In this special episode, Carrie and her husband, Steve, reflect on their three-year marriage journey and the joy of overcoming difficulties. They share insights on the importance of open communication and their experiences as parents to their daughter Faith. They also offer practical tips for maintaining a solid relationship while looking ahead with optimism and gratitude for each day.
- The significance of finding joy and hope in difficult situations as inspired by Psalm 30:5.
- The importance of open communication in a marriage, even when addressing challenging topics.
- How to navigate and adapt to life’s unexpected changes and challenges, such as health issues.
- The value of adjusting and accepting new norms in life and relationships.
- Their experiences in parenthood, including insights into their daughter, Faith, and the joys and challenges of raising her.
Carrie: Welcome to Hope for Anxiety and OCD episode 105. I am joined here once again by my lovely husband, Steve. Hi Steve.
Steve: Hey. How are you?
Carrie: Welcome. And we’ve been doing this as a tradition almost every year. It started before we got married. We did an episode about our dating experiences, and then, in the first year of marriage, I was pregnant.
I remember crying a lot in that episode because we didn’t know what was happening to your eyes other than we knew you had lost vision. It was super scary. Thinking about all the uncertainties there, then you had just been diagnosed with neurological conditions, spinocerebellar ataxia.
We sat down and thought about what we wanted to discuss for our third year of marriage now that we’ve been married for almost three years. This scripture had come to mind: Psalm 30 verse 5 says, Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning. And so, we thought about titling this episode Joy in the Morning. Do you want to tell our audience a little bit about why we chose that?
Steve: Yes, because I think going through trials, as everyone does, our trials that we have dealt with, there have been tears, and there have been difficult moments, but the joy that comes out of that, being able to look back and say, oh my goodness, I’ve made it through this.
And it gives others hope that they may be going through the same thing. That’s the beauty of going through something difficult: when you make it to the other side, to a better place at least, you can share that with someone and help them. We have been through a lot; it has been difficult, but we’ve done it with a smile.
As best as we can anyway, so, that’s kind of, it’s a good verse.
Carrie: Yeah, I mean, some of the highlights of this year of you adjusting to the SCA diagnosis and realizing that you can still be involved in ministry with which you’d like to be involved. And I wish we had a picture of your crazy hair day at VBS.
Steve: That was so much fun. They’d asked me to, at church, well, they didn’t ask me, but I signed up for VBS, which was a challenge at the time because I’d yet to serve in any way by myself amidst all the chaos of all those wonderful kids who were having fun. And here I am, with my walker, trying to hurry through and make it work but having a blast.
They had different themes for each day, whether it be sports, and one of those days was crazy hair day, so I said, why not? So, each night, I participated, but that was probably the best one for me because, as a bald man, I could wear a wig with blue hair. I think it was. Was it blue?
Carrie: No, it was all white.
Steve: All right, there we go.
Carrie: But you had a blue headband.
Steve: That’s what it was. I knew something must have been blue, but A, there’s my memory for you, and B, there’s my eyesight for you. But yes, it was all white hair. I remember that now. And it was crazy. It was out there. And I got so many comments on that.
And it was fun. It was a lot of fun.
Carrie: Right. Yeah, and then this summer, you took a mission trip to Guatemala, which was the first time that you had been really since COVID and us getting married, having a baby, all these different things happened.
Steve: That was one of those experiences I did not know if I would get to continue with.
But the team I went with was so gracious and so giving, so compassionate that they knew where my heart was. They knew they wanted me to go on that team with them and invited me, which was humbling. I never had to ask for help, whether I thought I needed it or not, and more times than not, I did need help.
They were right there, by my side, to grab a bag and help me up and down the stairs, which is funny because I took a walker with me. A smaller walker that would be easier to pack and carry and all that stuff. Takes up less space. I never got to use that thing, except in the airport once, because flat ground didn’t exist where we were.
There was no way of using that: there were so many stairs and different things. Anyway, the team was so good though to help me. I made sure I got from point A to point B and got to teach with people, and the people in Guatemala were so gracious with their time and compassionate, too, so it was a blessing.
Carrie: Great. And I think you got some positive feedback from people there that your story was just inspirational and that you had sacrificed to go to another country because you could have easily said, I’ve done mission trips for years; my time is over, and I have this disability. It’s time for me to kick back and rest.
Steve: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I’ll never forget this. Pastor Mark, who led the group, commented when we discussed whether I should go or not that we have people with club feet and different things that come to see us. Why not have someone else come to see them with a problem, whatever, a disability?
And I thought I hadn’t thought about it that way. I just thought, how will I be able to do this? That’s all I was focused on. That changed the way that I thought about it. When I got there, the people were just so, I don’t know, I think it was a different way of looking at things for them too.
Someone who has a disability. I came to speak with them. It was a cool thing in the end. It was very humbling, though.
Carrie: This year has been about adjusting and accepting our new normal. I guess you could call it our new life situation, and it comes with many changes and challenges in relationships and daily life. What’s been your experience of that?
Steve: I had to adjust and change to, you can sit on a couch or sit in the bed and cry and give in, or you can tweak how you do things. You can change or adjust to the new normal. And that’s what I’ve done, and I still do what I like. I don’t get to go outside as often, and I don’t get to go hiking. However, there are ways that I can do things.
I’m very happy with the life that I’m living, getting to do those things. I still get to meet with my friends occasionally and can’t just get in the car and drive there. But I still get to go, so there are no complaints. It’s still a blessing to play with our child and do all the fun things that I think are important.
Carrie: Yeah, Faith just turned 18 months old, and she’s a little firecracker sometimes. But it’s been a journey, lots of learning, lots of adjustment, lots of growing as parents. And I think all these things that we’re talking about related to your marriage are, like, these are things that can either bring you closer together or create conflict and drive you farther apart.
Steve: Definitely. I think that for us, you always have to look forward. You have to pick your battles. I constantly tell myself that, not so much with you, but with Faith. Just with our daughter, trying to figure out, okay, she’s upset. Why is she upset? Or, she is, like most children, she gets her mind set on something.
I want to carry that blanket around. And drag it while we walk outside. I want to drag it through the dirt and never want to let it go. She reminds me of Linus with those blankets, but sometimes, you must decide how important it is for me to take this blanket away from her. Or to take whatever this toy or whatever it is.
Is it a deal breaker if she hangs on to it? Am I training her incorrectly if I let her hang on to that? Or, there’s a lot of decision-making there, but sometimes I’ve learned it’s okay to let her hang on for just a minute longer. And then, whenever she forgets about it, take it away and hide it; she’ll never think of it, and you won’t have to deal with the fuss.
So, I don’t know if that always works, but picking your battles is very important.
Carrie: Yeah, I think that’s true in a relational sense. And what you were talking about before, essentially honoring your limitations, is helpful for all our listeners, just listening to your body. There are some days that you can do more than others and some days you’re very fatigued and have to take it easy, and all you may get done is one load of laundry, and that’s it.
And that’s a hard thing to accept. And just in terms of the mental health realm, it’s like, okay, some days I may be prepared to socially interact in a certain way with others, and some days I just may not be able to do that and respecting and honoring, like, my body and where I’m at today.
Steve: You have to decide sometimes if you’re going through fatigue, are you not feeling well, and you need rest, or are you just depressed and pushing away people? Because that’s a big difference. There are days, I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like doing the people thing, but it’s just me being whatever, me being me, or wanting to avoid people. And then there are other days I want to be around people, but my body is too tired, and I need to rest.
Those are decisions that you have to think about, I think, for me, in the sense of, is it me, or is my body just really needing the rest? And so more times than not, for me, it’s my body really needs the rest, and so I have to force myself to lay down. I’m not a very good stop-and-rest person. I’m getting better at it, but not by choice, because I have to.
Carrie: Usually, other people tell you to sit down rather than you decide to sit down.
Steve: And anyone who knows me knows. I was always a person that just wanted to go. Just not that I couldn’t stop, but I didn’t like to sit down. I like to fix things. If something is on my mind, I want to finish it.
I’m not a procrastinator, but when you have something like I have, you have to sit down. It’s not procrastinating; it’s resting until you can.
Carrie: I wanted to bring something up, and we can always cut this out if you don’t want us to talk about this, but without going into a lot of details, we had an, like, a communication issue come up in our marriage this year where we were both unhappy with like one aspect of our life.
Do you know what I’m talking about? And neither one of us said anything because we’re both conflict-avoiders. And then finally, I got up the courage, and I said, “Hey, I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of unhappy in this one area, and then it was surprising for you to say, yeah, me too.”
And then we were able to, like, do something about it. And so, I just wanted to share with our listeners that sometimes it’s hard to bring up those difficult topics in your marriage and talk about hard things that make you feel uncomfortable or your concern that’s going to make your spouse feel uncomfortable or that they might be mad at you.
Steve: Yeah, that was one of those things when you said it. When you said something to me, I thought, yes, I agree. And it wasn’t a bad thing.
Steve: It wasn’t like she was acting this way, and I’m annoyed. No, it wasn’t that. It was literally a communication issue. It’s like mentally sitting at that four-way stop, and neither one of us is going.
But we’re both annoyed with the other because we think it’s their turn or we think it’s something not right here, go when you said something oh, good, good, yes.
And we dealt with it, and everything went well. So, from then on, things have been better in that area. So yeah, sometimes I think I tend to be the go-with-the-flow type of personality, and something will bother me. And I’m like, it’s not that big of a deal. Just suck it up. And really, you don’t want to gripe every time something comes up.
And I’ve been that guy, too. I’ll be honest, but you also don’t want to just, no big deal, and keep pushing it away, and pushing it away, and then one day, you’re going to blow up. It’s not pretty, so sometimes it’s better to talk, and the struggle is, how do you bring it up? How do you say it? That always comes up because when I say things, I tend to be a very sarcastic person.
I’ve really had to work on that, and nowhere near success in that department. I’ve worked on my sarcasm because I like to be funny and sarcastic, but it doesn’t work when communicating in a profound moment. It’s always taken as a negative, even though I may not mean it that way.
For instance, if you say, Steve, I really need to go to the store or the library, and my response is, oh, goody, I can’t wait. I may think nothing of that. I meant simply as humor. But when you say that enough, it bleeds out as this jerk doesn’t even want to go, and he doesn’t have the guts to say, I don’t really want to go carry.
Is that okay? Instead, it’s, Oh, goody. So, the sarcasm doesn’t help me. And I’ve had to work on that honest moment.
Carrie: Well, I think coming to a place of when you say this, I hear this. In your marriage relationship, men and women communicate things differently, and there are times when you’ll say something, and I’m like, I heard this, and then you’ll say, no, that’s not at all what I said.
Steve: Yes, and I am so caught off guard in those moments. But again, it may be how I’m saying it. Or the pattern of how I’ve said it before. So, I think that really you could set a tone.
Carrie: Yeah. But it also taps into what I’m learning, like your past relational baggage because it’s like, okay, I hear him talking like, my dad or my ex or something like that, and then I’m absorbing it through that lens. I don’t even realize that I’m doing it at that point until maybe later, and I have moments of self-reflection. I think that piece comes up in marriage a lot.
Steve: Sure. And I think that’s why I’ve always heard the first two years of marriage are the most difficult.
I think it could go beyond that. I don’t know, but I think the reason is that you’re getting through communication and likes, dislikes, and all of that stuff. You’re learning about your other half. I hope we can be one of those cute older couples that everybody wants to go to. Oh my gosh, you’re going to make me throw up, or they say they’re so cute. The old couple that’s kissing and holding hands. Anyway, so you hope when you’re older, you don’t even have to say anything. You know what the other person would think.
Carrie: In this process of growing together, I always tell clients that you’re either growing with someone or growing apart from them because you might be growing at different levels.
I’ve seen that happen in friendships; I’ve noticed that it occurs to various people in romantic relationships. So always, like, keeping those lines of communication open, being self-aware and knowing what you’re contributing to the relationship, what might be detrimental to your relationship, and how to work on those things. And I think if we can look at it as we were talking about our communication, It’s not always bad, like sometimes we need some enrichment in certain areas. There’s not a problem yet, or there’s not a crisis. If you can catch it before something becomes a problem, or becomes a crisis, or before we feel like, oh, we don’t talk about that at all, if you can address it on the front end, it’s a lot easier than waiting for things to, like you said, build up and build up, and then somebody blows up, or somebody withdraws or walks away.
Steve: Absolutely. And I think, too, that sometimes we get angry in our head, and that builds up, and to the point where, and you say this about faith all the time, she doesn’t even know why she’s angry. Something triggered you, and then your state, not you, but in general, and I’ve had this to me, and I stop, and I think, why in the world am I even angry?
I don’t even know why. And it may simply be I don’t feel well, and I have to stop and say, okay, I cannot take that out on anyone. That is not fair. I just need to shush, not say anything, let it go. Try to remember those techniques of how to calm down or how to relax. And then there were other times when I did have something that bothered me, but I didn’t want to say anything. And I held it in, and then, kaboom, it’s not pretty, all over something really silly.
Carrie: I think timing is vital in terms of bringing up topics. In your marriage, it’s hard to know. You can’t necessarily bring something up when there’s all that heat of the emotion on both sides. You have to take a break, like pause.
Okay, let’s talk about this. Let’s go to our separate spaces, reflect on it, pray about it, and then come back together and talk about what in the world just happened with that last interaction. I don’t even know, but we went from a happy couple to all of a sudden. We’re at each other’s throats or something.
Steve: That would be those moments when I have to say, okay, Steve, calm down. Why are you upset or okay? Maybe your reasoning for being upset is justifiable, but there are two of us in this marriage, so what can I do? What can I say to try to calm this down? There’s no hero, no winner, no individual here.
How do we do this together? How do we work? And that’s hard because we always want to win; we always want to be right. As humans, you always want to be in the right, and we never stop and think; it seems most of us don’t; maybe I’m wrong here. Perhaps I need to change the approach. Maybe I’m not wrong, but my path is wrong, or how I’m saying it.
And that’s where it’s difficult because the focus is on you to change. And that’s hard. We always want the other person to change.
Carrie: Right, and I think working with our daughter and trying to help her when she has these completely age-appropriate Meltdowns because she’s been teething or refused her nap that day or her stomach hurts, and we don’t even know about it.
You know, all these things come up, and at the moment, it seems like it’s, you know, I want the banana over the strawberries; really, it has nothing to do with that. It’s all these other factors and knowing that we can have the opportunity to bring the calm into the situation and like get down on her level and talk to her and like, okay, you know, I can see you’re really upset right now.
Steve: Well, and that isn’t easy in general. And it’s easy for a couple, I think, with children. They have problems because they have a child or children, in our case, a child, who may have been screaming for 20 minutes at the top of their lungs. You’re just at wit’s end to please make it go away, just stop, not the child, the screaming, and then the communication between the two of you can be rather snappy. It’s not personal, just give me the sippy cup, take the child here, do this, and it’s nothing personal, it’s just, oh my gosh, have you checked your diaper lately?
There’s always something. And what are those moments you look at later and go, I’m sorry, I may have been a little snappy. It’s hard to focus on how to calm her down, and you’re going off on your spouse—just a tricky thing.
Carrie: Yeah, and I think, too, there’s that element where sometimes we’ll be trying to have a conversation in the car, and then all of a sudden in the backseat is because she can’t talk fully.
Steve: She wants to join in.
Steve: Those are the moments I kind of smile myself and then begin to insert her name every fourth word, maybe asking you, when we go to the store, are we going to buy this, that, or the other? And then I insert her name, which makes no sense in real-time, but when talking with her, she hears her name and is happy to be a part of the conversation, I’m hoping.
Carrie: Despite all the difficult things that have happened this year, in terms of our themes of joy coming in the morning, we will talk about where you see things going.
Steve: Yeah, I think there are so many opportunities that have come up already, be it with church or missions or whatever; there’s just so much to look forward to. And I know that there will be, as the song said, mama said, there’d be days like this. There are going to be those days. But I look forward to good things as well, and I think that some elegant stuff is coming up the pike, so I’m excited about that; I’m excited that some of my doctor visits, my annual checkups are already behind me, got my eyes taken care of, and no significant change there, and that’s a blessing.
Some of my neurological visits and all that are coming up have already passed. They’ve already passed for a while. So those are good things. I look forward to those. Most people don’t like the doctor’s visits, but I like them because I get the news, and I’m done with it for a while. Get it behind me. I’m looking forward to what’s coming up the pike for sure.
Carrie: When you have this generative disease, stability is a blessing; staying the same and not deteriorating further is always a positive. So, we appreciate that whenever we hear that. Just in general, your health numbers are doing well.
Steve: Those are doing really well. And on top of that, knowing that I am doing as well as I am is a blessing in the sense that we didn’t know when we first got this diagnosis, we didn’t know. It almost gave me the feeling like golly, I could die tomorrow. But now I’ve heard some individuals have the same thing.
Maybe we don’t necessarily know which type, yes, thank you. Which type that I have? But we know that I have it. And the lifespan, again, I thought, golly, I could die tomorrow. Who couldn’t die tomorrow? And I hear about people who have been living to be 80 years old. And I hear about, because of what they’ve discovered through studies for Parkinson’s disease, they’ve been able to say, hey, that’ll work for SCA as well.
And now I’m not on this medication, but for certain types of SCA, they can take this medication, which slows it down a little bit, they think. I don’t have all the details on that, but I know that it’s exciting that they found something. Those types of things are exciting to me.
That’s definitely something to consider a joy, and I can get up and spend time with my family, enjoy the days I have now, and make the very best of each day. That’s exciting.
Carrie: Yeah, we got involved in an SCA support group and have just learned so much through the other individuals, things that have worked for them, been helpful, not helpful, and then been able even to take some of that information like to your eye appointment and say, hey, This was recommended to us, or we found out this doesn’t work as well with SCA.
That’s been a blessing, I think, for me and just this whole podcast journey and our relationship. I want to impact more people positively for the kingdom, just continuing to spread messages of hope. That people can get the help that they need out there. I know that you have stepped in and been a big support in promoting the podcast, even sometimes talking to people or supporting me in going to the AACC conference when that happened.
There were some long days there, and you had more duties and responsibilities at home or with Faith. I appreciate everything that you’ve done to help support this podcast. It’s been a wild ride, and it’s hard to believe that it’s been about three years. Just all the things that God has done indoors that he’s opened and to be able to launch the course recently, and I hope this next year to work on a book I’m thinking it’s going to be for Christians with anxiety some focus on OCD. They want to do some writing about anxiety, So I’m not exactly sure what direction or bent I’m going to go with that. I want to provide some practical tools to help and support people experiencing that. Still, I’m just excited to see what the Lord is going to do, and we are hopeful to be able to move in 2024 possibly.
Praise the Lord. So, we are looking for better accessible housing than we have right now. Not that our accommodation is terrible as far as you’re getting around. It’s just not going to serve us in the future. And we know that. And so, we are trying to get something that’s more one level or flatter yard or something.
That’s going to be more,
Steve: flat is the keyword there, at least as far as the yard goes and fewer steps. Also, I’d like to say that I’m proud of you for how much effort and time and all of that you’ve put into the podcast and your work and what you do, and knowing you as I do, of course, I’m going to brag on you, but you put a lot of heart into what you do.
And I think it shows, I definitely think it shows. And it’s exciting that I remember when you hadn’t even started the podcast. And now you’re on number 105 or something crazy like that? That’s wonderful, and there are days, I’ll be honest, I listen and think I will need a dictionary. I don’t know what that means because I’m not in that world. And then I’ll listen and say, “Oh, well, that’s really interesting. I never knew that.” I tell people if I’m talking to someone at the doctor’s office or wherever, and they say I have a problem with anxiety. I have perfect help for you here. I always try to remind them that if they look through the episodes, one may stand out to them.
It’s not focused on one little thing, and even when it’s not something you’re necessarily interested in, as you listen, you find, wow, that’s got a lot for me to take away. I had no clue that that also pertained to me or that I would get that much out of it. So, it’s not boring. I’ll give it that. It’s very informative, and I enjoy that—so good job.
Carrie: Well, thank you. I want all of our listeners to know that I made some great connections at the AACC conference. So that means more interesting guests to come next year. And kind of now that we’ve had over a hundred episodes, we’re able to just branch down different rabbit holes.
There are still more things to talk about. It’s kind of surprising that there are always new topics and ways that we can apply what we’re learning to help with anxiety and OCD. So, everyone, definitely stay tuned. We have some free resources on our website. I’d love to tell you about it, too. You can go to Hopeforanxietyandocd.com.
We have our download from our hundredth episode on A Hundred Ways to Help You Manage Anxiety. We have an OCD resource: five things every Christian with OCD needs to know. So, we’ve got a few different things going on there and would love to have you check those resources out.
Thank you everyone so much for listening today. Hope for Anxiety and OCD is a production of By the Well Counseling. Our show is hosted by me, Carrie Bock, a Licensed Professional Counselor in Tennessee. Opinions given by our guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of myself or By the Well Counseling. Our original music is by Brandon Maingrum.
Until next time, may you be comforted by God’s great love for you.