Candace Nassar 

Welcome everyone. Today on our show we’re continuing our conversations with our mom Q leaders. This is part of our becoming a confident mom series wrap-up, where we answer pre-submitted questions from our community members. Last week we had Amy Tipps and Kendra Eccles here talking about spiritual growth and holiday traditions. And if you haven’t yet listened to that one, you don’t want to miss it. It was great. Today I have Barbara Bland and Annie Mendrala and we’re going to be talking about marriage. You guys are going to love this conversation and be so blessed by it. And since it’s so close to Christmas, we’re also going to hear a little bit about their favorite holiday traditions as well. So welcome, Annie and Barbara. Hi, and let me start by introducing you guys. So Annie is completing her master’s in biblical and theological studies from Dallas Theological Seminary this semester, and we are so blessed to have her on our mom Q teaching team this year. Annie finds great joy in wrestling with the mysteries of God and inspiring others to do the same. Her life mission is to teach truth and love well. She says the first part is simple. 

Candace Nassar 

The second keeps her humble and dependent on the Lord. I agree. Barbara is an authentic disciple-making grandmother who is young at heart. Barbara has a shining light, striving to reflect the love of Jesus and all she does. She’s been involved in many ministries, including women’s bible study, celebrate recovery, and re engage, just to name a few. She loves being a mentor mom, especially to moms with littles because they teach her so much about raising babies in today’s world. And then she, in turn, is able to give them insight into how she handled things ages ago. She says God’s principles never change from generation to generation. Amen. 

Annie Mendrala 

Amen. 

Candace Nassar 

These ladies are so dear to me and I’m so excited to have them share their awesome insights into marriage with you today. But first I want you to have an opportunity to get to know them just a little bit better. So, Barbara, tell us how long you’ve been married and how many children you have, and maybe what your favorite thing to do is for fun. 

Barbara Bland 

Okay, well, my favorite thing has changed as of lately, but I’ll get to that. I’ve been married for 41 years to the same person, and I have two awesome sons that we have the pleasure that they work in the business with Joe. So, Joe gets to see them on a daily basis. And then I have two awesome daughter-in-laws who have given me three precious grandkids. So that is my hobby these days. Grandkids.

Candace Nassar 

I can only imagine. That will be my hobby too when the day comes! 

Annie Mendrala 

Annie. How about you? Well, I have been married for 23 years. 

Candace Nassar 

Okay. 

Annie Mendrala 

I’ve been married to the same man, but I think he’s been married to a different woman every five years. That’s great. I realized that the other day. I’m just not the same person I was 23 years ago. And actually, we met 30 years ago when we were 18. So we’ve grown up together in the midst of our 23 years. We’ve had three sons, and our oldest is a sophomore at Liberty University pursuing aviation. We have a senior 

in high school who’s going to be going there next year as well. And then we have a sophomore in high school. So we’re getting near the empty nest, but we’re not quite there yet. 

Candace Nassar 

Do you have fun, Annie? 

Annie Mendrala 

I do have fun. I have a lot of fun diving deep in God’s word and in theological books, but that doesn’t sound very fun. Recently, I’ve gotten really interested in refugee ministry, and there’s an organization in Austin that I’ve been getting involved with collecting donations for them and welcoming them to Austin. So that’s great passion of mine. 

Candace Nassar 

Love that. 

Annie Mendrala 

Yeah. 

Candace Nassar

Some time we’ll have to hear more about that. That sounds really good. All right. Well, clearly, between the two of you, you’re working on, like, 64 years of marriage, so I think you might know a thing or two. I know this is going to be great. So it’s interesting because marriage is always one of our most popular topics on the podcast. Because, let’s face it, we all have marriage issues because, duh. I mean, merging our life with another human being – that is not easy, and it causes us to confront our own character issues, which isn’t much fun. But the Bible is clear that marriage is a covenant relationship that God ordained at creation. God tells us that our relationship with our husbands should be our priority behind only our relationship with him. And if our selfish, prideful nature wasn’t enough to undermine marriage, the devil is always attacking it as well. Why? Because he wants to destroy families. It is through strong Christian families that the character of God is reflected. He commands parents to teach their children to love and follow him and pass that down through the generations. And his glory shines brightly to the world when we do. 

Candace Nassar 

Friends, our marriages are worth fighting for. So we’re going to go there. 

Barbara Bland 

Okay. 

Candace Nassar 

All right, let’s do this. So, Annie, we’re going to start with you. One of our moms asked: sometimes I feel like my spouse looks to me and depends on me for his happiness, both physically and emotionally. And it annoys me and it pushes me away from him instead of drawing me closer. What do I do? How do I respond? 

Annie Mendrala 

This is a great question. I could have written it myself. Honestly, I completely identify with everything she said. And the first thing that came to mind is a book that I recently read. It says, come here, go away. And it’s all about intimacy. And it’s about the dance we do. We want others to come near, and then when they get to a certain place, it feels unsafe and we push them away. And so one thing I see in this question is a 

question about intimacy. And so as he’s moving towards you, you’re backing away. Now, how he’s coming towards you can be healthy or unhealthy. And so this particular situation is really important to understand. So without the full story, I can’t completely answer the question. But I have a few ideas, a few attempts I’m 

going to give at answering this question. The first one is this: we are created to be needed and to be needy. We are to give and to receive in marriage. And that this reciprocal giving and receiving is God ordained in the marriage. And there’ll be seasons where you may be needing more and he may be needing more.

Annie Mendrala 

And that’s okay. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The part in the question, though, was she said, it annoys me. So when that giving and receiving becomes annoying, that is a key indicator that maybe there’s something unhealthy going on. So the first thing that I was considering was these are young moms who have little kids. And that’s a really intense, difficult tme of life, where all of a sudden the world’s been about you. And now these little people need so much. And it’s hard to learn to balance that, balancing our priorities. So all day, mom is giving all she has, and by the end of the day, dad comes home and she has nothing left. So I would challenge us as moms to consider our priorities. Now, God obviously says, love others as we love ourselves. So if you’re not taking care of yourself and your relationship with God, first, you’re not going to have much to give to anybody else. Secondly, we need to be pouring into our husbands. But naturally, our kids will hijack that space if we let them. So we have to be really conscious about protecting time. I was sharing with you all that I had a friend who said when her kids were young, she said she would take naps when they napped during the day. 

Annie Mendrala 

So that she could be available to her husband in the evening just to have enough energy to have a conversation or have sex with him. So at first I thought, wow, that’s really strange. But then as the years went on, I’m like, this makes a lot of sense. And even as I get older, I think, yeah, that’s a great idea. I think that’s great advice. Also, look at your calendar and consider when’s the last time you had time alone with your husband? Maybe he’s just like one of your kids, just nagging on you because he misses you and wants to be with you. The other thing is the seasons of life. As our kids are growing up, we’re growing up with them, and we’re going to start to uncover patterns in ourselves and in our spouses that may reveal that we’ve been protecting ourselves from things in our lives. I’ve been in a season myself of just unpacking some things from my childhood and realizing ways that I’ve blocked intimacy in my marriage, not because my husband did anything wrong, but that just out of a self protection feeling, intimacy felt very unsafe emotionally. 

Annie Mendrala 

Now, physical intimacy was fine, and we’re not going to get into that today because that’s a whole other topic. But emotional intimacy can be really scary and annoying, as this person said. So just recognizing that maybe what’s annoying you has more to do with you than with him. And then to really turn to God in prayer to reveal what are these things that are blocking intimacy? And I’ve felt this way in my marriage. I’ve felt suffocated. I’ve been uncomfortable when I was needed and I have denied my own feelings and my own need to be needed. And that has created problems. It doesn’t work very at some point, that’s just not going to work. So by God’s grace, he’s allowed us the ability to be in professional counseling and to talk about these things to help me become more self aware just about how am I blocking intimacy and why is it that his needs are annoying? And ultimately, God revealed to me I wouldn’t allow myself to be needed or to feel anything, and therefore he couldn’t either. And so unconsciously I was doing that, which wasn’t very good.

Candace Nassar 

I love how you said God created us to be needed and for others to need us. It’s so true, and I love that. And then you’re talking about how you can focus on yourself because we can only control our own responses, right? And so that’s another thing that I love about what you’re saying is that you’re focusing on what your triggers are and what your responses are, and then in that, you’re seeing how that inhibits your relationship with your husband and how you can work on that. And then he’s seeing you make those changes, and then that also usually encourages him to maybe do the same thing. 

Annie Mendrala 

It’s inviting a conversation that we’ve never had in our marriage, and it’s allowing him to be…..it’s opening my eyes to see him and to not run away from his emotions, because their emotions aren’t good or bad. They’re just information. And if somebody’s feeling down, well, it’s important to say, well, what’s going on? What is that telling you? And to get curious about that versus avoiding and hiding, which I’ve done for a long time. So when this person asked the question, I thought, yeah, I get this. I get this. It’s interesting. And, Barbara, I don’t know. You’ve done reengage, right? 

Barbara Bland 

Yes. 

Annie Mendrala 

What is the one thing they tell each spouse to do? 

Barbara Bland 

To draw a circle around a three foot circle around yourself and work on the person inside the circle. 

Annie Mendrala 

Yeah. I love that picture. I love that. 

Candace Nassar 

Yeah. Reengage is such a fantastic ministry. It started in Dallas, and it has spread all over the country. So if that is something that you would like to check out, I’m sure you can just google reengage and find a local church or group somewhere. It is a phenomenal biblical approach to sort of reengaging your marriage. 

Barbara Bland

And you don’t have to be in a crisis situation to just totally benefit from it. You can just look at it as a tune up. 

Candace Nassar 

Yeah, I like that. Good. Very good. All right, Annie. Well, thank you so much for that honest answer. All right, so now it’s Barbara’s turn, and another mom asked, if my spouse is questioning Christianity, wavering in his faith, or an atheist, then how do I encourage him and support him? 

Barbara Bland 

Well, I do have a little experience in this, and I could sure tell you everything I did wrong. 

Candace Nassar 

Oh, my goodness. 

Barbara Bland 

Because it wasn’t encouraging to him. I had been saved as a child, but I left the faith for years and years. So right after Joe and I got married, like a year after, I decided to come back to God. Well, that is not who my husband married. He married the party girl, and all of a sudden, I’m starting to change. So I took it upon myself to be the change in him, too. So I did everything I could to try to make my husband change into what I wanted him to be. Forget the Holy Spirit. I was quite capable of doing it myself, which that doesn’t ever work! Let me just say, that never works. So anyway, as I learned and was discipled, and I remember my pastor’s wife one time saying, Barbara, if your husband never comes to the Lord, are you going to love him? And I had to think about that. Am I going to love him if he never comes to the Lord? And I decided, yes, I am. So I learned that it wasn’t what I said to him, it’s how I was with him. I remember coming home one time and asking his forgiveness for trying to force him to ask Jesus into his heart. 

Barbara Bland 

I was asking him. I was trying to force him into having the change that only the Holy Spirit can do. So I did a lot of things wrong. And I wish I could say when he did finally come to church that I quit trying to control things. But that has been a lifelong issue for me, to try so hard to say less and pray more and let God do the changing anyway. But what I learned was the scripture. I think it’s in one, Peter, about husbands are won by our pure, quiet demeanor. 

Candace Nassar 

In other words, to just model it.

Barbara Bland 

Model it, model it. It’s not about what we say and try to force them to do. Just model it. 

Candace Nassar 

Absolutely. Yeah. I had a very similar experience, although mine didn’t quite take as long. But I think women in general, we know that it’s part of the curse that we want over our husbands in terms of we want to control them, and it doesn’t work in any aspect. And I love what you said. What did you say? Talk less and pray more. 

Barbara Bland 

Yes. 

Candace Nassar 

That’s such good advice. Just pray, pray, pray, and work on yourself. 

Barbara Bland 

Work on myself and do the best I can do with my life and grow as much as I can to be close to the Lord and God does the rest. 

Candace Nassar 

And so, yeah, that was the second part of our question, is, how do I stay strong in my own faith and not let his wavering bring me down and discourage me from growing? 

Barbara Bland 

Look at the log in my eye instead of the spec in his. And I, God has told me before in my spirit, leave Joe alone, because I do just little nitpicky things, but those added up are like death by a thousand pin pricks. 

Candace Nassar 

Yeah, no, I think you’re right that it’s so important that we just stay quiet and just model it and try not to criticize and critique and I know for me, I’ve been married 32 years, and I still try to be his holy spirit, but I can catch it a lot faster now. 

Barbara Bland

Yeah. And it doesn’t mean that we can’t ever have conversations about it. But if my motive is to manipulate him into trying to get my way, he’ll know that, and he will get defensive. So, speaking the truth in love – I can speak in love how I feel about things, because feelings are feelings, like Annie said. But if I’m doing it to manipulate, he’ll know. 

Candace Nassar 

Good. Good stuff. All right, Annie, back to you. The next question was, how do you walk through having a believing spouse that doesn’t lead the family spiritually? 

Annie Mendrala 

Another good question one I’ve asked at times, and honestly, what God’s revealed to me in this question is it’s really about expectations, unmet expectations that this person is having in their family. It definitely sounds like spirituality is important to the family. It’s a priority. It’s a value. And so if you’re experiencing a husband that’s not leading, that can be frustrating or disappointing. And again, going back to those intimacy blockers, putting a wall up when it comes to connecting with your spouse. So the way I would approach this, like any marriage topic, I would start with yourself and God. Start the conversation with God, engage in prayer, take time to reflect, and to be honest with yourself. The question is a good one, because we do want our husbands to lead our families. But the question is, am I trying to manipulate the spiritual image of my family? Like Barbara said, wanting her husband to come to faith was, in a way, a manipulative thing. And wanting our husbands to be leaders or to be seen as leaders could be a desire to manipulate an image. The other way we could be comparing our husbands to others. 

Annie Mendrala 

I remember early in my marriage comparing my husband to another man, who eventually ended up in multiple adulterous affairs and is divorced from his wife today. And I think, thank you, Lord, that what I thought my husband should be, he was not. He was way better. The question also is, am I wanting the 

highest good for my husband, or am I selfishly wanting things the way I want them? And really, one of the bigger questions is, have I communicated this expectation to my husband? I know as women, as the controllers and managers of our homes, in our minds at least, we have an expectation of the way things should be, but we don’t communicate it because he should just know it by the way that I’m getting up early on a Sunday morning, getting ready for church, and getting everybody out the door. Doesn’t he see that this is what he’s supposed to be doing? So pray, ask God to open your eyes and soften your heart and give you compassion for your husband. Thank God for your husband. If you have a husband, be grateful for him today, and then ask God to move in your family. 

Annie Mendrala

The second thing I would say is, move towards your husband. For me, I have often moved away and avoided and just kind of held on to my expectations without communicating them. Well, we know where that got me. It actually got me nowhere, because how can he do anything without knowing? 

Candace Nassar 

Yeah, and then we get mad at them. We get mad at them because they’re not doing something that we haven’t told them we’d like them to do, but they should know, right? 

Annie Mendrala 

Yes, I mean, really, I’m way more complicated than my kids. So I heard a great statement. It said, in engaging in a conversation with your spouse, invite them with positive intent, meaning, come to him and say, I would like to talk to you about blank. Maybe I would like to talk to you about the spiritual values of our family in hopes of partnering with you in this. Set the stage with him. Let him know why you’re coming to him, what you’re hoping for, and let him know the context so that you invite him into the conversation. We need to avoid blaming and shaming and all kinds of things that typically we might do in an unhealthy self, and also avoid “you” statements. You need to be doing this, and you need to be doing that. Really come to him with, this is what I really hope for our family. Share what you need and what you hope and then give him a chance. Give him a chance. You married him for a reason. He was really awesome on the day you said yes. And so go back to that guy. And then I would say, after sharing that and communicating, model it. , The biggest mistake I made in our home was my hypocrisy. 

Annie Mendrala 

I would do all kinds of things, and then Mike would look at me and say, oh, you’re such a good bible study girl, aren’t you (mockingly). 

Barbara Bland 

Oh yeah. 

Annie Mendrala 

She’s like, oh, yeah! It’s the worst thing to hear your husband sort of mocking. Yeah. Just to really point out your hypocrisy. It’s easy too. I’m a really good bible study girl when it’s me and God in my Bible and a group of ladies and we’re all talking about things. But when it comes to the sandpaper of the marriage, it can get really ugly. And so my biggest mistake was expecting something from him that I wasn’t even offering myself. And I was so deceived. As women, we get so deceived, and that’s from the beginning of time. So I would say avoid codependency, right? You don’t become needless and wantless in your marriage. You express your needs and your wants. And also don’t cover up for him if he really isn’t leading. There’s no reason to pretend like he’s some great spiritual leader when he’s not. And don’t try to fix him. Don’t try to control the outcome. Just invite with positive intent and give him a chance.

Codependency, for me is a new thing. I’m learning a lot about it. This idea of if everybody’s okay, I’m okay. And the reality is you might not be okay and everything might not be okay. 

Annie Mendrala 

And maybe things are upside down when it comes to the spiritual leadership of your family, but God’s bigger than that. 

Candace Nassar 

So love that. 

Annie Mendrala 

Move towards interdependency, which is what God’s design is. I can be me, you can be you. We can be us. Right? God created us as complementary companions. We’re to shoulder life with our spouse. That means together alongside each other. And so regardless of what your husband does, encourage him, come alongside him. You want to model that for your children, because they’re going to see how you treat your husband. 

Candace Nassar 

So true. 

Annie Mendrala 

And what you say to him. They take that in. They absorb way more of that than we even realize. 

Barbara Bland 

And how about ask every once in a while? What is it like being married to me? 

Annie Mendrala 

I love that, Barbara. 

Candace Nassar 

That is a wise Barbara comment right there! 

Annie Mendrala

Barbara is so wise!. And practically speaking, I would say don’t give up on your spiritual journey if he’s not with you in it. Right. You need to have healthy boundaries around yourself and the things that matter most to you. Again, invite with positive intent, but let God be the Holy Spirit. Like you said, it’s so easy to want to manipulate and control. Keep doing our own work. Stay in your own lane. Don’t try to get in the driver’s seat of your husband’s life. And as always, we can trust God. He’s the one we want to honor, and he’s way more for our marriages and the spiritual health of it than we are. And so if we just let go and turn to him and keep modeling, honestly, that’t the best thing we can do. Otherwise, that hypocrisy, it really creeps in. I think we don’t even realize how much as women when we start to control, how ugly that starts to look within our homes. It’s very easy to walk out the door once we have our lipstick on and our hair brushed and look good for the rest of the world. 

Annie Mendrala 

But inside our home, when we’re just raw, it can get real ugly. 

Barbara Bland 

I always said I was really such a good wife until my husband came home. So true, because I had every intention. I’d had such a good time with the Lord, and, oh, I’m going to be so good. 

Annie Mendrala 

Yes! 

Barbara Bland 

I’m going to be such a good wife!. I’m going to bless him, I’m going to honor him. 

Annie Mendrala 

And then he comes home, and then, like that first question, it’s annoying. 

Candace Nassar 

And also, sometimes I would have these expectations because my husband’s always traveled, and so I would miss him so much, and I would have these expectations that he would come home and he was going to miss me so much, and we’d have this wonderful, romantic dinner or something. And then life happens, and then I’m all upset. That’s not fair. 

Annie Mendrala 

Yeah. I have to tell you a funny story. Recently, our son went off to college, our oldest. And we were in the car, and as you let your kids go off, all kinds of things start to happen with your home. The emptiness.

That’s a whole other ministry we need to start. But we were driving, and Mike looked at me, and he just said, I have so many regrets. And I looked at him, and I was like, really? I got no regrets. My controlling, capable self was like, I got no regrets. I did everything I could when I could do it, and I was like, I got no 

regrets. What’s wrong with you and your regrets? And then we’ve been doing some counseling, and I was in a session, and I sat down with the counselor, and we were talking, and all of a sudden I just said, I have so many regrets. And in that moment, I looked at the counselor, I’m like, I got to go tell my husband this right now. So I get out of the session. I went out, Mike was there, and I said, guess what? I have so many regrets. 

Candace Nassar 

Right? 

Annie Mendrala 

He just looked at me like, what are you talking about? And it just is such a perfect example of when we get somewhere, we expect them to be right with us. And he’s like, hold on now. It takes a while to come into that congruence with one another of like, okay, you got regrets. 

Candace Nassar 

Yeah. 

Annie Mendrala 

Remember how you had regrets and I shamed you for them, but now I realize I have them. So, anyway, it was just a funny example of self awareness and going, okay. 

Candace Nassar 

And we can be in different places, and it takes some time, but the fact he planted that in your mind. Well, ladies, as we’re starting to wrap up here, this has been such a great discussion. I just want to put it out there. You’ve both talked about counseling, and it’s very important. Counseling is great, whether it’s individual counseling, couples counseling, or going to marriage retreats. I just encourage you as much as possible to take advantage of all those things. What would you say to somebody that was looking for some counseling? How should they go about it? Barbara? 

Barbara Bland 

Well, there’s so many resources these days. Your local church, all the different churches probably have resources of their own, but there’s just so much out there. And I have just benefited so much personally, personally, marriage, group, from counseling. I need somebody to give me possibly a healthier perspective of maybe what is in my blind spot that I cannot see. And it’s a different perspective, and I so

appreciate that. So I love life coaches, and counseling. Like, of course, I like Christian based and Biblical based, but we have benefitted greatly from counseling. Joe and I regularly find some sort of marriage counseling whether it’s a retreat or counseling or whatever. 

Candace Nassar 

Great. How about you, Annie? I know you’ve done something recently that was pretty unique. 

Annie Mendrala 

Yeah, I recently did a week long intensive – everyone keeps asking me how my marriage retreat went, and it was not a marriage retreat, but we went as a couple. And it was interesting before we went, because my husband was like, what’s with the group? Part of this? Why do I need to hear other people’s problems? And by the end, I mean, he adores our group. And it just speaks to the testimony of when you do counseling and then you process it with other people who are also doing their work, there’s a great benefit in gaining empathy and compassion for others and for yourself. And it was really powerful to enter into this, because one of the biggest things for me has been learning to just become emotionally aware. I’ve operated in my logic brain my whole life, and that stems back to a long time ago as a little girl, just learning to be in control and to try to control my environment. But I would say that the therapy has been a safe place for me to break down those walls and those barriers that I’ve been keeping up in my marriage in particular. 

Annie Mendrala 

And it’s a process. It’s such hard work. Every time I go and I start crying, I look at Mike and I look at our therapist, and I say, I don’t want to do this. It hurts. This is too hard. I’m too old. I should know better by now. And it just amazes me, though, how God is honoring that in so many ways for anybody who is struggling with undelt past trauma, or even if you feel like you’ve had a normal life, but yet you just feel stuck. I think it’s so helpful to talk to somebody who can help you get outside of what you think is your normal and maybe reveal to you what maybe isn’t so normal and how to help you to show up in a more healthy way. 

Barbara Bland 

That’s good. 

Candace Nassar 

Yeah. So good. And I know that you and Mike have already seen some fruit from it. And that’s what I was saying in the beginning where I was talking about how our marriages are worth fighting for. It’s hard work. 

Barbara Bland

It is. 

Candace Nassar 

You don’t stay married for a long time without working hard at it. But it is worth it. It is so worth it. All right, ladies, well, we’re just going to wrap this up. Is there any last minute things you’d want to add to just encourage our moms, or have we pretty much gone through it? 

Barbara Bland 

I think we’ve covered pretty much everything. But I will say you were mentioning how hard work it is. The old ways seem to want to come back. They’re embedded so deeply in our brains sometimes, our old patterns and just our old ways of relating not so healthy with each other. That’s why Joe and I continue counseling. Because it doesn’t take too long for me to get comfortable in my old, selfish, controlling ways and find myself back there again. So that’s why. And I don’t even realize until I go and hear the truth again. Maybe it’s in a message at church, maybe it’s in something I’m reading, maybe it’s at counseling, wherever. But to be reminded, oh, I have slipped back into my old, unhealthy ways of thinking. 

Candace Nassar 

Yeah. 

Annie Mendrala 

So good. 

Candace Nassar 

All right, well, guys, thank you so much for your authenticity, your vulnerability. It’s just truly been a great conversation. So, hey, I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas holiday, and we’ll see you guys back soon. And, oh, and if you are interested in asking these wonderful, wise ladies any more questions, just put them in the replies in the comments to our episode. All right, take care. Bye.

What's your mom superpower? Take our short quiz and find out your greatest strength as a mom.

X