The Connected Mom

Marriage! Here’s the thing, in the thick of parenting challenges, it’s easy to let things slide in your marriage. However, In God’s design husband and wife are to function as one. Their relationship is to be growing and thriving, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. So it’s important that we talk about our marriages and how to cultivate those in the thick of parenting challenges. This week we're talking about marriage and why it’s so important to keep your marriage alive in the parenting journey.

Our guest today, is a marriage expert. Pam Farrel and her husband Bill have been working together to help couples and families for more than 40 years. The Farrels are popular speakers, best-selling authors and the co-founders of Love Wise, a ministry dedicated to helping people build successful relationships. The couple has co-authored numerous books including Red Hot Monogamy and Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti. They have three children (+ three beautiful daughter-in-laws) and seven grandchildren.


Creators & Guests

Becky Harling
Author of How to Listen So Your Kids Will talk and several others. Podcast host of The Connected Mom. A dynamic speaker who is passionate about Jesus.
Pam Farrel
author of 55+ books, intrnt'l speaker, wife, mom, nana, coach& road warrior. Gives practical insights on personal relationships-helping people become Love-Wise.

What is The Connected Mom?

Form a deeper connection with God, more empathic connection with other Moms, and more intentional connection with your child.

Hey, friends. Welcome to the Connected Mom podcast. We love being with you each week, and this is where we have real conversations, helping you to connect more deeply with God, more empathically with your fellow mamas, and more intentionally with your child. I'm Becky Harling. I have with me today my amazing cohort host, Sarah Wildman. Hey, Sarah.

Hi, Becky. So glad to be here. What are we talking about today?

So Valentine's Day is this week, and we know, Sarah and I, that in the journey of motherhood, it's so easy to get caught up in the kiddos, right? You're trying to keep them on schedule. You're playing taxicab driver. Maybe you have toddlers, you're up all night. But it's really easy to stop investing in your marriage. So we thought this week we would talk about how to keep your marriage alive in the journey of motherhood. And today I'm super excited because I have my good friend Pam Farrell with us. Let me introduce her. So Pam is like an icon in the writing world. For starters, she's written, like, 50 books. I don't even know how that's possible, but she's done it. She and her husband Bill, have founded Lovewise, which I love that name. They've authored over 50 books together. Pam has been a frequent guest on Focus on the Family, probably Family Life. Today, Pam and a million other media venues. She and her husband Bill, are best known for their book, men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti. Now, I got to tell you, my husband Steve loves both of those foods, waffles and spaghetti. Those are two of his favorites. So we're going to have to talk about that, Pam. But you and Bill have been married for 43 years because you and I got married the same year, and they've raised three boys. And how many grandkids do you have?

Three beautiful daughter in laws and seven grandkids. Two grandsons born in the last three weeks.

Wow. I know you feel like I do, that grandparenting is just the best. It's amazing. But, hey, let's start the conversation. Pam, why in the world did you write a book with your husband, men are Like Waffles, women are Like Spaghetti. Is it a cookbook or a book about food?

So that concept actually started when we were, um, pastors, and we had a marriage conference, um, in our community just to help people get to know, uh, Bill and I and our church. We thought, let's do something to just help bless and build people in our city. And so we, um, had this little conference set up. And, um, Bill was working as a coach in the youth basketball league. And a guy came up to him in the gym and said, hey, um, I've been kind of watching your marriage, Bill, and I heard you're a pastor. So do you ever meet with couples? Because I think something's wrong with my wife. I think she's broken. And Bill's like, uh, yeah, I meet with couples. Come on in. Um, so he came in and Bill said, how can I help you? And the husband just turned to his wife and said, Go ahead. And she started talking from subject to subject to subject to subject. And the guy looked like a deer caught in the headlights. He looked at Billy's like, she does this all the time. I don't know what to do. And Bill said, well, think of her mind like a plate of spaghetti. And there's one noodle on that plate. And if you follow that noodle around that plate, it looks like it touches every other noodle on the plate. And so, um, that's the way her mind works. She travels around making emotional connections to the people and things that matter most to her. And so it's actually a compliment. She wants to be emotionally connected to you. And he's like, what do I do? And he's like, you listen. And so Bill taught him, um, some active listening skills. And, um, she talked for 55 straight minutes. And then she leaned back and she's like, oh, that was, like, so good. Okay, if I'm like spaghetti, then what's my husband like? And Bill licked his watch. He's like, That'll be next week. And so Bill drove home and he's like, okay, God, I have this food for women. Women multitask. Um, and they call it toggle tasking today social scientists. Men, um, compartmentalize. So I need a food with compartments to help explain this. And so the next day, my boys were making eggo waffles. Don't judge me. And so they up popped this waffle. And Bill's like, yeah, that might work. No judgment. So he went back and he, um, said to that couple the next week, okay, your husband, his mind, the way God made him, is like, compartment. And so it looks like the top of a waffle with boxes separated by walls. And guys think of one thing and one thing only at a time. And so there's this issue that your husband said has been, like, driving you guys to the brink of divorce. So we're going to try to stay on that one box in that one box on that one topic today and see if we can help solve that issue, which they did. Bill was kind of the box police and kept bringing her back to that one topic, but it ended up saving their marriage. And Bill's like, okay, we know the research social scientists have had m men compartmentalized. Women integrate. And we know the Bible in Genesis 127 says men, uh, that God made us male and female on purpose. It was a good thing. Uh, so maybe we can make a fun, funny book to help people in a practical, real way. Stay in love for a lifetime and.

Use those for I didn't know that that was the background on that. It makes so much sense. Um, I've also seen it like a control deck where men it's like an on and off switch, which I feel is maybe a little too simplistic, but that idea, right? Yeah. We're talking about connection on this podcast. Pam. So how does a waffle and a spaghetti plate work well together? I know that's a huge question, but it's like, okay, those are, like, even different types of meals, uh, breakfast and dinner. So opposites attract. We know that. Right. But how do you see that working together?

Right, exactly. Yeah. Uh, one of the best things is we hit ten different areas in our book, um, which is now translated into 15 different languages. So even places that don't have waffles, they've come up with a way to translate that. Uh, eggs and then yam and noodles on it. So we'll see, uh, how it goes, but, um yeah, take turns. That's probably the best. No matter what area we're talking about, whether it's men and women relieve stress differently. Like, one of the things about guys that you should know after raising three boys and married to my husband, is some of those boxes on every man's waffle are absolutely, positively blank. There's no thoughts, there's no words, and they just park in those boxes. And we probably have seen it as women, this blank stare. Um, but that's where guys go to relax and recharge, is their empty box. And so it's important for we women to know the differences between the way we manage stress. Like, we women, we talk our way through stress because, um, we're trying to connect everything up, and we're trying to talk through okay. It's like a giant meatball lands in the middle of our spaghetti, and we're trying to talk through okay, what does this mean now in my life? Now this new stress is here. And, um, so we talk our way through stress. Like, if I'm stressed out, my mom knows that, my sister knows it. Uh, my best friend knows that, my prayer partner knows it. The clerk at the grocery store knows it. Uh, when I'm stressed out. But Bill would prefer bill would prefer. And all my boys, they have their favorite easy box. And God kind of helped us girls out in that. Most men's favorite easy boxes are kind of shaped like boxes. The TV screens shaped like a box, the computer shaped like a box. The iPhone shaped like a box. The football field, the basketball court, the baseball diamond, all shaped like boxes. The garage is shaped like a box, the refrigerator is shaped like a box. And the bed is shaped like a box. That, uh, bed box. That, uh, sex box. Favorite box for husbands to go to when they're stressed out. Uh, kind of like the free square in the middle of a bingo card. They can get there from every other square on their waffle. That's just one area. But the overall concept is to take turns. Both of your needs can't be met at the same time, so take turns.

Last week, I was in the laundry room. My husband was getting ready to leave for something, and I knew we had this podcast coming up, so I was thinking about waffles and spaghetti, and then I started talking to him about one topic. And then I jumped. To another topic and another topic and another topic and he stops me in the middle and he's like, Wait, what are we talking about? And I'm like, waffles and spaghetti. And then he just looked totally blank at me. And I'm like, never mind. I love you. Go to work, you know, and send him out the door. But, you know and, uh, we're going to get to sex on this podcast in a minute. Pam before we get to that, I'm thinking about the journey of parenthood. And often the two pressure points for mom and dad are finances and just decisions about the kids. And I know in raising our kids and you've probably had this experience, too, Pam, and maybe you do. Sarah we had one daughter who was amazing at manipulation, so she would come and ask me something, and if I said no, she thought, well, I don't really like that response. I think I'm going to go try to butter up dad and see if I can get him to say yes. So Steve and I found we had to work really hard at parenting together, and that's a part of marriage. So what do you suggest for couples who are out there? The mom who's listening right now and thinks, my husband's never on the same page with me, what do I do?

One of the things that we started when we were newlyweds that I am looking back so grateful for is, um, especially we were in ministry, so our weekends were crazy busy. So we would go to breakfast on Monday, and we started calling it the Monday Morning Marriage Meetup. And, uh, we would talk about the kids, we would talk about finances. Um, we had this little template of questions we would ask each other to get emotionally connected. We would plan our meals, or we would decide, uh, when we were going to go on a romantic date. Because we figured out that if you don't have this marriage meeting, that later on when you go on your date, you start talking about problems with the cars, the kids, the IRS, pretty much a mood killer, right, to talk about those things on a romantic day. So we start having this marriage meetup, and during the pandemic. So this is 43 years later during the pandemic. Um, we decided, okay, people have been asking us what's that template for our marriage meeting? Because I think it's the secret sauce to the feral puppy. Marriage is getting on the same page. We always say coffee plus conversation equals connection, and that's what happens at that marriage meetup. And so we wrote up the marriage meetup, which is a devotional planner. So there's the template you use every week that helps you talk through the business side of your life, but also brings in the romance and brings in the fun. And, um, it starts and ends with prayer, and it also starts and ends with encouragement and affirmation. So, I mean, who would want to go to coffee with your husband knowing you're going to get complimented and get on the same page, pulling in the same direction together? Especially in those tough areas like finance or their kids, or even when you're going to have what we call red hot monogamy.

I love that so much. Pam and I know why I love you so much. Because Steve and I would do the same thing once a week. Friday morning. Every Friday morning was our breakfast time. And we would talk about the kids and, okay, wait, this one's a little off right now. What's going on there? And what do we do about it? The other thing that we did is when Steve would first get home from church where he was serving, we would tell the kids, okay, the next 15 minutes belongs to mom and dad. So unless there's blood, don't come find us. We need 15 minutes to connect, and then we'll connect with you. So we would take 15 minutes and Steve would say, okay, how did the day go? Who's struggling? I would ask how his day went, and then we could present a more united front with the kids.

That's awesome. We had the same role. Um, but there were three B's, so don't bug mom and dad. Unless someone's not breathing, unless there's blood or broken bones.

Oh, that was a good one. We didn't think of the whole breathing or broken bones. Thankfully, that never happened in our 15 minutes meeting. But I think all of this speaks to intentionality, and we have to be intentional to keep our marriages alive.

So true. I love that you guys have shared something out of the box because I think most of us know that we should do a date night. Pam and we'd love some other ideas on that. But like a daytime meetup. Sometimes we don't put that in the same category, but maybe that works for your schedule. And my husband and I have actually been trying that, too, like a Friday breakfast. But, um, knowing that you have some tools for that would be awesome. Pam but any other advice about dates, just in general? Um, because it can get expensive, too. Like, I booked one this week, and I'm like, okay, how many hours can we really afford? But any tips you have for Moms and Dads who are trying to do it.

Yes. Okay, so while just one just freebie here, uh, at Lovewise, uh, there's a banner that says, uh, romantic ideas or romantic dates. It's like hundreds. I put as many free and nearly free date ideas in this freebie, um, so if you're, like, in a rut, where it's like, dinner, movie, dinner, movie, someone would be like, I'd be happy if we did dinner in a movie, but, uh, we can easily get in ruts. And so just by thinking outside the box. And, um, then the, uh, second is ask your friends what free dates, or nearly free dates, because in everybody's area, there are things that are really inexpensive. Sometimes there's movie nights, sometimes we love the beach, because we live on a boat, of course. Um, just walking the dock. We take a prayer, uh, walk at sunset, because it's pretty and it's free. So, um, it's simple, but it brings our hearts closer together. And we bike ride. Um, and so we kayak over to get our mail instead of taking the car. So sometimes it's just thinking a little bit outside the box. Um, instead of having your lunch at the kitchen table. Hey, under the tree in the backyard, um, with some flowers. So simple things can go a long way. Um, we like to say that we have an acrostic in our book, Red Hot Monogamy. And in that book, there's 200 Red Hot Woo ideas, uh, for romance and intimacy. Um, but we like to say, um, take time for your marriage. And it's actually an acrostic. And T is ten or 15 minutes. That's what Becky was talking about right after church. That ten or 15 minutes. Or when you both walk in the door, um, from picking up the kids, or at the end of your work day. So, ten or 15 minutes to just connect. And then I is invested in a weekly date night. Yes. And it can be at home. You don't have to go out. Like, we used to bribe our kids. Ours was Thursday night.


And we would tell our kids, okay, here's your Thursday night, um, toy box. You can only play with this set of toys on Thursday night. And here's the rule. You can't get off your bed. If you get off your bed, the toys go away. It's amazing how cooperative those kids would be. Um, and we would even tell them, you can stay up as long as you want, but their little bodies just go to sleep at the same time, because that's kind of turned into them. So they would have fun. We would have fun, uh, on that at home date night. And then M is a monthly day away, like, get away from it all. That might be the day you ask Dana Papa or your aunt and uncle or your best friends to trade so that you can get a longer time away, so that you can do something fun together. Um, and have enough time for a red Hot monogamy intimacy as well. So everybody's needs get met there. And then e is escape. Escape. Once a year, we encourage you to go to a marriage conference, but if you can pull it off, escape twice a year. Once a year is just rest, romance, red hot monogamy, eat when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired, and have red hot monogamy in between. And then the other would be a marriage conference to get new tools in your toolbox.

I love that. Pam uh, Steve and I have taught for years that couples need to take one date a week. And I've had so many couples say to me, we can't afford that. And Steve and I were poor. We were pastors, right? We need to make a lot of money. And so we, uh, used to say, we can't not afford to do that, because we knew that if our marriage fell apart, our kids were going to fall apart, our church was going to fall apart, our lives were going to fall apart. So we made it a priority. And it's really sweet. Now, like, I've been married 43 years. Last year, Steve said to me in January, okay, we have gotten really busy. We're going to try to do 25 extraordinary dates this year. After 43 years of marriage, we're still dating. So he took me to a musical. We hadn't done that for years. We went to hear Lauren Dangle and David Crowder at Red Rocks. I mean, we just did all this fun stuff, but, uh, it takes intentionality. So, uh okay, we're going to switch a little bit here because I do want to hit this. I remember being a young mama. I had, uh, I don't know, a toddler. I was pregnant with my second child. We were living in Sudan, khartoum Sudan, where it was, like, 120 degrees per day and thinking, like, my husband wants to make love. And right now, that is the last thing on my mind. I want to get in bed and sleep. I'm exhausted. So we have a lot of mamas right now listening to us, and they're thinking, yeah, sex was once a whole lot of fun. Now I'm exhausted. Give us some tips, Pam.

Well, sometimes I remember when I was a young mom and I, um, was pregnant, and, um, I was nursing. And so there's a lot of pressure on the body there, pulled in every direction. And we started at youth ministry at this new church, and, um, my oldest wouldn't settle down to nurse, and he was, like, fussy. And I went out and I handed the baby to Bill. And, like, here's your son. And I start crying. And, uh, I know the senior pastor's wife, she just pulled me aside and she said, oh, honey, sometimes it's not a spiritual problem. You just need a nap. Amen just a nap. Seriously. So it's okay to sleep when the baby sleeps? It's okay to be like, all right, my husband's going to be home in a little while, so I'm just going to lay down here for 20 minutes. And, um, I'm going to maybe not sleep because the kids are still awake, but we're all going to listen to some good Christian video or good Christian Odyssey radio program. And I'm just going to let my body rest, at least. And then I would walk through my husband's side of the closet and, um, I would just pull out his shirt and put it on because it still smells good from Sunday with his wonderful, um, cologne. And that would just bring my heart to the right place where my mind was ready to receive him, uh, home. And sometimes I would say, honey, if you want some really great red hot monogamy, here's the deal. Uh, the kids need fed and I need a bubble bath. Okay? Can we make that deal? And you know what he's like, all right, yeah, that sounds good.

I love that so much because I think it does take intentionality. And I believe that we have to literally pray. I remember praying this prayer as a young mom, lord, I'm exhausted, but I want to want my husband tonight. So would you plant that desire in me and then just really praying for my husband and getting my mind there, getting my mind off the kids and switching gears? Because so much of sexual intimacy for a woman begins in her mind. So that's important to realize.

Yes. And sometimes when I'm laying down waiting for him to come home, or while I'm standing there doing dishes, I would do, like, Song of Solomon Shoe. And I would think, head to toe, what do I value about my husband? And I would start praying for him head to toe. And our friend Sharon James has Easing, a, uh, book about praying for your husband head to toe. So if you need some help there, but that would get you're right. It will get my mind in the right space. It would get my heart in the right space. And, you know, God created Red hot monogamy, so it's good to talk to the Creator about our, uh, red hot monogamy because he designed it. So even in the middle of a, uh, sex act, if you need help, if your husband needs help, if you just need to, like, okay, get my mind back where it needs to be, you, uh, can pray, and God will answer you right then, too. So, uh, the cord of three strands is not easily broken is what Ecclesiastic says. So you and your husband and God make a strong woven braided rope of love. HM.

That dovetails really well into this next question. Becky and I wanted to ask you about staying strong. You've talked about the physical part, and that's awesome, but about protecting our marriages. Becky was sharing before this just about affairs that happen, moral failures. We see it all the time, even in Christian families, unfortunately. So what advice do you have, um, as far as boundaries for couples to protect their marriage?

There's a couple of things that, like, Bill and I, we try not to meet with the opposite gender, even for ministry without a third party there. Uh, so we've just always had that. And that was a challenge at first, when we were in the local, um, pastor and the church was small, women would come in for counseling. And so, um, my husband started asking them to bring a friend, um, as a prayer person in the room. And what happened is, our whole church got well, because Bill would not only train the person in good, wise choices and how to heal their heart, their support, people got trained, too. And then they started helping people, even outside of the counseling, um, office. And so our whole church body got healthier and made better choices. So that helped right there. And then the second is if you just really love your mate, uh, out loud and verbally, um, commend them and build them up, um, and do what we call romantic rituals. It protects your marriage. So if you, like, uh, have a meal with us, you're going to see Pam and Bill pray grace and then kiss each other. And we have kissed each other after grace since the day we got engaged. And it's so much of a part of our marriage, um, relationship, that if our kids see us at a big banquet and we look distracted, um, they'll remind us, the kiss. The kiss. And, um, one time we were with our grandkids, and, um, our grandson was about four.

He's like, stop.

Everybody stop. And we're like, what? And Rocco said, Papa, kiss Nama. He'd just been distracted. Hadn't seen that. Papa.

All right.

Kiss Nana. But Papa was fine kissing Nana again. Now, our kids, our grown kids make their own romantic rituals. Like our youngest son, when he fell in love, he would say, I love you, and she would say, I love you more. And so they have a big poster, like a chalkboard. And every day it says, I love you more than and she's a doctor. I love you more than all of the reports I have to write. And he's an engineer. Uh, I love you more than all the calculations that I have to make. So they just try to outlove each other those romantic rituals that you do day in and day out. Whether it's saying I love you before you hang up the phone or every time you pass the car keys, or, um, shooting those text messages off after you've been together and thanking them. Uh, those little things go a long way.

They really do. Um, Steve has to travel. I travel. We both speak independently, but then sometimes we speak together. So sometimes I'll tuck a note in his suitcase, just reminding him how much I love him. And then I remember, um, it was really sweet. Two years ago, uh, leading up to my birthday, I think Steve started about 14 days in advance of my birthday, I would wake up and I would find, like, a little sticky note on the coffee maker, hey, happy couple of weeks before your birthday. I love your smile. And then the next morning, I would find one on the bathroom mirror. I love how exuberant you are. And another time, it was on my computer. I love that you choose your words carefully. And so I've come to call that sticky note love. And I love that because he really affirmed me. But as Mamas, we can do that for our husband. When was the last time you told your husband, I'm so thankful I married you. You are such a great dad? Or, I love how gentle you are with our kids. Or, I love how fun you are with us. I love how you make me laugh and just really affirming them. We are almost out of time, Pam, and I don't really want this one to end, but, uh, just speak to us real quickly about prayer and what part prayer plays in keeping our hearts, um, and our souls united.

As a married couple, I think prayer is the superglue of a marriage. So prayer and red hot monogamy are the two things that the Word of God says will strengthen our relationship. And so, um, that's why Bill and I try to weave prayer in our day, throughout the day. So we'll pray over each other, like, when the kids were raising our kids before we left to drive them to school, whoever was, uh, not in the car with the kids would pray over our spouse. And then, um, when driving, the kids would pray for the kids in the car. Um, so we started off the day with prayer, and then over lunch, we would pray. Um, a problem comes up, uh, during the day. Um, we would pray for each other. We would shoot text message prayers when we both started, uh, carrying cell phones, uh, throughout the day and verses throughout the day that might encourage or affirm them, especially if they're dealing with heart issues. And then when they got home, a big hug with a quick prayer. And then we always hold each other and pray. And it's okay to hold each other, wrap each other in each other's arms, and even fall asleep praying. God is like, okay with that. If you're that tired and you're talking to God, that's a great way to drift out and drift into the presence of God together.

M. In this season of life, um, Steve and I often take hikes. We live in Colorado, and so we love to hike together. And because our family has grown, we initially raised four kids, which then becomes eight kids, which then you add 14 grandchildren. It's a lot of people to pray through, but we'll often take a hike together and just pray through the whole family. And then recently, we were in Costa Rica. Um, just for a time of rest and renewal. And every morning, we'd walk the beach together and just pray. Pray about our lives this year and what God wants to do. But that intentionality with your prayer life bringing both of you together, union with Christ and union with each other, which is a beautiful thing. Well, friends, we have to end. And I know you're probably as sad as I am, but you can connect with Pam by going to her social media sites, which we'll have those in the show notes we'll also tell you about. Men are like waffles, women are like spaghetti and red hot monogamy. We'll include, uh, that in the show notes. And we just want to encourage you today to be intentional. Marriage is for life, and it is such a beautiful journey when at the end of your life, you can say, you know what? I still love my husband today, and I have been faithful to him all these years. And so we want to encourage you in your journey of your marriage as well as motherhood. Before we finally close. Pam, would you close us out in prayer?

I would love to do that. Lord, you know that Bill and I have, uh, a verse that we've had since our wedding day. We love because you first loved us, and that is what we know makes a marriage with you in the middle. And so I pray that you would bless and give your favor and anoint the paths of every mom who listens to this podcast. Pray that you would draw her heart close to You, Lord, and close to her mate. Father, I pray that you would super glue them together with M prayer, with romantic rituals, with doing Bible study or attending church together. Father, I pray that you would then bless those families and those kiddos, because there's nothing better than a mom and dad in love. And so, Lord, we pray for generations to come that even the grandkids and the great grandkids would say, wow, Nana, um, and Papa had an epic love. And let it start today with the moms right where they are. Build that legacy of love from generation to generation. Amen.

Amen m amen. Hey, friends. Thanks again for joining us this week. And if you liked this episode, would you share it with your friends? Because this is a very critical point in history, and we want to see marriages and mamas strengthened. So I'm hoping you're going to join us next week again for another episode of the Connected Mom podcast, where we have real conversations helping you to connect more deeply with God, more empathically with your fellow moms, and more intentionally with your child.