A Dream Come True
About the Guest
She married for love. So why did she feel so hopeless? Jennifer Smith, creator of the web-based ministry Unveiled Wife, recalls the day she met her future husband, Aaron, and the budding friendship and romance that developed thereafter. Although her parents had to warm up to the idea of her marrying so young, they eventually gave their blessing. Jennifer was on cloud nine. Little did she know that storm clouds were not far behind.
She married for love. So why did she feel so hopeless? Jennifer Smith,recalls the day she met her future husband, Aaron. Little did she know that storm clouds were not far behind.
A Dream Come True
Bob: Jennifer and Aaron were teenagers, and they were in love; but Jennifer’s mom and dad were not delighted by the idea that the young couple was already thinking about marriage.
Jennifer: They really had expectations of me finishing college first. So, they were—had already shown their disappointment in us wanting to pursue marriage. I wanted to please my parents. So, knowing that I was going in the opposite direction of their expectations was hard because I know that their response came from a heart of wanting the best for me; and they thought they knew what the best was for me.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, January 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Getting Mom and Dad to go along with their marriage plans was one of the first obstacles Jennifer and Aaron Smith had to overcome before they said, “I do.” But it wouldn’t be the last one. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. Quick word as we kickoff today’s program—we’re about five weeks away from starting our spring season of FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be giving FamilyLife Today listeners an opportunity to attend one of these upcoming getaways and save some money. In fact, if you register this week or next week for an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway—when you register for yourself, your spouse comes free. It’s a buy one / get one free opportunity for what is a fun and romantic weekend getaway for couples.
In fact, I’m pretty excited about the—I think we’ve got four or five dozen different locations where the getaway is going to be happening this spring. I hope our listeners will decide now to join us at one of these upcoming events. You can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com—click the link for the Weekend to Remember and find out more about when the getaway is coming to a location near you.
Again, if you sign up this week or next week—when you pay for yourself, your spouse comes free. This is the best offer we make on the getaway at any point during the year, and it’s good just this week and next week. So, make sure you go to the website, FamilyLifeToday.com, to sign up; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you have any questions or if you’d like to sign up over the phone. We hope to see you at an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
Now, I want to tie back into what we’re talking about today because I remember the very first time we sat down to record a FamilyLife Today radio program, and you shared a story about having had a fight with Barbara. Do you remember this?
Dennis: An argument.
Bob: Yes, you guys had been in an argument. I just remember thinking to myself, “Dennis, you’re a nationally-known figure talking about marriage and family. Do you really want to admit that you and Barbara had this argument last week?” And so, I asked you about it.
Dennis: I said, “I don’t have anything to share if I can’t admit my mistakes as well as what I do right.”
You know, if you look at the New Testament, it’s about followers of Christ who did things right and did things wrong; and they wrote about it—
Dennis: —warts and all. And that’s a part of what we’re going to be doing today on FamilyLife Today. We’re going to be talking to Jennifer Smith about the first years of her marriage. Jennifer, welcome to the broadcast.
Jennifer: Hi. Thanks so much for having me. It’s so exciting.
Bob: Our listeners can probably tell that you’ve [Dennis] got a little bit of a head cold that you’re fighting here.
Dennis: Sniffle—just a sniffle.
Dennis: Jennifer has written a book called The Unveiled Wife. She and her husband, Aaron, have been married over eight years. They have two children. In fact, we had the privilege of getting to know Olive—what a cutie.
Bob: Yes, she is.
Dennis: Jennifer, I read your book. As I was going through it, I was going, “You’re courageous,”—I mean, to tell this story and to let people kind of behind the veil, literally—to encourage them in what they are dealing with in their marriages.
Why did you decide to do this initially? That had to take a lot of courage.
Jennifer: It definitely was not my idea. [Laughter] I don’t feel courageous. When I look back at the beginning of sharing this story—but with my husband kind of setting the tone, and encouraging, and setting that idea in my heart, and then, the Lord coming alongside and confirming that—I just did it. And I wanted to be obedient to the Lord in this—but it took a long time to focus on it, and to give my heart to it, and to say, “Okay, Lord, I can do this with Your help only,” because there is no way I could have done it without Him.
Bob: You have had tens of thousands / hundreds of thousands of wives who have read your story, online, on your blog. People are getting back in touch with you and saying, “Thank you for sharing,” because they have felt isolated—
Bob: —a lot of wives who are in the same kind of circumstance you were in and feel like there is nowhere to go and no one to talk to about this.
Jennifer: And that’s exactly how I was feeling when I was struggling in my marriage. I really didn’t know where to turn to. I didn’t even feel comfortable going to church and saying:
“I have these issues. I need help.” So, I was isolated—myself.
When the Lord started working in our marriage and helping me, I realized that I wanted to be a resource for people—especially online—for those who are too scared to go to church or too scared to go to counseling. I wanted them to be able to look and search something online about marriage and have something from my heart to share with them.
Dennis: Take us to the day when you hit the wall and you found yourself in church, just feeling like there wasn’t anywhere to turn.
Jennifer: I was sitting in church and just feeling the pressure and the weight of our struggles mounting. I literally felt like I couldn’t breathe—I don’t know if I was having a panic attack or what. I looked around and I thought, “How many other people here are wrestling with marriages?” because it looks like they are fine. I remember just looking over at my husband. He was hunched over. I couldn’t tell if he was listening to the pastor or not, but he looked defeated. I didn’t know if we were going to be talking about divorce at that point; but that’s what it felt like.
You know, it felt like—
Dennis: You’d been married how long?
Jennifer: About three-and-a-half years—so not very long at all. We should have been in the newlywed phase still. It was just one devastation after another that led us to where we were.
Bob: So, take us back to the beginning because couples don’t meet, and fall in love, and get married, thinking, “Three-and-half years from now,—
Bob: —“we’re going to be isolated.” Tell us about how you and your husband met.
Jennifer: I was young. I was about 16 years old, and I was going to this Bible study. Aaron showed up—and I don’t know if you’d say, “Love at first sight,” but I definitely wanted to know more about who he was.
Bob: What was it about him?
Jennifer: His presence was commanding. Everybody kind of gravitated to him. He was very social—confident. I was the opposite of everything I saw in him. So, it was attractive. I remember just thinking, “Well, there’s no way I’m just going to go up and introduce myself.” I was too shy. So, I waited a couple weeks. Then, eventually, it was like, “Hi, I’m Jenn.” “Hi, I’m Aaron.” That was it.
Then, a couple more weeks—slowly, we became friends.
We started going on group dates. We’d go to the movies with other friends. Our relationship just grew over the course of, maybe, two years. Then, we stopped hanging out for a while. That’s when—I share in my book how I pursued another relationship because I thought Aaron didn’t want me. What I didn’t realize was he actually had a heart for God—and he said: “You know, Lord, I don’t want to just keep dating. I don’t want that. I want to date my wife.” He had this covenant going with the Lord: “Just show me who my wife is.” I thought: “Okay; I’m not her, obviously. He hasn’t asked me out yet.” So, I pursued another relationship; and that didn’t work out.
Then, I was at a birthday party, and Aaron showed up. He was a pizza delivery guy, and he shows up with all these pizzas. I’m like: “Oh my gosh! I haven’t seen you in six months! How are you doing?” Then, I said, “You should call me sometime.” It was the next day—he invited me to the movies. So, we had a little date. That was our first date, even though we were just friends still. We picked up from there. It was another six months before he asked me out.
Bob: So, was he thinking, when you went to the movies, “Maybe this is…”
Jennifer: [Whispering] I have no idea!
Bob: Really?! You haven’t talked about this?
Bob: Well, we should get him on the phone and find out what he was thinking. [Laughter]
Dennis: How old were you at the time?
Jennifer: I had just graduated high school. So, I would have been 18.
Dennis: Let’s just cut to the chase. Let’s find out what was going on in Aaron’s head. Let’s call him on the phone right now.
Dennis: Oh, really—absolutely. [Phone ringing]
Bob: Hey, Aaron. It’s Bob Lepine from FamilyLife Today. How are you?
Dennis: And it’s Dennis Rainey.
Jennifer: And it’s Jennifer Smith.
Dennis: We’re calling to get the straight scoop from you about this dating relationship you had with a young lady that was kicked off by delivering ten pizzas to her place.
Bob: Do you remember the day you brought the pizzas over to the house?
Aaron: Yes, I do.
Bob: And you remember when Jenn said: “Here’s my number. You should call me sometime,”?
Aaron: [Laughter] I don’t exactly remember it going like that, but I remember her being excited to see me.
Bob: Yes? She said she gave you the number and said, “Call me sometime.” You called her the next day and asked her to the movies.
Aaron: Yes. Yes, I did.
At the time, I liked her; but I don’t know if I was necessarily interested like that—but yes, I wanted to go hang out and get to know her more.
Bob: She said that you had kind of pulled back from the whole dating thing for a while, just trying to make sure that your motives were right and pure; is that right?
Aaron: Yes. I had done the dating thing before, and that did not go so well. After becoming a Christian, I decided to take a few years to just focus on God. I gave Him permission to let me know when it was time for me to start looking.
Bob: You know she’d been digging your chili for a couple years at this point; right?
Aaron: Yes, I was aware of that. [Laughter]
Dennis: You were aware of that. So—
Jennifer: He teased me!
Dennis: So, why did it take you six months to ask her out again?
Aaron: I think there were a few things. I was still not super interested in a serious relationship with anyone; but I think, at that time, also, Jennifer had started dating someone else. I think that was around the same time.
Bob: Oh, yes, there was that other guy—right, Jennifer?
Jennifer: Yes, but that was before the night with the pizza.
Dennis: So, how long before you knew she was the one?
Aaron: It was quite a while, actually. You know, we were hanging out pretty seriously—I don’t want to say dating, necessarily—but we pretty much were. But there was a moment just before that—that God really did turn that on for me. He really pointed out and said, “Hey, this is the one.” So, that night, I walked her out and said: “Hey, what do you think about that? What do you think about us being”—
Jennifer: I was speechless.
Aaron: —“serious and dating?”
Bob: Yes, I want to know, Jennifer. That night, when he said, “What do you think—
Jennifer: He looked over at me; and he said, “You look like you’re going to explode.”
Bob: What were you thinking when he said—
Jennifer: I was ready to explode. I was so excited because I already saw him as my husband. I thought, “This could work”; you know? I wanted it—I desired that.
Bob: And did you play it cool, or did you—
Jennifer: No, I was so goofy. [Laughter] I probably started crying—I don’t know. It was a very precious moment that I hold dear to my heart. I said, “Yes,” of course.
Bob: Aaron, we don’t want to take too much more of your time—
—I know you’ve got a youngster you need to take care of—but we just wanted to—we wanted to get this courtship thing from the other side of the fence. So, thanks for letting us call you.
Aaron: Well, thank you. I’m excited that Jennifer is there and can just share her story.
Dennis: Glad you joined us. Thanks for being a good sport.
Aaron: Thank you guys.
Bob: Thanks, Aaron.
Bob: We are talking to Jennifer Smith, the author of the book, The Unveiled Wife, along with her husband, Aaron, who wasn’t planning to be a part of the program today.
So, from the night that he played his cards and you got goofy, how long from there until you guys were standing at an altar saying, “I do,”?
Jennifer: We dated for a year-and-a-half; and then, we were engaged for six months. So, it was two years.
Bob: Two years?! That had to be a long, hard two years.
Jennifer: It was.
Bob: But you hung in. Why did you wait?
Jennifer: We didn’t take marriage lightly; and just asking God to show us and prepare us for marriage.
Dennis: Yes, I want to hear how he proposed to you.
Jennifer: [Laughter] He was acting goofy that night—
—that was a goofy night for him. He had his hand in his pocket. He was, actually, walking me out to the car. We were out in front of his parents’ house—I was about to leave. He was hanging on to the door frame, saying bye to me. Just his whole countenance / everything was just almost like he was embarrassed. I was like, “What is happening?” Then, it clicked, “I think he’s going to propose.” So, I pushed him out; and I closed the door. I said: “I’m really sorry I’ve got to go. I’m late. I—
Dennis: Oh, you—really?!
Jennifer: Yes, I cut him off. I left as quickly as I could because I was so nervous. [Laughter]
Dennis: You weren’t ready for the question?
Jennifer: I was ready for the question, but it still came with so much weight behind it. You know, marriage—that’s huge! I don’t know why I responded that way.
Bob: Did he chase you in the car, or did he wait until the next day, or what?
Jennifer: No, I don’t think he understood why I was leaving. He was just as confused. Then, the next—the following night, he ended up asking me. [Laughter]
Dennis: How? We’ve got to hear how.
Jennifer: We were at his house. I was on his family’s computer, looking at family photos. He opens up his Bible, which his dad had handed down to him. He had all these papers stuffed into the fold of the cover of it.
He’s pulling them out; and he’s like, “Hey, I wanted to show you something.” They were prayers dated back two years prior. They were prayers to God about his future wife—just talking about his longing for relationship and for marriage. I told him, “Those are so beautiful.” Then he looks over at me and says, “You are the answer to my prayer.” So, I knew.
Jennifer: Then, he got down. He further explained how, “I don’t have much in this life, and I can’t promise you everything; but I know that I’ll lead you in the Lord, and we’ll trust in Him together.”
Dennis: And of course, you ran home to your mom and dad—just blurted out the news. How did they respond?
Jennifer: I actually didn’t tell them right away because, prior to this, they had shown or expressed that they weren’t happy with us pursuing marriage. They really had expectations of me finishing college first. So, they were—had already shown their disappointment in us wanting to pursue marriage.
I think that could have played a part in me running the night before when he proposed. I wanted to please my parents. So, knowing that I was going in the opposite direction of their expectations was hard—it was so hard.
I actually went home that night and shared it with my brother. He was excited for me, but knowing that I had to face my parents was difficult. I ended up sharing with them the next morning.
Bob: And when you did share with them, did they pull back; or did they embrace it?
Jennifer: They did not embrace it—they were very cold. I don’t want to use too much description with that because I know that their response came from a heart of wanting the best for me, and they thought they knew what the best was for me.
Bob: So, now, you are headed into the idea of marriage with some headwinds blowing against you.
Bob: That can be challenging. That can be daunting for a young woman your age. You’re trying to figure out: “What do I do? This is what I want, but Mom and Dad are not happy.” Did you think about going back to Aaron and saying, “Maybe, we should wait longer,”?
Jennifer: I did.
And he wouldn’t let me. He’s a very strong-willed man. He knew what was right, and he knew that the Lord had our relationship set apart for something great. He didn’t think that I, just trying to please my parents, was a good enough reason.
Bob: We started this conversation by talking about you three-and-half years into your marriage, sitting in a church thinking, “Maybe, our next conversation is about divorce.” You were miserable. It had been a hard three-and-half years.
Now, we’re at a point, right before the altar, when you’re fiancé is saying: “God has something great. God has a wonderful design for us, and we need to pursue this.” And you—
Jennifer: I believed him.
Bob: You believed that. We’re going to have a chance this week to hear how your marriage went from that place, where it was all hope, to the place where it was isolation; but Dennis, that’s the trajectory that a lot of marriages take. They go from hope to isolation—and some of them pretty quickly.
Dennis: They do. And I would just say—in this situation—had I been a third party invited in to bring some counsel to a young couple about to start out their relationship together—I would have called a time-out around the parents’ concern about this marriage occurring—not necessarily to call off the relationship—but: “Let’s talk about and let’s begin to unpack. Over the next couple of months, let’s meet together and talk about this and hear your concerns.”
Now, that doesn’t guarantee that all their concerns can be eliminated—and I am certainly not being negative about—Jennifer—you and Aaron getting married at that point. I just think, when you start out a marriage with the headwinds—as you said, Bob—parents are really important in this mix. When you get married, it’s not just two people who get married—
Dennis: —it’s two families.
Dennis: It is two families coming together. They really need to be a part of both the beginning of that marriage, but also, moving forward in that marriage as well.
Bob: So, at what point would you counsel a young couple who is—one set of parents or another set of parents are saying, “We have reservations,” and the couple is going, “We really think God is in this,”? They want to honor their parents, but they really feel God leading them. Is there a point where you’d say: “You know what? You do what God is leading you to do even if Mom and Dad disagree?”
Dennis: I would say, “You exhaust—you find a way to exhaust—not exhaust the parents—[Laughter]
Dennis: —“but to exhaust the discussion.”
Jennifer: Okay. So, when we hit that headwind, it was devastating to me because I really did want my parents’—not just approval—but presence at the wedding and a part of our lives.
Bob: And their blessing on the whole thing;—
Jennifer: So, even though we were pursuing marriage plans and wedding plans, we were also praying about, “God, what do You want us to do about this situation?” because we did want to honor our parents.
It was my mom’s idea to go to marriage counseling together.
I know that sounds kind of ridiculous; but we went to two different churches, with two different pastors, to seek out restoration in our relationship. My mom and my stepdad joined Aaron and me with these pastors to talk about: “Well, let’s hear both sides of the story. Let’s listen to the concerns.” We felt like we were exhausting resources to be able to get God’s guidance in this.
Dennis: Let me just interrupt you there because I think we rushed past something that was important. Your parents—your mom and dad—were divorced at that point. Your mom had remarried. Had your dad remarried yet?
Dennis: So, when you talk about going to two different churches, you were literally talking about talking two different couples.
Jennifer: Yes. Actually, my dad and my stepmom gave us their blessing prior to the engagement. It was my mom and stepdad, who raised me, who had the struggle with us pursuing marriage before finishing college.
Bob: So, let me ask you: “If you were sitting down with a young couple today—somebody your age when you got engaged—and they said:
‘We just know the Lord is calling us to be married, but my parents have problems. They want me to finish college. They’ve got this…’—if you were giving them counsel, what would you tell them to do?”
Jennifer: The first thing I would say is: “Pursue the Lord through prayer because the Lord is going to speak to you. He’ll give you peace. He’ll give you ideas, and He’ll give you the plan that needs to unfold for this situation.”
Then, I would say two things could happen—one, God’s going to change your parents’ hearts, and they are going to give you their support; or He’s going to change your heart and show you and reveal something to you—that maybe you do need to wait. Maybe, your parents are there to help guide you in this process. And I think both parties need to be open to how the Lord’s moving in that scenario.
Bob: And did your parents ultimately give their support?
Jennifer: So, yes; my mom did have peace. She told my husband first. She said, “I have peace about you guys moving forward in your marriage.” And they were a part of the whole process and supported us.
Dennis: That’s a great illustration of what I was talking about—a couple who honored their parents. Seek to honor them / tell them that; but also seek to listen to them and remove the obstacle / remove the concern—
—address it—and God can work in that situation.
Dennis: If you rush past it, you’re really setting yourself up for future conflicts as your marriage begins and some really very, very difficult situations.
Bob: Well, and I think what our listeners need to hear in this conversation—you guys really followed a good, God-honoring, parent-honoring path to the altar. That did not mean that, now, marriage was going to be just easy from here on out. In fact, your book is all about the major challenge that you wound up facing in your marriage, which was the physical pain you experienced for the first four-plus years of your marriage, when you tried to be intimate with one another. It’s a remarkable story of how God was at work in a time of great trial—how it put a strain on your relationship—
—but how God met you in the middle of all that.
And I just want to encourage our listeners, “Get a copy of Jennifer Smith’s book, The Unveiled Wife. Embracing Intimacy with God and Your Husband is the subtitle.” We have copies of it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com to request a copy of the book; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.” Ask about the book, The Unveiled Wife, when you get in touch with us.
Also, be sure to get information about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. Keep in mind that this week and next week, when you register to attend an upcoming getaway, you pay for yourself, and your spouse comes free. It’s a half-price offer—buy one / get one free offer on the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. This is something we are doing for FamilyLife Today listeners as a way to encourage you to plan now to join us in February, or March, or April, May, June.
When you sign up now, you pay for yourself and your spouse comes free for a romantic getaway weekend—the two of you relaxing and enjoying being with one another while you learn together about God’s design for marriage. If you need more information, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. And if you are ready to register, you can register, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
Now, we are into the second week of 2016. I don’t think our listeners probably realize this, but this is a benchmark year for us. This is our 40th Anniversary as a ministry. FamilyLife was started in 1976. So, this year, we celebrate 40 years of ministry.
Honestly, it’s not our ministry and our anniversary that we want to focus on—it’s your anniversary / your ministry.
In fact, we want to say, “Congratulations!” today to Keith and Janet Marks, who are celebrating their anniversary—19 years together today. They live in Bentonville, Arkansas. The Marks have attended—are you ready? They have attended five Weekend to Remember marriage getaways over the last 19 years. We want to say: “Congratulations to you guys. We want you to know that you are the reason why FamilyLife Today exists.”
We exist as the proud sponsor of anniversaries all around the world. There are a lot of couples who will celebrate an anniversary this year, and FamilyLife played a part in that celebration. In fact, we’d love to acknowledge you on your anniversary. You can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com—give us your anniversary—and we want to help you make your celebration of your marriage together, this year, be the best year ever.
We’ve got some ideas for you on that. So, again—give us your anniversary at FamilyLifeToday.com.
And thanks to the folks who make FamilyLife Today possible—those of you who support this ministry. We are grateful for your financial support. Some of you have been with us for decades; and we just want to say, “Thank you for your partnership.”
And we hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to continue to hear from Jennifer Smith about the early years of her marriage and the challenges that she and her husband, Aaron, faced. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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