Marriage March: Don & Suzanne Manning

How To Connect With Your Spouse During The Holidays

It’s March! Are You Ready for the Marriage March?

This month we are going to MARCH into marriage! Think of the tune, “Oh when the saints… go marching in….”  

This month, you will hear from us (Don and Suz) and our 3 oldest daughters (the married ones) about their marriages. At the end of the month, we are going to have a special podcast with Dave and Ashley Willis. They are the authors of the book and podcast, Naked Marriage!  

Here is the goal for the month:  

  • Strengthen the marriage family line  
  • Talk about different marriages
  • Be encouraged and challenged in your marriage

The main point of today’s podcast is this, to help strengthen your marriage relationship line with things we have learned and are currently learning about marriage. 

We have marched through 3 decades of marriage and are walking into our 30th year.  

How Did You Meet? 

We met on a blind date through mutual friends.

“When he walked in, I felt like God said, “You are going to marry this man.”  – Suzanne

We dated for a little over a year. Remember though, Suzanne heard from God, but she was looking for a husband for herself AND a loving father for Mollie.

What Attracted You to Each Other?  

“At first glance, we were attracted to each other physically. As we got to know each other, I noticed a spirit about her.” – Don

Suzanne is,

  • Confident 
  • Full of life  
  • Funny and engaging   

As we dated, I learned she is,  

  • Servant hearted  
  • In love with Jesus  
  • Has an attractive faith  

Don also had so many amazing qualities! He is, 

  • Hard working 
  • Full of perseverance  
  • Pursues people  
  • A teacher

Bottom line: As we got to know each other, we fell in love. Don fell in love with Mollie and Suzanne all at once.  

Stop! Challenge!

  • Go back to when you met your spouse and have a conversation about how you first met.
  • Then ask, “why did you marry me?
  • Brag on each other!
    • Allow your words to stir up the things we put on the back burner in our marriage.  

 How Are Y’all the Same? 

  • We both have a love for Jesus and we never stopped pursuing His love.  
  • We have a heart for family and a sense of doing family well.  
  • We are both hard workers and pursued excellence in our lives.  
  • Neither of us are conflict driven people. We decided not to yell or create chaos in our home.  

 How Are Y’all Different? 

  • Don is an external/extrovert and Suzanne is the opposite.  
  • Don is a thinker and Suzanne is a feeler.  
  • Suzanne is a relationship ninja and Don is a business man full of strategy. 
  • Suzanne has never tried to be on time and Don stresses out when he is late!  

To be honest, the differences felt endless and caused a lot of fights along the way. It can be hard to find value in the other person when all you see is contrasts. Ultimately, we are still working on it day in and day out.  

What Was Your Biggest Struggle in the First Decade of Marriage? 

We had parenting struggles, money struggles, and many broken systems ultimately thrown out because they didn’t work.  

We tried to change each other. We wanted to make our spouse look like us! The reality is we don’t need, two Suzannes or Dons in the world. The world needs one of each! The world needs us united as one.

Ultimately, our heart’s desire was to help. We were not purposefully against each other. We have always been for each other and the marriage, but when we tried to “help,” we struggled.  

What Did You Fight About?  

We usually avoided more than fought. Neither of us like conflict, so we chose the easy way out by not talking. 

When we would fight, we would come at each other with the issue and one of us would shut down. One would pursue and eventually shut down because too. All the while carrying internal struggles and starting to resent the other but never solving anything.  

Well, what did you do about it? What did you learn? 

Respect!  

We realized in our first decade, we were both maturing spiritually, in our own ways. Don came more from a theology side, while Suzanne came from faith and feelings. We spent too much time treated each other with a comparison mindset. It flipped in the 2nd decade!

How Did You Get on the Same Page? 

  1. We deepened our faith
  2. Started to appreciate our gifts
  3. Change Our Thinking

How Did You Stay Connected with Lots of Little Kids? 

  1. Get Away Together: Even when we had an infant with us, we always tried to get away
  2. Go to Bed Together: We made it a priority to go to bed together and talk before falling asleep. It grounded our marriage.
  3. Sit Together: It sounds simple, but it was always “Don, Suzanne, and all the little duckies.”
  4. Go on Dates: A few times a month, we went out. We would escape from the house and connect.  

Stop! Challenge!

Recognize and celebrate the ways you connect on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.

What Do You Wish You Knew Back Then?  

“Your job as a husband/wife is to help your spouse be their best. Not what you want them to be, but what God wants them to be. We wounded each other trying to improve, or help. Instead, look at them through God’s perspective and be a blessing.” – Don  

“Sometimes, I don’t feel like we speak the same language. Our upbringing causes a lot of differences, but if I had known this fact sooner, maybe I would have tried harder to learn his language. What I mean is, I wish we had tried to understand each other better.” – Suzanne  

What Qualities Must Be in a Marriage?  

  • Honesty 
  • Loyalty  
  • Serving 
  • Humility 
  • Forgiveness 

Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, rather in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you looking to the interests of others.” (NIV)

Husbands, this is how we are commanded to love our wives. This does not mean we “give in” to everything. We don’t fight for approval, or no conflict. Instead, in humility we reach out for the good for you, your marriage, and your family.  

The reality is, the enemy does not want us to have a good marriage. What do you want? 

Wherever you are at, there is hope for your marriage. Work on your marriage line this month and see God move. It is valuable and foundational.   

Resources to Deepen Your Marriage:  

  • 5 Love Languages: Gary Chapman  
  • Love and Respect: Emerson Eggerichs
  • Sacred Marriage: Gary L. Thomas
  • Enneagram: Learning how our personalities relate and work together
How To Connect With Your Spouse During The Holidays

If you have a question or a parenting issue that you’d like us to discuss in a future podcast, email us at [email protected].

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