15 Years This Week Q and A-Part 1

Hey There, Friends!

How was your weekend?  We had a pretty chill, laid back weekend.  Ebby Lee attended her first youth event at our church and is now officially “in” youth group.  She had the BEST time and I’m so thankful for all those older high school kids who made them feel so very special.  Nixon’s baseball team had their end-of-the-season party last night and we had a fun birthday brunch for me yesterday as well.  Other than that, we swam and watched any live baseball on television.

It was NICE!

My kids start back to school on August 13th, and I’m feeling both like 2020 is the slowest year EVER as well as HOW IS SUMMER ALREADY OVER?!

We’re gonna be doing all we can to soak up as many last week swim sessions and hang outs with friends before we get back to a solid school routine.

Today though Tab and I are answering lots of your MARRIAGE QUESTIONS!  We just celebrated FIFTEEN YEARS last week so I asked if you guys had any questions via Insta Stories and you delivered.  This is only installment one.  There were WAY too many to cover in one blog post.  🙂

Erika:  I’d say don’t bottle anything up until it overflows and you’re FURIOUS.  If something is bothering you, talk about it.  Discuss and then you guys can work it out.  Also, Tab and I {from the advice of a Godly mentor} began our marriage saying that we’d never yell at each other.  We can get MAD at each other, but it helps when we keep our voices nice and calm.

Tab:  Men, make sure you always get the last word!  And the last word is, yes ma’am!  That advice was given to us by my grandpa on the mic at our wedding reception!  While there is truth to that, the reality is far less of whatever we may be arguing for is even worth arguing over so a good suggestion is just to avoid the need to be the one who is right all the time.  Most of the time we are really only arguing because one of us somehow one of us hurt the others feelings someone and it went unaddressed.  In general, men want to be respected and women want to be loved and when that gets out of order, we end up arguing.  Obviously there are other reasons to argue but I think that is the main cause.  The other thing we need to be sure to do is extend grace to our spouse.  We are all broken people and in marriage, God is working to meld two broken people together through him.  In that process, He extends us grace but I can speak for myself in saying all too often I am quicker to want to receive grace than to give it out!  We need to swallow our pride, extend grace and understand we aren’t going to agree 100% on everything…we don’t need to but we 100% need to be in each others corner.  Lastly, we have a hard and fast rule, NEVER raise your voice.  It’s a boundary we have that we just don’t cross.  Set those boundaries and don’t compromise them. 

Erika:  COMMUNICATE!  We read through Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, which basically discusses our expectations of marriage.  It helped us see the different views each of us had regarding our roles within our relationship and really gave us a reason to discuss it before we were hitting problems head on!  But also COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE!  Tab has a lot on this one so I’m gonna let him go…

Tab:  I have a lot here but I will leave it to a few.  Stay committed!  God didn’t create us for a life of ease, but rather a life of commitment.  Our culture is way too centered around self and when that happens, it becomes far to easy to quit when things are tough or just simply don’t go our way.  Being married means being 100% committed to that person to love them anyway, not because.  Loving anyway means we love through the flaws, loving because means we love because of what we get in return.  Big difference there and true love will never work if its based around self.  Let’s be real, marriage is not easy!  We need to be real about that and stay fully committed to the hard work and incredibly rewarding journey of marriage.  Love takes a lot of work and it takes a willing heart.  Everyone wants a healthy marriage, but the question is, what are we willing to do to make sure we have a healthy marriage.  Lastly, and in my view most importantly behind our faith, KEEP THE FIRE GOING!  Intimacy is key and we have to keep it lit even when it’s hard…it’s very important!  As I mentioned above, it’s much easier to be intimate when she feels loved and I feel respected.   Lastly, do not compare yourself or your marriage to others.  Don’t do it.  You aren’t them and neither is your spouse.  Huge problem with our culture and there are many reasons.  God created you and your marriage for a very specific reason and it is not the same reason for anyone else.  Do not compare, change the circumstance. 

Erika:  Time away from the kiddos is so hard-especially when the kids are little.  Lots of people suggested having “date night” when kids were in bed, but I liked going to bed relatively early {especially when my kids were little-Mama was TIRED}.  That didn’t work out well for us.  We switched babysitting nights with the Shulls in order to have a date night/kid free night that saved us lots of money in childcare.  Sometimes we went out to dinner but other nights we ate at home and enjoyed the quiet.  I’d suggest finding a family you’re close to and seeing if they’d like to swap nights off.

Tab:  You have to have alone time!  We love spending time with our kids more than anything in the world but our kids absolutely need to see that our marriage is priority #1.  The reason, because God said so and it’s just the order of things.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant, it could be as easy as talking or watching a show together when the kids go to bed but we’ve got to disconnect from the rest of the world (turn your phone off!) and connect with your spouse. 
Erika:  I don’t want to give you the wrong impression that we don’t bicker.  After fifteen years, it STILL happens!  Marriage is hard, guys!  I do think the first five years were the hardest.  So, please know it’ll get easier!  It takes some time to figure out how to go from a single girl to a wife!  Give yourself some grace.  Just keep communicating!!

Tab:  I can speak for myself and just say that when I man up and don’t make a big deal out of stuff that’s not worth arguing over, we argue less.  It’s really just a maturity thing and we’re all guilty of it from time to time. 
Erika:  We TALK, TALK, TALK!

Tab:  Pray about it and talk.  I am not the best communicator with Erika at times and it’s usually because I am not listening.  Some of the best advice I have ever gotten is that God gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason!  Listen to each other, extend grace and work through it but stay committed and stay on the same side no matter what!

Erika:  EEEEKKKK!!!  This one can be TOUGH!  Sometimes {especially in the fall} I have to write in, “Date Night”, on my calendar in the midst of three baseball practices, two baseball games, two volleyball practices, and a weekend of Tab being out of town.  I will write it in so we both make it a priority.  My biggest suggestion would be to plan for it so you don’t just easily forget to prioritize that time.

Tab:  Tough one.  Gotta stay connected and for us, one of the ways we stay connected is really investing in and enjoying what our kids are doing and we all do it together as often as we can.  We push them hard but our focus is making sure the kids understand these activities aren’t just things we do, they are shaping them for life.  After all, we can’t prepare the path for our kids, so we have to prepare them for the path.  That said, Erika and I both understand the need to stay connected through their activities!  It’s tough but the reality is, in the grand scheme of things, we don’t have our kids for long so we’ve got to make the most out of every schedule crammed moment.  The other part is we make the kids choose.  They can’t have it all and can’t do it all because family time is too important. 

Erika:  I have something for myself.  I blog and work at Mix and Match Travel Agency so having something productive I do outside of my house/marriage helps me tremendously.  You don’t necessarily have to work outside the home in order to not lose yourself…maybe your thing is women’s ministry at church, leading a book club for your neighborhood, gardening, etc.  Just finding something for YOU is extremely important!

Erika:  First of all, I WISH I knew where the pictures were!! Tab did an AMAZING job at this proposal!  In the winter of 2005, Tab was working and living in Dallas, Texas, while I was at Arkansas State University.  He’d been planning on coming to visit Valentine’s Day weekend and as it got closer he made us some excuse about how his boss had planned something Friday night that he just couldn’t get out of.  Meanwhile, one of my roommates said that after telling her dad about our lack of plans on Valentine’s Day weekend, he offered to send us money so we could go out for a fancy girl’s only Valentine’s Dinner.  {Wasn’t that sweet?  And it was SO her dad!}  I bought it hook, line, and sinker.  My girlfriend made us reservations at a restaurant in the Peabody Hotel for dinner.  We got dressed up that night, drove over to Memphis, arrived a tad early so we walked up to the rooftop of the Peabody to check it out and guess who was up there….
He dropped to a knee, said the sweetest things ever, and PROPOSED!  Meanwhile, my roomie took the best pictures and then some friends joined us for a celebratory dinner. 
He did GREAT!  It was such a special night and I had absolutely no clue it was about to happen.

This is my ring.  We’d looked at rings together but I had no clue when or where it would happen.   I need to get it re-dipped {it’s white gold and I’ve heard you have to do that periodically} and just have kind of forgotten about doing it, which is why I don’t wear it often.  Adding it to my to do list now though!  So glad you asked!  🙂

Tab:  Pretty sweet proposal huh?!

Erika:  I’d hands-down say the two years we had Ebby Lee and Nixon.  It rocked our world to go from zero kids to having a baby.  Then we SURPRISINGLY got pregnant when Ebby Lee was just three months old so Nixon came along twelve months and three days later.  It was my first year to stay at home so it was a new transition to go from two incomes down to one.  We hadn’t planned on having two kids so quickly and it was basically just a really HARD two years!  But on this side looking back, we learned so much about ourselves in those two years.  Dare I say we look back at them with so many sweet thoughts?  BUT, so far it was the hardest season.

Tab: 100% agree with what Erika said above!  Two kids, Erika decided to stop teaching and stay at home with the kids.  Growing a professional career and officiating and almost totally broke!  But you know what?  We put our heads down and figured it out!  God blessed us with the opportunity and resolve and we found a way to push through the tough times!  
Another time I remember was the first game of the 2012 football season.  I had a game at Oklahoma State and that was the first day of Erika’s 3rd trimester with Bowen.  So, Erika’s super pregnant, she has two kids under the age of three at home and I’m gone working a football game after a full week of regular work!  Somehow, God got us through it and we are much stronger because of it!  
Erika:  I don’t know that I have any tips per say, but I do remember dating Tab felt so different than anyone else I’d ever dated.  There was this insane amount of trust that I hadn’t experienced and such a peace about spending my life with him.  If you have that, then I’d say GO FOR IT!

Tab:  Faith is key.  If you don’t view the world through a similar lenses, a successful marriage is going to be difficult.  Both sides must be able to realize and over time, put into practice the fact that love is a choice, not an emotion.  Again, it’s loving anyway, not because.  1 Corinthians 13 is a good place to start.  
Other advice would be marriage is totally worth it.  It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done but also by far the most rewarding.  We weren’t created to do life alone.  The marriage journey is full of peaks and valleys but the peaks are far taller than the valleys when we resolve to keep fighting for each other! 

Erika:  People ASSUMING the worst about someone.  I never realized how much this bothered me until social media met 2020.  Whether it be through a Facebook post, text, e-mail, etc…when people jump to conclusions and automatically assume the worst it drives me nuts!  I always want people to assume the best when they’re interacting with me.  Don’t we all want that?  Let’s give each other some grace!

Tab:  Walk and drive on the right.  The left lane is for passing, not driving!  Also, and this is a big one, don’t be that person who drives all the way to the end of the line and gets over when a two lane road is narrowing to one.  I can assure you, your time is not more important that anyone else’s!
Erika:  THANK YOU!  Mine goes hand-in-hand for Tab.  He’s SO personable and chatty with everyone.  I love that about him, BUT on the flip side we can be walking from one building to another at church and he’ll arrive at that second building approximately ten minutes after I do because he talks to so many people along the way.

Tab:  Erika loves to ask me where I want to go eat knowing that I am going to ask her what she wants.  Generally she says it doesn’t matter only to say she doesn’t want that when I offer up a couple of options!!  

Erika:  Our wedding was absolutely perfect!  We had the BEST day!  But I’d recommend not getting too stressed or caught up in how your big day will have to be different because of all that’s happening now.  When you look back fifteen years later, the sweet memories of your day will be all you remember.  {Not that the flowers were way different than you were expecting…just suggesting that one for a friend…ha!}

Tab:  It will be fine.  Make the most of it and understand that day is just one day in your marriage journey.  Our was a very modest wedding but it was perfect.  Have nothing but great memories about that day because it’s not about the venue or the flowers or the cake…it’s about the people who invested so much to bring two people to the point of commitment to God and each other!  My grandfather (Papa) married Erika and I.  At this point in my life, it wouldn’t have mattered if he married us in a parking lot…the fact I know what it meant to him to marry us and he knew what it meant to me.  That’s a memory I will cherish forever but has nothing to do with cakes, dresses, or buildings. 


We have another installment headed your way soon!  Thanks so much for reading today!  Happy Monday!

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  1. 8.3.20
    cindymcfarland@gmail.com said:

    Love this quote from Tab!!

    After all, we can't prepare the path for our kids, so we have to prepare them for the path.

    As a mommy of 4 (almost grown now) kiddos, this is 100% spot on!

  2. 8.3.20
    Mix and Match Mama said:

    I loved this so much!!!!!

  3. 8.3.20
    Sheaffer {Pinterest Told Me To} said:

    THIS WAS SO FUN! Great answers, and I loved getting a little peek into your marriage.

  4. 8.3.20
    Laura said:

    These are all such good advice! My husband and I just celebrated 20 years and I agree 100% with everything you said!

  5. 8.3.20
    Unknown said:

    Very nice post!

  6. 8.3.20
    Unknown said:

    This is the "other side" for Tab regarding traffic lanes narrowing to one. It's all about efficiency! The lane is open until it is blocked off. It should be used – not because my time is more important. But because it is available. That's my reasoning…Sweet post with good advice. Just felt I needed to defend myself 🙂

  7. 8.3.20
    MNMomma said:
  8. 8.3.20
    Paula said:

    I loved this. Great advice! I have been married 20 years. Best decision ever!
    I also frequently tell my children we have 2 ears, 1 mouth, listen twice as much!😊

  9. 8.3.20
    Courtney said:

    I do the EXACT same thing when my husband asks me where I want to go eat. Oops! Guess if that's the worst thing, we are doing pretty well. LOL

  10. 8.3.20
    sherri said:

    Wow!!!! I just LOVE this post!!!!! I love that you and Tab answered the questions together!!!! You are the sweetest!!! What a great gift you are giving your kiddos by "working" and being intentional in your marriage!!! Blessings

  11. 8.3.20
    Elspeth Mizner said:

    This was so fun!!! Thank you so much for sharing. It was so sweet to hear from both of you! Happy anniversary!!

  12. 8.4.20
    Laura said:

    Loved this one! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  13. 8.4.20
    I Shal C said:

    I loved hearing from Tab. He had so many great nuggets that I had to re-read like, “Ooh that was so good.” Happy Belated Anniversary!

  14. 8.4.20
    Lindsey T said:

    Loved these and looking forward to more!
    Can you post another picture of your ring? It didn't show up here (for me at least) and I LOVE proposal stories and ring pictures!

  15. 8.4.20
    Julie Bradford said:

    been on vacay and just catching up.. I LOVE THIS!!!! so fun.. we celebrate 15 yrs on Aug 27th!!!

  16. 8.5.20
    Deena said:

    It was fun to read both of your answers. As for Tab's pet peeve, the zipper merge is actually safer and more efficient if everyone does it. I think they need to emphasize it so people know instead of getting mad (which I totally get). 😀