kids and the number of activities that they're in, the number that you're in, just so that you can create and carve out more time together instead of being in soccer, baseball, and basketball. Maybe your kids need to choose one that they're going to do, and instead of doing two different ones, maybe you have your kids involved in the same activity so that you have, you know, the same drop offs, the same locations. You go grab dinner or you sit on the sideline and you have dinner while they're doing practice instead of yelling at, you know, go over there, get the ball, do the say, you know, helping air quotes, helping the coach. Instead, you just enjoy your dinner together and you connect during that time. Yeah.


Chris [00:27:12] No, I love that. That's a great, great little piece of practical advice, which is find things that can be cut, from the schedule. You're, you know, I don't know, Lisa. We were involved in so many sports in a very, you know, sport like area of Southern California. And I don't think any of the kids I ever coached watched, you know, played with, ever made it, you know, to the major leagues or the NBA or the NFL? I think there was one kid, you know, I know he made it up to Double-A baseball, and that was great. Odds are our kids aren't going to do that. They're doing it for social and for fun purposes. But keep it that way so it doesn't kill you. I think that's a great piece of advice. So, Lisa, these couples running on fumes, I think that's great. You start with your relationship with the Lord, and then you proceed to do these things with your wealth, with your attention. And I love how Proverbs, you know, how this verse ends, you know, verse through Proverbs three, verse nine and ten. It says, honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your crops. Then your barns will be filled with overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. And at the end, you know, when you're just running on fumes. Having a whole bunch of wine is really one of the best things you can do, and.


Alisa [00:28:39] You just won't care that you're on.

Chris [00:28:41] Fumes. Not really. This is I'm teasing. But that's what the Proverbs said. I didn't put that verse in there, but it does is imply that your life, your joys, will overflow.


Alisa [00:28:54] You get your priorities in order and you're going to reap the benefits of a qualitatively better life.


Chris [00:29:01] Love that. Hey, at least those are great, great little practical pieces of advice.


Alisa [00:29:06] So hey, thanks for joining us on this episode of the Art of relationships. We're so glad you joined us. We'd love for you to check out our website, because there's a ton of free resources for all kinds of healthy relationships, and that is at CMA, Biola, Edu. And we'll see you next time.


Chris [00:29:27] Yep. To y'all.


Mandy [00:29:28] Thanks for listening to The Art of Relationships. This podcast is only made possible through generous donations from listeners just like you. If you like it and want to help keep the podcast going. Visit our website at and make a donation today.