Famous At Home: Josh and Christi Straub
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Culture competes for our time, attention, identity. Dr. Josh & Christy Straub, authors of Famous at Home, show how to avoid family getting the leftovers.
Famous At Home: Josh and Christi Straub
Dave: —until we had a child. [Laughter]
Ann: Exactly! And we used to think there were perfect parents. But there are—
Dave and Ann: —no perfect parents.
Ann: That’s why we wrote the book, No Perfect Parents. We’re excited because now we have an online video course for you. You can go through it as a small group, individually, or even just as a couple. To get that, you can go to FamilyLife.com/NotPerfect to find out more. Again, FamilyLife.com/NotPerfect.
Josh: Whatever you are on your stage—from a board member/wherever—you get these accolades, and you get this dopamine dump. Coming home—and now you’re asked to play Chutes and Ladders® with an opponent that has no idea which way’s up and which way’s down, or Polly Pockets®, or whatever it is—and you can’t sit there, because there’s not a dopamine dump the same way as it is in your world around you. It’s no wonder we start chasing fame outside the home, and we start to neglect [home]; and our family starts to get the leftovers.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: Alright; I’ve got a question for you:—
Dave: —"Looking back, what would you say the toughest years were for parenting for you?”
Ann: Probably five and under—because we had three boys, five and under—and you were always gone, and you were starting a church.
Dave: Somehow, it came back to me.
Ann: I felt like I had no life, and I felt like I was dying. It was really hard. [Laughter]
Dave: I figured you would say that.
Ann: What would you say?
Dave: Zero to two or three, because I wanted them to do something. [Laughter] They couldn’t do anything, and I was working a ton.
Ann: Oh, is that why you were always gone?—because—
Dave: You were discouraged because—yes, that’s why I was always gone—I didn’t want to come home. [Laughter]
We get to talk about home today with Josh and Christi Straub. They are back in the studio—it’s been a couple of years—but welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Josh: Thank you for having us.
Christi: Thanks for having us. You two are so fun.
Dave: You guys are known for Famous at Home®, and you wrote a book. This is the first book that’s actually titled after your ministry?
Dave: That’s what I thought.
Josh: We’ve had a—just through the years, just coaching families and speaking on this—so many people would come up and say, “Do you have this in a book?” “Do you have this…” We were “No, no; we don’t.” Well, now, finally we do.
Ann: You do.
Dave: Well, tell our listeners what Famous at Home means. We know—and it’s an awesome title, not only for a book, but for a ministry—but you guys speak; you write; you coach; you’re—
Ann: —you’re therapists.
Dave: I don’t know how many years you’ve been married; but you’ve got three kids at home, so you’re living what we just talked about.
Christi: Twelve years; so we’re only twelve years in.
Dave: Twelve years!
Christi: Yes; and three kids so our kids will be ten, eight and two.
Famous at Home came about—really, realizing at the end of our life—if you look at the end, with the end in mind, and go backwards—“What really matters is if we were famous at home.” The fact it’s such a double entendre, even in the title—because not only does it mean famous at home in our earthly home; because we know that sounds like a good goal, like we want to be—but the second truth is: “We already are”; if you think about like there’s nothing to earn there as a spouse/as a parent:
- Our children—we are famous to them—we just need to settle into that role.
- As a spouse, we already have earned that just by who we are.
I think that’s so much a credit to how God has created us.
That’s the second meaning really is: “Famous in our heavenly home”; because all of the things that we’re doing and building on this earth—every action that we take: every loving and grace-filled action that we take with our spouse, with our kids, even in relationships outside of our home—they are building heaven on earth; it’s “kingdom come”; but we’re building for this heavenly home—we want to be famous there, not just on earth.
It’s been such a—I think it’s not just a catch phrase—you know, we end our podcast, which is also called Famous at Home, with this tagline that says: “The greatest red carpet you’ll ever walk is through your front door.” Yet, we live in a culture that is basically celebrating everything that happens outside the home, not that those things aren’t good—but if that’s what we’re chasing—and that’s what we talk about in Famous at Home, is the chase:
We all have this chase that is pushing us to just run after something: accolades; celebration—if it’s in a board room/if it’s on social media; whatever it is you do—we’re looking for someone to say, “I see you; good job!”
But the people under our own roof, they’re the ones who are saying it to us; and we’re not hearing it.
Josh: I think that’s where, for us, one of the most frequent calls I would receive would be from—business leaders, or pastors, or other leaders, where there was a moral failure, an ethical failure or just burn out in some way—there was a common denominator to all of that; and that is, they were chasing—the family, at some point, had been neglected; because they were chasing fame outside the home.
When we get these priorities the other way:
- Where you realize your identity comes, first of all, from the Lord—that identity right there, and we start the book out by talking about that—your identity.
- But then, prioritizing home; because, as Christi said, “The greatest red carpet you’ll ever walk is through your front door.”
Dave: By the way, who came up with that phrase?—that is genius.
Josh: I think I/I mean, I’ve been saying that for years.
Christi: We’re going to give it to you.
Ann: You know, that’s right.
Josh: I don’t think I’ve ever heard it.
Dave: Yes, that so well—
Josh: Think about it—
Dave: —captures the—
Josh: —I just came home the other day. I was out, working at a coffee shop; and I came home. The kids/our two-year-old comes bolting/sprinting to me, as soon as I walk in the door.
Christi: —like you’re the hero.
Josh: You’re the hero; you’re already famous at home.
So often, we go awry when we do not prioritize that or see that; and all of a sudden, the accolades—and the dopamine bump in your brain—from followers, and likes, and cheers. Whatever you are on your stage—from a board member/wherever—you get these accolades, and you get this dopamine bump. Coming home—and now you’re asked to play Chutes and Ladders with an opponent that has no idea which way’s up and which way’s down, or Polly Pockets, or whatever it is—and you can’t sit there, because there’s not a dopamine bump the same way as it is in your world around you. It’s no wonder we start chasing fame outside the home, and we start to neglect [home]; and our family starts to get the leftovers. That’s really what our heart is all about: “Change that.”
Dave: You guys start the book, very honest, about your chase/both your chases. Our listeners have got to hear that. It’s one of the reasons I asked Ann about that, because we could so relate to your story; I think a lot of couples can. So talk about your chase.
Ann: Christi, start with your chase.
Christi: I think, for me, it was those early years, Ann. I became a mother, and I realized it didn’t come as natural to me as I thought it would.
Ann: You were probably super excited: you were going to have a baby.
Christi: Oh, it was just like everything I’d ever wanted; and then, the reality is: “Oh,—
Ann: —“this is super hard.”
Christi: —"this is so hard.” I didn’t sleep; I was postpartum—like everything is leaking—and it was just awful. [Laughter]
Josh is gone—I remember it like it was yesterday—he came in, wafting the smell of some coffee shop that he had been at. I was in the kitchen—I’m in sweat pants and big baggy t-shirt; my hair is in a ponytail; I have no makeup on—and I’m spackled in, I remember it, pureed sweet potato and banana; because I was teaching Landon, our oldest—he was a baby at the time—
Ann: I have to just ask you: “When you smelled the coffee,”—because you can smell when somebody’s been at a coffee shop—
Christi: Yes; it wafts in, yes.
Ann: —“did you just think, ‘Oh, I wish I could sit and have a coffee.’”
Christi: It, literally—right—then, we always talk about: “You tell yourself a story; you have a few data points and your brain…” The story I was telling myself was: “He had this lovely relaxing day at this coffee shop, talking to super-interesting people about all these great projects he has going on,” and “I have not talked to someone, who knows how to tie their shoes. I haven’t actually brushed my teeth in—I don’t know—days; [Laughter] and I’m left behind.”
I just felt left; I felt like I had sacrificed myself on the altar of motherhood; and I felt embarrassed, even saying that.
Ann: Yes, guilty.
Christi: Yes/absolutely, because there was such shame around—I got to be a stay-at-home mom; that’s what I wanted—and yet, I wasn’t feeling the joy or even the celebration of the gift that that was.
For me, this chase was: I needed someone to validate me—to see me/to tell me—that I was doing a good job. I was looking for some sort of identity that told me who I was and that what I was doing was worthwhile. This began this real wrestle between the two of us—of realizing: “He’s off, chasing work,”—and you can tell you’re chasing your story, but my chase was just for some sort of validation; that’s really hard.
So many of us look around: we get to work with so many beautiful families, who are just/it’s not unique to us.
Christi: We all have it.
Dave: All I know is when I read—Christi, your story—I’m like, “That is Ann.” I’m guessing it’s many, many—if not all—women, and wives, and moms feel that. It was so real.
Ann: Then, working moms have their own piece of guilt, and shame, and worry, and wonder.
Dave: We guys get it. When I read that, I’m like—I think, if I remember right—you hugged her/you held her.
Josh: Well, I didn’t know what else to do.
Dave: You’re a better man than me!
Ann: That was good.
Josh: At the moment, I didn’t know what else to do because—I mean, our natural—that’s the one moment I think, out of every one, that I’ve gotten it right—because there’s so many that I’ve gotten wrong—because the natural tendency is to defend myself; I want to go, “I’ve been just busting my butt all day, and you’re telling me…” I think that’s the natural stereotypical thing, like: “You’ve been home all day,” and “What have you been doing?” [Laughter]
I just want to say this, too, for those listening: “If you have children, under the age of eight, this is when marital satisfaction dips the lowest of any point in your entire marriage; so grace upon grace to you.”
Dave: Yes, it’s hard work.
Christi: You know what’s funny? You said that—someone said that the other day—to see the relief on the couple’s face. They were like, “Oh, is that a thing?” We’re like, “Oh, no; that’s a thing.”
Dave: “We’re normal.”
Christi: That’s exactly—it was like the hope they needed: “Oh, so this does get better; because it’s just this season that we’re in?”
I think, sometimes, it’s that communal understanding of: “Oh, we’re all in this.”
Josh: Yes; the sense of universality; that: “We’re all in this; we’re all experiencing this same issue.”
But you feel alone in it; you feel alone in your—
Christi: I felt so alone.
Josh: I think, when we come back to the Lord, the Bible says to: “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life [Proverbs 4:23].” So guard your heart: pay attention to what’s going on in your heart.
I think, when we get married, we become one flesh—and we have one marital heart that we need to guard—what ends up happening is:
- We split that marital heart when we start making each other out to be the opponent, and we play into the enemy’s game plan;
- Instead—“How do we come together, on the same team?—and go, ‘Now wait a minute; we both have children under the age of eight. We both need to figure out how we’re going to make a living/how to make a difference in the world. We’re in this together; we are a team,”—let’s take that approach.
Researchers have found that this “Us-against-the-world” mindset is what leads to marital satisfaction/positive relationship thoughts. You think positively about the relationship rather than negatively towards the relationship. Whatever that looks like: “We are on the same team.”
Dave: Well, you say in the book, later—and we say this at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway with FamilyLife: “Your spouse is not your enemy.” We are talking, in the weekend, trying to bring up this spiritual reality that there’s actually this enemy, named Satan, who would love to take down a Christian marriage if it’s trying to reflect God to the world—you do that plus more. I loved it—because it wasn’t just: “Satan is your enemy,”—you say, “You need to identify…” You even give us an assignment, saying, “Identify what the enemy is, because you are a team.”
Josh: I think that’s the big thing: is we don’t tend to bring things into the light; the Bible says to bring it out into the light. When it remains in the dark, the enemy gets to twist it in your brain; all of a sudden, you come into agreements with these things. In other words:
- Christi can come into agreement with: “He’s not even helping me around the house.”
- Or I can come into agreement with: “She doesn’t appreciate me.”
Then, all of a sudden, we don’t voice that—we don’t voice our opponents; these opponents can be good things—it can be a new baby; it can be a negative thing, like a job loss or financial difficulties.
But until we bring them up—we have to name them—it’s like any team/any great team. You know this, just from NFL and anywhere else: you get into the locker room, and you’re studying the game film; you’re studying your opponent and how your opponent is coming at you.
Christi: Dave, let’s take what you’re speaking to. Yes, we know the enemy is coming after marriage—kill, steal, destroy—that’s it; we’re aware of that. I think we let a lot of things fly under the radar though; calling that out is so powerful and necessary.
But it is important to recognize the natural things that come into a marriage, and into a home,—
Ann: Yes, stressors.
Christi: —a home environment that are combatting your joy/your peace—
Josh: —and your marital intimacy. That’s the thing that we [ask]: “What’s the opponent that’s coming and warring for your marital intimacy?”
If you think of marital intimacy, and your level of connection, on a scale of 1-10, I don’t think we’re always living at a 10, but we want to strive for that; right?
Dave: Oh, yes.
Josh: If you live consistently—if your foundation is at a 5-6—"I don’t want to live there; I want to be leveling up.” But so often, we get stuck there; because we fail to name—
Dave: Yes, that’s good; to bring it into the light.
Josh: —"It’s [not] working,”—bring it out into the light.
Dave: [If] it’s in the dark, the dark always wins.
Christi: This is going deeper.
When we talk about the seven decisions that we make to be famous at home—when you talk about feelings—that’s one of the first ones, because it’s such an unnatural way of communicating. Most of us did not grow up in homes, where feelings were talked about. I think we could all identify feelings that were either dismissed, or punished, or not allowed. But to actually have conversational language around feelings—especially, for men; but we stereotype that—but it’s the same for women.
That is one of the most powerful ways that we can start to transform our family lineages is by talking about feelings. The reason is: we talk about guarding your one marital heart. I see him as little Josh/like the little boy—like his mom and dad are not responsible for caring for him anymore—that’s my job. I get to nurture and care for his heart; and vice versa: he gets to care for little Christi.
We all have the inner child, that is still with us—that gets hurt, that is needy,—
Christi: —and is triggered. Those are human things that we love to deny, because we think we are big strong adults now—we are, and we wear really good masks—but we are, at our core, we’re still that little girl and that little boy.
There’s something has happened, I think, when you can see your spouse as that little boy or little girl. First of all, it makes them make sense—their reactions, their defensiveness, their anger—because they’re trying to protect what they couldn’t, as a child. If you—especially, for mothers, to see your spouse as that little boy—we know how to nurture the hearts of our kids: we would not attack, demean, punish when they feel scared, alone, afraid—all the things that our spouse is feeling.
Ann: Guys, let’s go back to you’re dealing with all this, Christi. Josh, you walk into the home, smelling like coffee; you’re [Christi] upset. What’s the best way—because that scenario happens to so many of us; maybe, we don’t have little kids; but we’ve had a really rough day at work, and we’re not meeting one another.
Dave: Yes, coach us up.
Josh: During that season—right after that; I think it was like a week later—I had left Christi for an entire week to go to a leadership conference in California. [Laughter]
Dave: Yes, you did.
Josh: I left her at home, but we had already planned it. It fell at an interesting time. John Townsend, who’s been a friend and mentor of mine for many years, I remember him telling you—because I went out to their leadership conference—and he said, “Christi, if you let Josh come to this for a week/you just let him away for a week, it will pay dividends in ten years.” Here we are—12 years later—and it’s paying massive dividends for us.
Christi: He was right.
Josh: I remember coming home from that. When I went to that leadership conference, the thing that I learned was that the greatest leaders know how/have the ability to label in their brain:
- the right side of the brain, which is the experiential, here and now; it’s what we’re experiencing;
- the left side of the brain is that linguistic side, where we put language to what it is we’re feeling and experiencing.
When we can put language to our here and now/to what we are feeling and experiencing—what it does is it/I call it “the binding of the book”—the neurons fire out of the right and left sides of the brain; and they wire together in the corpus callosum, the middle part of the brain. Because if you have a right side of a book, and a left side of a book, and you bind it together: you create a whole story.
So often, what ends up happening is we react out of an unfulfilled story/out of a story that’s not fully-written; because we’ve never put language to what we’re experiencing. The way to do that is to begin to identify our emotions: “What are we feeling in the moment?”
The top leaders have the ability to be able to do that in how they interact with other people. They know what they’re feeling, and why they are feeling that way—they know what the other person is feeling, and why they’re feeling that way, that they are in communication with—and they get the most out of the relationship.
I left that, going, “I’ve got to do this in my marriage before I can do it anywhere else.” [Laughter] I went home with that whole idea of guarding your marital heart: “It is the wellspring of life.” We have one marital heart, and I clearly wasn’t paying attention to hers.
I came home with this really awkward strategy that I came up with, when I was there, where I said, “Okay, Christi, I want to hear: ‘What was one positive emotion that you had from your day today?’ So instead of doing a high and a low, I want to hear: ‘What you feel positively and what was one uncomfortable feeling that you had today?’—maybe, it was rejection, embarrassed, ashamed, sad, fearful; I want to hear one of those.”
Christi: If I’m honest, I think I rolled my eyes—[Laughter]—maybe, not actually—but in my head, I was, “Uh-huh, great.”
Josh: Because if I don’t know what’s going on in her heart, this is the one way to be able to figure that out.
Christi: I just want to defend you though for a minute—not that you need defending—but I—when you said you weren’t defending my heart, nor was I—I didn’t even know what was on my heart.
I wanted to speak that out for a lot of people, who just feel confused right now/numb; a lot of our generation is numb, because we’ve been taught not to feel. We numb out by:
- shopping—all the things—
- eating—all the things; that’s normal for us.
So I couldn’t have told you what was on my heart. That’s why all of the emotion just came out of my eyes, when he walked in that door. I didn’t know where that came from; I didn’t know I was feeling loss.
Even though I wasn’t aware of what I was feeling, and I rolled my eyes at Josh’s suggestion, what I realized was: “That’s why ‘15 Minutes a Day’”—that’s what we called it—"was so powerful.” Because I started to make sense of my story—my heart/my life—as I was verbalizing it to him.
It not only healed something in our marriage—and truly, transformed our marriage—it healed something in me. It became a regular practice for me to, not just exist through my days, but to be aware of where I was at/where my heart was at, and to share that with the one who was defending my heart with me.
Shelby: You’re listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Josh and Christi Straub on FamilyLife Today. Have you ever been asked how you feel only to not know? Dave’s going to talk about the challenges of sharing your feelings in just a minute.
But first, Josh and Christi’s book is called Famous at Home: 7 Decisions to Put Your Family Center Stage in a World Competing for Your Time, Attention, and Identity. We’d love to send you a copy of their book; it’s our “Thanks,” to you when you partner, financially, today with us. You can give online at FamilyLifeToday.com or by calling 800-358-6329; that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life and then the word, “TODAY.”
It is hard to believe, but we are in holiday season. As a listener, we are incredibly thankful for you during this season; therefore, we want to make you aware of this upcoming opportunity to walk alongside our mission and participate in the Christmas Gift Guide. Now, through November 28, you can get up to 60 percent off of 12 different specific resources that we’ve chosen; things like, a Weekend to Remember gift card; the No Perfect Parents small group course; and even, one of my books called Pressure Points. Again, you can log onto FamilyLifeToday.com to find the entire Christmas Gift Guide. We’d love to bless you this season with some amazing resources.
Okay, here’s Dave with some final thoughts; including, the struggle to share your feelings, even with your spouse.
Dave: You’ve already hit two of your seven decisions.
Josh: That’s true; yes.
Dave: You know, when I read about the “15 Minutes a Day,” I’m “Oh, that’s easy.” No; it’s hard—you’ve got to be intentional—but when you do what you just said, it changes everything.
Ann: Let’s start doing that Dave.
Dave: I mean, we did it at seasons in our marriage. We’re empty nesters now; how hard could it be?! [Laughter] And yet, we still—it’s like you’ve got to sit down or whatever—we used to call it couch time, and just sit on the couch and turn toward each other.
I’ve got to be honest though—and we don’t have time to do it now; and I want to hear about your chase, Josh, in the next program—but I often/it took me years to even know what I was feeling. Ann would say, “What are you feeling?” I would be like, “I don’t know”; and she would say, “Yes, you do!” I’d be like, “I really don’t.” It took me time to learn how to know and then verbalize: “Oh, this is what I’m feeling.” I think a lot of people are wired like that.
Josh: Yes, we have a list of feelings in the book, during that chapter, you can take a look at.
Dave: I remember your kids’ book, with the spinner; I’m like: “That’s for me, not just a four-year-old.” [Laughter]
Christi: You’re not alone—so many people—that’s why we made it. It teaches kids, because most of us weren’t taught this, as children; but you can learn it anytime.
Shelby: You ever feel like you’re losing touch with your children?—that’s a scary feeling. Well, tomorrow, on FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann are joined, again, with Josh and Christi Straub to talk about how reconnecting might come down to a little humility and your willingness to change. That’s coming up tomorrow.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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